Dozen Kentucky Derby Hopefuls Breeze at Churchill Downs

Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s likely GI Kentucky Derby favorite and last out GI Curlin Florida Derby winner Forte (Violence) headlined a busy morning beneath the Twin Spires at Churchill Downs as 12 candidates for this year’s Run for the Roses turned in their final works for the first leg of the Triple Crown.

Last year’s champion 2-year-old colt and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Forte, who worked a half-mile in company in :49.80 over a fast track, was one of four breezers for trainer Todd Pletcher. Other Pletcher half-mile workers were GI Blue Grass S. winner and ‘Rising Star’ Tapit Trice (Tapit) (:48.20) and unbeaten GII Louisiana Derby winner Kingsbarns (Uncle Mo) and GIII Jeff Ruby Steaks runner-up Major Dude (Bolt d’Oro), who worked together in :48.40.

“I’m very pleased,” Pletcher said. “They all did what they were supposed to do.”

Trainer Brad Cox also had four workers: GI Arkansas Derby winner Angel of Empire (Classic Empire) (five furlongs 1:01.40) and Louisiana Derby third and ‘Rising Star’ Jace’s Road (Quality Road) (1:01.20) in company together and GII Wood Memorial S. second-place finisher Hit Show (Candy Ride {Arg}) (:59.60) and Blue Grass runner-up Verifying (Justify) (:59.40) in separate company.

“We’re one week out from the race and they are important works, but we didn’t want to ask them to do too much,” Cox said. “They did it on their own and did what we needed to see going into the Derby.”

Last out GII Rebel S. winner Confidence Game (Candy Ride {Arg}) worked five furlongs in :59 for trainer Keith Desormeaux, a move that was the fastest of 54 at the distance.

Florida Derby runner-up Mage (Good Magic) turned in a six-furlong work in 1:16.80 for trainer Gustavo Delgado.

Florida Derby third Cyclone Mischief (Into Mischief), currently on the outside looking in as the first also-eligible, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.80 for trainer Dale Romans.

Working before the first morning harrow break, fellow also-eligible and Arkansas Derby runner-up King Russell (Creative Cause) worked a half-mile in :47.80 for trainer Ron Moquett.

Working at Santa Anita was GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby third-place finisher Skinner (Curlin), who breezed six furlongs in 1:14 for trainer John Shirreffs. Skinner is scheduled to ship to Louisville on Sunday.

Two fillies put in their final works for the 149th running of the GI Longines Kentucky Oaks: GI Central Bank Ashland S. upsetter Defining Purpose (Cross Traffic) (a half-mile in :47, the fastest of 149 at the distance) for trainer Kenny McPeek and G3 UAE Oaks heroine Mimi Kakushi (City of Light) (a half-mile in 50.40) for trainer Salem bin Ghadayer.

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