Easy Works for Cox’s Derby Contenders

Two of trainer Brad Cox’s four GI Kentucky Derby contenders turned in half-mile works at Churchill Downs Saturday, with GI Arkansas Derby winner Angel of Empire (Classic Empire) and GII Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby third-place finisher Jace’s Road (Quality Road) both credited with working, hours apart, in :48.20 (20/99).

Albaugh Family Stables’ Angel of Empire worked alongside stablemate Tapit‘s Conquest (Tapit), who was most recently seventh in the Louisiana Derby, just as the track opened at 5:30 a.m. Sporting blinkers while working outside his stablemate through early fractions of :12.40 and :24.40, Angel of Empire galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.80, according to Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols. Cox’s exercise rider Edvin Vargas was aboard for the move.

Two hours later, Vargas was again in the irons when West Point Thoroughbreds and Albaugh Family Stables’ Jace’s Road worked in company with Smarty Jones S. winner Victory Formation (Tapwrit).

“It was a solid morning with three weeks out from the Derby,” Cox said. “It’s always an exciting time of year and we’ll see what happens in 21 days.”

Following Jace’s Road’s work, Cox’s other Derby contenders, GI Toyota Blue Grass S. runner-up Verifying (Justify) and GII Wood Memorial runner-up Hit Show (Candy Ride {Arg}), galloped about 1 1/2 miles. Both are scheduled to work next Saturday.

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