Oaks contenders work side by side
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Two of the more prominent contenders for the 134th Kentucky Oaks were out for serious work Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs as speculation continued about the prospective field.
Golden Doc A and Bsharpsonata, both with their scheduled Oaks jockeys aboard, breezed five furlongs over a fast track, finishing in 59.00 and 59.80 seconds, respectively.
The field for the Grade 1 Oaks could be as high as 13, but that is assuming both of the Larry Jones fillies, Proud Spell and Eight Belles, will start. The owners of both fillies have said they are considering a run in the Kentucky Derby. Additionally, several fillies are considered a "maybe" for the Oaks, according to Churchill racing secretary Ben Huffman: Absolutely Cindy, Elusive Lady, and a possible supplemental entry, Rasierra.
Otherwise, these are the confirmed prospects: A to the Croft, Awesome Chic, Bsharpsonata, Country Star, Golden Doc A, Honest Pursuit, Little Belle, and Pure Clan.
Oaks entries will be taken and drawn next Tuesday.
Trainer Neil Howard had been considering Highest Class for the race but said earlier this week she is very doubtful.
Bsharpsonata, with Eric Camacho aboard, and Golden Doc A, with Kent Desormeaux up, worked near each other, with Bsharpsonata getting a head start to the five-furlong pole. Golden Doc A couldn't get past but did narrow the initial gap, accounting for her faster clocking.
Golden Doc A has raced exclusively on turf or synthetics, so the Oaks will be her first race on dirt.
"I just want her to get some dirt in her face," said trainer Barry Abrams. "We got what we were looking for, and as long as she comes back good, we are ready to go."
Einstein, Cosmonaut top Woodford probables
Einstein and Cosmonaut look like the top names among a large field taking shape for the Woodford Reserve, the Grade 1 turf race that traditionally precedes the Derby. At least 10 older horses already are under consideration for the Woodford, including Duveen, Golden Balls, Out of Control, Thorn Song, and War Monger.
Einstein, trained by Helen Pitts, most recently finished second to Kip Deville in the Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland.
Also on the Derby undercard, Hystericalady is expected back to defend her championship in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff.
Kodiak Kowboy, Majestic Warrior in Derby Trial
Ten 3-year-olds, led by Kodiak Kowboy and Majestic Warrior, have been entered in the $100,000 Derby Trial, the feature of the 11-race opening-day card Saturday at Churchill.
Kodiak Kowboy, a multiple stakes winner at 2 for trainer Steve Asmussen, returns as the beaten favorite in the recent Lafayette Stakes. Majestic Warrior, trained by Bill Mott, seeks his first win since the Grade 1 Hopeful last summer.
From the rail, this is the field for the 7 1/2-furlong Derby Trial: Eaton's Gift, Lemon Spice, Fujita, Kodiak Kowboy, Majestic Warrior, Macho Again, Da' Tara, Iron Works Pike, Turf War, and Zulu Magic.
Zito will closely monitor War Pass
Trainer Nick Zito said Wednesday that Eclipse Award winner War Pass will remain with his stable and be re-evaluated in two months to determine how he is recuperating from a minor fracture of a sesamoid bone in his left front leg. The injury will prevent him from participating in this year's Kentucky Derby.
"We looked at the X-rays on Monday and will take another set and see how the healing process is going in about two months," said Zito. "During that time he'll remain in my care."
War Pass sustained the injury sometime during the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, in which he finished a game second to Tale of Ekati after being pressed on the lead nearly the entire race.
"The vets seem to think the injury probably occurred in the last 20 yards of the race," said Zito.
War Pass capped off an undefeated 2-year-old campaign with an easy victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He won his 3-year-old debut against allowance company at Gulfstream Park before finishing far back as the odds-on favorite in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby.
"One good thing about War Pass," said Zito. "He's a fast healer."
German invader may be left out
Trainer Andreas Wohler has sent Lauro 4,400 miles from Germany to run in Friday's Elkhorn Stakes, but the 5-year-old son of Monsun is stuck on the also-eligible list. Wohler has sent his German-based jockey, Edgardo Pedroza, along for the ride as well, but if Lauro, who is owned by top German outfit Gestut Ittlingen, fails to break into the race, he has an American campaign planned nonetheless.
"There is an allowance race at Churchill Downs on Wednesday that he could run in," Wohler said. "We plan on keeping him in America for a few months."
The Keeneland stewards are aware Lauro came a long distance to run in the Elkhorn, and they are going to wait until as late as 10:30 a.m. Friday for any scratches so that the horse can run if at all possible.
* The move from Keeneland to Churchill also means switching cable channels from TVG to HRTV for daily racing action. HRTV, which began televising the Churchill races last spring, has planned a variety of special programming for Derby Week, including a daily showing of "Target Louisville Live" at noon Eastern, hosted by Laffit Pincay III and Jeff Siegel, starting Saturday.
* Churchill officials will ring the opening bell of the Nasdaq stock market Friday at 9:30oa.m. Eastern beneath the twin spires, marking the second time the track has hosted the opening. The ceremony, which is being held in recognition of the impending opening of the spring meet and the upcoming Kentucky Derby, will be televised live on various media outlets.
* As with most tracks ending a meet, Keeneland will have a mandatory payout of whatever carryovers remain in the pick six and Super High Five jackpots Friday, closing day of the spring meet.
- additional reporting by Alan Shuback and Mike Welsch
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