LOUISVILLE, Ky. - With the weather forecast calling for heavy rain on Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs, trainer Jeff Mullins was rolling the dice just a bit delaying I Want Revenge's workout until after the renovation break at 8:30 a.m. And perhaps it was an omen of good things to come for I Want Revenge, the likely Derby favorite, that the wet weather held off long enough for him to complete his important drill just minutes before a deluge turned a fast track to slop for the remainder of Tuesday's training session.
Cloudy/rainy; track fast, then sloppy; 71 degrees
I Want Revenge was the lone Derby worker on a relatively quiet Tuesday that also featured the first local appearance of Mr. Hot Stuff following his arrival from California the previous day. As has been the case for much of the past week, the racetrack was fast but not overly so before the rains arrived.
I Want Revenge (four furlongs in 47.34 seconds): Skies were darkening as I Want Revenge made his way onto the racetrack and jogged back around to the finish line in preparation for his work. It was evident right from the start that the Wood Memorial winner was keyed up for the task at hand, as he reared and briefly wheeled away from the pony before quickly coming back to hand for jockey Joe Talamo.
Equipped in blinkers, I Want Revenge remained keen as he turned down the backstretch and was in full stride well before he left the half-mile pole. As a result, the early splits were predictably fast, with an opening eighth and quarter in 11.84 and 23.34. I Want Revenge changed leads on cue after fanning several paths wide entering the stretch, then effortlessly completed his final quarter-mile in 24 seconds while giving the impression there was plenty left in the tank as he cruised past the wire and galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.14.
Tuesday's workout was arguably just a notch better than his previous drill, which came in company with stablemate Gato Go Win, and completed a very good week for I Want Revenge, who has also looked sharp during his daily regimen of pre-dawn gallops. Nothing, perhaps, that would separate him from the other top contenders in the Derby field, but solid enough to keep him at or near the top of that list.
As expected, Mr. Hot Stuff did little more than jog once around the track alongside a pony following his long trip from California, although he did get a little frisky along the way, giving every indication he was ready and willing to do more. All will watch with interest as Mr. Hot Stuff begins his final string of pre-Derby gallops on Wednesday.
The improvement General Quarters has shown over the past week continues to impress. The Blue Grass winner had another in a series of energetic gallops since his final Derby prep five days earlier
Regal Ransom was the first of the Derby contenders to hit the track, as usual, at 6 a.m. and was tugging along in earnest while equipped in draw reins for his daily gallop. His stablemate Desert Party followed suit about 30 minutes later with another strong gallop of his own.
It was taken as a very positive sign that Hold Me Back has not needed a day off to recuperate following Sunday's work. Another who goes in draw reins to temper his enthusiasm, he looked a picture of health galloping through the stretch under exercise rider Ken McCarthy.
Papa Clem was given a couple of days off following Saturday's disappointing seven-furlong work, and looked none the worse for wear from the ordeal during an easy gallop.
Musket Man continues to look a little uncomfortable over the Churchill surface. He did not change leads through the stretch during Tuesday's routine gallop. Summer Bird was also not traveling as smoothly as some of the other Derby hopefuls while completing his morning exercise just as heavy rains began to fall over the Twin Spires.
ADVICE - Jogged one mile
ATOMIC RAIN - Worked half-mile at Monmouth, scheduled to van to Churchill Downs
CHOCOLATE CANDY - Walked the shed row
DESERT PARTY - Galloped 1 1/4 miles
DUNKIRK - Galloped 1 1/4 miles at Palm Meadows, flew to Churchill
FLYING PRIVATE - Walked the shed row
FRIESAN FIRE - Walked the shed row
GENERAL QUARTERS - Galloped 1 1/2 miles
HOLD ME BACK - Galloped one mile
JOIN IN THE DANCE - Jogged one mile
I WANT REVENGE - Worked four furlongs in 47.34 seconds
MINE THAT BIRD - Walked the shed row
MR. HOT STUFF - Jogged one mile with pony
MUSKET MAN - Visited gate, galloped 1 5/8 miles
PAPA CLEM - Galloped 1 1/2 miles
PIONEEROF THE NILE - Walked the shed row
REGAL RANSOM - Galloped 1 1/4 miles
SUMMER BIRD - Galloped 1 1/2 miles
WEST SIDE BERNIE - Galloped 1 1/2 miles
WIN WILLY - Walked the shed row