LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Saturday morning at Churchill Downs was all about the rain, the sloppy racetrack, and trainer Todd Pletcher, who made the biggest splash by working five of his Derby contenders, but not the likely Derby favorite Eskendereya.
As expected, the rains came early Saturday with the racetrack already sloppy by the time it opened for business at 5:45 a.m. and it wasn't much better when all the Derby workers made their way onto the course immediately after the renovation break nearly three hours later.
Work of the day
Devil May Care (five furlongs in 1:00.10): This steadily improving filly followed her super five-furlong drill last Saturday at Palm Meadows with an even better and easier skip in the park over the sloppy going here Saturday. Once again equipped in blinkers and with exercise rider Patti Barry barely moving an eyelash, Devil May Care appeared to be just galloping along over the wet track but still managed to cover five furlongs in just a shade more than a minute while completing her final quarter in 24 seconds. She then continued out very strongly around the turn, galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.81 and pulling up seven-eighths in 1:28.47.
There is little doubt this filly is not only on top of her game at the moment but obviously more focused with the addition of blinkers.
Sidney's Candy (six furlongs in 1:11.44): On the watch, this was an impressive enough drill and as one of any number of front-running types in the Derby field it was encouraging to see him rate off stablemate Via Verde and easily pull away through the stretch, albeit under some urging from jockey Joe Talamo. He was a little headstrong coming away from the pole but he did toss in a 22.75 second-quarter split around the turn pretty much under his own courage. However, the somewhat soft final furlong of 13.28 and relatively non-existent gallop out (1:26.57 for seven eighths) sent up some mixed signals regarding the overall merits of this work. Do keep in mind this Southern California-based colt was likely experiencing a wet track for the first time in his career.
Mission Impazible (five furlongs in 1:00.30): For the second straight week, Mission Impazible worked in company with stablemate Rule and for the second consecutive week was unquestionably the more impressive of the pair. Breaking off a little over one length in front of his mate while working nearest the inside, Louisiana Derby winner Mission Impazible was well in hand and merely galloping throughout another very impressive drill. Shaded 23.00 for his second quarter without urging before readily pulling away from Rule during a sharp six-furlong gallop out completed in 1:13.80.
This is another horse peaking at the right time. He's looked very good here all week and appears ready for another breakout performance on Derby Day.
Rule (five furlongs in 1:00.10): Although Rule's final time was a tick faster than workmate Mission Impazible, his performance paled in comparison. Despite being given a target to run at and making up about a length at the finish, Rule struggled to keep pace while noticeably asked both at the quarter pole and through the stretch. He then shut down rather quickly once passing the wire, fading far behind his partner during the gallop out for the second week in a row.
Although his game performance in the Florida Derby was encouraging, perhaps the tough trip took its toll as it would appear this colt may just not be at his best now.
Discreetly Mine (five furlongs in 1:00.04): Doesn't receive the attention of some of the other 3-year-olds in Pletcher's imposing arsenal but he has certainly done nothing to suggest he doesn't belong with the rest of the group after posting another solid, if not spectacular, work on Saturday. With jockey Javier Castellano aboard and offering very little encouragement other than a little shake of the reins in the vicinity of the eighth pole and again in late stretch, Discreetly Mine actually turned in the fastest five-furlong clocking of the bunch, completing his final three eighths in 35.69 before galloping out a very willing six furlongs in 1:13.26.
While it seems Pletcher has been waffling slightly regarding Discreetly Mine's status for the Derby, this effort may have sewn up a starting berth for him.
Super Saver (four furlongs in 48.32): The only member of the Pletcher gang to work a half-mile, Super Saver continues to impress. With jockey Calvin Borel aboard and little more than a passenger from start to finish, Super Saver breezed an easy half-mile, posting identical 24.16 splits for both his opening and final quarter-miles before galloping out five-eighths in 1:01.28. A horse for the course, he's the only member of the prospective Derby lineup with a win over the track, and certainly gives the appearance he's sitting on a huge effort.
Eskendereya raised some eyebrows when his tentatively scheduled five-furlong workout was canceled shortly after 7 a.m. He did come out after the break and seemed to get over the ground well enough during a relatively uninspiring gallop.
Line of David went out at 6:15 a.m. and like stablemate Sidney's Candy was probably experiencing a wet track for the first time in his life. That may render his failure to switch off his left lead through the stretch and around the clubhouse turn somewhat moot.
Dublin attempted to bolt on two separate occasions between the three and a half and three-furlong poles during a routine gallop, finally ducking out so sharply he actually bounced off the outside fence. Fortunately, he was ultimately able to regroup and complete a very eventful training session. Has not looked sharp since returning to the track following a five furlong workout here earlier in the week.