Kentucky Derby notebook: Want Revenge has final Derby workout
By MIKE FARRELL
For The Associated Press
By MIKE FARRELL
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — I Want Revenge, the probable favorite for the Kentucky Derby, beat the rain Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs to squeeze in his final workout.
The Wood Memorial winner was the first horse onto the track when it reopened at 8:30 a.m. following a maintenance break to smooth the dirt surface following the early morning drills.
Jockey Joe Talamo was aboard as I Want Revenge approached the track five minutes before it reopened for training. I Want Revenge never displayed a ripple of tension while waiting for the all-clear signal as a crowd gathered for a closer look.
Out on the track, the colt zipped a half-mile in 47.20 seconds, the fastest of the 49 workouts at the distance.
About 15 minutes later, Churchill Downs was hit with a torrential downpour. By then, I Want Revenge was tucked away in a dry stall while his jockey and trainer Jeff Mullins expressed satisfaction with the final workout before Saturday's race.
"It's hard to explain," Talamo said. "He does everything so easily. Pretty much whatever you want him to do, he does. Today he just galloped around there and, right after the work, he just eased himself up and started to relax."
That ability to unwind could be an important factor in the hectic days before the Derby.
"Even after the long van ride from Aqueduct to here, the next morning he was ready to go to work," Mullins said. "He hasn't lost a pound. He'll probably walk on Wednesday and then he'll probably gallop a mile or jog a mile every day up to the race."
SQUARE EDDIE OUT: A recurring left front shin problem knocked Square Eddie out of the Derby.
Trainer Doug O'Neill said Tuesday morning the colt developed a hot spot in the shin. The injury kept Square Eddie off the Derby trail earlier this year before he finished third in his last start, April 18 in the Lexington Stakes. O'Neill plans to give the horse a few weeks off before deciding where to race next.
"We decided to err on the side of caution," he said. "He worked fantastic the other day and came out of it with a little heat in his shin and we decided it was better to give him a break than take our chances."
"He's sound," O'Neill said. "He walked sound, he jogged sound. Since early March his shins have been cold but we knew that we would have to be hiccup-free to make it and we were up until Monday morning."
The 3-year-old colt looked like one of the early Derby favorites last fall after finishing second to Midshipman in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
CHANGING LINEUP: Square Eddie was the second major Derby contender withdrawn in a two-day span, joining Florida Derby winner Quality Road who dropped out Monday because of hoof problems.
Another spot in the expected full field of 20 opened Tuesday when trainer Todd Pletcher withheld Take the Points, opting instead to target the Preakness for the fourth-place finisher in the Santa Anita Derby, after consulting with owner Jack Wolf.
"We weighed all the factors," Pletcher said. "When we looked at it from all angles, we decided the best way to go with Take the Points was the Preakness. That race gives him two extra weeks, a shorter distance (1 1-16 miles) to work with and a track where we think his tactical style will work to best advantage. In the end, we just thought it was the right choice."
That still leaves Pletcher three in the Derby: Dunkirk, runner-up in the Florida Derby; Advice, winner of the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland; and Join in the Dance.
With two defections on Tuesday, Atomic Rain moved into the field. He will join West Side Bernie as trainer Kelly Breen's first two Derby runners.
RACHEL TOPS THE OAKS: Rachel Alexandra is the 3-5 favorite for the $500,000 Kentucky Oaks, the companion event for 3-year-old fillies on Friday at Churchill Downs.
A winner of four straight stakes, Rachel Alexandra will face seven rivals when she breaks from post No. 6. Most recently, Rachel Alexandra captured the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park by a commanding 8ﬂ lengths.
Calvin Borel, winner of the 2007 Derby with Street Sense, will be aboard for trainer Hal Wiggins.
Justwhistledixie puts a five-race winning streak on the line as the 5-2 second choice from post No. 5.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, a four-time Oaks winner, sends out a trio of long shots: Tweeter (30-1), Be Fair (15-1), and Stone Legacy (30-1).
The Oaks field, in post position order: Tweeter, Be Fair, Stone Legacy, Gabby's Golden Gal, Justwhistledixie, Rachel Alexandra, Nan and Flying Spur.
ALL WET: Rain figures prominently for most of Derby week with thundershowers forecast every day through Friday.
The bright spot is race day, with the forecast calling for clearing skies with temperatures in the low 70s.