Honor Marie Heats Up Cool Morning With 5F Breeze

April 25, 2024

A pensive Honor Marie chills back in his stall. (Coady Media/Churchill Downs)

Undefeated Forever Young (JPN) Works 

Kentucky Derby Update/Edited

LOUISVILLE, Ky.– Ribble Farms, Michael Eiserman, Earl Silver and Kenneth and Dave Fishbein’s Honor Marie worked five furlongs in company with stakes-placed stablemate Agoo in :59.20 over a fast track on a chilly Thursday morning at Churchill Downs.

With jockey Ben Curtis aboard for trainer Whit Beckman, Honor Marie clicked off fractions of :12, :23.80, :35.60, :47.40 and :59.20. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.60 and seven-eighths in 1:27.60. It was the best of 11 workers at the distance.

“Everybody was smiling when I got back to the barn, and a lot of times that doesn’t happen,” Curtis said.

Susumu Fujita’s undefeated Forever Young (JPN) worked six furlongs in 1:19.60 over a fast track Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs.

With jockey Ryusei Sakai aboard, Forever Young posted fractions of :14.80, :28.80, :42.60, :55.20, 1:19.60 and out seven furlongs in 1:33,60. He was joined for the last half-mile by Cuffed Candy, an unraced 3-year-old for trainer Dale Romans.

Trained by Yoshito Yahagi, Forever Young also visited the starting gate after the work. The winner of the Saudi Derby (GIII) and UAE Derby (GII) is scheduled to have another work next week.

Also working Thursday morning were three candidates for the Longines Kentucky Oaks: Willis Horton Racing’s Tapit Jenallie (four furlongs, :49.40), Whisper Hill Farm’s Leslie’s Rose (four furlongs, :49.40) and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Candied (four furlongs :47.60 in company).

Scheduled to work beneath the Twin Spires Friday morning for the Derby is champion Fierceness. Oaks workers scheduled are TarifaThorpedo AnnaGin GinInto ChampagneWays and Means and Manama Gold.

CATALYTIC – After coming to the track for the first time Tuesday morning, Tami Bobo, Julie Davies and George Isaacs’ Catalytic returned Wednesday to gallop a mile and a half under exercise rider Olaf Hernandez.

Trained by Saffie Joseph Jr., Catalytic arrived at Churchill Downs Monday morning after vanning from South Florida.

“He just galloped the mile and a half,” said Tristan Ford, an assistant to Joseph. “We’re happy with everything. He’s feeling good.”

Catalytic was back on the track Thursday with an energetic gallop going a mile-and-a-half under exercise rider Olaf Hernandez.

Trained by Saffie Joseph Jr., Catalytic arrived at Churchill Downs Monday morning after vanning from South Florida.

“He’s doing well,” said Tristan Ford, an assistant to Joseph, after the gallop. “Everyone is happy with the way he’s progressing.”

Catalytic, the Florida Derby (GI) runner-up behind probable Kentucky Derby favorite Fierceness, is expected to work this weekend, possibly Sunday.

galloped a mile and a half during the 7:30-7:45 training. (Coady Media/Churchill Downs)
Catching Freedom galloped a mile and a half during the 7:30-7:45 training. (Coady Media/Churchill Downs)

CATCHING FREEDOM/ENCINO/JUST A TOUCH – Trainer Brad Cox’s Derby trio of Catching Freedom, Encino and Just a Touch all galloped about 1 ½ miles Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. and schooled in the starting gate.

Cox stated Encino’s jockey has yet to be confirmed for the Kentucky Derby.

The Cox trio had their normal training sessions Thursday at 7:30 a.m., all galloping 1 ½ miles.

They will train between 5:30-6:30 a.m. Friday and work at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

DOMESTIC PRODUCT/SIERRA LEONE –Trainer Chad Brown’s Derby duo of Sierra Leone and Domestic Product galloped a mile and a half during the 7:30-7:45 training window for Derby and Oaks horses.

Kriss Bon was aboard Sierra Leone, who gave Brown his third Blue Grass Stakes (GI) victory. Brown’s other Blue Grass winners were Good Magic, who finished second in the 2018 Derby, and Zandon, who finished third in the 2022 Derby.

Sierra Leone is owned by the partnership of Peter Brant, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Westerberg and Brook Smith.

Peter Roman partnered Domestic Product, winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (GIII) in his most recent start. Klaravich Stables owns and bred Domestic Product.

Thursday, Sierra Leone galloped a mile and a half under Kriss Bon and for the second consecutive morning visited the starting gate.

“He did great this morning (at the gate),” trainer Chad Brown said of Sierra Leone, who delayed the start of the Blue Grass Stakes (GI) by being reluctant to load in the gate in front of the Keeneland grandstand.

Domestic Product, owned by Klaravich Stables, galloped a mile and a half under Peter Roman.

“He’s feelin’ good this morning,” Roman said after the morning’s activity was completed.

Both colts are scheduled to work Saturday, weather permitting.

DORNOCH/SOCIETY MAN – Trainer Danny Gargan’s two Kentucky Derby hopefuls both galloped a miler and a half under exercise rider Pricilla Schaefer.

Winner of the Fountain of Youth (GII), Dornoch is owned by the partnership of West Paces Racing, R. A. Hill Stable, Belmar Racing and Breeding, Two Eight Racing and Pine Racing Stables. He put in his morning work at 7:30. Luis Saez has the Derby mount.

Coming out at 9 o’clock for his morning exercise was Wood Memorial runner-up Society Man, who is owned by the partnership of Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, West Paces, GMP Stables and Carl and Yurie Pascarella. Frankie Dettori has the mount on Society Man.

The two colts are scheduled to work in company Saturday morning with Saez aboard Dornoch.

“I think they worked fine together last week and going to do it again this week,” Gargan said. “This time, I’ll put Dornoch on the inside of Society Man. Another day of training down and one closer to the Derby.”

Dornoch galloped a mile and a half at 7:30 with Pricilla Schaefer aboard for trainer Danny Gargan on Thursday morning.

Schaefer returned to the track at 9 with Gargan’s other Kentucky Derby hopeful, Society Man.

Owned by the partnership of Reeves Thoroughbreds, West Paces, GMP Stables and Carl and Yurie Pascarella. Society Man also galloped a mile and a half.

“He’s strong,” Gargan said as Society Man jogged past a viewing stand heading back to the barn. “He’s a bulldog now.”

Endlessly (outside) aside Blue Eyed George had a normal training day Thursday, galloping 1 ½ miles
Endlessly (outside) aside Blue Eyed George had a normal training day Thursday, galloping 1 ½ miles. (Coady Media/Churchill Downs)

ENDLESSLY – Amerman Racing’s Endlessly had a normal training day Wednesday, galloping 1 ½ miles around 5:45 a.m. 

Endlessly had a normal training day Thursday, galloping 1 ½ miles around 5:45 a.m. The winner of the Jeff Ruby Steaks (GIII) is scheduled to work Saturday.

Click to view on X.

FIERCENESS – Repole Stable’s champion Fierceness galloped a mile and three-eighths under regular exercise rider Danny Wright for trainer Todd Pletcher.

The Florida Derby (GI) winner by 13 ½ lengths in his most recent start, galloped a mile and three-eighths under exercise rider Danny Wright for trainer Todd Pletcher.

The Eclipse Award winner as the champion 2-year-old of 2023, Fierceness is scheduled to work Friday morning at 7:30 with jockey John Velazquez aboard.

With jockey Ryusei Sakai aboard, Forever Young worked relaxed fractions and gate schooled Wednesday. (Coady Media/Churchill Downs/Renee Torbit)
With jockey Ryusei Sakai aboard, Forever Young worked relaxed fractions and gate schooled Wednesday. (Coady Media/Churchill Downs/Renee Torbit)

FOREVER YOUNG (JPN) – Susumu Fujita’s undefeated Forever Young (JPN) worked six furlongs in 1:19.60 over a fast track in company.

With jockey Ryusei Sakai aboard, Forever Young posted fractions of :14.80, :28.80, :42.60, :55.20, 1:19.60 and out seven furlongs in 1:33,60. He was joined for the last half-mile by Cuffed Candy, an unraced 3-year-old for trainer Dale Romans.

“Thanks to Dale Romans (with providing the workmate) so we were able to do exactly what we want to do this far out (from the Derby),” Sakai said through a translator.

As usual, Forever Young warmed up in the mile chute for a half-hour during the first harrow break of the morning before commencing his work that went off slowly and finished with a final quarter-mile in :24.40.

Following the work, Forever Young visited the starting gate.

“The gate was no problem,” said Sakai, who missed out on riding in last year’s Derby after Continuar (JPN) was scratched days before the race. “He has been to the gate before at all the places he has run.”

Sakai has been aboard Forever Young in all five of his starts ranging in distance from a mile to a mile and three-sixteenths. Forever Young raced in Japan last year at age 2 and this year has been to Saudi Arabia and Dubai before coming here.

Sakai said Forever Young, trained by Yoshito Yahagi, would have another work next week. However, Sakai will not be aboard for that work as he is returning to Japan to ride this weekend before coming back to Louisville late next week.

Thursday the colt walked in the mile chute for about an hour under Yusaku Oka before returning the Quarantine Barn.

GRAND MO THE FIRST – Granpollo Stables’ Grand Mo the First exited his six-furlong work of 1:16.46 on Tuesday morning at Gulfstream Park in good order.

The colt is en route to Churchill Downs Thursday from Gulfstream Park. Trainer Victor Barboza Jr. said Grand Mo the First was scheduled to arrive here around 9 o’clock tonight.

Friday is a scheduled walk day for Grand Mo the First.

Honor Marie works outside of Anthem King. (Coady Media/Churchill Downs)
Honor Marie works outside of Anthem King. (Coady Media/Churchill Downs)

HONOR MARIE – Trainer Whit Beckman was “calm, cool and relaxed” Wednesday morning watching TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (GII) runner-up Honor Marie train.

“I don’t really get nervous when I run a horse in a race, I think they can win,” Beckman said. “It’s a weird feeling but right now I don’t feel too nervous.”

It was a busy Thursday morning outside Barn 37 as Honor Marie completed his major training towards the first Saturday in May with a strong five-furlong move in :59.20 with jockey Ben Curtis in the irons.

“We can take one breath now that the work is over,” Beckman said about an hour after the 7:30 a.m. breeze. “He came back to the barn, and everything was great. The work was great. It reminded me a lot of his work leading up to the Kentucky Jockey Club, except that work was over at (Churchill Downs’) Trackside.”

Honor Marie was partnered in his work with Agoo, a 3-year-old son of Munnings who won a maiden special weight in October at Keeneland. The duo started the move together through a swift opening quarter-mile of :23.80. As they reached the top of the stretch following three furlongs in :35.60, Honor Marie began to separate from his stablemate and completed his move four lengths in front at the wire. As he galloped out, Honor Marie continued to extend his margin and completed six furlongs in 1:12.60 and finished seven furlongs in 1:27.60, according to Churchill Downs Clocker John Nichols.

“Everyone keeps asking me about why I’m not working on a traditional schedule but I just train each horse individually and not have a certain schedule like every Friday or Saturday or Sunday they work,” Beckman said.

Honor Marie will have a scheduled walk day on Friday.

JUST STEEL – BC Stable’s Just Steel was the first Kentucky Derby contender to train Wednesday morning with Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas closely watching aboard his pony.

The son of new Hall of Fame inductee Justify galloped about 1 ½ miles.

Just Steel stayed with his traditional early training session and galloped 1 ½ miles Thursday morning.

“We’re very fortunate to have some solid horses in the barn this year and in both the Kentucky Derby and Oaks (with Lemon Muffin) but I’ve got a great 2-year-old class getting ready to come in the barn,” Lukas said. “Derby 150 is special, but we always have to keep thinking forward.”

Just Steel is scheduled to have one more work prior to the Kentucky Derby.

MYSTIK DAN – Lance Gasaway, 4 G Racing and Daniel Hamby III’s Mystik Dan galloped an easy mile and a half for trainer Kenny McPeek.

Mystik Dan, the winner of the Southwest (GIII) and most recently third in the Arkansas Derby (GI) at Oaklawn Park, is scheduled to work Saturday. Brian Hernandez Jr. has the Derby riding assignment.

Mystik Dan galloped the usual mile-and-a-half on Thursday. He is scheduled to work Saturday. Brian Hernandez Jr. has the Derby riding assignment.

RESILIENCE – Emily Bushnell and Ric Waldman’s Resilience had an easy gallop at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The winner of the Wood Memorial (GII) is scheduled to school in the paddock a couple times before the Derby, according to trainer Bill Mott.

Resilience had an easy gallop at 7:30 Thursday morning.

“It’s great to be here in Kentucky right now,” Alvarado said. “The (Bill Mott) barn has meant a lot for my career.”

Jockey Junior Alvarado has the mount in the Kentucky Derby and is scheduled to ride at Churchill Downs throughout Derby Week.

STRONGHOLD – Eric and Sharon Waller’s Stronghold, who arrived at Churchill Downs Tuesday afternoon at 4 o’clock from his base at Santa Anita, jogged a mile Wednesday morning with trainer Phil D’Amato’s wife, Sherri, in the saddle.

Stronghold galloped a mile and a half Thursday morning with Sherri D’Amato aboard.

Weather permitting, the Ghostzapper colt is scheduled to work Saturday with Joe Talamo up although that might be postponed until Sunday.

“Sunday is looking like the best day,” D’Amato said of the schedule that is weather dependent.

T O PASSWORD (JPN) – Tomoya Ozasa’s Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby invitee T O Password is in quarantine in Chicago and scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs early Friday morning.

Track Phantom (outside) with Gatlinburg galloped about 1 ½ miles  under exercise rider Roberto Howell. (Coady Media/Churchill Downs)
Track Phantom (outside) with Gatlinburg galloped about 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Roberto Howell. (Coady Media/Churchill Downs)

TRACK PHANTOM – Lecomte Stakes (GIII) winner Track Phantom returned to his early schedule Thursday for Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, galloping about 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Roberto Howell at 5:45 a.m.

The son of Quality Road changed training schedules Wednesday when he visited the starting gate at 7:30 a.m. during the special Derby/Oaks training session. 

WEST SARATOGA – Harry Veruchi’s West Saratoga galloped Thursday morning at The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington, Kentucky.

Trainer Larry Demeritte said West Saratoga would train Friday morning in Lexington and then ship to Churchill Downs with a 2 p.m. arrival anticipated.

Jesus Castanon is scheduled to be aboard for a three-furlong work here Saturday.

ALSO ELIGIBLES – Welch Racing’s Epic Ride, third in the Blue Grass Stakes (GI) in his most recent start, galloped Wednesday and Thursday mornings at The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington, Kentucky, for trainer John Ennis. 

Trainer John Ennis said Epic Ride would train in the morning then ship to Churchill Downs Friday evening.

Trainer Jeff Engler reported Mugatu is back in consideration for the Kentucky Derby also-eligible list. The fifth-place finisher of the Blue Grass (GI) is based at Belterra Park in Ohio.

Adam Beschizza would have the Derby mount.

Engler reported Mugatu, fifth-place finisher of the Blue Grass, would arrive Friday and two-minute lick Saturday morning with jockey Joe Talamo in the irons.

KENTUCKY DERBY MORNING WORKS PROGRAM AIRS DAILY – The Kentucky Derby Morning Works Show will air daily through Thurby and feature Churchill Downs’ expert handicappers Joe KristufekKaitlin FreeTony Calo and Kevin Kilroy along with an array of popular industry figures such as former leading rider Rosie Napravnik and Churchill Downs Track Announcer Travis Stone.

The 20-minute program will be streamed live on @KentuckyDerby on YouTube, Facebook and X.

Endlessly early work. (Coady Media/Chuchill Downs)
Endlessly early work. (Coady Media/Chuchill Downs)

KENTUCKY DERBY, OAKS MORNING WORKOUTS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC – Starting Thursday and continuing through Wednesday, May 1, Churchill Downs will be open free-of-charge daily from 7-10 a.m. so guests can watch the nation’s top 3-year-old Thoroughbreds train toward their engagements in this year’s Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks.

Horses train on Churchill Downs’ main track daily from 5:15-10 a.m. There will be an exclusive training window only for Derby and Oaks participants from 7:30-7:45 a.m. following the 7-7:30 a.m. renovation break. Those horses will be identified by special saddle towels which include their names: yellow saddle towels for Derby horses and pink saddle towels for Oaks contenders.

Guests can enter Churchill Downs through the Clubhouse Gate and should park for free in the nearby Yellow Lot for convenient entry. Guests will be directed to Sections 115-117 to watch the morning workouts. 

On Sunday and Monday, fans can enjoy a premium breakfast in Millionaires Row or the Stakes Room for Dawn at the Downs. Tickets and more information can be found on www.KentuckyDerby.com/DerbyWeek.  

The 150th runnings of the $1.5 Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) and $5 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) will be held Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4, respectively. Opening Night of Derby Week and the 44-day Spring Meet is Saturday. 

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