Kentucky Derby Notes and Workouts for 5/4/22

Crown Pride turned in a half-mile breeze in preparation for the Kentucky Derby. (Coady Photography)

Crown Pride Impresses Lemaire in Half-Mile Breeze

The positive vibes Teruya Yoshida’s Crown Pride (JPN) has been giving off all week continued the morning of May 4 as the UAE Derby (G2) winner put in his last serious piece of work in advance of the 148th Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs.

Crown Pride started his morning jogging in the mile chute under Masa Matsuda during the first harrow break of the morning and once the tractors left, jockey Christophe Lemaire – who will pilot the colt in the first leg of the Triple Crown - jumped aboard to guide the son of Reach the Crown (JPN) through a half-mile work that was timed in :46.60.

Working on his own, Crown Pride produced fractions of :12.40, :24.20, :35.60 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:00. The move was the fastest of nine at the distance for the morning.

Following the breeze, Lemaire took Crown Pride back to the mile chute where Matsuda again took the reins for the leisurely trip back to the Quarantine Barn.

“I have worked him before in Japan and I very happy with his work today and with the way he changed leads. He did it very well,” said Lemaire, who is back at Churchill Downs for the first time since he rode in the 2010 and 2011 Breeders’ Cups. “Very happy with the horse, with the way he moved, and his attitude. He really has gotten used to the environment. I had no problem to drive him. On his own, he made a good move down the stretch, and I was very happy with his footwork because it is important for the foreign horses to take a good turn and change the leg at the right time. So, I was very careful about that.”

In preparation for his first ride in the Kentucky Derby, Lemaire said he has watched videos of recent runnings to try and get a feel for what strategy will work best.

“I watched the last 20 Kentucky Derbies. Some horses won from start to finish, some came from far back,” Lemaire said. “But, like American horse racing in general, it’s all about the fractions. If the fractions are quick early on, you have a chance to come from the back, but if it’s slow coming into the first corner it’s really hard to cover ground. So, what to do?”

Trainer Koichi Shintani was all smiles after the work by Crown Pride, who captured the UAE Derby at Meydan on March 26 in what was just his fourth career start.

Trainer Tim Yakteen had his two Derby colts – Messier and Taiba– on the track for the special Derby/Oaks training period from 7:30-7:45 a.m. with Taiba putting in a three-furlong move.

Yakteen deputized Eclipse Award-winner Joel Rosario – an old friend from the jockey’s days in California – to take a leg up on the Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner for his morning exercises. He also put a pair of blinkers on his lightly raced ace (“The blinkers were just something to help him focus; he doesn’t need them to race,” the trainer noted.), then had the two backtrack to the seven-furlong pole before turning to gallop to the three-eighths where they broke off and went through a three-furlong breeze in :38.40.

“I don’t know how fast he went,” said Rosario, who will ride Epicenter in the Kentucky Derby. “But I do know he felt good.”

Yakteen had spent a half dozen years in the early 1990s working and learning under Hall of Famer Charlie Whittingham, who made it commonplace to give his stakes horses a short blowout in the days just ahead of a race.

“We blew him out three furlongs this morning,” Yakteen said back at the barn. “Nothing special; I got him in :38 and two (the Churchill clockers did likewise). It was just what we wanted. I’m following the same pattern we used coming up to the Santa Anita Derby. He blew out there, too.”

In the Santa Anita Derby – only the second start of the precocious colt’s career – he came running late under Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith to beat stablemate Messier by 2 1/4 lengths.

Messier, with exercise rider Beto Gomez up, went about his usual business and galloped a mile and a half on a cool, overcast Louisville morning.

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