Oaklawn News

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Arkansas Derby Winner Continues to Please Asmussen

WinStar Farm's Arkansas Derby winner Creator returned to the track Wednesday morning for the first time since he worked Monday and galloped a 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Abel Flores.

The colt schooled in the paddock Tuesday afternoon. A photograph taken by Barbara Livingston for Daily Racing Form showed Creator standing upright on his hind legs, and Asmussen's other Derby runner, Gun Runner, watching from the next stall. Asmussen said the photo reveals the energy of an energetic young athlete.

"They're ready,'' he said. "They're at their peak physical. We're 'Wait. Not yet.' We're in the Not yet mode. And I think both horses, just like today, first day back (to the track), I get awfully concerned about them jumping or stepping on themselves. They're very physical animals. Abel and Carlos were on them a good 10 minutes up and around the barn just for that purpose. Creator is very reactive. Something happens ... he responds to it. He is awake and alive. Gun Runner is very similar.

"And I thought the picture, Creator is standing up like that, and Gun Runner is looking over at him like, 'It's your turn,' like, 'It's me next. You now. Me next.' They're well aware of what they do for a living. They're racehorses, and they can feel the anticipation. And they're on edge. They're on edge. With Creator, that's what the schooling's about. Went over there. Stood in the paddock. Stuff like that. Excellent. And when we saddled him up, he really puffed up. That was what it's from.

"We'll go over there. We'll keep him moving a little bit more. We'll be a little more gradual with our approach to that. That's what the schooling allows us, for how they'll react to the things that happen.''

Asmussen said that Creator's behavior before the Arkansas Derby was a tip-off that the colt would run well. That race always draws a large crowd. The horses are led to the infield after saddling inside.

"I do think that you get a lot horses that run their race out of the Arkansas Derby in the Kentucky Derby through history,'' Asmussen said. "And I think the pageantry of that (Arkansas Derby) does set them up, to a degree, for the pageantry of the Derby. ... And I do love how he responded to it. He was very focused that day. In prerace for Creator before the Arkansas Derby, you were very confident, because he had his game face on. The race wasn't going to surprise him. It's like, 'We're here to run.' And I did like his focus, and I thought that the trip Ricardo (Santana Jr.) gave him in the Arkansas Derby translates very well to a crowded race of the (Kentucky) Derby.''

In other Kentucky Derby news:

****Samuel F. Henderson's Arkansas Derby runner-up and Southwest Stakes winner Suddenbreakingnews, accompanied by trainer Donnie Von Hemel, went to the track during the special 8:30 training time and galloped one mile under regular rider Ramiro Gorostieta. He also stood in the starting gate.

“No complaints here,” Von Hemel said. “He continues to do well. He was a little on his toes after the starting gate because I think he wanted to do more. He couldn't be doing any better.”

Henderson and jockey Luis Quinonez are expected to be at the post position draw this afternoon.

***Whitmore went to the track with a workmate Wednesday, jogging one mile and galloping one mile with Laura Moquett on board. Trainer Ron Moquett explained that the workmate helps the Pleasantly Perfect gelding stay relaxed on the track.  

Moquett believes that today's post position draw will be extremely important to how this year's Kentucky Derby unfolds.

“This year, more than other years, the post position is going to be very key,” Moquett said. “I think there's easily 10 or more horses in here that could win with the right trip, our horse included. At this point we're all the same. None of them has gone a mile and a quarter.”

Whitmore enters the Kentucky Derby off a third-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (GI), which Moquett feels will be an advantage to his horse Saturday.

“The Arkansas Derby is as good a prep as any of them,” Moquett said. “There's a big crowd when the horses walk over to the paddock and that paddock is an education in itself.”

Whitmore will school in the paddock today and tomorrow during the races.

***Trainer Brad Cox called an audible and did not enter Saturday’s Kentucky Derby or Pat Day Mile (GII) with Steve Landers Racing's Dazzling Gem

Cox previously had said Dazzling Gem was under consideration for the Peter Pan Stakes (GII) at Belmont May 14 or the Preakness Stakes (GII) at Pimlico May 21.

With exercise rider Fernando Espinoza aboard, Dazzling Gem galloped the renovation break.

Asmussen's Oaks Trio Ready

Trainer Steve Asmussen's Kentucky Oaks threesome – Stonestreet Stable and Regis Farms LP's Royal Obsession, Winchell Thoroughbreds' Taxable, second in the Fantasy Stakes and Stonestreet Stable's Fantasy Stakes winner Terra Promessa – galloped a mile and a half Wednesday before the renovation break.

Exercise rider Abel Flores was aboard Taxable and Terra Promessa. Exercise rider Carlos Rosas was on Royal Obsession.

Terra Promessa will break from the rail, Royal Obsession has post position eight and Taxable is No. 14 in a 14-filly field. Asmussen said that each has a position to suit her style.

"We have there very different fillies,'' he said. "Terra Promessa, inside draw. She's pretty aggressive, will probably have something to say with the pace with her draw. Royal Obsession, a great big talented filly coming off second in the Gazelle. It was a very good draw for her with the eight.

"And then, Taxable, a lightly raced filly on the far outside, which might actually help her. Just three lifetime races. She will avoid some traffic. There's some very good ability to her immediate inside, which ought to clear out a path for her.''