LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Mike Harrington is content watching the hubbub of Kentucky Derby week from afar. The 71-year-old trainer is happily tucked away in a non-descript barn that lacks even the teeniest view of Churchill Downs’ Twin Spires.
Harrington prefers laying low with Creative Cause, likely to be one of the top betting choices for Saturday’s race.
The gray-roan colt has never finished out of the money in any of his eight career races, posting four wins, two seconds and two thirds. He’s among the best of five strong California-based horses in the expected 20-horse field. Of course, Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher hold their usual strong hand, with two Derby horses each.
Harrington has but one.
“This is probably two derbies for me,” he said Tuesday. “It’s my first and my last.”
WISH GRANTED: Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas got his wish. Optimizer will run in the Derby.
Lukas, a four-time Derby winner, was on the outside looking in until Tuesday. The top 20 Derby entrants based on graded stakes earnings are assured spots in the race. Optimizer was No. 21.
Then came news that Mark Valeski was pulling out, opening the door for Optimizer to slide into the 20th and final slot.