Work goes on in slop

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. --- The weather forecast wouldn't change, no matter how long Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert sat in front of the television.

Kentucky Derby horse Shackleford is exercised on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Another rainy day is forecast for today before a clearing pattern is expected.   Associated Press
Associated Press
Kentucky Derby horse Shackleford is exercised on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Another rainy day is forecast for today before a clearing pattern is expected.

"The only time I got away from the Weather Channel was when Obama came on last night," Baffert said, referring to President Obama 's announcement of Osama bin Laden 's death.

Slop and all, Baffert had no choice but to send out Midnight Interlude on Monday for the final workout before Saturday's Kentucky Derby.

"I really can't do anything about it," he said of the wet track after the upset winner of the Santa Anita Derby went five furlongs in 1:00.80 in the company of a stablemate. "We just have to deal with it. If it rains for the race, at least he's been over a wet track."

That's something the colt rarely encounters at Baffert's home base in Southern California.

"He was happy. He handled it very well. So far, so good," Baffert said. "When you work in the mud or the slop like this, the only thing you get out of it is that he went well. You can't grade the work because it's slop."

Midnight Interlude will be making only his fifth career start. He jumped up from his first win to capture the $1 million Santa Anita prize by a head at 13-1 odds.

Monday's weather repeated the recent pattern of rainy days in Louisville. Another wet one is forecast for today before a clearing pattern is expected.

FOUR MORE: Four other Derby horses worked in the slop.

Blue Grass winner Brilliant Speed went five furlongs in 1:01.20, while Tampa Bay Derby winner Watch Me Go went five furlongs in 1:02.

Santiva and Nehro had half-mile drills. Santiva was clocked in 50.20 seconds, and Nehro went in 51.20.

A CHIP VISIT: Chip Woolley , the cowboy trainer from New Mexico who pulled off a stunning upset with Mine That Bird in the 2009 Derby, was a backstretch visitor at Churchill Downs on Monday.

"I got Derby fever," he said of returning to the scene of his greatest triumph. "I came to watch everybody, and to see who is doing what."

Mine That Bird was a captivating story, as was his trainer. Despite a broken right leg from a motorcycle accident, Woolley hitched a horse van to his pickup and towed the gelding more than 1,500 miles from New Mexico to Kentucky. He hobbled around during the Triple Crown series on crutches.

Woolley is fully healed.

"I'm good, I'm back," he said. "I exercise a few of my horses."

NO HEAT: The $1 million Kentucky Oaks, the Derby's companion event for fillies Friday, lost a top contender when R Heat Lightning suffered a knee injury. She will be evaluated later this week at a clinic in Lexington.


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