LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Read the Footnotes trainer Richard Violette says a seven-week break from competition is just what his colt needed before the Kentucky Derby.
The son of Smoke Glacken last raced March 13, finishing fourth in the Florida Derby. Violette decided not to press him into another Derby prep, choosing to condition him at Palm Meadows before coming to Louisville last week.
"Even in hindsight, I'm glad we did it," Violette said. "He's trained wonderfully."
Read the Footnotes had his final pre-race workout Monday, breezing a half-mile in 47.6 seconds.
Violette said the work was as much orientation as it was exercise.
"He just needed a tour of the course and to accelerate down to the wire," Violette said. "We just wanted him to get his feet under him. We'll save the rest for Saturday."
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TOUGH CRITIC: The new $26 million addition to the north end of the Churchill Downs grandstand doesn't impress Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel.
"It looks like a prison. Each one of those windows is like a cell," Frankel said Monday as he viewed the renovated section from the backstretch.
The addition is the first phase of a $121 million renovation of the 130-year-old track. The ongoing second phase will include a new and expanded Turf Club and Skye Terrace, home to Millionaire's Row.
The project is to be completed in April 2005.
"If you get closer, you see the architectural thing and it doesn't look all that bad," Frankel said. "But from here, it doesn't look very attractive."
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NOT SO BAD: Trainer Todd Pletcher says he's heard two explanations for why no odds-on Kentucky Derby favorite has emerged.
"Some people are saying it's wide-open because there aren't any good horses in it and some people say it's wide-open because there are a number of good horses in it," said Pletcher, who trains Derby hopefuls Limehouse and Pollard's Vision. "I would tend to agree with the latter. There are some very solid horses in here."
Pletcher, a former assistant to D. Wayne Lukas, said the year's top 3-year-old may not appear until long after the Triple Crown season.
"To this point, it's an underrated crop," he said. "I usually reserve my opinion until the fall, when they start running against some older horses."
Pletcher will saddle at least one Derby starter for the third time in four years. His best finish came in 2001, with runner-up Invisible Ink.
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STATE BUSINESS: Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher mingled with trainers on the Churchill Downs backside Monday.
Fletcher chatted with Nick Zito, who trains Derby hopefuls Birdstone and The Cliff's Edge, and met Kristin Mulhall, the 21-year-old trainer of Imperialism.
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NEW ARRIVALS: Santa Anita Derby winner Castledale and San Felipe runner-up St. Averil arrived at Churchill Downs on Monday afternoon.
Castledale had been training at Hollywood Park, and St. Averil had been working at Santa Anita. The two flew to Louisville on the same flight.
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BETTER LATE THAN NEVER:Trainer Steve Asmussen has had no problem preparing Quintons Gold Rush for the Kentucky Derby, even though the colt's been in his stable only three weeks.
"The challenge would be doing it with a slow one," Asmussen said Monday.
The colt finished fourth in the Santa Anita Derby, prompting owners Jay Manoogian and Padua Stables to drop trainer Mike Mitchell in favor of Asmussen.
The chestnut son of Wild Rush promptly won the Lexington Stakes on April 17.
"We're very fortunate to be in this position," Asmussen said.
Quintons Gold Rush breezed five furlongs in 1:01.4 on Monday.
Asmussen has talked to the California-based Mitchell almost daily since taking over the colt's training.
"I can't say how helpful he's been," Asmussen said. "Every incident the horse has handled, how he's reacted to it, what he will eat, what he won't eat, who had the best luck galloping him, how he approached works with him. We've been in constant contact with Mike and without his help, we wouldn't be here."
Asmussen will saddle his third Derby starter. Fifty Stars finished ninth for him in 2001 and Private Emblem was 14th in 2002.
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