Originally created 05/01/06

Pletcher sends his three Derby contenders jogging in the rain



LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A day after a dozen horses put in workouts for the Kentucky Derby, there wasn't much activity at Churchill Downs on a dreary and rainy Sunday morning.

Among the Derby contenders out for a mile jog before Saturday's Derby were trainer Todd Pletcher's Bluegrass Cat, Keyed Entry and Sunriver.

While Bluegrass Cat and Keyed Entry are set for the 1¼-mile Derby, the same can't be said for Sunriver, who may be Pletcher's best 3-year-old coming into the race.

The field is limited to 20 starters, and if more are entered at Wednesday's post position draw the deciding factor is based on graded stakes earnings.

Sunriver, who finished third behind Barbaro and Sharp Humor in the Florida Derby, ranks 22nd on the list, and will need at least two horses to drop out for a chance to run for the roses.

"I really hope the horse gets to run," Pletcher said. "He deserves his chance and if he gets it I think he can do very well."

Pletcher, a two-time Eclipse Award winning trainer who currently leads the nation in earnings this year, sent out three Derby starters last year: Flower Alley finished ninth, Coin Silver was 12th and Bandini was 19th.

Bluegrass Cat, a disappointing fourth in the Blue Grass Stakes, still does not have a rider, with Ramon Dominguez under consideration to replace the injured John Velazquez.

Keyed Entry, third in the Wood Memorial behind Bob and John and Jazil, will be ridden by Patrick Valenzuela.

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CALIFORNIA WORKING: While it poured at Churchill Downs, it was sunny and in the 70s in California - where Derby contenders A.P. Warrior, Bob and John and Point Determined worked out before being shipped the Louisville on Tuesday.

A.P. Warrior went six furlongs in 1:13.80 for trainer John Shirreffs, who won last year's Derby with Giacomo. The San Felipe Stakes winner will be ridden by Corey Nakatani, but exercise rider Ramon Guerra was aboard for the work at Hollywood Park.

"That was by design," Shirreffs said. "In that last work before a race, I don't like to put a jockey up. I prefer to put an exercise rider aboard so that the horse doesn't get too aggressive. I like to try to save something for the race."

At Santa Anita, three-time Derby winning trainer Bob Baffert sent out Bob and John and Point Determined. Bob and John went six furlongs in 1:11.40; Point Determined worked five furlongs in 59.80.

"It went just as we planned it," Baffert said. "The riders - Victor Espinoza on Point Determined and Garrett Gomez on Bob and John - were very happy with the moves and the horses came back and cooled out fine. I'm happy I stayed here with them. It has worked for the best."

The colts were scheduled to be shipped to Kentucky on Tuesday.

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NEWS FROM NEW YORK: Trainer Barclay Tagg said undefeated Showing Up is looking good for the Derby after galloping 1½ miles at Belmont Park on Sunday.

"So far, so good," said he trainer who won the 2003 Derby with Funny Cide.

Showing Up, 3-for-3, sustained a puncture wound in his right front leg during his victory in the Lexington Stakes on April 22.

Tagg won't make a final Derby until Wednesday - the colt was set for a workout Monday and gallops on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Regret in 1915 was the last horse to win the Derby in his fourth career start. Tagg thinks he has a special colt in Showing Up.

"I've been amazed at how 'ungreen' such a green horse could be," Tagg said from New York. "It's like he's done things a million times already. Nothing seems to bother him. I wouldn't even consider putting him through the ordeal of the Derby if it weren't for the aplomb and grace that's he shown."

If Showing Up runs, it would be the first time an owner started two undefeated horses in the Derby - Gretchen and Roy Jackson's Lael Stable owns Showing Up and Barbaro, who has won all five of his races.