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Apr 21, 2014 3:10 PM by Brisnet News

Tapiture, Baffert Duo Work; Midnight Hawk Out Of Derby

Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC's Tapiture, winner of the Southwest and fourth in the recent Arkansas Derby, hit the fast Churchill Downs track early Monday to work five furlongs in 1:02 4/5.

The Steve Asmussen-trained son of Tapit, winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club over the Louisville surface last fall, was ridden by Abel Flores and was recorded by Churchill Downs' clockers in fractional splits of :13 2/5, :25 4/5 and :38. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:16 2/5.

The work was Tapiture's first significant training move since the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 12. He was on the track with Asmussen's second set of workers at approximately 6 a.m. (EDT).

"I loved how relaxed he was, pre-breeze and stuff," Asmussen said. "He went around there nice and smooth. I think that it's a very big deal for both him and (Winchell's Kentucky Oaks contender) Untapable to have all the time that they've spent here at Churchill previously -- just to settle back in and get into a routine."

With the Arkansas Derby run behind Tapiture -- a race in which he finished 7 1/4 lengths behind the victorious Danza -- Asmussen is hoping for a step forward in the Kentucky Derby.

"It's not the trip that he needs," Asmussen said. "I think we identify that and hopefully he'll bounce back and run a huge race here. I think it (the Kentucky Derby) is a tremendously competitive race, with California Chrome possibly standing out from a 'numbers' standpoint. But he's got to do that here. We've got nothing but respect for him, but I think everybody else is kind of in the same boat."

Tapiture will be ridden in the Kentucky Derby by Ricardo Santana Jr., and his career record stands at 7-2-2-2 with earnings of $490,838 heading into the May 3 "Run for the Roses."

After the morning renovation break at Churchill, two of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert's Derby hopefuls, Tanma Corporation's Chitu and Kaleem Shah's Bayern, worked a half-mile together in :47 3/5.

Chitu is assured of a spot in the field as the winner of the March 23 Sunland Derby, while Bayern is currently 23rd on the list, on the outside looking in, following his third in the Arkansas Derby.

Baffert told Daily Racing Form's Jay Privman that Chitu will start in Saturday's Grade 3 Derby Trial, but that the Henny Hughes colt could still come back the following week to run in the Kentucky Derby.

Chitu, with Joel Rosario up, started about three-quarters of a length in front of Bayern, who was ridden by Rosie Napravnik. Fractions for the work were :12, :23 4/5 and :35 3/5 with a five-furlong gallop out time of 1:01 for Chitu. Bayern went out in 1:00 1/5 and six furlongs in 1:13 2/5.

Assistant trainer Jim Barnes said the works went well and that Baffert would arrive in Louisville on Wednesday.

The Baffert-trained Hoppertunity was shipping in from Southern California Monday, and slated to arrive at Churchill Downs during the afternoon. Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman's runner captured the March 15 rebel prior to finishing best of the rest behind California Chrome in the April 5 Santa Anita Derby. Hall of Famer Mike Smith retains the mount.

C R K Stable's Candy Boy, third in the Santa Anita Derby in his most recent start, was likewise scheduled to arrive Monday afternoon after the flight from Southern California. Trained by John Sadler, Candy Boy will be ridden in the Run for the Roses by three-time Derby-winning rider Gary Stevens.

In other Kentucky Derby news:

Another Baffert trainee, Midnight Hawk, has been officially removed from Derby consideration following his photo-finish loss in this past Saturday's Illinois Derby.

With his defection, Harry's Holiday advanced into the Derby field as the 20th horse on the list. Just denied in the March 22 Spiral two starts back, he becomes the third potential runner for trainer Mike Maker in Derby 140. Harry's Holiday joins Louisiana Derby romper Vicar's in Trouble and General a Rod, the near-miss second in the February 22 Fountain of Youth and third-placer in the March 29 Florida Derby.

Maker reported Monday morning that his trio of Kentucky Derby possibilities "were doing just fine" at the nearby Trackside Training Center.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Vicar's in Trouble galloped at Trackside Monday morning and is scheduled to breeze at Churchill Downs this Saturday along with Harry's Holiday, who is owned by Skychai Racing, Terry Raymond and Jana Wagner. J. Armando Rodriguez's General a Rod also galloped at Trackside Monday and is scheduled to work at Churchill Downs most likely on Wednesday.

West Point Thoroughbreds' Commanding Curve, third in the March 29 Louisiana Derby in his most recent start, is now 21st on the leaderboard. The Dallas Stewart pupil galloped after Churchill's renovation break under exercise rider Emerson Chavez.

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Danza, runaway winner of the Arkansas Derby in his most recent start, also galloped after the morning renovation break at Churchill Downs under exercise rider Nick Bush.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Danza is scheduled to get some Derby company in Barn 34 Tuesday with the arrival of Starlight Racing's Intense Holiday and Ken and Sarah Ramsey's We Miss Artie. Those two colts worked Sunday at Palm Meadows and are scheduled to ship to Louisville Tuesday.
A fourth Pletcher possibility, WinStar Farm and Twin Creek Racing Stables' Vinceremos, is scheduled to come to Churchill Downs Wednesday from WinStar according to Ginny DePasquale, Pletcher's assistant here.

Daniel Dougherty's Ride On Curlin, runner-up in the Arkansas Derby, galloped after the renovation break under exercise rider Bryan Beccia for trainer Billy Gowan.

According to Gowan, Ride On Curlin is scheduled to work Saturday or Sunday depending on weather. Three-time Kentucky Derby-winning rider Calvin Borel has the mount for Derby 140.

Spendthrift Farm's Medal Count, runner-up in the April 12 Blue Grass last time out, galloped after the renovation break under exercise rider Faustino Aguilar for trainer Dale Romans.

Derby Dreamers Racing Stable's Big Bazinga, fourth in the Blue Grass Stakes in his most recent start, was scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs from Keeneland shortly after noon Monday for trainer Katerina Vassilieva.

Big Bazinga remained at Keeneland after the Blue Grass in hopes that his 14 points accumulated on "The Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by TwinSpires.com" would be enough to make the field. As of Monday, he ranked 25th on the list and still needs help to get in.

Big Bazinga will be housed in Barn 35 with Vassilieva's assistant Amber Mayers overseeing preparations initially.

Honors Stable Corp.'s Wildcat Red, who worked Sunday at Gulfstream Park, is scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs on Tuesday for trainer Jose Garoffalo. The Fountain of Youth winner exits a neck loss in the Florida Derby.

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Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography.

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