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McCraken Breezes Half-Mile at Churchill Downs

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Janis Whitham’s Blue Grass (Grade II) third-place finisher McCraken breezed a half-mile in :47.80 Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs for trainer Ian Wilkes in preparation for the Grade I, $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on Saturday, May 6.

McCraken, who was ridden by jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., breezed over the “fast” track through splits of :12.60, :24.60 and :36.40 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:00 and three-quarters of a mile in 1:13.40.

“He felt great,” Hernandez said. “Once he was a little settled going to the pole, he worked great. His gallop-out was very nice and he’s right back home at Churchill where he likes it.”

“The main thing is I wanted to see him finish but finish without riding himself while doing it,” Wilkes said. “I got everything I wanted to see today.”

Last week, Hernandez chose to ride McCraken in the Kentucky Derby over Louisiana Derby (GII) winner Girvin.

“It was a tough decision,” Hernandez said. “It was like trying to decide which one of your kids to take on vacation and which one to stay at home.”

“We’ve had a lot of success and it’s been fun,” Wilkes said. “Brian is a part of the team and he fits in well. He helps develop horses.”

The 3-year-old son of Ghostzapper has a 5-4-0-1 record that includes victories in Churchill Downs’ Street Sense Stakes and Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) as a juvenile.

Wilkes has two more planned breezes for McCraken prior to the first Saturday in May with the next coming in six or seven days. 

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