April 22, 2024

McCraken works six furlongs for Blue Grass

McCraken (right) had a target to chase in his six-furlong work at Keeneland (Wendy Wooley/EquiSport)

Undefeated Kentucky Derby (G1) contender McCraken took another step toward an intended start in the April 8 Blue Grass (G2), working over the Keeneland main track on Monday for trainer Ian Wilkes.

Breaking four lengths behind workmate Nessy, McCraken, ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., passed that rival at the quarter pole and then clocked six furlongs in 1:13.40 with a seven-furlong gallop out in 1:25.40.

Keeneland clockers reported McCraken’s internal fractions were :25.20, :38, :50, and 1:01.60.

“Very pleased,” Wilkes said, adding the decision to work McCraken in company was “just giving him a target, just changing it up. You don’t want him to get bored. Keeping him happy.

“This is the type of horse I could work him a half-mile and run him and he’d be fine. I didn’t run him at Tampa Bay, and I’m looking for a little more bottom on him this time (with) a longer work. Just (wanted) a nice solid work. Didn’t need anything fast, fast. But just a solid work and a strong gallop out.”

Winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and Sam F. Davis (G3), McCraken missed an intended start in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) due to a minor injury.

Wilkes said McCraken would have one more work before the Blue Grass on either Sunday or next Monday.