November 30, 2023

Gormley, Battle of Midway work at Santa Anita Park, Battalion Runner breezes at Belmont Park for Kentucky Derby

Gormley worked six furlongs in 1:15.80 at Santa Anita Park under exercise rider Cisco Alvarado on Saturday, April 22, 2017 (c) Cecilia Gustavsson/

Kentucky Derby (G1) hopefuls Gormley and Battle of Midway, the respective first and second in the April 8 Santa Anita Derby (G1), each worked over Santa Anita Park’s fast main track Saturday morning.

Gormley, winner of the Santa Anita Derby by a half-length, clocked six furlongs in 1:15.80 for trainer John Shirreffs. The Malibu Moon colt, with exercise rider Cisco Alvarado in the saddle, worked in splits of :26, :38.60, :52.40 and 1:04 in company with Oregon.

“He went well,” Shirreffs said of Gormley, who is scheduled to ship out of California and to Churchill Downs in Kentucky on May 1.

Battle of Midway clocked five-eighths in 1:00.60 with jockey Flavien Prat holding the reins for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. It was announced on Friday that the Smart Strike colt, who worked in company with Spanish Eyes, had been bought by the partnership of WinStar Farm and Don Alberto Stable; he was previously owned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm.

“Battle of Midway started behind his workmate, had a good target, ran past him and galloped out well,” Hollendorfer said. “He’s totally on schedule. He’ll have one more work here next week and then ship (to Kentucky) on the 29th. Flavien Prat will ride Battle of Midway in the Derby.”

Wood Memorial (G2) runner-up Battalion Runner breezed a half-mile in :48.96 over the fast dirt training track at Belmont Park on Saturday for trainer Todd Pletcher. The gray son of Unbridled’s Song is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs early Monday morning.

McCraken and J Boys Echo found themselves in the minority on Saturday as the only sophomores galloping over Churchill Downs’ sloppy main track.

Rain showers blanketed Central Kentucky Saturday morning, but that didn’t stop Grade 2 winner McCraken from galloping 1 3/4 miles under exercise rider Yoni Orantes for trainer Ian Wilkes. The Ghostzapper colt suffered his first career loss when fourth in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) last out on April 8, and is expected to work on Monday with jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. aboard.

Grade 3 victor J Boys Echo, 2 1/2 lengths behind McCraken when fourth in the Blue Grass most recently, took a 1 1/2-mile spin around the sloppy track with Tammy Fox aboard for trainer Dale Romans. The bay son of Mineshaft is scheduled to breeze five furlongs on Sunday.

The rainy weather prompted trainer Mike Maker to reschedule Spiral Stakes (G3) winner Fast and Accurate’s Saturday breeze at Trackside Louisville to either Sunday or Monday.

In other Kentucky Derby news, multiple Grade 1 hero Practical Joke is scheduled to van to Churchill Downs from Keeneland on Monday. The Chad Brown trainee, last seen running second in the Blue Grass, exited his :49.80 half-mile breeze at Keeneland on Friday in good order.

Blue Grass winner Irap also was doing well one day after working a mile in 1:44 mile at Keeneland. The Doug O’Neill pupil is likely to visit the all-weather training track on Sunday, post another work next Friday and then van to Churchill Downs.

Tapwrit, fifth in the Blue Grass last out, walked the shedrow Saturday after covering five-eighths in 1:01.40 at Keeneland on Friday for Pletcher. The Tampa Bay Derby (G2) romper will head to Churchill on Monday with stablemate and Rebel Stakes (G2) winner Malagacy, who has been galloping at Keeneland since arriving from Oaklawn Park and his first loss when fifth in the Arkansas Derby (G1).

Gunnevera is already en route to Churchill Downs from Florida. The Antonio Sano-trained chestnut is expected to arrive late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. The Dialed In colt, third in the Florida Derby (G1) when last seen on April 1, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 at Gulfstream Park West.

In Kentucky Oaks (G1) news, Grade 1 victress Abel Tasman worked seven furlongs in 1:25.20 for trainer Bob Baffert. The Quality Road filly was a well-beaten second in the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) in her final prep for the May 5 Kentucky Oaks.

Jordan’s Henny, who needs some defections to make the Kentucky Oaks field from the 16 spot on the Oaks Leaderboard, breezed a half-mile in :50.20 at Churchill Downs on Saturday. The Henny Hughes sophomore slogged through the mud in splits of :12.40 and :37.80 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:03.40.