Kentucky Derby Kernels: 12 Contenders Already at Churchill

Every day, Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders show up at Churchill Downs, settling into their stalls and getting familiar with the iconic race track.

As of Wednesday (April 17), 12 of the 20 Derby contenders plus possible last-minute replacements had arrived: Catching Freedom, Dornoch, Encino, Endlessly, Forever Young, Honor Marie, Just a Touch, Just Steel, Mystik Dan, Resilience, Society Man, and Track Phantom.


Stronghold set for Santa Anita work; Resilience works at Churchill

Stronghold, the Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner, is not among them, but is set for a workout this weekend at Santa Anita, and perhaps another before being sent to Louisville by the April 27 deadline.

Stronghold, with three wins and three seconds in six starts, would be the first Derby starter for D’Amato, jockey Antonio Fresu, and owners/breeders Eric M. Waller and Sharon Waller.

Decisions, decisions

D’Amato as well as Fierceness trainer Todd Pletcher and a few others are trying to decide whether to schedule a second and final pre-Derby work at Churchill Downs or not. This is the first time horses are required to be at Churchill Downs by April 27 – a full week before the May 4 Derby.

Mott duo, Resilience (Derby), Just F Y I (Oaks) out for a breeze


Trainer Bill Mott’s Wood Memorial (G2) winner Resilience and Ashland Stakes (G1) runner-up posted 4-furlong workouts Thursday at Churchill Downs; Resilience in 50.20); Just F Y I in 50.00.

Resilience finished his 5-furlong gallop out in 1:02.80, while Just F Y I finished at 1:03.40, according to Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols.

Resilience is No. 5 on the Derby leaderboard, while Just F Y I is No. 6 on the Oaks leaderboard.

“I thought (Resilience) had a great trip in the Wood Memorial,” Mott said. “I thought Johnny (Velazquez) rode him great. He might have gotten a little jammed up on the first turn but got clear down the backside. When he asked him, he responded and he finished up well. The best part is he looked good visually.”

Since Velazquez is the regular rider for expected Derby favorite Fierceness, Mott is likely to opt for his go-to rider Junior Alvarado.

Derby morning works show Underway (April 20)

The Kentucky Derby morning works show began a 13-day run on Saturday, featuring a slew of handicappers, plus jockey Rosie Napravnik and Churchill Downs track announcer Travis Stone.

The 20-minute program will be streamed live on Facebook, YouTube and X (Twitter) via @KentuckyDerby from 7:25-7:45 a.m. ET.

Saturday (April 20) Derby, Oaks work tab

Derby contenders scheduled to work Saturday include Catching Freedom, Dornoch, Endlessly, Just a Touch, Just Steel, and Society Man.

Oaks workers include Lemon Muffin and Thorpedo Anna.

Forever Young to work Tuesday

Japan’s UAE Derby winner Forever Young is scheduled for a Tuesday work at Churchill Downs; Jeff Ruby Steaks winner West Saratoga is scheduled to work Friday at Keeneland.

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