Churchill Downs Backside: April 25, 2014

by: Sean Nix

Another morning on the backside taking in all the sights and sounds of the work being put in before the running of the Kentucky Oaks and Derby.  The rain showers held off until after the contenders took to the track this morning.

News broke early today that University of Louisville head basketball coach, Rick Pitino, purchased a share of Oaks contender Empress of Midway.  The filly is trained by Doug O’Neill and is coming into the Oaks off a nice second place finish in the Sunland Oaks.  She took to the track just shortly after 8:30 this morning and breezed a half mile in 49.80, the 8/24 fastest at the distance this morning.  Jack Sisterson (Assistant to Doug O’Neill) was on hand to oversee the work this morning and was accompanied by Coach Rick Pitino.  This filly will surely get lots of attention from the home crowd now that Coach Pitino has acquired a piece of her.

Other Oaks contenders that were on the track this morning while I was in attendance included Thank You Marylou, My Miss Sophia, Rosalind, Got Lucky and Kiss Moon.

As for the Derby contenders, Chitu and Bayern, both from the Bob Baffert barn calmly waited to hit the track this morning.  Both made a good appearance on and off the track.  As of this moment, Chitu is assured of a spot in the Derby while Bayern is scheduled to run tomorrow in the Derby Trial.

Ride On Curlin made a good impression while stretching his legs over the Churchill oval this morning.  He’s been very consistent for trainer Bill Gowan, finishing no worse that third in 8 of his 9 lifetime starts.  I was also able to see Medal Count, Danza and Intense Holiday for the second day in a row.  Danza made another strong appearance on the track this morning and has started to sway me as a believer.  New to my eyes today was the Todd Pletcher trained We Miss Artie.

I’ll be back with another Kentucky Oaks and Derby update on Sunday.  I’m heading to Lexington tomorrow to catch the cross country day of the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event.

Rideoncurlin Chitu Bayern