John Oxley's Flameaway, Albaugh Family Stables' Free Drop Billy and Robert Baron's Promises Fulfilled kicked off the exclusive training period for Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve contenders from 7:30-7:45 a.m. (all times Eastern) Saturday with five-furlong workouts at Churchill Downs in preparation for the May 5 “Run for the Roses.”
Flameaway, with regular exercise rider Chris Garraway aboard, breezed outside of 3-year-old allowance winner Ride a Comet (1:00.40) through splits of :11.80, :23.40 and :35.20 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:14.40, according to Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols.
“I was really happy with his breeze this morning,” said assistant trainer Nick Tomlinson, who is overseeing trainer Mark Casse's string at Churchill Downs. “He's doing really well with the track at Churchill and he recorded one of his best breezes that I've seen.”
Flameaway was the winner of the Feb. 10 Sam F. Davis (GIII) at Tampa Bay Downs and runner-up in the March 10 Tampa Bay Derby (GII) prior to returning to Kentucky with a second-place effort in the April 7 Blue Grass (GII) at Keeneland.
“He's such a cool horse,” Casse said. “He always lays it down when it matters and tries so hard. We're very fortunate enough to have a horse like this leading into the Kentucky Derby.”
Casse was in Florida on Saturday but is expected to be in Kentucky for the colt's final breeze before the Derby next weekend.
“It was truly amazing to experience the Derby training session for the first time,” Tomlinson said. “It had to be one of the coolest experience I've ever been a part of. These next two weeks will be really exciting.”
One major item that is missing on Dale Romans' impressive training résumé is a victory in the Kentucky Derby, but the 51-year-old Louisville native is beginning to feel the excitement after Saturday morning works from Free Drop Billy and Promises Fulfilled.
Promises Fulfilled, with exercise rider Faustino Herrarte up, breezed five furlongs in :59.20 through splits of :11.60 and 23, before galloping out six furlongs in 1:11.80.
Free Drop Billy had a slightly different five-furlong move than his stablemate. With rider Juan Segundo aboard, the colt jogged one mile, galloped one mile, then breezed opening splits of :12.20, :23.60, :35 and :46,80 before passing the wire in :59 and galloping out six furlongs in 1:12 and seven furlongs in 1:25.40.
“Impressive is all I can really say,” Romans said. “I'll tell you what, both of these horses looked awesome this morning. It would definitely be a relief to win one of these things one day. These are very smart horses and are doing everything right in the lead up to the Derby.”
Romans confirmed Robby Albarado has the call on Free Drop Billy while Churchill Downs' perennial leading rider Corey Lanerie has the mount on Promises Fulfilled.
Kentucky Oaks probables also had a busy morning at Churchill:
- Coach Rocks went five furlongs in :59. Splits – 11.60, 22.80, 34.80, 46.60. Out 1:11.80, 1:25.40.
- Kelly's Humor went a half in :48.60. Splits – 12.60, 24.40. Out 1:01.60.
- Blamed covered five-eighths in 1:01.40. Splits – 13, 25.40, 37.20. Out 1:14.40.
- Monomoy Girl went a half in company with Comfort Zone in :47.40. Splits – 12.40, 24.20, 36. Out 59.80.
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