Gunnevera walked the shedrow without taking as much as a single deep breath following his five-furlong workout Friday morning at Gulfstream Park West, continuing to amaze trainer Antonio Sano while snubbing his nose at a full bucket of water.
“Never in my life have I had a horse that is like this after a race [or a workout],” Sano marveled. “He never breathes hard; [needs] no water.”
Only minutes earlier, Gunnevera breezed five furlongs in 1:01 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 1/5 in preparation for a scheduled start in the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs May 6.
“The horse did it very easy. I'm very happy,” Sano said. “He galloped out good.”
Jockey Edgard Zayas, as usual, was aboard the 3-year-old son of Dialed In for the breeze, which produced the third fastest workout of 14 recorded at the five-furlong distance.
“Last week he was a little bit lazy. Today, he was a little bit better, but he's kind of a lazy horse. He finished strong today. He went really good in the stretch,” Zayas said. “I think he'll be good for the Derby now.”
Javier Castellano, who rode Gunnevera for victories in the Saratoga Special (G2), Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) and the Fountain of Youth (G2), has the Derby mount.
Gunnevera, who finished a late-closing third behind Always Dreaming and State of Honor in the $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream April 1, is scheduled to van to Churchill Downs, leaving Gulfstream Park West at 8 a.m. Saturday and stopping in Georgia for six hours before continuing on to Kentucky.
Sano is scheduled to fly to Louisville Monday, while Gunnevera is slated to get acquainted with the Churchill Downs surface Tuesday morning.
Sano regarded Saturday's breeze as Gunnevera's last major workout for the Kentucky Derby and is still unsure if he will schedule an official workout over the Churchill Downs surface. Although Gunnevera impressed him in his final local pre-Derby exercise, Sano admits to being a little keyed up looking ahead to first Derby experience.
“I'm nervous every day. I need to relax,” Sano said. “I know the race won't be easy with 20 horses, but my horse is very good.”
Sano, however, has no qualms about Gunnevera being up to the task of negotiating the 1 ¼-mile distance of the Derby.
“I think the mile and a quarter will be better,” he said. “I think there will be a lot of speed in the race. The stretch is very long. I think it's better for me.”
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