Jockey Julian Pimentel likely will never forget his first trip to Churchill Downs.
In town to work Live Oak Plantation's Win Win Win for Saturday's Kentucky Derby, he would up having more company than he bargained for as he piloted the colt through a half-mile in :47.60, the fourth fastest of 76 works at the distance.
As Win Win Win and his workmate, Souper Courage, were getting ready to break off at the half-mile pole, to their inside came the Bill Mott-trained Derby hopefuls Country House and Tacitus who were in to their five-furlong works.
“That was a little different, but it worked out well,” Pimentel said of the work in which Win Win Win raced just behind the Mott duo. “He went about his business and he wanted to go get them.”
Trainer Mike Trombetta was watching from the fourth floor stakes room balcony and could see how things were going to unfold.
“I was on the radio with Mel (exercise rider Melanie Williams on Souper Courage) and told her there was company coming behind her,” Trombetta said. “They started their work at the 5/8ths and that is why they caught up to us so fast. Those things happen, but it is unusual that it happened here with limited traffic. Hey, they jump in and join the party and everybody gets around there OK and everybody is happy.”
At the end of the day, there were smiles all around.
“Julian was very happy with it,” Trombetta said of the rider who has been on board for all three of the colt's victories including a track-record score in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
Pimentel returned to Maryland after the work and is scheduled to return to Louisville on Friday.
Garrett O'Rourke, general manager of Juddmonte's U.S. operations, was pleased, despite the work going a bit off-script. Tacitus is one of the favorites for the $3 million affair and has only raced four times, including a win in the Wood Memorial (GII) at Aqueduct.
“I thought it went well,” O'Rourke said. “He handled Win Win Win coming up on the outside really professionally. He was under control and got a good blow. That's all you can ask for, really.”
Trainer Bill Mott added: “I thought it worked out very well. It was a good tightener, was what I expected from them and what I wanted. It should be enough, as far as conditioning, and the fact that we saw them work well gives you a good feeling that they're coming into it the right way. So far, they have cooled out great and neither was exhausted. They had a little bit of a blow initially, then caught their air and they're cooling out really well.
“We generally would see something like that happen occasionally when they don't have a (designated) 15-minute break just for Derby and Oaks horses. I thought about that (beforehand) because I knew there would be some other workers. You just can't really anticipate it. My team was ready to break off and they probably didn't know we were going to work. All the riders did a really good job and I really have to commend all of them. It's not going to hurt them and they better get used to (traffic) if they're not already or they'll get a surprise on Derby Day. It's pretty crowded out there.
“We have a week to go until the Derby and we look like we're in good shape. They finished up right together. They may have been a head apart. I told them if they could work together, that would help each other during the work. Both of my horses have pretty laid-back dispositions and they probably needed their company to encourage each other. For me, it worked out perfectly.
“I'll just try to keep them out of trouble and get them over there on race day; nothing fancy going into it. We just hope they come out of this in good shape and stay healthy and sound.”
Mott reported that Country House and Tacitus may school Tuesday or Wednesday during the races.
The official times for the works were:
- Tacitus and Country House went five furlongs in 1:00, with splits of 12.20, 24.20, 35.80, 48 and galloping out in 1:12.80, 1:26 & 1:39.80.
- Win Win Win worked a half in :47.60 with splits of 24.20, 36 and galloped out in 1:00.20.
- Super Courage was given an official time of :48.20.
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