Pioneer Of Medina Auditions For Kentucky Derby; Classic Causeway Back In Contention - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Pioneer Of Medina Auditions For Kentucky Derby; Classic Causeway Back In Contention

Pioneer of Medina works at Churchill Downs

Sumaya U.S. Stables' Pioneer of Medina, third-place finisher in the Louisiana Derby (G2) in his most recent start, tuned up for a possible start in Kentucky Derby 148 by working five furlongs in company in :59.80 over a fast track on a cloudy Monday morning at Churchill Downs.

Trained By Todd Pletcher, Pioneer of Medina is 21st on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard for the Run for the Roses that is limited to the top 20 point earners that pass the entry box next Monday, May 2.

Working during the special training session reserved for Kentucky Derby and Oaks hopefuls between 7:30-7:45 and working with maiden winner Macallan, Pioneer of Medina posted eighth of a mile fractions of :12.60, :24.40, :35.60, :47.80 and :59.80 and galloped out in 1:12.60, 1:25.40 and 1:40.20.

Shortly after the track opened at 5:15, Briland Farm's Secret Oath worked six furlongs on her own in 1:13 with jockey Luis Saez aboard for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

Fractions on the work were :24.20, :36, :48, 1:00, 1:13 and out seven furlongs in 1:28.20.

Owners Kentucky West Racing and Clarke Cooper's Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner Classic Causeway is back into Kentucky Derby contention, according to the Churchill Downs Racing Office.

CHARGE IT, MO DONEGAL, PIONEER OF MEDINA – Trainer Todd Pletcher's three Kentucky Derby hopefuls were on the track at 7:30 with the prime object of attention being Sumaya U.S. Stable's Pioneer of Medina who worked five furlongs in :59.80, the best of eight at the distance for the morning.

Working during the special training session reserved for Kentucky Derby and Oaks hopefuls with Carlos Perez up and working with maiden winner Macallan, Pioneer of Medina post eighth of a mile fractions of :12.60, :24.40, :35.60, :47.80 and :59.80 and galloped out in 1:12.60, 1:25.40 and 1:40.20.

“You can use all the trainer clichés you want,” Pletcher said. “We saw what we wanted to see. It was very good, well executed with a strong finish and he galloped out well.”

Fourth and third behind possible Kentucky Derby favorite Epicenter at Fair Grounds in his past two starts in the Risen Star (G2) and Louisiana Derby (G2), Pioneer of Medina stands 21st on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.

“I'll talk it over with Mr. (Oussama) Aboughazale and we'll see how he comes out of the work and make a decision,” Pletcher said. “He got a good breeze over the track and he has the opportunity to draw in.”

Donegal Racing's Mo Donegal, winner of the Wood Memorial (G2) in his most recent start, galloped 1 3/8 miles under Amelia Green and will be ridden in the Derby by Irad Ortiz Jr.

Whisper Hill Farm's Charge It, runner-up in the Florida Derby (G1) in his most recent start, galloped 1 3/8 miles under Hector Ramos and will be ridden in the Derby by Luis Saez.

CROWN PRIDE (JPN) – Teruya Yoshida's Crown Pride returned to the track a day after working a half-mile in :49.20.

With Masa Matsuda aboard, the UAE Derby (G2) jogged in the mile chute and then schooled in the starting gate before returning to the Quarantine Barn.

Trainer Koichi Shintani is scheduled to arrive in Louisville on Sunday with jockey Christophe Lemaire scheduled to come in the following day.

CYBERKNIFE, TAWNY PORT, ZOZOS – It was a routine morning of training for trainer Brad Cox's trio of Derby contenders Cyberknife, Tawny Port and Zozos.

Gold Star's Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Cyberknife, with Katie Tolbert in the saddle, jogged about one mile with the pony at 6:40 a.m.

About an hour later, Peachtree Stable's Lexington Stakes (G3) winner Tawny Port galloped with Edvin Vargas in the irons. He was joined on the track by Barry and Joni Butzow's Zozos and Kelvin Perez. The runner-up in the Louisiana Derby (G2) has been on a Friday work schedule while Cyberknife and Tawny Port could work Saturday.

Cox has not made any rider decisions for Tawny Port and Zozos. Florent Geroux has the call on Cyberknife.

EPICENTER – Winchell Thoroughbreds' Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Epicenter had a scheduled walk day in Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen's Barn 38.

The Not This Time colt worked six furlongs in 1:12.20 Sunday at Churchill Downs.

SMILE HAPPY, TIZ THE BOMB – Lucky Seven Stable's Smile Happy and Magdalena Racing's Tiz the Bomb returned to the track for trainer Kenny McPeek for the first time since working five furlongs Saturday morning.

Danny Ramsey was aboard Smile Happy, winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) here last fall, while Edwardo Ruvalcaba was aboard Tiz the Bomb, winner of the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) in his most recent start.

Corey Lanerie has the mount on Smile Happy in the Derby while Brian Hernandez Jr. will pilot Tiz the Bomb.

SUMMER IS TOMORROW – Michael and Negar Burke's Summer Is Tomorrow, runner-up in the UAE Derby (G2) in his most recent start, galloped a mile and half under Heinz Runge.

Summer is Tomorrow arrived at Churchill Downs Saturday morning and had his first exercise on the track Sunday.

“This is a big eye opener for him,” said Caroline Seemar, wife of trainer Bhupat Seemar. “We have a private track at home and this is like a festival for him.”

Summer Is Tomorrow is scheduled to work Sunday with gate and paddock schooling on the agenda leading up to the Derby, said Seemar, whose husband is scheduled to arrive in Louisville Wednesday.

Mickael Barzalona has the Derby mount.

UN OJO – Cypress Creek Equine and Whispering Oaks Farm's Un Ojo jogged twice around under Clay Courville, son of trainer Ricky Courville, in his return to the track following a five-furlong work of :59.40 on Saturday, the second-fastest of 70 at the distance.

Winner of the Rebel (G2), Un Ojo is scheduled for a gate schooling session Thursday and will have his final pre-Derby work on Saturday.

Ricky Courville is scheduled to arrive in Louisville Thursday night. Ramon Vazquez has the Derby mount.

ZANDON – Jeff Drown's Blue Grass Stakes (G1) winner Zandon made his first appearance at Churchill Downs Monday at 9:40 a.m. Zandon shipped to Louisville Sunday morning from Keeneland.

The Upstart colt worked a half-mile in :48.80 Saturday at Keeneland.

“It looked like he was galloping through the lane,' trainer Chad Brown said, who was on hand to oversee his string of horses Monday at Churchill Downs. “It was a super move. I really just wanted to stretch his legs and evaluate how he's moving and maintaining where he's at.”

Zandon and several other stablemates are in Barn 25.

ALSO ELIGIBLES: Julie Gilbert and Aaron Sones' Lexington Stakes (G3) fourth-place finisher Ethereal Road worked five furlongs in 1:02 Monday morning at Churchill Downs. … RED-TR Racing's Rich Strike, No. 24 on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs tonight, according to trainer Eric Reed. Rich Strike will train Tuesday morning and has a breeze scheduled for Wednesday.

SHAPING UP: THE KENTUCKY DERBY – Here's the current Top 20 horses in this year's Kentucky Derby (with jockey and trainer): Epicenter (Joel Rosario, Steve Asmussen); Zandon (Flavien Prat, Chad Brown); White Abarrio (Tyler Gaffalione, Saffie Joseph Jr.); Mo Donegal (Irad Ortiz Jr., Todd Pletcher); Tiz the Bomb (Brian Hernandez Jr., Kenny McPeek); Cyberknife (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox); Crown Pride (JPN) (Christophe Lemiere, Koichi Shintani); Taiba (Mike Smith, Tim Yakteen); Simplification (Jose Ortiz, Antonio Sano); Smile Happy (Corey Lanerie, Kenny McPeek); Classic Causeway (TBA, Brian Lynch); Tawny Port (TBA, Brad Cox); Barber Road (Reylu Gutierrez, John Ortiz); Un Ojo (Ramon Vazquez, Ricky Courville); Early Voting (TBA, Chad Brown); Messier (John Velazquez, Tim Yakteen); Zozos (TBA, Brad Cox); Summer Is Tomorrow (Mickael Barzalona, Bhupat Seemar); Charge It (Luis Saez, Todd Pletcher); Happy Jack (Rafael Bejarano, Doug O'Neill).

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