Welcome to Horse Racing Nation’s Kentucky Derby Daily, which will each day leading up to the May 4 race at Churchill Downs detail all the news and notes related to contenders in one convenient space.
With Improbable’s latest workout Saturday toward a start in the Arkansas Derby (G1) arrived two changes to his training regimen.
First, a horse that normally goes without company his his morning breezes drilled with older stablemate Once On Whiskey at Santa Anita Park. And second, the son of City Zip added blinkers.
Speaking to the Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman, trainer Bob Baffert said he “wanted to try a different deal” and is “trying to figure out his style.”
Improbable, a Grade 1 winner at age 2, was defeated by a neck in his 3-year-old debut, running second to Long Range Toddy in the Rebel Stakes (G2) earlier this month at Oaklawn Park. He’ll return to face some of those same rivals in the April 13 Arkansas Derby.
Two weeks out normally represents a horse’s most important work toward a race. Improbable tracked down Once On Whiskey to finish the six-furlong bullet in 1:12.80 at Santa Anita Park.
Will he keep the blinkers on next time? Race in them? And could it change how Improbable figures in the pace next time?
Baffert typically begins a horse in blinkers, then takes them off once it’s time to relax and stretch out. See Justify for example.
Also notable, as highlighted earlier in the week, jockey Jose Ortiz will be in the irons on Improbable in the Arkansas Derby. He had a decent Saturday in Dubai, winning the Godolphin Mile (G2) on Coal Front and UAE Derby (G2) aboard Plus Que Parfait.
• What’s next for runners exiting the UAE Derby? Two American horses presumably qualified on points, but only one’s likely to make the trip to Churchill Downs.
• Trainer Mark Casse announced War of Will, injured in last weekend’s Louisiana Derby (G2) is already back in light training. He’s still pointing to the Kentucky Derby.
• Improbable isn’t the only Arkansas Derby contender with a new jockey. Connections to Gray Attempt are lining up another rider with Jon Court remaining on Long Range Toddy.