Churchill Downs notes: Baffert might be a bystander for this Derby

awincze@herald-leader.comApril 28, 2013 

Trainer Bob Baffert, center, watched his horses train for the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

LOUISVILLE — Shortly after making his first appearance on the Churchill Downs backside Sunday morning, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert all but confirmed this year's edition of the Kentucky Derby will go postward without his presence.

While the three-time Derby winning conditioner stopped short of declaring himself totally out of the mix for the 139th edition of the 11/4-mile classic, Baffert indicated he was unlikely to start either Sunland Derby winner Govenor Charlie or Risen Star runner-up Code West on Saturday. The status of Govenor Charlie has been doubtful because of a foot bruise that prompted the son of Midnight Lute to make a stop off at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital en route to Louisville a week and a half ago.

Baffert said he would breeze the colt Monday for what would be his first move since April 11 but suggested the Preakness Stakes would be a more likely target.

"We'll know more tomorrow," said Baffert, who would be without a Derby starter for the first time since 2008. "I just want to monitor him really well. If not here, he'll go to the Preakness.

"You can't have a hiccup and we had a little hiccup with him. Every time I've come here with these Derby horses, you can't miss a beat."

Code West, most recently sixth in the Grade II Louisiana Derby, worked 5 furlongs in 1:00.40 in company with Oaks-bound stablemate Midnight Lucky on Sunday morning, finishing about a half length behind the filly after she broke off well behind.

"Our options are the Derby, the Preakness, the Peter Pan," Baffert said. "The Belmont Stakes has been the target for him. I'm going to sit down and talk with (owner) Gary West after I worked him and ... we're going to go over it."

Should neither Code West nor Govenor Charlie enter the Kentucky Derby, Tiz a Minister — who just finished third Saturday in the Snow Chief Stakes at Hollywood Park — would be in a position to make the field as would Golden Soul, fourth last time out in the Louisiana Derby.

"We don't make no predictions, we'll just be ready if we get the chance," said Dallas Stewart, Golden Soul's trainer.

Goldencents takes to track

Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents, who counts Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino among his owners, went to the track for the first time on Sunday after arriving from his California base the previous afternoon.

Trained by Doug O'Neill, who conditioned last year's Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another, Goldencents jogged a mile and is likely to school in the starting gate at least one time during the week.

Close Hatches breezes

Juddmonte Farms' undefeated Close Hatches completed her last serious work before Friday's Kentucky Oaks, covering a half mile in :47.40 over a fast, drying out track Sunday.

The Bill Mott-trainee is unbeaten in three career starts and heads into what is shaping up as a gangbusters edition of the Oaks off a 31/4-length win in the Grade II Gazelle on April 6.

"We just let her go by herself," Mott said. "She's aggressive and full of herself so I thought she didn't need company to breeze with."

Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com. Twitter: @horseracinghl.

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