Multiple Grade I winner Carpe Diem put in his last serious piece of work in advance of his slated start at the 141st Kentucky Derby, covering four furlongs in 48.60 under the cover of a dark Saturday morning at Keeneland.
With his regular rider, jockey John Velazquez, in the irons, the Blue Grass Stakes winner emerged from Barn 6 around 5:45 a.m. and broke off on his own as trainer Todd Pletcher led a contingent that included WinStar president Elliott Walden and Stonestreet Farm agent John Moynihan into the stands. Carpe Diem posted splits of 13, 25, and 48.60 with a gallop out in 1:01.20; 1:14.80; 1:29.40 in a move Velazquez said was another example of the colt's trademark consistency.
"We took it little by little in the first part of the work and then finished up really good," said Velazquez, who will be aboard Carpe Diem in the Derby. "He's always been like that."
Pletcher also gave the move his seal of approval and added Carpe Diem would likely ship to Churchill Downs on Monday.
"There is very little I would change about the work," Pletcher said. "He was very settled. It was a very good, progressive breeze and he picked it up each eighth. He galloped out good, very happy with everything."
Carpe Diem has been residing at Keeneland since his victory there in the Blue Grass Stakes on April 4. Given that the son of Giant's Causeway can get worked up at times, Pletcher has said he prefers keeping the chestnut runner in the quieter environment.
"He's really in a good place now. He's just very happy with himself," Pletcher said. "Just all the indications you'd like to see leading up to a big race."
Owned by WinStar Farm and Stonestreet Stables, Carpe Diem has won four of five lifetime starts with earnings of $1,519,800.
Pair of final moves at Churchill
One day after his place in the Derby field was solidified, Donegal Stables' Keen Ice signaled his readiness when he worked 5 furlongs solo in 1:01.60 at Churchill Downs on Saturday morning.
The son of Curlin broke off from the 4-furlong pole and registered splits of 11.80, 24, 36, 48.60 with a gallop out in 1:15.60 under assistant trainer Tammy Fox.
Trainer Dale Romans had been optimistic that Keen Ice's 22 qualifying points would ultimately be enough to get him into the 20-horse Derby lineup. When Madefromlucky was declared out of contention following a lackluster work on Friday, the Donegal crew celebrated what will be the partnership's third Derby starter.
At Churchill's Trackside Training, Ken and Sarah Ramsey's International Star, winner of the Grade II Louisiana Derby, recorded his last major work when he went 4 furlongs in 50.80 under jockey Miguel Mena.
Busy worktab across nation
Undefeated Grade I winner Dortmund had trainer Bob Baffert brimming with confidence following the colt's final major work in advance of the Kentucky Derby, covering 6 furlongs in 1.13:60 at Santa Anita Park.
The son of Big Brown broke off several lengths behind a workmate before sailing by with minimal effort in the lane.
Also working at Santa Anita Saturday was Sunland Derby winner Firing Line, who went 5 furlongs in 1:02.20.
At Belmont Park, multiple graded stakes winner El Kabeir covered 4 furlongs in 46.81 in his final pre-Derby move. Grade I winner Frosted and Grade II winner Upstart did their last bit of heavy lifting in Florida, going 5 furlongs in 1:01.10 and 59.95, respectively, at Palm Meadows Training Center.