Kentucky Derby

Derby notes: Big hopes for Make Music for Me

LOUISVILLE — For the last few months, trainer Alexis Barba knew she had a colt in her barn that could run with some of the best of his peers.

It wasn't until Wednesday morning, however, that Barba learned her 3-year-old would get an opportunity to prove he was among his division's elite.

With the defections of Endorsement and Interactif on Wednesday, stakes winner Make Music for Me was handed a golden ticket of sorts as the last contender to get into Saturday's 20-horse Kentucky Derby field.

Make Music for Me only has one win in eight career starts — that coming in the Pasadena Stakes on the Santa Anita turf in March — but the son of Bernstein has been a handful of lengths away from being considered one of the better 3-year-olds this season.

Three of the colt's losses have come when he faced champion Lookin At Lucky, finishing second to the Derby favorite in both the Grade II Best Pal and Grade I Del Mar Futurity and third in the Grade I CashCall Futurity. In those three defeats, Make Music for Me was beaten a total of just 3 lengths.

"You've got to be the lucky one to get there because it's all about luck after this," said Barba, who is seeking to become the first female trainer to saddle a Derby winner. "This horse is doing fabulous right now and he was second to Lucky in a very fashionable way."

The breaks that allowed Make Music for Me to get into the Derby field were par for the course for Barba this year.

The California-based trainer maintains just a nine-horse stable but had two potential Derby prospects this year in Make Music for Me and Grade III Sham Stakes winner Alphie's Bet.

"Did I dream about (the Derby)? No," Barba said. "I think you just go through the motions of working every day and when one pops up you go, 'Oh, wow, this is pretty neat.'"

Noseda reunited with Awesome Act

After being stuck in England because of the ash generated by the Icelandic volcano, trainer Jeremy Noseda is finally on the grounds at Churchill Downs to oversee his Derby contender, Gotham Stakes winner Awesome Act.

"Definitely without question the horse looks to have moved forward physically since he was in New York and I am happy with his condition," Noseda said Thursday morning.

Awesome Act was most recently third behind Eskendereya in the Wood Memorial on April 3. Though Noseda is confident the son of Awesome Again will get a more favorable pace to run at on Saturday, he — like many of his fellow trainers -— expressed concern over the 11/4-mile distance.

"My big query is how effective he will be at a mile and a quarter," he said. "But there are plenty of horses in this race that have the same question to answer."

Sweet dreams are made of this

When Devil May Care landed post position 11 during Wednesday's draw for the Kentucky Derby, owner John Greathouse became a believer in clairvoyance.

"My brother (David) said he had a dream two nights ago that the first horse that crossed the wire in the Derby was wearing No. 11," Greathouse said. "It's not the first good omen I've had but it's one of many."

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader