Kentucky Derby

Pletcher's horses team up in final workout

LOUISVILLE — To many trainers, the concept of working their top horses together in company would fall under the header of unconventional at the very least.

For Todd Pletcher, joining together two similar talents who are on a shared path qualifies as common sense.

In an effort to beat expected rain showers moving into the Louisville area, Pletcher sent five of his expected Kentucky Derby contenders out for their final serious works Saturday morning at Churchill Downs with four of the pair serving as one another's workmates.

Louisiana Derby winner Revolutionary and Charming Kitten were paired together, for their 4-furlong move with the former getting the better of that outing, while Grade I Arkansas Derby winner Overanalyze had Blue Grass Stakes runner-up Palace Malice pushing him through their half-mile breeze.

Elliott Walden, president of WinStar Farm, which owns Revolutionary, said that back in his training days he would "kind of have a sacrificial lamb", pairing lesser horses as the target for his main charges.

While many of his contemporaries subscribe to methods similar to Walden's, pairing his better runners together is a routine part of Pletcher's program.

"We just try to take a commons sense approach to what we're doing and when you're looking for similar results from similar horses with a common goal, it just makes sense to put those horses together," said Pletcher, who also worked his four Kentucky Oaks fillies Saturday. "We just found over the years that works for us and our horses. They engage themselves more and get more focused."

Undefeated Grade I Wood Memorial winner Verrazano was the first member of Team Pletcher to work and the only one that worked in company with a stablemate who wasn't Derby-bound. The son of More Than Ready breezed 5 furlongs in :59.40 alongside the stakes mare Authenticity, clocking splits of :11.80 :23.20, :35 and :47 before galloping out 6 furlongs in 1:13 well ahead of work partner.

"He was relaxed breaking off, finished up strongly and galloped out well," Pletcher said of Verrazano, who is unbeaten in four starts after not racing as a 2-year-old. "I thought he handled the track really well and I thought it was well in hand throughout."

Revolutionary — with newly minted Hall of Famer Calvin Borel up — and Charming Kitten broke off next going 4 furlongs in :48.20 and :48.40, respectively, with the former finishing a length in front.

"He did everything perfect, just like last week," said Borel, who will ride the colt for the first time in the Kentucky Derby.

"I thought Charming Kitten spun his wheels a little bit the last 50-60 yards," Pletcher candidly added. "But I thought both of them accomplished from a fitness standpoint what we were looking for."

Overanalyze, with jockey Gary Stevens up, and Palace Malice, who had Mike Smith in the irons, stayed locked in step as they covered 4 furlongs in a bullet :47 flat and :47.20 respectively.

"I thought this morning was the best I'd seen him breeze. Ever," Pletcher said of Overanalyze. "I thought both worked super. It was a little faster than we set out to go but it was the right kind of fast for me."

Palace Malice wore blinkers for the move and will keep them on for the Kentucky Derby. Pletcher also added a decision on the Derby status for Coolmore Lexington Stakes winner Winning Cause would likely be made after that colt's work on Monday.

Trainer Ken McPeek also worked his Derby contenders together Saturday, sending Frac Daddy and Blue Grass Stakes winner Java's War out for a five furlong move with each clocking in 1:02.

"Frac's got more speed, Java's War keeps up," McPeek said.

Wood Memorial runner-up Normandy Invasion was among the first on the track at 5:45 a.m., covering 5 furlongs in :59 flat, second fastest of 52 moves at the distance.

"He worked quick but I thought he did it within himself," trainer Chad Brown said.

The Tom Amoss-trained Mylute, second in the Louisiana Derby, also went out early Saturday covering 4 furlongs in :50.60 under jockey Rosie Napravnik.

"Today was a mediocre work by most people's standards but that is my horse, that is how he works," Amoss said.

Spiral Stakes winner Black Onyx also was on the tab Saturday, breezing 4 furlongs in :48.60 with a gallop out in 1:02.40.

"We know what this horse can do and we want to keep him doing what he did before his previous wins," trainer Kelly Breen said.

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