Derby update: Sunday April 14

Daily Derby notes by Churchill Downs’ Kevin Kerstein (Coady Media photo of Honor Marie’s work. Honor Marie is on outside of stablemate Anthem King)



LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Sunday, April 14, 2024) – Several contenders for the 150th running of the $5 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) had regular training sessions Sunday at Churchill Downs, including Louisiana Derby (GII) runner-up Honor Marie, who worked a half-mile in :48.80, and UAE Derby (GII) winner Forever Young, who made his first appearance over the track after arriving early Saturday morning.

          Honor Marie, trained by Whit Beckman and owned by Ribble FarmsMichael EisermanEarl Silver and Kenneth and Dave Fishbein, worked with jockey Ben Curtis in the saddle alongside his stablemate Anthem King. The duo breezed through opening eighth-mile splits of :12.40 and :24.80. Honor Marie got the slight edge over his workmate passing the wire while galloping out five furlongs in 1:02.

Video of Honor Marie’s work and Whit Beckman interview

          “He did it the right way, easily,” Beckman said. “We didn’t want to do a ton this week and he seemed to do it well. He’s the type of horse that will always do what you ask of him. I always thought it was good to have a workmate next to him to just give him a little encouragement.”

Video interview: Kyle Zorn of Legion Bloodstock, Honor Marie’s original owner

Video interview: Omar Trevino, who was involved with breeding Honor Marie, selling him as a yearling and then brokering the deal to buy back into him in December

          Shortly before Honor Marie worked at 7:30 a.m., Susumu Fujita’s Forever Young made his first appearance over the track. Trained by Yoshido Yahagi, Forever Young jogged for about 20 minutes in the one-mile chute before galloping about 1 1/8 miles under rider Yusaku Oka.

          Other Kentucky Derby contenders who had regular training sessions Sunday morning included Risen Star (GII) runner-up Track Phantom, Fountain of Youth (GII) winner Dornoch and Wood Memorial (GII) runner-upSociety Man

          While Sunday was a busy day on track for many Derby contenders, it was a routine walk day for the quartet of Catching Freedom (4F, :48); Endlessly (4F, :49); Mystik Dan (4F, :48.80) and Common Defense (4F, :49.40) following their published workouts Saturday. 

          Sunday also served as a scheduled walk day for Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) contenders Into Champagne(4F, :48.40); Tarifa (4F, :48.20) and Thorpedo Anna (4F, :48.80).

          Trainer Ian Wilkes reported Saturday that Into Champagne, who qualified for the Kentucky Oaks by finishing third in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII), could target either the Kentucky Oaks or the $600,000 Eight Belles presented by Sysco (GII), run at seven furlongs on Friday, May 3. 

          On Monday morning, Arkansas Derby (GI) runner-up Just Steel is expected to have his first training session over the Churchill Downs surface since winning the Ed Brown Stakes in November. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee arrived at Churchill Downs Saturday morning.

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Jennie Rees is a communications and advocacy specialist in the horse industry who spent 32 years covering horse racing for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal before taking a corporate buyout. In addition to handling communications for the Kentucky HBPA, Rees is Kentucky Downs’ publicity director, manages in-season racing publicity for Ellis Park and serves as a consultant to the National HBPA. Other projects include the Preakness Stakes, Indiana Grand’s Indiana Derby Week and work for various HBPA affiliates and horsemen’s associations.