Mark Valeski declared out by Jones, Lukas gets a shot with Optimizer// Rousing Sermon has stiff breeze// Alpha back on track?

Optimizer, galloping at Churchill Downs, joined the prospective Kentucky Derby field Tuesday. Photo: CTD

Citing little other than “he didn’t wow us” in his work, trainer Larry Jones withdrew Mark Valeski from consideration for the Kentucky Derby on Tuesday.  The decision is surprising based on the colt’s bullet work on Monday and game finish in the Louisiana Derby (G2).  Mark Valeski will point for the Peter Pan (G2) and possibly the Belmont (G1) after that// Mark Valeski’s defection allows D. Wayne Lukas to saddle his 44th starter.  Optimizer is his chance for Derby win #5, but the colt will go off as one of the longest shots on the board// My Adonis now assumes spot #21 on the list, and his trainer Kelly Breen immediately put the colt on a van to Louisville from Monmouth Park in New Jersey.  He’ll need another dropout between now and Friday to make the Derby field//

As for morning activity at Churchill Downs, Rousing Sermon was the lone official workout.  He completed the 5-furlongs in 1.00:40 which was the second fastest of 18 for the day.  Mike Welsch from DRF gave the move a thumbs-up despite a little stumble// Alpha galloped on the Churchill strip for the first time this year and made a ‘favorable impression’ to Welsch.  Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is relieved the colt has apparently recovered from his cut and infection following the Wood Memorial (G1)// I’ll Have Another was let loose a little and allowed to run a quick 1/8th in a timed :12 and change// Union Rags and Went the Day Well did not look comfortable according to Welsch, but Union Rags could have disliked the off track//

Todd Pletcher’s duo of Gemologist and El Padrino arrived safely in the afternoon Tuesday.  Pletcher thinks the presence of speed in the race will not bother either colt as they have shown the ability to sit just off the pacesetters// Take Charge Indy was aboard the same flight into Louisville and will hit the track Wednesday//

A funny-turned-uncomfortable video interview with Creative Cause’s trainer Mike Harrington can be viewed below from the Courier Journal. The 71-year-old trainer seems to be enjoying his first time around Derby hysteria, but is dismissive when asked about the recent hoof incident for Creative Cause.  He bluntly calls it a “non-event”… and then on to the next question. With all of the drama we are subjected to in the buildup to the Derby it’s surprising there has been little reporting or analysis on Creative Cause losing a part of his hoof.  A similar injury occurred to Big Brown in 2008 during his Triple Crown bid and was the main storyline (along with steroids)// Speaking of drama, there is a rumor floating around that Dullahan’s owners paid for Trinniberg’s entry fees to the Derby to ensure a quick pace. Jerry Crawford, head of the Donegal ownership group, flatly denied the accusation// Alpha’s jockey will be officially announced on Wednesday ahead of the post position draw, but it appears to be Rajiv Maragh. The fact a commitment has not been made this late in the game does not say much for Godolphin’s confidence in the rider// Tons more news below…

Rousing Sermon- CD- 5F- 1.00:40- B- 2/18 (Splits :12 3/5. :25, :36 3/5, :48 2/5 and a six-furlong gallop-out time of 1:14)

Workout Reports

Kentucky Derby News, Interviews, and Opinion
Interview with Larry Jones (Courier Journal)
Derby by the speed numbers (Downey Profile)
Interview: Mike Smith [video] (Behind The Scenes Blog)
Power plays (Bloodhorse Blog)
Today’s Derbyspeak (Pull The Pocket Blog)


News and Quotes from Twitter
DRF Hersch talked to Dorochenko, says Hero of Order will not be supplemented to Derby for $200k.

Bluff called. Harrington on Sunday said reporters "could show up with a bottle of Woodford" as gift for quotes. Tuesday, two did. – Jay Privman DRF