Unbridled’s Song, the tenderfooted Kentucky Derby favorite, had a fast workout in the early morning rain Wednesday, then drew the outside post in the field of 20 3-year-olds.
“I feel like I’ve already won,” jockey Mike Smith said after Unbridled’s Song zipped a half-mile in 46 seconds in the Churchill Downs mud and galloped out in 59.
Unbridled’s Song, however, didn’t fare well in the post-position draw. Trainer Jim Ryerson tried to put on a good face on the bad draw.
“The real speed is just inside of us and not down on the fence,” he said. “If they (Skip Away, No. 17; Matty G, No. 19, and Unbridled’s Song) take off (together) they can put a little distance on the rest of the field. Maybe we have the kind of horse - I hope we do - that can overcome this.”
Added Smith: “If they (Skip Away and Matty G) were way inside, maybe they would be gone, but they’re outside with us and we can follow them. Unbridled’s Song likes to run and I won’t have to hold him.”
The gelding Clyde Van Dusen, in 1929, was the only winner to start from the No. 20 post.
Unbridled’s Song, winner of the Florida Derby and Wood Memorial, was made the early 8-5 favorite, followed by Blue Grass winner Skip Away, 7-2, and the Overbrook Farm entry of Editor’s Note and Grindstone, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, at 6-1.
Sonny Hine, who trains Skip Away for his wife Carolyn, was not pleased with his colt’s No. 17 post for Saturday’s race.
“I think it was a lousy draw,” Hine said. “I’m amazed - the best three horses in the race (Skip Away, Unbridled’s Song and stretch-running Editor’s Note, No. 18 post) are in the four outside posts.”
There have been 157 starters from post 15 to 23 in the auxiliary gate and four have won.
Unbridled’s Song and Skip Away are two of five starters going into the race off a win. The others are Cavonnier, the Santa Anita Derby winner, No. 4; Zarb’s Magic, the Arkansas Derby winner, No. 7, and City by Night, the Lexington winner, No. 15.
Also set to start are a Derby-record five horses trained by D. Wayne Lukas, who will try to extend his unprecedented string of wins in Triple Crown races to six. Lukas won the 1995 Derby with Thunder Gulch, one of three starters he saddled last year.
Unbridled’s Song worked in bar shoes because of an injured left front foot and heel.
Owner Ernie Paragallo and Ryerson said they were happy about the work of the gray colt, but Sonny Hine, trainer of Skip Away, said: “I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes … no pun intended.”
Paragallo arrived from New York too late to see the fast workout, but he said, “It was about what we expected. It was nothing out of the ordinary. Everything’s a go.”
While Skip Away was awesome in the Blue Grass April 13 at Keeneland, several trainers wonder whether he can come close to duplicating that performance Saturday.
It also seems the gray colt doesn’t have the proper dosage. The dosage index is a way of measuring Derby performance through blood lines.
Team Lukas is composed of Editor’s Note, loser of seven straight; Grindstone, second in the Arkansas Derby; Honour and Glory, second in the Santa Anita Derby; Prince of Thieves, second in the Lexington; and Victory Speech, second in the Jim Beam.