Friday’s Derby Diary: Fresh Horse

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Aidan O’Brien stepped out of Barn 17 on the Churchill Downs backstretch at little before 7 a.m. Friday, following his four Ballydoyle charges to the racetrack and scouted out a good spot to watch Mendelssohn turn in his last bit of work before Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.

O’Brien, with Mendelssohn’s co-owner Derrick Smith, jockey Ryan Moore and members of the Coolmore and Ballydoyle team in tow, settled on the outside elevated porch of the backstretch clocker’s stand.

As Seahenge, Threeandfourpence, Mendelssohn and Deauville jogged and walked along the outside fence, O’Brien called a quick audible, dashed down the steps and made his way up the backstretch. He found another spot near the backstretch media center – a much quieter place Friday than any other day this week with a big card topped by the Kentucky Oaks on tap – but spun on his heels again, thought he found another spot near the backstretch gap where Bob Baffert watches training before eventually returning to the porch of the clocker’s stand.

The entire ordeal lasted five minutes – from the time a security guard told onlookers to “make way” along the horse path from Barn 17 until O’Brien pressed his binoculars to his face and chatted on his iPhone to head traveling lad Pat Keating on the ground below.

To read the rest of Friday’s Derby Diary, log in to The Irish Field.


The Irish Field and This Is Horse Racing are teaming up to produce a Kentucky Derby Diary tracking Mendelssohn’s historic bid. Each daily installment will focus on the exciting Irish challenger and the fifth is on Aidan O’Brien’s observations of Mendelssohn at Churchill Downs.