(Angel of Empire / Photos by Holly M. Smith)

Today’s Work Crew:

1. Angel of Empire: The 3rd-place finisher in the 2023 Kentucky Derby and the 4th place runner in the G1 Belmont Stakes, as well, has returned to the work tab. The 4YO, Pennsylvania-bred — trained by the guru Brad Cox — went an easy 3 furlongs at the Fair Grounds this morning in a brisk time of :36.60. That was 3rd best of 16 to clock the distance. The Family Albaugh owns the Classic Empire colt and the guy has amassed over $1.489 million in purses so far. Record is 4-1-2 in 9 starts. Looking forward to having this one back on the circuit.

2. Sistina Chapel: This 3YO daughter of Liam’s Map has never missed the board in 6 lifetime starts for trainer Ken McPeek and is coming off back-to-back 3rds in the Untapable Stakes and the Silverbulletday Stakes at the Fair Grounds. Looks to be on the road to the Kentucky Oaks, but needs to click up just a notch or two. Work 3 furlongs in New Orleans today. Went the distance in :37 flat. That was 5th best of 16 in a pure maintenance move. Next?

3. Cornishman: This is today’s hot “Horse to Watch” next out. The 3YO son of Curlin is out of the Graded Stakes winning mare Penwith and is a homebred of Godolphin Stables and is trained by Brad Cox. Lost the opener on Jan. 20 by just a length. Had trouble in that one, too. Back on the track this a.m. and breezed 4 furlongs in :49 flat. That was 29th best of 65 to go the distance. Put in your stable mail.

4. Just a Touch: Stablemate of Cornishman is a 3YO son of Justify and this one ran off at odds-on favoritism in the career opener on Jan. 27 at the Fair Grounds. Would not shock me if the connections jumped this one to Stakes caliber real fast. Father did not run as a 2YO, either, and look what he done after the sketchy coverup in the Santa Anita Derby. Worked this a.m. at the Fair Grounds. Went 4 furlongs in :49.80. Maintenance move. Look out.

5. Saudi Crown: This Multiple Graded Stakes winner, by Always Dreaming, worked at the Fair Grounds this morn for Cox and Co. Went 5 furlongs in 1:00.80 — which was the 7th best of 24 to clock that distance. This guy has 4 wins and 2 seconds in 7 career starts and may be ready to follow up on his win in the G3 Louisiana Stakes on Jan. 20. Looks great right now, to be sure.

6. Kingsbarns: The runner-up in the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park last June and 14th in last year’s edition of the G1 Kentucky Derby was back in training this morning at the Palm Beach Downs for trainer Todd Pletcher. Went 5 furlongs in 1:00.60 — which was 3rd best of 16 to go that far. It was the 5th published work for the Uncle Mo colt since being returned to serious training on Dec. 31. Look for this one soon.