(Gotta Go wins the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs / Photo Courtesy of Churchill Downs)

Every day, we scour the work tabs at racetracks and training facilities all over North America. We are searching for those horses that appear to be peaking at just the right time and may be sitting on a top performance in the afternoons. Some of the horses that we watch and track, you will know. Others, though, you may not recognize — yet. Here is a closer look at some of today’s morning glories:

  1. Hence, who won the Sunland Derby and then became the “wow” horse for the 2017 Kentucky Derby (where he ran 11th), was back on the track at the Fair Grounds this morning for trainer Steve Asmussen. The 4YO Street Boss colt worked 5-furlongs in 1:01.80, which was the 6th best time out of 12 to go the distance. Today’s move marked the 5th published work in a row since Feb. 3 for the colt, who should be getting close to making his first race appearance since finishing 6th in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx Racing back in September.
  2. Lake Geneva, a 3YO colt by Tiznow and was bred and now owned by Glen Hill Farm and the Nexus Racing Club, is a horse that you may want to put on your “Horses to Watch List.” This guy is out of a Storm Cat mare, and has run three times so far. He did post a second at Laurel Park back in August, before running a troubled 6th at Kentucky Downs in September. He was put on the shelf after that, but he has been training very well at Tampa Bay Downs for trainer Tom Proctor and his fine staff of assistants. Today, he breezed a half mile in :48.40, which was the second best time out of 13 to go the distance. He may be another month off from a return trip to the track in the afternoon, but could be well worth the watch and wait.
  3. Sonic Mule, a 4Yo colt by Distorted Humor, who ran third in the 2017 Swale Stakes, and recently came back to run third in the G3 Mr. Prospector Stakes at Gulfstream Park in December, was back on the track at Palm Beach Downs this morning for trainer Todd Pletcher. He breezed a half-mile in company for a time of :49.59, which was the bullet of the day. This guy still has a little bit of lick to him, but here is a key note: Sonic Mule had been the regular workmate of a 3YO colt by the name of Gleason, a son of Algorithms who broke his maiden in impressive fashion at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 20. Gleason is now entered in an Allowance-OC race at Aqueduct this Friday. If he does well then and there, don’t be surprised if Pletcher doesn’t bump his game up into the major Stakes and Derby preps in NY soon.
  4. Gotta Go, a talented 3YO colt by Shanghai Bobby and winner of the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs last fall, tuned up for the Yountain of Youth Stakes this morning with a half mile breeze in a blowout time of :49.35. That was the 8th best time out of 25 to go over the dirt track at Palm Meadows Training Center in South Florida. The colt ran a closing second in the Swale Stakes at Gulfstream in his first try as a 3YO. Now, he looks to add distance and some points on the trail to the Kentucky Derby. Gotta Go has always been in our Top 12 of The Pressbox’s Derby Rankings. We will see if he can take a giant step forward this week.
  5. McCraken, a stablemate of Gotta Go’s in the Ian Wilkes barn, was back on the track at Palm Meadows this morning, as well. He breezed a half-mile in a leisurely :52.65, which was the 24th best time out of 25 to go. The 4YO son of Ghostzapper, who ran 8th in the Kentucky Derby a year ago, was airing it out for the first time since he ran a game third to The Player in the Fayette Stakes at Keeneland last fall. Wilkes normally takes his time, and it will be awhile, in all probability, before we see him again in the afternoons, but it is good to have this talented runner back on the racetrack.