Keepmeinmind had his first workout as a three-year-old at Oaklawn Park on Wednesday, leaving trainer Robertino Diodoro delighted.
Last spotted winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs in late November, connections are hopeful that Keepmeinmind will have Kentucky Derby aspirations come May.
The Laoban colt had a relaxing three weeks at WinStar Farm in Kentucky following his Churchill Downs success in November before returning to Arkansas.
Diodoro was pleased to see him back on the track for an easy spin.
“It was just a nice, easy half, his first work back,” he said. “He did it very nicely, galloped out strong.”
Though yet to settle on any targets, Keepmeinmind appears likely to commence his three-year-old season with a race at either Oaklawn or Fairgrounds in February.
Oaklawn stages the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) over one-mile-and-half-a-furlong on February 15, while Fairgrounds offers the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes over an extra half-furlong two days earlier.
After posting a runner-up finish in a maiden in September on debut, Keepmeinmind emerged as one of the most promising juveniles in America in 2020.
He progressed to be second in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) before finishing third behind Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland in early November.
He signed off his term with that success in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes to rubberstamp his promise.
His tally of 18 qualifying points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby sees him trailing behind only Essential Quality – the champion two-year-old elect.
David Cohen, Oaklawn’s leading jockey in 2019, has ridden Keepmeinmind three times, including his breakthrough victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club.
For Diodoro, there seems little point in making firm promises at this stage of the game.
“Nothing [is] set in stone,” Diodoro said of his plans for a route to the ‘Run for the Roses’ in May. “Like the old saying: ‘Let the horse tell us when he’s ready to do something.'”
Keepmeinmind’s last three starts have come at the one-mile-and-half-a-furlong trip he could potentially tackle again in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn in mid-February.
Upon his return to the yard in Arkansas last week after his mid-winter break, Diodoro insisted it would be a case of “one step at a time” in the early month of 2020 as connections attempt to plot a campaign towards the Triple Crown series.