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Japan's Breeders' Cup Classic Hope Espoir City Has First Work Over Main Track at Churchill Downs
ESPOIR CITY HAS FIRST CHURCHILL DOWNS WORK FOR BC CLASSIC – Espoir City (JPN), Japan’s hope for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) to be run at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6, had the first of his planned two works beneath the Twin Spires on Sunday morning, covering six furlongs over a fast track in 1:18.20 under jockey Tetsuzo Sato.
Espoir City spent about 20 minutes loosening up in the mile chute before beginning his work that consisted of fractions in :14.20, :28.40, :41.60, :54.20, 1:06.40 and out seven furlongs in 1:33.60. After the work, Espoir City walked around outside Barn 42 in the grassy area of the quarantine section for another 20 minutes under exercise rider Toshiyuki Abematsu.
“We are coming to this race with the image of a mile and a quarter race and today was a step in that direction,” Sato said through an interpreter. “The work this morning went as planned. We are not here to pursue speed, just conditioning.”
Espoir City switched leads several times in the stretch, but Sato was not concerned.
“He is up front in most of his races and sometimes he loses a little focus and fools around a bit because he knows he has no competition,” Sato said.
Espoir City arrived at Churchill Downs on Tuesday and Sato was asked how he felt the 5-year-old horse handled the shipping.
“Much better than I had imagined,” Sato said. “He has shipped within Japan and become accustomed to it. He was a little tired when he got here, but he is over it now.”
Trainer Akio Adachi is scheduled to return to Louisville from Japan for Espoir City’s final work, the day of which has not been determined. Sato, who also has been getting on horses for trainers Dale Romans and Todd Pletcher, was scheduled to return to Japan on Monday but would return for the final work.
SPINSTER WINNER ACOMA WORKS FIVE FURLONGS IN 1:01.60 FOR BC LADIES’ CLASSIC – Helen Alexander and Helen Groves’ Acoma had her first work since winning the Juddmonte Spinster (GI) at Keeneland on Oct. 10, covering five furlongs in 1:01.60, the 11th fastest of 32 at the distance.
Working on her own before the renovation break under jockey Tony Farina, Acoma carved out fractions of :12.60, :24.80, :37.20 and out six furlongs in 1:15.40.
“It was a nice work and she did it well within herself,” trainer David Carroll said. “I was going to work her a half, but she went five-eighths to get the edge off. Tony knows her and will give me good feedback.”
The Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (GI) will be the final race for Acoma, who has spent the majority of her three-year career at Churchill Downs. She has raced here seven times, going two-for-two on the dirt and winning three graded stakes on the grass.
“It’s huge,” Carroll said of what amounts to Acoma’s home-field advantage in the Breeders’ Cup. “If it were anywhere else, we would not be running. She has trained here, had a lot of success here and is very happy here. She has never had a bad race here. She was fourth once (in this summer’s Locust Grove), but she was right there at the wire.”
Robby Albarado, who has ridden Acoma three times, will have the mount in the Ladies’ Classic and Carroll said Albarado may work Acoma in her next work, scheduled for next Sunday.
“She had an extremely good week last week,” Carroll said. “I am confident she can run well. It is just a question of being good enough.”
SWITCH TUNES UP FOR BREEDERS’ CUP FILLY & MARE SPRINT – The first time C R K Stable’s Switch ran against older fillies and mares, she turned in a performance that was nearly one for the record books.
In the Lady’s Secret (GI) at Hollywood Park on Oct. 2, the 3-year-old Switch cut the corner at the top of the stretch, opening a daylight lead on a field of five that included the undefeated Zenyatta.
“It is etched in my mind,” trainer John Sadler said with a laugh Sunday morning. “The thing about it was the place went quiet for a few seconds when Switch spurted clear. And then Zenyatta came on and the place erupted.”
Zenyatta is scheduled to come to Churchill Downs on Tuesday, Nov. 2, in a bid to complete her career 20-for-20 with a run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, a race she won last year against males on a synthetic surface at Santa Anita.
Meanwhile, Switch continued to get ready for the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (GI) by working five furlongs in 1:00.20 on Sunday morning at Churchill Downs under exercise rider Lupillo Alferez.
Working on her own after the renovation break, Switch recorded fractions of :12.20, :23.80, :35.40, :47.40 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.80. The five-furlong time was the second fastest of 32 at the distance and comes on the heels of a bullet half-mile move in :47 on Oct. 17.
“It was nice and smooth and she looked good doing it,” Sadler said. “I told him to go in a minute, so that was fine.”
The Lady’s Secret was run at 1 1/16 miles, but Sadler opted to cut back to the seven-furlong Filly & Mare Sprint rather than 1 1/8-mile Ladies’ Classic.
“I am not sure she wants a mile and eighth as a 3-year-old,” Sadler said. “If the Sprint was six furlongs, she would not run but it is not really a ‘sprint’ sprint. Seven-eighths to a mile is her best distance. Next year we can come back in the (Ladies’) Classic at a mile and an eighth. She was fourth earlier in the year at a mile and eighth when she shipped to Gulfstream Park, but she didn’t get the right trip that day.”
BARN TALK – Turtle Bird Stable’s Haynesfield, winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI) at Belmont Park in his most recent start, worked six furlongs in company with Kensei after the renovation break at Churchill Downs in 1:13.60 under exercise rider Ceasar Garcia for trainer Steve Asmussen. The two worked on even terms with Haynesfield on the outside through fractions of :12.60, :25, :37.20, :49.20 and galloped out seven furlongs in 1:27.40 with Haynesfield kicking clear of his workmate. It was the second Churchill Downs work for Haynesfield, who covered five furlongs in 1:02.20 last Sunday in preparation for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. …
Team Valor International’s Pluck, winner of the Summer (GIII) at Woodbine in last time out, worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 in company with Hammock Beach before the renovation break in preparation for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (GII). The move under jockey Garrett Gomez was the fourth fastest of 32 at the distance. The two raced on even terms through fractions of :12.60, :36.40, :48.60 and out six furlongs in 1:14.80. …
Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm’s Blame, winner of the Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) here in June and the Clark Handicap (GII) here last fall, worked five furlongs at Keeneland in :58.80 on Sunday morning in preparation for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Working in company with Super Derby (GII) winner Apart, Blame recorded fractions of :12.20, :23.80, :35.80, :46.80 and out six furlongs in 1:11.60. Trained by Al Stall Jr., Blame is scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs on Wednesday and will be housed in Barn 47.
Other Breeders’ Cup works across the nation Sunday included Quality Road (Classic) 1:01.42 for five furlongs at Belmont Park; Uncle Mo (Juvenile) :49.97 for a half-mile at Belmont Park; Stay Thirsty (Juvenile) 1:01.38 for five-eighths at Belmont Park; Rose Catherine (Turf Sprint) 1:04.26 for five furlongs on the main track at Belmont Park; Persistently (Ladies’ Classic) :49.62 for a half-mile at Belmont Park; Gio Ponti (Classic or Mile) 1:03.55 for five furlongs on the turf at Belmont Park; Winchester (Turf) 1:03.86 for five furlongs on the turf at Belmont Park; Gayego (Dirt Mile) 1:00.18 for five furlongs at Belmont Park; Vineyard Haven (Dirt Mile) 1:02.48 for five furlongs at Belmont Park and Air Support (Juvenile Turf) :48.42 for a half-mile on the main track at Belmont Park. At Keeneland, Moontune Missy (Filly & Mare Sprint) worked six furlongs in 1:11.60. At Calder, Jessica Is Back (Filly & Mare Sprint) worked a half-mile in :50.60.