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Koriner's Breeders' Cup Contenders California Flag, Sweet August Moon Work at Churchill Downs; Uncle Mo Now On the Scene
CALIFORNIA FLAG, SWEET AUGUST MOON WORK FOR KORINER – Defending Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint champion California Flag worked five furlongs over a firm Matt Winn Turf Course in 1:00.80 on a warm and windy Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs.
With exercise rider Colleen Hartford aboard, California Flag posted fractions of :11.20, :23.20, :36.40 and :48.60.
“That was fine,” said trainer Brian Koriner, who never has started a horse at Churchill Downs. “We will train him light this week and maybe blow him out three-eighths next Monday.”
California Flag won last year’s race at Santa Anita, coming down that track’s unique 6 ½-furlong downhill course.
"We don’t have our home-court advantage here this time,” Koriner said. “The five furlongs (of this year’s race because of the track configuration at Churchill Downs) is not a concern, because he likes to be near the front anyway. If he fires his race, he’ll be OK.”
Owned and bred by the Hi Card Ranch, the 6-year-old California bred did not run his race the last time out, finishing last in a field of 11 in the 5 ½-furlong Woodford (GIII) at Keeneland on Oct. 9.
"It was depressing to watch,” Koriner said. “He ran to the top of the lane and then slowed down. But I have had assistants to Bobby Frankel and Neil Drysdale tell me their horses would get on that sandy turf at Keeneland and not try, but they would come over here and return to form.”
One other possible explanation for California Flag’s poor Keeneland showing was the presence of front bandages.
“He had hit himself before the race and we put the bandages on him and maybe he thought he was just going to work,” Koriner said. “I’ll tell you one thing; he won’t have bandages on Breeders’ Cup day.”
Victor Espinoza will have the mount on California Flag in the Breeders’ Cup.
Koriner has one other Breeders’ Cup candidate in Legacy Ranch and Shirley MacPherson’s Sweet August Moon for the seven-furlong $1 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (GI).
With Hartford up and working immediately after the morning renovation break over a fast track, Sweet August Moon worked five furlongs in 1:00.80. The move was the fourth fastest of 34 at the distance.
Fractions for the work were :12.20, :24.20 and :35.80 with a six-furlong gallop-out time of 1:15.
“She got a little tired, but this was the first time she has worked on dirt,” Koriner said. “It was fine and I will probably come back with her next Monday for three-eighths.”
Sweet August Moon came off a seven-week layoff on Oct. 9 to run fifth in the Thoroughbred Club of America (GII) at Keeneland. Koriner left both her and California Flag at Keeneland after the race instead of shipping back to California. The two horses worked at Keeneland on Oct. 19 and then vanned to Churchill Downs on Oct. 21.
“It was an advantage to get here early for our horses,” Koriner said, especially for Sweet August Moon.
Before she was saddled (for the TCA), she was throwing her head around and walking to the walking ring, she was trying to run off with me,” Koriner said. “She did not handle all those people well at all. Then she did not want to load. Everything that she could do that day, she did.
“But even with all of that, she only got beat 2 ½ lengths (in the six-furlong race) and the seven-eighths is her best distance. You have to stay optimistic.”
Espinoza, who has ridden the 5-year-old mare in her past three starts, will have the mount here.
JAPANESE FILLY & MARE TURF HOPEFUL RED DESIRE ARRIVES – The Tokyo Horse Racing Co.’s Red Desire (JPN) arrived at Churchill Downs shortly before 10 a.m. (all times Eastern) on Tuesday after an overnight van ride from Belmont Park.
“We left Belmont Park at 7:30 last night and had no problems,” said Nobutaka Tada, racing manager for the ownership.
Tada said the 4-year-old filly would have one work at Churchill Downs prior to the $2 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (GI) on Nov. 5, most likely on Saturday. Kent Desormeaux, who rode Red Desire in her U.S. debut in the Flower Bowl Invitational (GI) at Belmont Park on Oct. 2, would have the mount.
A Group I winner in Japan, Red Desire closed out 2009 with a third-place finish against males in the Japan Cup (GI) and then went to Dubai and challenged males again, winning the Group II Maktoum Challenge (Round 3) in which she defeated eventual Dubai World Cup (GI) winner Gloria de Campeao. Red Desire finished 11th in the Dubai World Cup, but was beaten only 5 ¾ lengths.
Trainer Mikio Matsunaga is not expected to arrive in Louisville until just before the Breeders’ Cup, according to Tada.
DUBAI MAJESTY TUNES UP FOR FILLY & MARE SPRINT WITH TURF WORK – The Martin Racing Stable and Dan Morgan’s Dubai Majesty, who earned a spot in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint with a victory on Polytrack in the Thoroughbred Club of America (GII) at Keeneland, worked a half-mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course in :49.60 under jockey Jamie Theriot on Tuesday morning.
“I am not sure if Bret (trainer Bret Calhoun) has done this in the past before a dirt race,” said Dennis “Peaches” Geier, Calhoun’s assistant at Churchill Downs. “But the turf is a lot easier on her.”
A two-time winner of the Winning Colors (GIII) here, the 5-year-old Dubai Majesty also is a two-time stakes winner on grass.
Also working on the turf on Tuesday was Glen Hill Farm’s Banned, who covered a half-mile in :51 with a first quarter-mile in :26.40. Banned, an allowance winner at Keeneland who is pointing for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (GII), had company in the work by accident as he hooked up with Expansion, who was working seven furlongs. “It was perfect. Mary (exercise rider Mary Donald) gets a brownie. She didn’t let him run off when that other horse came up to her,” trainer Tom Proctor said. … A. Stevens Miles Jr.’s Warrior’s Reward (Sprint), trained by Ian Wilkes, worked five furlongs in 1:01 with jockey Julien Leparoux up. Fractions for the move, seventh fastest of 34 at the distance, were :13, :25, :36.80, :48.60 and out six furlongs in 1:15.20.
BARN TALK – The first wave of trainer Todd Pletcher’s Breeders’ Cup contingent from New York arrived early Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs. Edwards Evans’ Quality Road, one of the favorites for the $5 million Classic, and Malibu Prayer, headed for the $2 million Ladies’ Classic, arrived at 4 a.m. and stabled in Barn 34. Mike McCarthy, Pletcher’s assistant at Churchill Downs, reported both horses made the trip without incident. A plane carrying Pletcher trainees Rose Catherine (Turf Sprint), Life At Ten (Ladies’ Classic), Stay Thirsty (Juvenile), Uncle Mo (Juvenile), and R Heat Lightning (Juvenile Fillies) arrived at Louisville International Airport at 1:40 p.m. Tuesday, and the van that carried those horses on the short ride to Churchill Downs pulled into the barn area shortly after 2:30 p.m.. The flight was 40 minutes late leaving New York and was re-routed to the south in mid-flight to avoid a storm front that blew through the Louisville area around noon. Juvenile Fillies Turf candidate Allure d’Amour had been scheduled to be on that flight, but stayed behind with Pletcher’s New York stable until it can be determined whether she will make the field for the Breeders’ Cup race.
Morton Fink’s Wise Dan, winner of the Phoenix (GIII) on Oct. 8 at Keeneland and a candidate for the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI), worked five furlongs over the Polytrack at Keeneland in :58 early Tuesday morning. Fractions for the move, the best of 20 at the distance, were :24.60, :46.20 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:11.20 while working on his own for trainer Charles Lopresti. Working at Calder for the $2 million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) was Jacks or Better Farms’ undefeated Awesome Feather, who covered five furlongs in 1:02 under regular rider Jeffrey Sanchez for trainer Stanley Gold. Awesome Feather is scheduled to ship to Louisville on Thursday. …
Trainer Al Stall Jr. said that his Breeders’ Cup Classic hopeful Blame would train at Keeneland on Wednesday morning and then depart the Lexington track around 9:30-10 a.m. for the van trip to Churchill Downs. Also coming with Blame will be Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (GI) winner J. B.’s Thunder. …
Trainer Mark Casse said that WinStar Farm’s Blue Laser would pass on the $2 million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) and point instead for the $1 million Delta (Downs) Jackpot (GIII) on Nov. 20. WinStar won the Jackpot last year with Rule, who did his training for the race at Churchill Downs. Casse said that Blue Laser would be here at least through the Breeders’ Cup. …
The Breeders’ Cup has been staged at Churchill Downs six previous times and several World Championships marks have been established here. Here are a few of note:
- Perfect Sting (2000) owns the Breeders’ Cup record for the Filly & Mare Turf run at 1 3/8 miles of 2:13.07. The race has been run at that distance five times in 11 runnings.
- Three record win payoffs have been produced beneath the Twin Spires: Spain in the 2000 Distaff (now the Ladies’ Classic) of $113.80; Caressing in the 2000 Juvenile Fillies ($96); and, Sheikh Albadou in the 1991 Sprint ($54.80).
- Of the 26 previous runnings of the Distaff/Ladies’ Classic, two renewals have been decided by a nose: 1988 with Personal Ensign just catching Winning Colors and 1998 when Escena just held off Banshee Breeze.
- The largest and smallest margins of victory in the Juvenile and Mile came at Churchill Downs. The Juvenile extremes were provided by Street Sense, a 10-length winner in 2006 and Macho Uno, who prevailed by a nose in 2000. In the Mile, Miesque was a four-length winner in 1988 and Da Hoss won by a head in 1998.
CORRECTION – In Monday’s Barn Notes, it was incorrectly reported that Julien Leparoux was on Forever Together in a workout at Keeneland. Leparoux was on Fantasia (GB), who is a candidate for the Cardinal Handicap (GIII) to be run at Churchill Downs on Nov. 7.