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Sassy Image Out of Breeders' Cup, My Miss Aurelia Among Six Asmussen BC Workers

| Churchill Downs Communications | 10/17/2011 #
  • Sassy Image and jockey Robby Albarado pulled away to win the GI Humana Distaff. (Reed Palmer, CD)

  • Trainer Steve Asmussen, who hopes to start eight horses over two days of Breeders' Cup 2011 racing. (Reed Palmer, CD)

SASSY IMAGE INJURED, OUT OF BREEDERS’ CUP FILLY & MARE SPRINT – Multiple Grade I winner Sassy Image has been taken out of consideration for the Grade I, $1 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint after a chip in a hind ankle was discovered following her most recent work on Oct. 8 at Churchill Downs.

“She’s a filly that has always moved perfectly and the next morning (Oct. 9) when we saw that she was a little off we knew that something was wrong,” said trainer Dale Romans, who conditions the filly for his brother Jerry.

Sassy Image, a 4-year-old daughter of Broken Vow, had been given some time away from the track after tearing her left front quarter in a sixth-place finish as the favorite in the GI Ballerina at Saratoga, a race in which she leapt at the break and then bolted on the final turn. Her four-furlong breeze on Oct. 8 was clocked in :48.60, the fifth fastest of 38 at the distance over a fast Churchill Downs track. “She appeared to come out of it fine,” Romans said.

The injury to Sassy Image is a major disappointment for Romans, who was looking forward to running the filly in the Filly & Mare Sprint over her favorite surface. Sassy Image has compiled a record of 5-0-1 in six starts beneath the Twin Spires, including victories in the GI Humana Distaff, GII Golden Rod, GIII Winning Colors and GIII Pocahontas.

“This has made me sick,” Romans said. “You have to enjoy the high points in this game because there are going to be a lot of disappointments.”

The injury will knock Sassy Image out of this year’s Breeders’ Cup; however, she will still be offered at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale on Nov. 6 as a racing/broodmare prospect. “If the new owners wanted to remove the chip then she could probably come back next year,” Romans said. She will be consigned by Romans Racing & Sales, as agent, and will sell as Hip 17.Horses in the Romans barn that are still on track for Breeders’ Cup bids include Shackleford, who is scheduled to breeze for the first time Saturday (Oct. 22) since a second-place performance in the GII Indiana Derby, Dullahan, winner of the GI Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, will also breeze Saturday morning for the Juvenile or Juvenile Turf, Court Vision, who came out of his Oct. 15 work in good order and is on track for the Mile and  Me and My Gals, a 2-year-son of Sky Mesa who worked a “bullet” five furlongs Monday in 1:01 in preparation for the Juvenile Sprint.

MY MISS AURELIA HEADS SIX MONDAY BREEDERS’ CUP WORKERS FOR ASMUSSEN – Trainer Steve Asmussen, who won the 2007 Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic with two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, has eight candidates for this year’s Breeders’ Cup Championship races and six of those horses worked on Monday over the main track at Churchill Downs.

Asmussen’s roster of potential Breeders’ Cup stars includes Stonestreet Stables and George Bolton’s unbeaten My Miss Aurelia (Juvenile Fillies); Ron Winchell’s Tapizar (Dirt Mile); Stonestreet Stable’s Wilburn (Dirt Mile); Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Sabercat (Juvenile), Cathy and Bob ZollarsDaddy Nose Best (Juvenile Turf); Vinery Stable’s Regally Ready (Turf Sprint); Kirk and Judy Robison’s She Digs Me (Juvenile Sprint) and Ron Winchell’s Seeker (Juvenile Sprint).

Seven of the eight Asmussen trainees are on the grounds at Churchill Downs and Regally Ready is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday after winning the GI $500,000 Nearctic at Woodbine on Sunday.  Vinery Stable’s 4-year-old More Than Ready gelding is perfect in two starts over the Churchill Downs turf course, with his most recent run here being a victory over Bridgetown and defending Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Chamberlain Bridge in the GIII Churchill Downs Turf Sprint on Kentucky Derby Day.

My Miss Aurelia, winner of the GI Frizette at Belmont Park and Saratoga’s GII Adirondack, headlined Monday’s Asmussen workers with a five-furlong move over “fast” footing in 1:02.  The work by My Miss Aurelia was the fifth fastest of 35 at the distance.

The homebred daughter of Smart Strike covered the distance in fractional times of :12.60, :24.80, :37 and :49.60, and galloped out six furlongs in 1:16.

"I’m very pleased with her breeze,” Asmussen said.  “We’re obviously extremely impressed with her talent and how she’s going.  We have a pretty good comfort level with the Breeders’ Cup running here.  She didn’t start here, but she spent a lot of time here in the spring.  She’s comfortable with the surroundings.”

Tapizar and Wilburn, coming off wins in their most recent outings, worked five furlongs on Monday.

Working in company with the 2-year-old Seeker, Tapizar breezed five furlongs as the workmates competed the distance in 1:02.80.  Internal fractions for Tapizar were :13.60, :25.80, :38.20, and he galloped out six furlongs in 1:17.20.

Tapizar was considered a major contender for Kentucky Derby 137 following a 10 ½-length victory in a Churchill Downs maiden race in November and a 4 ¼-length romp in the GIII Sham at Santa Anita in his stakes debut in January.  But the homebred son of Tapit went to the sidelines with injury following a fifth-place run in the GII Robert Lewis at Santa Anita.  He returned to competition on Oct. 8 with a 2 ¼-length victory in a Belmont Park allowance race.

Wilburn, who notched his third consecutive victory in a 4 ¾-length win over GI Preakness winner Shackleford in the GII Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.40.  His internal fractions were :12.60, :25.20, :37.60 and :49.80, and he galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.80.

Sabercat, a Bluegrass Cat colt who won the $75,000 Garden State at Monmouth Park last time out, worked five furlongs in 1:02.40 in preparation for his Juvenile bid.

She Digs Me, winner of the GIII Sapling at Monmouth Park, breezed five furlongs on Tuesday in 1:02.60.

Daddy Nose Best, third in the GIII Summer Stakes on turf at Woodbine, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.60 over a fast main track on Sunday at Churchill Downs.

If all eight horses start in their Breeders’ Cup races on Nov. 4 and 5, it will be the largest contingent of Asmussen trainees to compete in the year-end Championships.  Asmussen, who is closing in on 6,000 career victories and ranks fifth in all-time wins by U.S. trainers, started four horses in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup and saddled a trio of starters in three other years (2003, 2007 and 2010). 

“We’re very pleased with the physical condition that we’re in right now,” Asmussen said.  “We surely want a couple of more weeks of that.”

ROCKET TWENTYONE BRINGS HOWARD FULL CIRCLE TO BREEDERS’ CUP – The first time Tom Howard attended a Breeders’ Cup was at Churchill Downs in 1988.

“That was Alysheba’s year. I watched it from right back here in the bleachers,” Howard said. “That was the best place to watch, because you could see all the horses going over to the paddock.”

Alysheba was housed in Barn 32 not only for the Breeders’ Cup, but the previous year when he won the Kentucky Derby. Fast forward to today and Howard has Rocket Twentyone walking in the same shedrow.

Owned by Frank Fletcher, Rocket Twentyone is undefeated in two starts and coming off a victory in the Grade III Arlington-Washington Lassie on Sept. 10. She shipped to Kentucky on Sept. 28 and was housed at the Trackside Training Center before coming over to Churchill Downs.

After the Lassie victory, Howard had mentioned the GI Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland on Oct. 7 as a possible next start leading up to the GI $2 million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

“We looked at it (the Alcibiades) and thought we had enough points (to get in the Breeders’ Cup) and opted not to run,” Howard said.

A regular on the Louisiana-Arkansas circuit, Howard has five other horses stabled at Trackside. He gave Rocket Twentyone her first Churchill Downs work last Friday, a half-mile in :51.60 over a track labeled muddy.

“She worked OK in the slop last week and she probably will work again this Friday depending if her rider (Eddie Razo) can be here,” Howard said.

One filly who did run in the Alcibiades, Heart of Destiny, may be pre-entered next Monday in both the Juvenile Fillies and the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Owned by Hurstland Farm and James Greene Jr., Heart of Destiny broke her maiden on the grass at Saratoga and then ran second in the Alcibiades.

“We’d be foolish not to (look at the Breeders’ Cup),” trainer James Baker said. “We’d look at both races, but I think the dirt race may be easier than the turf.”

Baker plans to give Heart of Destiny two works prior to the Breeders’ Cup.

CASSE BARN STILL WEIGHING OPTIONS FOR NORTHERN PASSION – Northern Passion, an impressive winner of the Grade III Natalma at Woodbine in her most recent start, is scheduled to breeze Tuesday morning shortly after the renovation break at Churchill Downs under regular exercise rider Melanie Giddings for trainer Mark Casse in preparation for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies or Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

"We are still considering both races,” said assistant trainer Norman Casse, Mark’s son. “She’s going to have to show us enough in her workouts over the track for us to try her on the dirt.”

Northern Passion, a 2-year-old daughter of First Samurai who races under the colors of John Oxley, beat a competitive field in the Natalma, including Stephanie’s Kitten, who returned to win the GI Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland. “It looks like the Natalma has turned into a key race,” Casse said.

The chestnut Canadian-bred filly recorded two solid workouts at Woodbine following her score in the Natalma and then shipped to Churchill Downs, arriving beneath the Twin Spires on Oct. 12. “She’s doing great and her last workout (:59.60 bullet work at Woodbine on Oct. 9) was the best one of her life.”

BARN TALK - C R K Stable’s Switch, third-place finisher in the Grade II Thoroughbred Club of America at Keeneland on Oct. 8 in her most recent start, is scheduled to arrive from Keeneland for the GI Filly & Mare Sprint on Tuesday. The remainder of trainer John Sadler’s Breeders’ Cup continent is scheduled to fly in from California on Oct. 30. …

Shivananda Parbhoo’s two Breeders’ Cup hopefuls, Giant Ryan (Sprint) and Trinniberg (Juvenile Sprint), are scheduled to work Thursday morning after the renovation break. Giant Ryan has won his past six  starts, highlighted by a score in the GI Vosburgh, and Trinniberg followed up his runner-up effort in the GI Hopeful with a second-place finish in the GII Nashua. …

Activity in the stable area will begin to pick up next Monday with the scheduled arrival of trainer Todd Pletcher’s high-profile duo of Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty. Other expected arrival dates for marquee names include West Coast stars Turbulent Descent (Filly & Mare Sprint) and Weemissfrankie (Juvenile Fillies) on Oct. 30, Union Rags (Juvenile) on Oct. 31 and Gio Ponti (Mile) on Nov. 1. Trainer Bob Baffert’s Breeders’ Cup contingent is also scheduled to arrive on Nov. 1. Two European charters are slated to arrive on October 29 with a third plane scheduled for Oct. 31 or Nov. 1. …

Carl R. Moore Management LLC’s Chamberlain Bridge, winner of the 2010 edition of the GII Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint beneath the Twin Spires, is preparing to defend his title on Nov. 5 and will work at the Louisville track for trainer Bret Calhoun on Tuesday or Wednesday. …

Nominations for four graded stakes races to be run at Churchill Downs over Breeders’ Cup weekend will close Wednesday. The eighth running of the GIII, $100,000-added Commonwealth Turf for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course will be contested on Thursday, Nov. 3. The 19th running of the GIII, $100,000-added Ack Ack Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on the main track will be part of the undercard on Breeders’ Cup Friday. The 26th running of the GII, $150,000-added Chilukki for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up at one mile on the main track will be contested on Breeders’ Cup Saturday. The 38th running of the GIII, $100,000-added Cardinal Handicap for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course will be run Sunday, Nov. 6.

WORKTAB - Dell EnnisHunt Crossing, winner of the NATC Futurity at Monmouth Park on Sept. 24 and who is being considered for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint, worked a half-mile over a fast track Monday morning in :49.20 for trainer Todd Pletcher. Fractions for the work were :12, :24 and out five-eighths in 1:03.60.