ROMANS, PLETCHER, SADLER HORSES TOP BUSY MORNING OF BREEDERS’ CUP WORKS SATURDAY AT CHURCHILL DOWNS – A beautiful, crisp autumn morning – complete with thick early frost on the turf course – greeted a crowd of Breeders’ Cup contenders from the prominent barns of Todd Pletcher, Dale Romans and John Sadler on a busy Saturday packed with works by Cup hopefuls.
The horses that will compete on Friday’s opening day of the first two-day renewal of the Championships at Churchill Downs turned in their final works for Pletcher, including his Ladies’ Classic (Grade I) duo of Cynthia DeBartolo’s Life At Ten and Edward Evans’ Malibu Prayer.
Life At Ten, working for the first time over the Churchill Downs surface, worked four furlongs in company with Colizeo, a 3-year-old colt who won the Northern Dancer (GIII) at Churchill Downs in June, covered the distance in :48.20. She started a length back of her workmate and was a head back on the outside of Colizeo at the finish.
Pletcher said Life At Ten often has company in her works.
“To make sure that Life At Ten gets a good honest work, we put her in company,” he said. “She generally does a little better in company and I thought this work went very smoothly.
“It was her first work here and I thought she got over the track very well.”
Malibu Prayer, on the other hand, won the Chilukki (GII) over the Churchill Downs last November. The winner of the Ruffian (GI) worked a half-mile in :49. Malibu Prayer covered her first quarter in :25 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.
“I thought Malibu Prayer was typical of herself, as she’s generally a very genuine work horse,” said Pletcher. “I had her going :48-and-change with a last quarter in :23-and-change, She had a good finish with a good gallop out and we’re very pleased with the way she was getting over the ground.”
Another Breeders’ Cup hope turning in her first work over the Churchill Downs track for Pletcher was E. Paul Robsham Stables, LLC’s R Heat Lightning, who is bound for Friday’s Juvenile Fillies (GI). The winner of Saratoga’s Spinaway (GI) breezed four furlongs in :48.40 and covered the distance in fractional splits of :12.40, :24 and :36 and galloped out five furlongs in :1:01.60.
"I thought R Heat Lightning worked well, which she usually does,” Pletcher said. “She’s a very tricky filly to ride. She’s a little bit difficult going to the pole, but once she set off in her work I thought it was very smooth with a good finish and a good first eighth gallop-out. It was just what we were looking for.”
The most eventful moves of the morning for horses from the powerful Pletcher camp came on the Matt Winn Turf Course, where Bobby Flay’s More Than Real, bound for the the Juvenile Fillies Turf, worked in company with stablemate, Team Valor’s Pluck, a colt bound for the Juvenile Turf.
The pair hit the finish together in :49.80 over “firm” footing with the dogs up on the one-mile course, but the Pletcher duo found themselves outside of Arch Support, who is also pre-entered for the Juvenile Fillies Turf, in a three-way training move.
"It’s amazing that there were probably only four horses on the track and we managed to end up in company with another one,” Pletcher said. “But it seemed to go well. There was a little traffic to maneuver through and it kind of set More Than Real into the bridle a little bit and she was full of run throughout, and Pluck kind of got stuck out in the middle of the track. But I thought both horses very well.”
All in all, it was a satisfactory morning for Pletcher’s Friday Breeders’ Cup contenders, with works scheduled Sunday morning from the horses that will run in next Saturday’s Cup races. That group will include Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) contender Quality Road and Juvenile (GI) hopes Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty. Also slated to work are Aikenite (Dirt Mile) and Rose Catherine (Turf Sprint).
“For the most part, these are all fit horses,” said Pletcher. “They’re all running well and ready to go.”
Both of the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) contenders trained by Romans – Donegal Racing’s Paddy O’Prado and Donald Dizney’s First Dude – worked five furlongs over their track on Saturday in their final major tune-ups for the big race.
First Dude, runner-up in the Preakness (GI) a close second to Classic rival Morning Line in the recent Pennsylvania Derby (GII), hit the track shortly after 7 a.m. (EDT) and covered the distance in 1:01.20 under former jockey Tammy Fox. He worked in fractional times of :11.80, :24, :36.20 and :48.60 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.
Fox also was aboard Paddy O’Prado as the gray son of El Prado went to the track shortly after the mid-morning break for track maintenance. The move by the third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and winner of Arlington Park’s Secretariat (GI) on turf was timed in 1:01. Paddy O’Prado’s internal fractions for were :12.40, :24.40, :35.60 and :48 and the gray colt galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.
"Both of them worked just like we wanted,” Romans said. “They galloped out strong, and kept galloping out. The second eighth in the gallop-out was good. So it’s exactly what we were looking for with both of them. All the big work’s done. Now we just take it easy.”
The Louisville-born Romans knows both of his 3-year-olds are outsiders in a Classic in which pre-race talk has centered on the exploits of unbeaten reigning champion Zenyatta, Blame, Quality Road and Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky. Romans is happy with the progress of his horses, who are still at home and waiting for the world to come to them for next Saturday’s race.
“It’s a good feeling – no more stress,” he said. “As long as everything’s good tomorrow, and we’re not expecting any problems, then we just coast from here.
“They are outsiders, but they are both horses who are doing great, they’re both horses that have proven they run well on this racetrack and that they’re maturing and getting better.”
Sadler sent three of his four Breeders’ Cup candidates out for works after the morning renovation break with the fourth, Sidney’s Candy (Mile), scheduled to work on the grass Monday morning.
First up for Sadler was Tell a Kelly (Juvenile Fillies) with Calvin Borel up. Tell a Kelly worked six furlongs in 1:15.60 with fractions of :12.80, :25.40, :37.60, :50, 1:02.60 and out seven furlongs in 1:30.40.
Switch (Filly & Mare Sprint) was next up under Lupillo Alferez, working five furlongs in 1:01 with fractions of :11.40, :34.60 and out six furlongs in 1:16.60.
Borel then brought Hurricane Ike (Dirt Mile) out for a six-furlong work in 1:12.60. Fractions were :13, :25, :37, :48.80 and out seven furlongs in 1:27.20.
“They were all fine,” Sadler said. “Tell a Kelly is not a big work horse. Switch’s work was actually six furlongs and I got her in 1:13 and change and Hurricane Ike looks like a horse for course here. I thought the track was a little slow this morning.”
Morning bullets for four and five furlongs were provided after the break by Champagne d’Oro (Filly & Mare Sprint) and Smiling Tiger (Sprint).
Southern Equine Stable and Mike Smith’s Champagne d’Oro worked a half-mile in :.47.40 under jockey Miguel Mena. Fractions were :24.40, :35.40 and out five-eighths in 1:00.80 for the best of 36 at the half-mile distance. “I really wanted to go in :45 and the last eighth in 10 and change,” trainer Eric Guillot said, tongue firmly planted in cheek. “But the last eighth in :11 will have to do. We are ready.”
Smiling Tiger had a best of 41 five-furlong work under exercise rider Mario Urive in :58.40 in a move that came with some unexpected company.
Smiling Tiger started off about 10 lengths behind two sets of workers, a set for Ken McPeek that included fifth-place Kentucky Derby finisher Noble’s Promise and a set for Steve Hobby, including Telling, who was working for the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Smiling Tiger went past the Hobby duo and then hooked the McPeek pair after three-eighths in :34.20 and finished on even terms with Noble’s Promise. Smiling Tiger galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.
Hobby was not happy with the morning developments.
“I wanted him to go in 1:02 or 1:03 and he didn’t need to eat all that dirt,” Hobby said of Telling, who was partnered by Greta Kuntzweiler and worked in company with Silent Money. “Fortunately, his last work at Delaware Park (on Oct. 23) was excellent.”
It marked the second consecutive year that Telling’s final pre-Breeders’ Cup work did not go as planned.
“I only worked him on the grass once and that was here last year before going out to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup,” Hobby said. “He got out there around the ‘dogs’ and just galloped and never worked.
Churchill Downs (GII) winner Atta Boy Roy (Sprint) worked a half-mile under Borel in :48.20 after the break, the fifth best of 36 at the distance. Fractions were :12, :24, :35.60 and out five furlongs in 1:02.60.
“I told him to go easy,” trainer Valorie Lund said of Borel. “Just start off even and finish.”
Atta Boy Roy is stabled at the nearby Trackside Training Center and Lund said she would bring the 5-year-old to Churchill Downs on Wednesday.
Red Desire (JPN) worked five furlongs on the main track in 1:00 under jockey Kent Desormeaux. Fractions were :12.80, :25, :36.20, :48 and out six furlongs in 1:13.40.
“She was fantastic getting over the ground, very smooth,” Desormeaux said of the filly who is cross-entered in the Filly & Mare Turf and Turf. “I am hoping she does very well this year so they can bring her back next year for the Classic.”
Among the turf workers Saturday was Arch Support (Juvenile Fillies Turf) who covered six furlongs in 1:18.60. Fractions on the work were :14.80, :27.40, :40.80 and :54.20.
“I thought it was excellent,” trainer Gary Contessa said. “She was like 50 feet out in the middle of the course and then she got hooked up with two Todd Pletcher horses (More Than Real and Pluck) who were working a half-mile and she held her own.”
Working before the break was new Churchill Downs arrival Rinterval (IRE), who covered a half-mile in :49. Fractions for the work were :12.20, :24.60 and out five furlongs in 1:03.40. It was Rinterval’s second work here since finishing sixth in the Juddmonte Spinster (GI) on Oct. 10 at Keeneland, where she is stabled.
"We left at 4 in the morning last week to come over and work,” trainer Eric Reed said. “We came over last night and will stay here. I just wanted to let her get over the track and she seemed to handle it well.”
Other works included Due Date (Turf Sprint): Half-mile in :49 (:12.80, :25.60 and out five furlongs in 1:03.60) on the turf; Seeking the Title (Ladies’ Classic): Half-mile in :50.20 with Calvin Borel up (:12.80, :25.20 and :37.60. Out five furlongs in 1:04); My Jen (Filly & Mare Sprint): Half-mile in :48.60; A.U. Miner (Marathon): Half-mile in :48.60 (:12.20, :24.20 and :36.40. Out five furlongs in 1:01.80, six furlongs in 1:17); and, Prince Will I Am (Marathon): Half-mile in :49.40.
At Keeneland on Saturday morning, two 2-year-olds for Ken McPeek worked in company: Rogue Romance (Juvenile) and Harlan’s Ruby (Juvenile Fillies). The duo covered five furlongs in :59.40, the best of 33 at the distance, with fractions of :13, :24.60, :36.20 and :47.80. Rogue Romance galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.80. Also for McPeek, working on the turf in company were Bridgetown (Turf Sprint) and Kathmanblu (Juvenile Fillies Turf) who covered five furlongs in 1:01 (:37.6 and out in 1:14.20). Also on the turf was trainer Michael Stidham’s two Juvenile Turf pre-entrants, Rough Sailing and Willcox Inn, who worked five furlongs in 1:01.40 (:38 and out in 1:14.60). Working on the main track were Mad Flatter (Dirt Mile) going :46.40 for a half-mile, the second fastest of 64 at the distance, and Silver Timber (Turf Sprint), a half-mile in :48.40 (11th fastest of 64). …
Some works of note at other venues Saturday morning included Zenyatta (Classic) at Hollywood Park: six furlongs in 1:11.80; Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner Blind Luck (Ladies’ Classic): five furlongs in 1:00; and Jaycito (Juvenile): six furlongs in 1:13.40. Other Breeders’ Cup workers at other venues included Typhoon Slew (Juvenile Turf): Five furlongs in 1:02.80 at Trackside Training Center, the 11th best of 24 at the distance; Havre de Grace (Ladies’ Classic): Half-mile in :48.20 at Delaware Park; Rightly So (Filly & Mare Sprint): Half-mile in :47.60 at Delaware Park; Big Drama (Sprint): Half-mile in :46.40 and out five furlongs in :58.40 at Calder.
One work that did not place was one from Carl Moore Management’s Chamberlain Bridge for the Turf Sprint. “There was a little abscess in a foot yesterday and it popped this morning,” trainer Bret Calhoun said. “We canceled the work and we will probably skip the breeze altogether. He will be back on the track in the morning.”
In addition to Pletcher’s contingent, other works on tap for Sunday include Classic pre-entrants Haynesfield and Espoir City (JPN), Acoma (Ladies’ Classic) at 6:30 with jockey Robby Albarado up, Mine That Bird (Dirt Mile) and Atoned (Marathon).
INTERNATIONAL STARS SCHEDULED TO ARRIVE SATURDAY AFTERNOON – Defending Breeders’ Cup winners Goldikova (IRE) (Mile) and Midday (GB) (Filly & Mare Turf) and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (GI) winner Workforce (GB) are scheduled to arrive in Louisville early Saturday evening for their engagements in next weekend’s World Championships at Churchill Downs.
Also scheduled to arrive this afternoon was the Godolphin Racing European contingent.
Arriving this morning on a charter from New York were a string of horses for trainer Nick Zito, including Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) hopefuls Fly Down and Morning Line and Dirt Mile (GI) candidate Cool Coal Man.
Two domestic charters are scheduled to arrive in Louisville on Sunday; one from California that will include the 1-2 finishers in this spring’s Kentucky Oaks (GI), Blind Luck and Evening Jewel, and one from New York that will include leading Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (GII) contender Winter Memories.
Two flights are scheduled for Monday arrival headed by a flight from Ireland bringing the Ballydoyle contingent for trainer Aidan O’Brien. Slated to arrive from Baltimore-Washington are horses for trainers Graham Motion and Tony Dutrow including Havre de Grace for Dutrow who is a top contender for the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (GI).
The undefeated defending Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner Zenyatta is scheduled to arrive at Louisville International Airport shortly before noon Tuesday. On the same flight is expected to be one of her major rivals, Lookin At Lucky, for trainer Bob Baffert.
On Tuesday afternoon, a flight from New York is scheduled to bring $4.6 million earner Gio Ponti, who is cross-entered in the Classic as well as the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI).
DEFENDING CHAMP DEMARCATION ASSIGNED 117 POUNDS FOR ACK ACK – The Amerman Racing Stables’ Demarcation, 10-1 upset winner for trainer Paul McGee in last year’s Ack Ack Handicap (GIII), has been assigned 117 pounds by racing secretary Ben Huffman for the 18th running of the $100,000-added race scheduled for Friday.
The impost is the same as that assigned to Super Derby (GII) winner Apart, who is expected to start in the 1 1/16-mile main track event. Apart is trained by Al Stall Jr., and owned by Adele Dilschneider.
Marianne and Brandon Chase’s Here Comes Ben was assigned top weight of 122 pounds, but the Charles Lopresti trainee is pre-entered in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI) next Saturday. Second high weight at 119 pounds is Mrs. Fitriani Hay’s Redding Colliery, who is being pointed to the Grade I Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare on Nov. 26.
Next on the weight list is David Holloway Racing’s Dubious Miss at 118 pounds. Dubious Miss, who is also trained by McGee, is entered in today’s Fayette (GII) at Keeneland.
Entries for the Ack Ack will be taken Tuesday.