QUALITY ROAD, UNCLE MO HEAD SUNDAY WORKERS FROM PLETCHER CAMP – Edward P. Evans’ Quality Road, winner of the Woodward (Grade I) in his most recent outing and a major contender for Saturday’s $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI), and Repole Stable’s Uncle Mo, the likely favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI), headed a group of five horses from the powerful stable of trainer Todd Pletcher that turned in their final works for the two-day Championships on Sunday.
The versatile Quality Road, who also earned Grade I wins this year in the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park and Belmont’s Metropolitan Handicap, worked four furlongs in :48.60 in company with Dogwood Stable’s Aikenite, who will run in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Exercise rider Patty Krotenko was in the saddle as Quality Road covered the distance over a fast track in fractional splits of :12, :24.20 and :36 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:02
Quality Road, running on the outside, finished about length in front of Aikenite, who was timed in :48.40 for his half-mile under veteran exercise rider Kevin Willey.
“I thought both horses worked very well,” said Pletcher. “Quality Road is obviously an exceptionally talented horse and does things very easily. I thought it was a good progressive work. He picked it up down the lane, galloped out well and seemed to get over the ground extremely well.”
Uncle Mo finished his preparations for the Juvenile by working four furlongs in company with his Repole stablemate Stay Thirsty and the colts finished together in :50.60. Uncle Mo, a son of Indian Charlie and a sizzling winner of the Champagne (GI) in his most recent start, worked on the outside of that duo under Horacio De Paz, while Krotenko was aboard Stay Thirsty as the pair worked in fractional times of :12.60, :25.40 and :37.40 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:03.60.
“I don’t believe we’ve ever worked them together, although they have both worked in company quite a bit,” Pletcher said. “We were not looking for a whole lot from either one. Stay Thirsty had a lot of his conditioning done at Belmont, and Uncle Mo obviously is running back 28 days, and ran a mile in 1:34-and-change 22 days ago (in the Champagne).
“I kind of let them get a little feel for the track. I thought it was a little slower than I wanted it to be, but it was the right kind of slow. They went each eighth a little faster than the previous one. I thought Uncle Mo galloped out particularly well. He was all the way back to the half-mile pole before he actually pulled up.”
The only other Pletcher trainee to work was Paul Pompa Jr.’s Rose Catherine, a 3-year-old filly who will take on males in the Turf Sprint. The daughter of Speightstown breezed four furlongs around the dogs on firm turf under De Paz in :49.60. She was very eager as she broke off for the move, covered her opening quarter in :26.40 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:04.40.
“She’s a superior work horse and would work as fast as a horse could possibly work if you allowed her to,” Pletcher said. “But when you’re going five-eighths on the grass, they need to be ready to roll and that’s her game. I thought she worked very well. Sometimes you have to be a little careful with her or she will do way too much, but we had a nice, quiet turf course. No one else was out there and she handled it real well.”
Pletcher had worked five horses on Saturday: Life At Ten (Ladies’ Classic), Malibu Prayer (Ladies’ Classic), R Heat Lightning (Juvenile Fillies), More Than Real (Juvenile Fillies Turf), and Pluck (Juvenile Turf). He said all came out of their works well and appear ready for their Breeders’ Cup races on Friday..
"I thought for preparing 10 horses here for the Breeders’ Cup, all 10 works were right within the range of what we were looking for,” he said. “When you have horses that are fit and ready to go, you just want to keep them happy in their last breezes. I think we accomplished that.”
ESPOIR CITY WORKS FROM WIRE TO HALF-MILE POLE FOR CLASSIC – The Breeders’ Cup Classic hope from Japan, Espoir City (JPN), worked a half-mile after the renovation break in :49.60 with exercise rider Toshiyuki Abematsu up.
What made the work unusual was the 5-year-old horse worked from the wire to the half-mile pole.
"“That is how they usually do it with him in Japan and they wanted to keep him in his routine,” said Mikki Tsuge, West Coast Representative for the Japan Racing Association who has been serving as the connections’ liaison at Churchill Downs. “Toshiyuki said the work went very well and he handled the track fine.”
Fractions for the work were :13, :25.40, :37.60 and out five furlongs in 1:05.
Espoir City had worked a leisurely six furlongs in 1:18.20 last Sunday under jockey Tetsuzo Sato. Sato and trainer Akio Adachi are scheduled to return to Louisville from Japan on Monday afternoon.
MINE THAT BIRD GETS SHARPENER FROM GATE FOR DIRT MILE – Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine’s Mine That Bird, winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) had his final tuneup for Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI) by working three furlongs out of the gate in :37.40.
With Michael Baze up and starting on the inside of Derivative, Mine That Bird stepped the first quarter in :25 and galloped out a half-mile in :50.40.
“I just wanted to sharpen him up, and I think it worked,” trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. “Fitness-wise, he is dead fit. But I still don’t know if I have him quick enough.”
Mine That Bird has been in Lukas’ care for five months but the lack of results have been frustrating to Lukas.
“Yes, it has been frustrating because he has been doing well physically,” Lukas said of the 4-year-old gelding who has not hit the board in three starts around two turns during the summer. “I think it is pretty much mental and I don’t know if his heart is in racing.”
Lukas, who won the 1999 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Gulfstream Park with Cat Thief, was asked if he had handicapped this year’s Classic field. “It’s easy,” Lukas said. “Bet on the filly (Zenyatta) and go to the bank.”
BARN TALK – Turtle Bird Stable’s Haynesfield (Classic) worked a half-mile after the break in :50 under Ceasar Garcia. Fractions were :13, :25.80, :38 and out five-eighths in 1:02.40. The move was the 27th fastest of 60 at the half-mile distance. Toby Sheets, the Steve Asmussen assistant who has been with Haynesfield “since Day One”, was happy with the work, the colt’s third at Churchill Downs since his wire-to-wire victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI) at Belmont Park. …
Helen Alexander and Helen Groves’ Acoma (Ladies’ Classic) worked a half-mile before the renovation break in :50 under jockey Robby Albarado. Splits for the move, which has the 27th fastest of 60 at the distance, were :12.80, :25.40, :37.80 and out five furlongs in 1:04. Albarado has ridden Acoma three times in her 18-race career including a victory in the 2008 Dogwood (GIII) here. “She worked really well,” Albarado said. “This was just a maintenance move and she felt as good today as she did the last time I was on her (in the Locust Grove in July).” Acoma earned her spot in the Ladies’ Classic with a victory in the Juddmonte Spinster (GI) at Keeneland on Oct. 10. “She really turned around after her breeze on the Polytrack at Keeneland before the Spinster,” trainer David Carroll said. “She has been a different filly since that work. The key thing with her is how she is doing and she is doing very well.” …
Other works involving Breeders’ Cup horses were a trio from the barn of trainer Wesley Ward. Classic pre-entrant Pleasant Prince worked five furlongs on the main track in 1:01.60 in company with Aegean under jockey Jamie Theriot. Fractions were :12.60, :24.40, :36.40, :48.80 and out six furlongs in 1:15.80. Working on the turf around the “dogs” in company were Nina Fever (Juvenile Fillies Turf) and Madman Diaries (Juvenile Turf). Nina Fever was on the inside and started a length in front of Madman Diaries with the duo finishing on even terms. Madman Diaries was clocked in 1:03.40 and Nina Fever in 1:03.60. Splits were :25.40, :39.40 and out six furlongs in 1:18.60. …
Also working on the turf was Keertana (Filly & Mare Turf) for trainer Tom Proctor. Keertana worked five furlongs in 1:01.40 with splits of :12.20, :25.20, :38.40 and out six furlongs in 1:18.
Going before the renovation break was Atoned (Marathon) for trainer Neil Howard. Atoned worked a half-mile in :49.60 with splits of :12, :24.20, :37 and out five-eighths in 1:03.20. Working after the break was Riveting Reason (Juvenile) under Joe Deegan. Riveting Reason covered five furlongs in 1:01.80 with splits of :12.20, :24, :35.80 and :49, and Jordy Y (Juvenile Fillies/Juvenile Fillies Turf) worked five furlongs in 1:02.20 for trainer Wayne Catalano. …
Three horses that arrived early Saturday afternoon from Europe are scheduled to clear quarantine Monday morning and go to the track at 10 a.m. The trio consists of Arlington Million (GI) winner Debussy (IRE) (Turf) for trainer John Gosden, the undefeated Biondetti (Juvenile or Juvenile Turf) for trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni and Delegator (GB) (Mile) for trainer Saeed bin Suroor.