With Alex Solis aboard for the first time, owner-trainer Tom McCarthy's Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (Grade I) winner General Quarters worked five furlongs in 1:01 over a fast track after the renovation break Thursday morning at Churchill Downs.
Churchill Downs clockers caught the big gray in fractions of :12.20, :24.20, :36.20, :48.40 and out six furlongs in 1:15. The five-furlong clocking ranked as the third fastest of eight at the distance.
The 4-year-old son of Sky Mesa is being pointed toward a run a week from Saturday in the $600,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (GI). Along with his Grade I win on turf at Churchill Downs in the Woodford Reserve, General Quarters is also a Grade I winner over a synthetic track as he won last year's Toyota Blue Grass on the Polytrack course at Keeneland.
McCarthy was worried that the work might have to be scrubbed because of thunderstorms in the Louisville area Thursday morning, but except for a light, 20-minute shower after 6:30 a.m. (all times EDT) and occasional sprinkles thereafter, conditions were clear, fast and comfortable for General Quarters' move.
"The track got a little water in it and couldn't have been any better," McCarthy said after the work. "And it's cool now, not the scorcher that it was yesterday."
General Quarters galloped out to the track kitchen at the half-mile pole and left Solis with a big smile as he guided the horse off the track.
"He's a very happy, happy boy," Solis said. "He didn't want to pull up."
Solis, who is scheduled to ride General Quarters in the $600,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) on June 12, was asked about his initial impressions of the colt.
"He's a very nice ride, very strong and very professional," Solis said. "You get all the information you can from the trainer before galloping them and then learn their habits. You can tell a lot by the way they travel and this horse looks like he can go all day. I like him."
McCarthy's major goal for General Quarters this summer is the Arlington Million (GI) on the turf at Arlington Park on Aug. 21.
"I wish this race was on grass," McCarthy said. "But he has been good on all surfaces. He was good on the dirt this winter at the Fair Grounds and this is his home track, so he ought to like something about it."
BARN TALK - Defending Stephen Foster champion Macho Again is scheduled to work Friday morning after the renovation break according to trainer Dallas Stewart. ...
Trainer Al Stall said that Blame, winner of last fall's Clark Handicap (GII) and winner of five of his past six starts, will have his final work for the Stephen Foster on Sunday at Keeneland. ...
The Virginia H. Tarra Trust's Giant Oak joined the Stephen Foster picture, arriving at Churchill Downs on Wednesday night from his home base at Arlington Park. According to Drew Coontz, assistant to trainer Chris Block, Giant Oak trained Thursday morning and is scheduled to work Sunday. Giant Oak was fourth behind Blame in last year's Clark and was runner-up to Beethoven in the 2008 Kentucky Jockey Club (GII).
WORK TAB - Two-time Grade III Churchill Downs stakes winner Demarcation worked five furlongs after the renovation break in 1:01.80, sixth fastest of eight at the distance. ... Silverbulletday (GIII) winner Jody Slew worked a half-mile in :49.60, 15th fastest of 25 at the distance.
MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR MATTY BROWN SCHEDULED FRIDAY - A memorial service will be conducted at 11 a.m. Friday in the trackside winner's circle for Matty Brown, who died Tuesday.
Brown was a 50-year Churchill Downs employee who worked as a valet and was a staple in the jockeys' room.
Guests are being asked to come in Gate 1 for the service and the family has requested that memorial gifts be sent to the Jockeys' Guild. Cards and envelopes will be available at the service.
EIGHT INCH ELVIS ROCKS OUT DRESS TO IMPRESS HAPPY HOUR - Eight Inch Elvis will be providing the music at Churchill Downs for the Friday favorite, "Dress to Impress" Friday Happy Hours, which takes place in the paddock area from 4-7 p.m. Happy Hour not only features great music, but great deals, including $2 Bud Select, $3 mojitos, and $2 hot dogs. Fashion savvy patrons can also look for the return of Dress to Impress, where one luck lady will win a $250 gift certificate to the Louisville boutique The Dressing Room. Also, one lucky guy will win a $100 wagering voucher.
JOHN ASHER FEATURED GUEST ON GET IN THE GAME - Jill Byrne's weekly "Get in the Game" seminar returns Saturday with John Asher, vice president of racing communications, as the special guest. Asher and Byrne will discuss the race card at Churchill Downs as well as the stakes-filled card at Belmont Park featuring the Belmont Stakes. "Get in the Game" will start at 11:45 a.m. in the paddock area and will also be broadcast on all in-house television monitors throughout Churchill Downs.
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BELMONT ADVANCE WAGERING, BROOKLYN-BELMONT DOUBLE OFFERED FRIDAY - Handicappers wanting to get a head start on the Belmont Stakes can do so Friday at Churchill Downs as the Louisville racetrack offers advanced wagering on the third leg of the Triple Crown all day Friday. Additionally, the Brooklyn-Belmont double, a special bet linking Friday's Brooklyn Handicap and Saturday's Belmont, also will be offered. The Grade II, $200,000 Brooklyn Handicap will go as Race 10 at Belmont Park on Friday at approximately 5:49 p.m. ET.
Special Belmont Stakes Day wagers on Saturday including a $1 million guaranteed all-stakes Pick 6 on races 6-11 and a $1 million guaranteed all-stakes Pick 4 on races 8-11. Both wagers will end with the 142nd running of the $1 million Belmont Stakes, which goes as race 11 at approximately 6:32 p.m.