CASH REFUND SHARP IN DRILL FOR BREEDERS’ CUP SPRINT – Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s Cash Refund had his final prep for next Saturday’s Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) by working five furlongs in company in 1:00.20 over a fast track on a cool, crisp Friday morning at Churchill Downs.
With jockey Brian Hernandez up and working in company with stablemate Homerun Berti, Cash Refund reeled off fractions of :11.40, :22.60 and :46.60. The work began at the half-mile pole with Cash Refund on the inside and about a length in front. The duo raced that way to the wire with Cash Refund continuing on to the seven-eighths pole and completing the second fastest of 24 works at the distance.
“He worked well and I was glad he had that other horse with him,” trainer Steve Margolis said. “He’s kind of funny in that when he works by himself, he will go in 1:03. I only wanted Homerun Berti to work a half and Brian said Cash Refund lost a little focus at the wire and then picked it up again.”
Cash Refund, who will be ridden by John Velazquez in the Breeders’ Cup, has not run since June 25 when he ran third in the Iowa Sprint at Prairie Meadows.
“After the race in Iowa, he popped a splint and he had some other nagging things, so we gave him some time,” Margolis said. “Since he came back, he has been training as good as he was this winter at Fair Grounds (where he won all three of his starts).”
Prior to Friday’s work, Cash Refund had spent most of the month at Keeneland, where he had three works on the Polytrack.
“(Assistant) Loren (Diego) gets on him and he was over there with the string,” Margolis said. “It gave us a chance to see how he handles Polytrack, and he handled it well.”
Margolis will have one other Breeders’ Cup starter for the Kleins: Due Date in the Turf Sprint (GII).
“He just galloped over the turf today. We took advantage of the opportunity to get on it,” Margolis said. “He will work a half-mile on the grass Saturday with Garrett Gomez up.”
MURJAN MAKES HIS WAY BACK TO KENTUCKY VIA PERU – “You never know where a good horse will come from,” trainer Darrin Miller was saying Friday morning as he looked over Murjan, his candidate for the $2 million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) next Saturday.
Murjan is a 2-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Officer who was undefeated in three starts in Peru, winning by a combined 27 ¾ lengths.
“An agent in Lexington passed him on to the Hamiltons (Tommy and Bonnie Hamilton of Silverton Hill Farm),” Miller said. “We flew to Peru and watched him and liked him. He was very impressive.”
Murjan worked in Lima on Oct. 21 and then shipped to Miami where he spent seven days in quarantine. On Thursday night, Murjan was flown to Indianapolis and then vanned to Churchill Downs, arriving at the track at 3:30 Friday morning.
Miller, who gets on many of his horses, said he was able to get on Murjan while he was in Peru so he is somewhat familiar with the colt.
“He has been in quarantine seven days, so we are going to play his schedule by ear,” Miller said of Murjan, who will be ridden in the Breeders’ Cup by Rafael Bejarano. “I just got a peek at him when he got in this morning and then now, but so far everything looks good.”
This is the third consecutive year Miller has had a foreign runner arrive in his barn from the Hamiltons. In 2008 Driving Snow (GB) came over from Ireland after winning one of four races with that victory coming over future champion Sea The Stars. In his debut for Miller, Driving Snow ran second in the Bourbon (GIII) at Keeneland. In 2009, King Ledley also came over from Ireland and in his first start for Miller ran 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (GII) at Santa Anita.
FRIDAY WORK TAB LIGHT; SATURDAY MORNING SHOULD BE ACTIVE –In addition to Cash Refund, only three other Breeders’ Cup pre-entrants worked Friday morning at Churchill Downs.
Working before the renovation break with jockey Robby Albarado up was Vision Racing’s Soundwave (Juvenile Fillies), who covered five furlongs in 1:03. Splits for the move, which was the 13th fastest of 24 at the distance, were :13.60, :26.20, :38, :51 and out six furlongs in 1:17.
After the break, Westrock Stables’ Tidal Pool, who is third on the preference list for the Sentient Jet Filly & Mare Sprint (GI), blitzed a half-mile in :46.40 for the fastest move of 42 at the distance. Tidal Pool covered the first quarter in :22.20.
Working on the grass for the Juvenile Turf was Gary and Mary West’s Major Gain, who covered six furlongs on the firm Matt Winn Turf Course in 1:17.20, around the “dogs.” Major Gain got his last quarter-mile in :23.80 and galloped out seven furlongs in 1:30.80.
Saturday morning at Churchill Downs figures to be quite lively with nearly two dozen known works planned.
Among those scheduled to work include four fillies from the Todd Pletcher barn: More Than Real (Juvenile Fillies Turf), Life At Ten (Ladies’ Classic), Malibu Prayer (Ladies’ Classic) and R Heat Lightning (Juvenile Fillies); Tell a Kelly (Juvenile Fillies) and Switch (Filly & Mare Sprint) for John Sadler; Red Desire (JPN) with Kent Desormeaux up for the Filly & Mare Turf; Champagne d’Oro with Miguel Mena up for the Filly & Mare Sprint; and, slated to work early under the lights is the Dale Romans-trained Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) duo of First Dude and Paddy O’Prado.
At Keeneland on Friday morning, Alex Campbell Jr.’s It’s Tea Time (Ladies’ Classic) worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 under jockey Julien Leparoux. Splits on the work were :13, :25, :37.20, :49.20 and out six furlongs in 1:13 over the Polytrack. Also at Keeneland, Marty, Pam and Emily Wygod’s Harmonious, winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (GI), worked an easy five furlongs on the synthetic Polytrack surface in 1:05.80 for the Filly & Mare Turf.
Among those scheduled to work Saturday at Keeneland are Bridgetown (Turf Sprint), Harlan’s Ruby (Juvenile Fillies) and Rogue Romance (Juvenile) for Ken McPeek; Hot Cha Cha (Filly & Mare Turf) and Silver Timber (Turf Sprint).
DEFENDING CHAMP RAHYSTRADA ASSIGNED 119 POUNDS FOR RIVER CITY HANDICAP – Robert Courtney’s Rahystrada, who pulled off a 56-1 shocker in last year’s River City Handicap (GIII), has been assigned 119 pounds by racing secretary Ben Huffman for Thursday’s 33rd running of the $100,000-added mile and one-eighth test on the Matt Winn Turf Course.
The assignment is 2 pounds fewer than Huffman placed on Battle of Hastings (GB), who is entered in Saturday’s Fayette (GII) at Keeneland, and Dakota Phone, who is pre-entered in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI).
Trained by Byron Hughes, Rahystrada won the Arlington Handicap (GIII) this summer and in his most recent start finished fourth in the Grade I Arlington Million.
Also weighted at 119 pounds is Millennium Farms and Mike McCarty’s Expansion. Now trained by Steve Asmussen, Expansion has raced against Grade I company in his past four starts that include third-place finishes behind champion Gio Ponti in the Man O’ War and Winchester in the Manhattan.
Entries for the River City Handicap will be taken Sunday.