UNCLE MO, OTHER BREEDERS’ CUP CONTENDERS ARRIVE FOR PLETCHER –Four Breeders’ Cup hopefuls trained by Todd Pletcher, led by Mike Repole’s probable Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic starters Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty, arrived at Churchill Downs on Monday at 9:52 a.m.
“Everyone arrived in excellent order,” said assistant trainer Michael McCarthy, who oversees the Churchill Downs barn for Pletcher, who is expected to be at the Louisville track Tuesday for training hours. “They all look great.”
Uncle Mo, the 2010 champion 2-year-old colt, returned to the Churchill Downs backstretch for the first time since missing this year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) with a rare liver ailment. The bay son of Indian Charlie will enter the Classic off a dominating performance in the Kelso Handicap (GII) at Belmont Park on Oct. 1.
Stay Thirsty, who captured the Jim Dandy (GII) and Travers (GI) at Saratoga this summer, finished third behind Flat Out and Drosselmeyer in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI) in his first try versus older horses. In two races beneath the Twin Spires, Stay Thirsty was fifth behind his stablemate Uncle Mo in the 2010 Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) and 12th in the Kentucky Derby.
Also arriving at Pletcher’s Barn 34 Monday morning were Repole’sStopshoppingmaria, who will pre-enter the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) or the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint following a runner-up performance in the Frizette (GI), and Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor’s Finale, winner of the Summer (GIII) at Woodbine who will pre-enter the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (GII).
All four of the probable Breeders’ Cup starters breezed Sunday at Belmont Park prior to boarding the plane to Louisville Monday morning. Training plans for this week at Churchill Downs have not been finalized.
MY MISS AURELIA HEADS FIVE ASMUSSEN-TRAINED CUP HOPES ON WORK TAB – Unbeaten Grade I Frizette winner My Miss Aurelia led a parade of five Steve Asmussen-trained contenders for the Nov. 4-5 Breeders’ Cup World Championships who worked on Monday at Churchill Downs.
Stonestreet Stables and George Bolton’s 2-year-old daughter of Smart Strike breezed five furlongs over a fast track in 1:01.40. Exercise rider Carlos Rosas was in the saddle as the candidate for the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) covered the distance fractional splits of :12.80, :24.80 and :36.80. She galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.20 after a five-furlong move that ranked 17th among 60 at the distance.
“We’re extremely pleased with her,” said Asmussen. “She’s been very special at every stage, and has looked the part and has come through. Her talent was obvious, but the races that she’s run have shown another dimension.”
My Miss Aurelia has not run over the one-mile dirt oval at Churchill Downs, but she did train over the surface during the track’s Spring Meet.
Four other Asmussen trainees out of an expected seven-horse Breeders’ Cup contingent worked Monday beneath the Twin Spires. The other workers were Dirt Mile (GI) contenders Tapizar and Wilburn; Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) hopeSabercat; and Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint contender Seeker. Cathyand Bob Zollars’ Juvenile Turf (GI) contender Daddy Nose Best worked Sunday andVinery Stable’s Turf Sprint (GI) contender Regally Ready did not work this week after winning the Canadian Grade I Neartic at Woodbine on Oct. 16.
Asmussen said Kirk and Judy Robison’s She Digs Me is no longer being considered for the Juvenile Sprint and was not pre-entered for that race on Monday.
Ron Winchell’s Tapizar, winner of the Robert B. Lewis (GII) at Santa Anita, worked just after the mid-morning maintenance break and breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40, the sixth-fastest move of the day.
Rosas was up as the son of Tapit worked in fractions of :12, :35.60 and :48 and galloped out in 1:14.
Stonestreet Stable’s Wilburn, whose win in the Indiana Derby (GII) was his third consecutive triumph, worked five furlongs under Rosas in 1:00.80 prior to the break.
Wilburn completed his work in fractional times of :12.80, :24.20, :36.20 and :48.20, and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.20. The move by the Bernardini colt was the eighth best of 60 at the distance.
Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Sabercat worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 in company with stablemate Tritap. Fractional times for the winner of Monmouth Park’s Garden State Stakes were :12.80, :24.60, :36.40 and :48.50. The son of Bluegrass Cat finished on even terms with Tritap and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.60.
Ron Winchell’s Seeker breezed five furlongs under jockey Julien Leparoux in 1:00.20. The son of Hard Spun worked in company with stablemate Governor’s Bridge, starting the work about two lengths behind his workmate and finished up a length in front.
Fractional times were :24.60, :36.40 and :48 and Seeker galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.80.
With seven horses in its ranks, the Asmussen 2011 Breeders’ Cup team remains his largest to compete in the World Championships. He saddled four horses in 2008 and a trio of starters in three other years.
“I’m happy with the group of them,” Asmussen said, “I feel that they’re very fresh, sound and happy at the right time.”
SWITCH WORKS FIVE FURLONGS IN 1:01.20 FOR BREEDERS’ CUP – With exercise rider Edwin Orozco up, C R K Stable’s Switch worked five furlongs over a fast track Monday morning in 1:01.20 for trainer John Sadler.
The first horse to work after the renovation break, Switch posted fractions of :12, :24.60, :36.80 and galloped out six furlongs 1:14.40.
“That was a nice work for her,” said Sadler, who left Switch in Kentucky after she ran third in the six-furlong Grade II Thoroughbred Club of America at Keeneland on Oct. 8. “She looks good and bright and she shipped well over here (last week). (Trainer) Mike(Stidham) had a video of her last work at Keeneland (a :47.40 half-mile breeze on Oct. 18), so I got to watch that work.”
Switch finished second in last year’s seven-furlong Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (GI), but Sadler left the door open after the work Monday for a possible run in the 1 1/8-mile Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (GI).
"I am going to talk to the owners (Lee and Susan Searing) and we may cross-enter in the Ladies’ Classic as well as the Sprint,” Sadler said.
A two-time Grade I winner at seven furlongs in her past two starts at the distance, Switch returned to sprinting in the TCA.
“The Keeneland race was a little short for her, but it was a good race,” Sadler said. “She made her run, but she just couldn’t get there. She was wide and the track was kind of speed favoring that day.”
Switch has run twice at the Ladies’ Classic distance this year, finishing second to Miss Match by a head in the Santa Margarita (GI) at Santa Anita and second to Blind Luckby a half-length in the Vanity (GI) at Hollywood Park.
OPTIMIZER, HAMAZING DESTINY WORK FOR LUKAS – Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has saddled a record 18 Breeders’ Cup winners and compiled a record $20,005,520 in earnings at the World Championships and Monday morning he sent out his two hopefuls for the 28th edition of the races.
Working first with jockey Robby Albarado aboard shortly after 6 o’clock wasBluegrass Hall’s homebred Optimizer, who covered five furlongs in 1:01.
Working in company with Conway, Optimizer started two lengths back and finished four lengths in front while compiling fractions of :12.60, :36.60 and out six furlongs in 1:16. The five-eighths time was the 11th fastest of 60 at the distance.
Albarado came out in the next set on Barry Butzow and Westrock Stables’Hamazing Destiny, who worked a bullet half-mile in :46.20 on his own. Fractions for the move were :11.40, :22.80 and out five furlongs in 1:01.
“Both of them worked well,” Lukas said. “I was pleased with both.”
Hamazing Destiny ran second in the Grade I Sentient Breeders’ Cup Sprint here last year.
“He is doing as well as he can be and he is coming up to the race great,” Lukas said. “He has an affinity for this track.”
Lukas said that Optimizer would be pre-entered in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI), which would mark the English Channel colt’s debut on dirt.
“All of his races have been two turns,” Lukas said of Optimizer, who broke his maiden at first asking on turf at Saratoga and then ran second in the With Anticipation (GII) on turf before a third-place finish on Polytrack in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (GI) at Keeneland. “He’s running on the dirt. The (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile) Turf was not considered.”
CASSE WORKS STRING OF BREEDERS’ CUP HOPEFULS – It was a busy Monday morning for trainer Mark Casse as he sent out no fewer than three probable Breeders’ Cup starters to breeze beneath the Twin Spires for owner John Oxley.
The first horse to breeze for Casse was Prospective, a $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Yearling purchase who captured the Grade III Grey over the Polytrack at Woodbine. The 2-year-old son of Malibu Moon worked five furlongs in 1:02.
Starting four lengths behind his workmate Saturday Classic, Prospective recorded fractions of :13.60, :26.80, :38.60 and crossed the wire five lengths in front under Luis Contreras, who was aboard for the Grey triumph. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:16.
“He worked about as well as a horse can work,” Casse said. “When we brought him here (to Churchill Downs) we thought there was only a 10-percent chance we would enter him in the (Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup) Juvenile (GI), but he worked himself into the race. He reminded us a lot of Pool Play.”
The Casse-trained Pool Play won the Stephen Foster Presented by Abu Dhabi (GI) in his first start on dirt. Prospective debuted on turf and his next two starts have been on Polytrack.
Stepping on to the track shortly after the renovation break was Natalma (GIII) winnerNorthern Passion. Starting two lengths behind workmate Delightful Magic, a 2-year-old daughter of Mineshaft who only lost by a length to Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) hopeful My Miss Aurelia in her career debut, Northern Passion completed the work even with her stablemate in 1:02 under Contreras.
“We’re really happy with the work,” Casse said.
Northern Passion is likely to be cross-entered in the Juvenile Fillies and the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
“If I had to make the decision right now, I would say we are leaning toward the (Juvenile Fillies) turf,” Casse said. “She worked very well over the dirt this morning, but we already know she handles the turf well.”
The last Oxley-Casse duo to hit the Churchill Downs track was Spirited Miss and Sky High Lady. Both horses are coming out of performances in the Mazarine on the Polytrack at Woodbine. Spirited Miss finished second by a head and Sky High Lady battled a troubled trip to finish fourth.
Under Contreras, Spirited Miss started three lengths behind Sky High Lady, guided byShaun Bridgmohan, and the two fillies crossed the wire together. Spirited Miss was credited with a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.80 and Sky High Lady was clocked in 1:02.40.
“Both horses worked well,” Casse said. “We are likely to cross-enter Spirited Miss in the Juvenile Fillies Turf and Juvenile Fillies, but we’re leaning toward running her on the dirt. Most likely we wouldn’t enter her and Northern Passion in the same race.”
Sky High Lady, who has yet to break her maiden, might have also worked herself into the Breeders’ Cup like her stablemate Prospective.
“That was a really nice work and I might pre-enter her in the Juvenile Fillies after watching her this morning,” Casse said.
BARN TALK – Trainer Jim Baker said Monday morning that Darley Alcibiades (GI) runner-up Heart of Destiny would bypass the Breeders’ Cup in favor of Sunday’s Pocahontas (GII). “Our main goal is to have a good horse and a good broodmare,” Baker said of the homebred filly who is owned by Hurstland Farm and James Greene Jr. “We are going to be conservative with her and the Breeders’ Cup would be too much too quick.”
WORK TAB – The first day of training on the Matt Winn Turf Course brought out several Breeders’ Cup hopefuls including two top contenders for the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI): Pam and Marty Wygod and W.S. Farish’s Courageous Cat and Spendthrift Farm’s Court Vision. Courageous Cat, working in company with Clear Attempt for trainer Bill Mott, covered five furlongs on a course rated as “good” in 1:02.60, around the “dogs.” Starting three lengths in back of his workmate and finishing on even terms, Courageous Cat had fractions of :25.40, :38.60, :50.40 and out six furlongs in 1:17.40. Court Vision, trained by Dale Romans, worked five furlongs on his own in 1:02.80 with fractions of :25.40, :37.80, :50.40 and out six furlongs in 1:18. …
Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s homebred Country Day worked five furlongs for an expected start in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (GII) in 1:01.20 with jockey James Graham up. Trained by Steve Margolis, Country Day posted fractions of :12, :24, :37.20 and out six furlongs in 1:17.40. …
Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence’s Animal Spirits, winner of the Bourbon (GIII) at Keeneland (GIII) in his most recent start, worked a half-mile in company on even terms with Intercompany Loan in :52.60 on the turf. Fractions for the work were :28.20, :40.60 and out five furlongs in 1:07.20. Trained by Al Stall Jr., Animal Spirits is a candidate for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (GII). …
Dell Ennis’ Hunt Crossing, a candidate for the $500,000 Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint, worked five furlongs in 1:02.60 for trainer Todd Pletcher. The move was the 46th fastest of 60 at the distance. …
Several nominees for Sunday’s Pocahontas (GII) worked on the main track Monday morning. James Spence’s Aubby K, a 15 ½-length maiden winner last month at Belmont Park, worked a half-mile in :49.20 (13th best of 58) and Spendthrift Farm’sTrading Paint worked a half-mile in :52.20 (57th fastest). Putting in five-furlong works were Schuylerville (GIII) winner Georgie’s Angel (1:02.20, 37th fastest of 60) and Debutante (GIII) winner Flashy Lassie (1:05, 59th fastest). Georgie’s Angel is owned bySheffer Racing Stable, Ronald Stocks, Betsy Wells and Kelly Weitsma; Barry King owns Flashy Lassie. …
Two nominees for Sunday’s Iroquois (GIII) worked Monday: Bluegrass Hall’sChalybeate Springs (half-mile in :50.80, 39th fastest of 58), and Stewart Madison,Justin Querbes III and Al Stall Jr.’s Seven Lively Sins (half-mile in :48.60, 10thfastest). …
Frank L. Jones Jr.’s Tapitsfly, winner of the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and nominated to the Cardinal Handicap (GIII) to be run Nov. 6, worked a half-mile on the turf in :49.40. Another Cardinal nominee working Monday morning was Mrs. Yoshio Fujita’s Ravi’s Song, who worked five furlongs on the main track in :59.80, the fourth fastest of 60, for trainer Carl Bowman. …
Working five furlongs in 1:00.60 over a fast track at the Trackside Training Center wasKendall Hansen’s undefeated Hansen for trainer Mike Maker.