Finley’sluckycharm, Whitmore and World Approval were among seven Churchill Downs-based Breeders’ Cup contenders who breezed Friday morning at the Louisville, Ky. racetrack in advance of next weekend’s championship event at Del Mar.
Live Oak Plantation’s World Approval, one of the favorites for the Breeders’ Cup Mile, was one of five Mark Casse-trained Breeders’ Cup contenders to breeze. The 5-year-old Woodbine Mile (Grade I) winner breezed a half-mile in :47.80 through splits of :12.80 and :24.80 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:00 and six furlongs in 1:13.80 under regular exercise rider Pierre Gadoy.
“It is very rewarding going into the Breeders’ Cup with a string of horses that can participate at the highest level our sport has to offer,” assistant trainer Norm Casse said. “World Approval has been a completely different horse since we turned him back in distance. He ran extremely well in the Woodbine Mile and we’re very confident entering the (Breeders’ Cup) Mile.”
Bred in Florida, World Approval has amassed $1,837,363 in earnings in 23 career starts that include 10 wins, two seconds and four thirds.
“I feel like exercise riders make a big difference and we have a great crew of riders throughout the country,” Casse continued. “We flew in Pierre, from Florida, for three weeks, to breeze World Approval and Awesome Slew and he’s really benefitted both horses in their works.”
Godoy also was aboard Awesome Slew for his half-mile workout in :47.60 through splits of :12.20 and :24.20, before galloping out five furlongs in 1:00 and six furlongs in 1:13.
Awesome Slew is pre-entered for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Other notable Casse workers Friday included a tandem half-mile breeze in :47.80 from Gio Game, with Julien Leparoux aboard, and Wonder Gadot, with E.J. Bowler up.
Gio Game and Wonder Gadot are both pre entered in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Holding Gold, pre-entered for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, turned in a half-mile breeze in :49.60 with Bowler aboard.
Just after the track opened at 6 a.m. EDT, Robert LaPenta, Southern Spring Stables and Head of Plains Partners’ speedy Whitmore breezed a :48 half-mile, in company with Junket, for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
“It was a really solid work,” trainer Ron Moquett said. “I think he’s the happiest he’s been since Oaklawn last winter. He’s a horse that breezes in company and will go as fast as the workmate but keep head-in-head throughout the breeze until the rider asks him to go. If his workmate goes :48, he’ll go :48. If they go :46, he’ll go :46. This morning’s breeze started out a bit weird because the pony started acting up a bit so they went a little quick into the early portion of the work. He galloped out very well and there’s nothing more we can ask of him before heading to Del Mar. It’s nice going out to a race like this when you truly feel like you have a shot.”
Finley’sluckycharm, one of the top contenders for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, breezed a half-mile in :47.80 for trainer Bret Calhoun through splits :12.80 and :24.80, before galloping out five furlongs in 1:00.80.
“We’re ready to get out to California,” Calhoun said. “It’s a tough group from top to bottom. I think she stacks up with them and I think it will just come down to a little racing luck.”
Breeders’ Cup Distaff contender Forever Unbridled will join the Casse contingent, Whitmore and Finley’sluckycharm on Monday’s plane to Del Mar, according to trainer Dallas Stewart. The Aug. 28 Personal Ensign (GI) victor breezed five furlongs in 1:01.20 Thursday morning at Churchill Downs.