Updated on 09/17/2011 12:51PM

Badge of Silver breeze leaves rider in awe


NEW ORLEANS - had the most strenuous work of his nascent comeback on Thursday at Fair Grounds, breezing six furlongs under jockey Robby Albarado.

And what a work it was. Badge of Silver galloped around the clubhouse turn in company with a 3-year-old maiden that trainer Ronny Werner thought had been working well enough to at least give Badge of Silver a target. But that didn't happen. The pair broke off about six furlongs from the finish line, with the maiden taking an early lead as Albarado reserved Badge of Silver. But he could not keep him off the workmate for long. Badge of Silver edged closer at the half-mile pole while still under a hold, took the lead entering the stretch and drew off to beat his stablemate by some 15 lengths. Albarado threw the reins and asked Badge of Silver to pick up the pace the last eighth of a mile, and the colt responded, getting his six furlongs in 1:12.80, the fastest work of the morning.

"He was awesome," Albarado said. "My hair stands up when I ride him. That's something you feel in the horses that are better than good."

Werner said he still hasn't decided when and where Badge of Silver will make his first start of the year. He is considering the Grade 3 Whirlaway Handicap here Feb. 1, but has not committed to a race. He was, however, unabashedly pleased with Badge of Silver's work Thursday morning.

"He finished up in 12 [seconds]," Werner said. "The thing is, he works fast easy, but when horses like that get close to a race, you've got to throw a [strong work] into them. We squeezed on him a little down the lane today. He came back good, and he wasn't blowing much. We've gotten some good stiff gallops and two-minute licks into him."

Badge of Silver hasn't raced since he finished sixth in the Louisiana Derby. He fractured a cannon bone while training for the Blue Grass stakes, and spent the summer and much of the fall turned out on trainer Ken Ramsey's Kentucky farm.

Cashel Castle: Chapter Two

Saintly Look probably is the horse to watch Sunday in the $60,000 Colonel Power Handicap. Winner of the Lecomte Stakes here last season, he was a bang-up second in his last race to the brilliant Eugene's Third Son in a Churchill Downs allowance race, and may have a future as a graded stakes sprinter.

But there is another horse scheduled to run in the Colonel Power that seemed to have boundless future potential two seasons ago. That is Cashel Castle, who won the first five starts of his career without ever being challenged. Cashel Castle breezed like a dream, and ran like one too, with a smooth, effortless way of going that made it seem like he never was working hard.

But Cashel Castle finished second in the Derby Trial in the spring of 2002 and suffered a serious leg injury that nearly finished his career. Chris Block, his trainer, thought it would, but Cashel Castle made it back to the races, and though he has lost his brilliance, he still has high-level speed and the will to compete.

"Obviously he's had time off for physical problems," said Richie Scherer, who has taken over Cashel Castle's training for the winter. "But he's still competitive. He still wants it. Some horses don't seem to want to run through their injuries, but he's doing it."

Block is far removed from Cashel Castle now. Wednesday afternoon, he was picking his young son up from school in Chicago.

He and his family, the Team Block partnership, own a piece of Cashel Castle. After Cashel Castle finished third in a Churchill Downs allowance in November, Block proposed the sale to the horse's owner, Barry Buckholz.

"Mr. Buckholz's whole idea was to eventually phase out of the business," Block said. "He thought he might retire this horse as a stallion, but that didn't work out, and I approached him about buying him and continuing to run him in 2004."

Block said he used to watch in awe as Cashel Castle trained and raced, and at first, those thoughts were hard to put out of his mind. "When I was around him, when he first came back to the racetrack, you had those thoughts of what might have been had he stayed sound," Block said. "I realize he's not going to be the same horse again, but you still get a good feeling from him."

Cashel Castle might have run the best race of the second phase of his career when he lost by a head here Dec. 12 in a turf sprint. He has a chance in the Colonel Power. He still is trying.