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Belmont: Breeders' Cup prospects come out early to beat bad weather
ELMONT, N.Y. - The final works are in. Now, it’s a matter of getting the horses out of New York for next week’s Breeders’ Cup races at Santa Anita.
With Hurricane Sandy on the way, New York horsemen scurried about Belmont Park early Sunday morning with a dozen Breeders’ Cup-bound horses putting in workouts over three tracks in about a 75-minute period from 7 to 8:15 a.m.
New York Racing Association officials opened the Belmont Widener turf course at 7 a.m. - two hours earlier than usual - to accommodate horsemen who wanted to try and beat forecasted morning showers that never materialized during training hours.
Under overcast skies, with a strong cross-wind whipping, works began at first light, shortly after 7 a.m.
The most impressive work of the morning was turned in by Breeders’ Cup Turf candidate Point of Entry, who went four furlongs in 47.61 seconds in company with the multiple graded stakes winner Boisterous. Despite a triple set of orange traffic cones forcing the works 40 feet off the hedge, Point of Entry worked his final quarter in 23.48 seconds under exercise rider Jen Patterson. The turf was labeled firm.
“We’ve seen him do that before, but I’m not so sure I wasn’t as impressed or more with him today as I’ve ever been,” trainer Shug McGaughey said. “Just the way he did it. She said he was just galloping. He came on the turf course full of life. He reared up when we came on there. I’m really, really pleased with the way he went.”
Trainer Chad Brown worked all six of his Breeders’ Cup horses on Sunday, including five on the turf.
Zagora, one of the choices for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, worked a half-mile in company with Watsdachances, a candidate for the Juvenile Fillies Turf. They completed a half-mile in 49.59 seconds with Watsdachances, on the inside, seemingly going the easier of the pair.
“What I found monitoring this turf course I thought horses on the inside had a little bit of an edge cutting the corner,” Brown said. “Where the dogs are I think the horses on the outside are at a little bit of a disadvantage so you need to factor that in. Watsdachances may have had her on the wire first, but Zagora had plenty of horse.”
Noble Tune and Balance the Books, Brown’s pair for the Juvenile Turf, worked five furlongs in 1:03.80, getting a final quarter in 24.47 seconds. They were even the whole way and continue to be difficult to separate.
Corporate Jungle, whom Brown is running in the Turf Sprint, worked five furlongs in 1:01.99 in company with Hyper. Corporate Jungle broke off several lengths behind Hyper, caught up rather quickly but Hyper finished a couple of lengths ahead of Corporate Jungle at the wire.
Brown explained that he wasn’t concerned with Corporate Jungle passing Hyper.
“I just wanted him to have somebody set the pace in front of him that he wasn’t going to pass,” Brown said. “He did what he needed to. For him, he worked well. He should be ready to run on Saturday. He’s really a horse that appreciates firm ground.
Prior to the turf opening, Brown put the undefeated champion Awesome Feather through a half-mile breeze in 48.54 seconds, after she zipped an opening quarter in 23.88 seconds. She galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.04 under exercise rider Javier Herrera.
“Ideally, everyone loves to set these works up where they crawl away from the pole and they come home sharp,” Brown said. “She’s just not that kind of horse. The best you’re going to do with her is an even work. That’s the way she runs. I’m very happy. For her, that’s a good work.”
On the track at the same time as Awesome Feather was her main rival for the Ladies’ Classic, Royal Delta, who went a half-mile in 48.93 seconds under exercise rider Rodolphe Brisset. After a quick five-furlong move in 59.16 seconds on Monday, trainer Bill Mott was not looking for another fast move on Sunday.
“We wanted to be a little conservative,” Mott said. “We were trying to get her to work a little slower than normal.”
While Mott still is planning to run Royal Delta in Friday’s Ladies’ Classic, she is also pre-entered in the $5 million Classic, run on Saturday. Mott was to speak with Benjamin Leon, the owner of Benjamin Leon, later on Sunday. Leon was to be at Belmont, where he had two runners competing on the closing-day program devoted entirely to 2-year-olds.
Mott also sent out a trio of Breeders’ Cup Classic runners for half-mile moves on Sunday. Flat Out, the two-time Jockey Club Gold Cup winner, went a half-mile over the main track in 48.03 seconds, with a final quarter in 23.78 seconds. Last week, when Flat Out worked on the training track, he threw a hind shoe and didn’t change leads until after the wire.
“His shoe stayed on today,” Mott said. “He looked very good. I had him double-out in 1:14. Last week, he stayed on his left lead. Today, he switched right on time.”
To Honor and Serve worked a sharp half-mile in 47.57 seconds, getting his final three-furlongs in 35.14 over the main track.
“He worked very well. He was very sharp,” Mott said.
Hoping to catch a fresh surface, Mott worked Ron the Greek on the training track a half-mile in 47.83 seconds by himself.
“He was sharp,” Mott said. “The rider let him pick it up on the middle of the turn and he finished his work up well.”
Mott, McGaughey, and Brown were all scheduled to ship their horses to California on a Tex Sutton plane Monday morning. There is another plane scheduled to leave Tuesday carrying horses from Todd Pletcher’s barn as well as Mucho Macho Man and Jersey Town.
Trainer Barclay Tagg moved Jersey Town’s move up from Monday. He worked a slow furlongs in 1:04.18 over the main track. However, last Tuesday he worked a fast five furlongs in 58.62.
As the winds picked up and the forecast details for heavy rains and strong winds grew more ominous Sunday morning, there is some concern whether the Tex Sutton planes scheduled to leave Monday and Tuesday will be able to leave on time.
A representative for Tex Sutton, in, a text Sunday afternoon, advised that Monday's flight, scheduled to depart MacArthur Airport at 10 a.m., would instead leave from Newburgh at 2:15 a.m.
“The way the wind feels right now, it could be a bitch by tomorrow morning,” Mott said as he held onto his New York Yankees cap while standing on the Belmont apron. “We got the works in, and they all appear to be cooling out as we speak.”
what IF the b.c. was to be helt at belmont this year
Steve, we don't always have bad weather this time of the year. This storm, Hurricane Sandy, is being said to possibly be THE worst storm in our lifetimes. The meteorologists, saying that on TV, are 50 & 60 something yrs. olds & are using words like "unprescedented". So, you can't use this storm as a reason for the Breeder's Cup to stay on the West Coast. Using Halloween as an example, there have been many when it was too hot for my now 17 yr old son to wear a Halloween costume. Having said all that, I don't understand what T. Pletcher is thinking. Am I reading the article right? He thinks he will have his horses flight taking off Tuesday? The worst hasn't even begun & already all flights, at all NY, NJ, Connecticut airports are grounded. The storm isn't expected to reach landfall until tonight. My brother in law is a supervisor at Newburgh Airport, the airport the NY area BC horses are flying out from. He said, this morning, that they don't expect any flights to be taking off until sometime Wednesday. It is so weird around here. The streets are like ghost towns. Even the government offices are closed. We are already having constant sustained winds with occasional gusts. I am praying the huge old oak trees around my house remain standing. That is what scares me. I keep listening for loud cracks & am on constant alert to bolt in the opposite direction, in the house, from any loud cracking sounds. It is going to be a very long, long day. My brother in law is at the airport today. If I can, I will check witth him periodically to see if any flights, trying to get BC horses out of NY, tries to take off today. ColetteMarie
There is a simple two-word answer to everyone who wonders why they don't run the Breeders Cup in the east very often - THE WEATHER
Lets just hope that this super storm turns and goes out to sea, hope for the best but plan for the worst.
Good grief, I'd be putting the horses, ALL the horses on planes, trains, trucks and getting the heck out of dodge!