10/21/2015 11:28AM

Breeders’ Cup Classic: Effinex looking sharp

Barbara D. Livingston
Effinex will be ridden by Mike Smith in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Effinex will be a longshot in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, but on Wednesday, there were a couple of developments that might make one take a second glance at the New York-bred multiple graded stakes winner.

First, Effinex worked a solid five furlongs in 1:00.93 over a rather dull Belmont Park training track. He worked in company with 2014 Travers winner V. E. Day. Kelvin Pahal, Effinex’s exercise rider, had to wait on V. E. Day at one point in the stretch.

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Second, following the work, trainer Jimmy Jerkens confirmed that Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith – the winningest rider in Breeders’ Cup history – will ride Effinex in the Classic on Oct. 31 at Keeneland.

Effinex would have been a heavy favorite in Saturday’s $300,000 Empire Classic at Belmont for New York-breds, a race he won last year. But he’s twice shown that he can handle 1 1/4 miles and open company, winning the Grade 2 Suburban in July – beating Tonalist – and the Grade 3 Excelsior at Aqueduct in April, beating Red Rifle and Wicked Strong.

“He’s popped up and run some unbelievable races that I didn’t think he was capable of doing,” Jerkens said. “The way he won the Empire Classic last year and the way he won the Suburban and even the Excelsior, when he wore down Red Rifle. Those three races show he can step up. You never know.”

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Conversely, Effinex has thrown in some clunkers. He bore out and didn’t finish in the Grade 2 Brooklyn. He bore out and was a well-beaten third in the slop in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup.

On Wednesday, Effinex came out to the Belmont training track at around 10 a.m. Working inside of V. E. Day, he left the five-furlong pole and went an opening quarter in 24.72 seconds. In upper stretch, with hardly any urging from Pahal, Effinex started to get ahead of V. E. Day. Pahal took a hold of Effinex, looked behind him, and let V. E. Day catch up before the two finished together through a final three furlongs in 36.21. Effinex was slightly better on the gallop-out, which went in 1:15.56 for six furlongs.

“That’s a pretty good work for today,” Jerkens said. “It seems like the track’s been slow. I was debating whether to work him on the outside of that horse, but the way he’s been getting out, I decided to keep him on the rail. He didn’t try to get out at all, from what I saw.”

V. E. Day is pointing to the Grade 2, $200,000 Fayette Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 30.

Effinex, Wicked Strong (BC Dirt Mile), V. E. Day, and two other horses Jerkens plans to run at Keeneland next week are scheduled to leave New York by van Saturday.

◗ The only other Breeders’ Cup horse to work Wednesday at Belmont Park was Pure Sensation, who went four furlongs in 47.78 seconds over the main track in preparation for the Turf Sprint.