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Breeders' Cup Clocker: Nothing flashy from Giant Ryan in prep for Breeders' Cup Sprint
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Wednesday morning was another quiet one for those of us on the Breeders’ Cup workout watch at Churchill Downs with only two recorded breezes on the tab. Both those horses, Giant Ryan (Sprint) and Trinniberg (Juvenile Sprint) came from the barn of trainer Bisnath Parboo and both those works were over and done by 7:30 a.m. Most of the gallop activity here also took place under the lights, before dawn, due in large part to the threat of heavy showers which did not materialize until after the track closed at 10 a.m.
The weather was unseasonably warm and the skies still dry when the racetrack opened for business at 6:00 a.m. but a steady drizzle, which began about an hour later, and plummeting temperatures rendered conditions a lot less pleasant as the morning progressed. The racetrack seems to have quickened over the past several days after having been on the slow side last weekend.
Giant Ryan (four furlongs in 48.7 seconds): For a horse who has won six straight races, including a Grade 1 stakes, and is prepping for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, one might have expected to see a little livelier work just 10 days out from the race. Instead, Giant Ryan breezed a relatively easy half-mile under jockey Willie Martinez, covering his opening quarter in 24.56 before coming home the final two furlongs in 24.20 without any real urging. He galloped out five-eighths in 1:02.77 in what turned out to be no more than a maintenance move. I would have liked to have seen a little more but then again this is a horse who was able to beat a solid, Grade 1 field in the Vosburgh off a four-month hiatus with just an easy three-furlong and average half-mile work under his belt.
Trinniberg (three furlongs in 37.39 from the gate): Parboo called in an order to the clockers for a three-furlong work but instead got closer to a half-mile drill from Trinniberg. With Martinez aboard, Trinniberg broke alertly while outside older stablemate Butler Cabin and was in hand covering the opening quarter in 24.96. The pair remained as a team around the clubhouse turn, appearing to brush briefly while trying to squeeze inside a galloper while rounding the bend. The two then continued on nicely into the backstretch in what was officially recorded as a gallop out, completing another eighth in 12.79 to finish a half-mile in 50.18 before pulling up five-eighths in 1:03.76.
Considering Trinniberg blew out a quarter-mile in 23.40 and pulled up three furlongs in a blistering 35.40 from the gate at Saratoga 11 days prior to the Hopeful, and that he was unable to leave an older claimer like Butler Cabin in his rear view mirror at some point, this work may be considered somewhat disappointing. What was encouraging, however, was the way the speedster did his best running during the supposed gallop out without need of urging from Martinez.
Uncle Mo was eager to stretch his legs on Wednesday after doing little more than jog the previous morning. The reigning 2-year-old champion was a handful immediately after being turned loose from the pony just inside the sixteenth pole before eventually settling into a more relaxed stride, turning in an even but very aggressive looking 1 1/4-mile gallop.
To Honor and Serve came out equipped in a one-cup blinker once again but displayed a propensity to cock his head outward while giving the rider all he could handle to keep him on a straight course, especially down the stretch and into the clubhouse turn.
Super Espresso easily looked the least comfortable of the large brigade of Todd Pletcher-trained Breeders’ Cup contenders to gallop on Wednesday, changing leads several times through the stretch while not striding out nearly as smoothly as the others. Perhaps this is just her way of going but worth keeping an eye on throughout the remainder of the week.
Flat Out returned to the track for the first time since his one mile “open gallop” work on Sunday and looked good, apparently none the worse for wear from that impressive looking trial.
Belmont Park: Main track: Fast Inner turf: Good
It’s Tricky (five furlongs in 1:00.10): Though It’s Tricky had been training virtually exclusively all fall on the busy training track, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin moved the multiple Grade 1-winning filly’s final work for the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic to the more spacious and much emptier main track Wednesday morning.
“Sometimes switching up with her she kind of picks her head up and works well and we wanted a decent work,’’ said McLaughlin, who also moved the work up from Friday due to concerns about weather.
It’s Tricky, under exercise rider Renzo Morales, worked a very good five furlongs outside of the 5-year-old graded stakes-winning male Redding Colliery. The two had a good run-up to the half-mile pole and went in fractions of 12.08 seconds for the opening eighth and 23.68 for the quarter with the two alternating put their heads in front of the other.
The pair was three-to-four wide in the stretch and it wasn’t until just before the wire that Morales started moving his hands on It’s Tricky to get her to finish. The work was completed an eighth of a mile past the wire and she covered that final eighth in 12.41 seconds while finishing well in front of Redding Collier. She was not asked to gallop out.
“That was very good, nice,’’ McLaughlin said. “She wasn’t blowing at all, did everything right, came back in good shape. Rider said she was very happy and fit. She’s as fit as anybody; she hasn’t missed a day.’’
Gio Ponti (five furlongs in 1:02.11 on turf): In his final work before his start in most likely the Breeders’ Cup Mile, Gio Ponti went a comfortable five furlongs in company with the New York-bred 3-year-old maiden winner Chardsey.
Under exercise rider Jerry Fogarty, Gio Ponti began the breeze 1 1/2 lengths behind his workmate and tracked him through fractions of 13.25 seconds for the eighth and 25.38 for the quarter. He was still behind him after three furlongs in 38.04 seconds before Fogarty guided him to the outside in upper stretch. Gio Ponti came alongside Chardsey at the eighth pole and without Fogarty asking for anything Gio Ponti finished approximately 1 1/2 lengths in front at the wire. He galloped out very well, though it’s nearly impossible to get an accurate gallop-out time.
“The whole idea was not to be an aggressive work, just to be a fun work for him,’’ Clement said. “He’s fit. He was playing with his lead [horse] all the time. Last breeze, it’s a bit sad, no?’’
Though Gio Ponti was also pre-entered for the Classic as the Mile, Clement said it is most likely that Gio Ponti runs in the Mile.
– additional reporting by David Grening