10/28/2011 2:56PM

Breeders' Cup Clocker: Rocket Twentyone, A. U. Miner work

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Barbara D. Livingston
Rocket Twentyone worked four furlongs in 50.27 seconds from the gate Friday at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Friday morning was the coldest yet since the Breeders’ Cup clocker reports began last Sunday, but at least it was dry and the main track fast. Unfortunately, enough rain fell over the previous two days to keep the turf course closed for a second straight morning, forcing the connections of at least a couple Breeders’ Cup contenders to postpone scheduled grass workouts until Saturday.

Only two horses worked over the main track at Churchill Downs, one of whom, likely Marathon favorite A. U. Miner, caught most observers a bit off guard after the renovation break, since he’d already been to the track to jog earlier in the morning. There also were several Breeders’ Cup workouts at various other venues around the country, the most significant by Filly and Mare Sprint favorite Turbulent Descent (five furlongs in 59 seconds at Hollywood Park) and Classic hopeful Ruler On Ice (four furlongs in 47.80 over a muddy track at Monmouth Park).

Rocket Twentyone (four furlongs in 50.27 from the gate) – The undefeated winner of the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie worked a rather uninspiring half-mile from the starting gate shortly after the break under regular rider Eddie Razo Jr. Rocket Twentyone posted early splits of 13.26 and 25.90 during the straight run from the gate, which is positioned at the head of the stretch, to the wire and then picked up the pace a bit under some moderate urging around the turn, completing her final quarter-mile in 24.37. Her gallop out was disappointing, five furlongs in 1:04.41. Rocket Twentyone is pre-entered in both the Juvenile Fillies and Juvenile Fillies Turf.

A. U. Miner (three furlongs in 36.40, according to track clockers) – I was as surprised as anyone when, after having seen him jog a mile shortly after 6 a.m., A. U. Miner flew by the finish line to complete a three-eighths work in 36.40 shortly after the break. I did get to watch him gallop out strongly around the turn, completing a half-mile in 49.20 before pulling up five-eighths in 1:02.60, according to the track clockers. Simply a maintenance move for the horse who was the focal point of the incident that precipitated the post-race unpleasantries between jockeys Calvin Borel and Javier Castellano following the 2010 Marathon.

Several new faces emerged on the scene during training hours Friday, including Ladies’ Classic pre-entrants Aruna and Ask the Moon.

Aruna was the last of the Breeders’ Cup horses to train shortly after 9:30 a.m. Aruna, who has spent her entire career training and racing over turf or artificial surfaces, tested dirt here for the first time and seemed a little uncertain when first breaking away from the pony before ultimately settling into a nice rhythm and completing her session showing a high level of energy. Aruna is scheduled for a workout here Saturday that will ultimately determine her status for either the Ladies’ Classic or Filly and Mare Turf.

Ask the Moon was very strong in her first local appearance since shipping over from Keeneland the previous day. The Grade 1 winner moved along at a crisp, almost two-minute (for a mile) clip for the bulk of her gallop session.

Ann of the Dance, Ask the Moon’s stablemate from the barn of trainer Marty Wolfson, came out after the break and looked a little stiff while failing to change leads passing the wire the first time, but was a lot smoother and on the proper lead crossing the finish line the second time around.

Take Charge Indy got very aggressive after turning into the stretch and encountering a fair amount of traffic during his routine gallop after the break. He remained a handful over the busy racetrack both around the clubhouse turn and entering the backstretch.

Uncle Mo had another excellent morning and remains on the muscle, unlike Stay Thirsty who did not appear to be striding out as smoothly or as comfortably as his stablemate galloping past the grandstand shortly after 6 a.m.

Another prominent 3-year-old also not reaching out as well as usual was Shackleford. The Preakness winner is coming to the end of a long campaign and just does not look as fluid at the moment as he did during Derby week here five months earlier.

To Honor and Serve had his best day since getting the one-cup blinkers added to his equipment Tuesday, keeping both his head and path much straighter than he had earlier in the week, especially while galloping down the stretch and around the clubhouse turn. The blinkers will come off for Sunday’s scheduled work.