10/29/2011 12:40PM

Breeders' Cup: Motion debating which race suits Aruna best

Email
Barbara D. Livingston
Aruna works five furlongs at Churchill Downs on Saturday. She is under consideration for both the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic and the Filly and Mare Turf.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – When trainer Graham Motion worked Animal Kingdom a week in front of the Kentucky Derby in the spring, the drill was so spectacular that there was no doubt he deserved a shot in the race, which he won.

Motion hopes to make the same transition with Spinster Stakes winner Aruna, who, like Animal Kingdom, has made all her prior starts on turf or a synthetic surface, and is under consideration for the $2  million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic on Friday.

A workout by Aruna at Churchill Downs on Saturday morning was designed to make that decision easier, but after she breezed five furlongs on the main track in 1:02.92, according to Daily Racing Form , Motion was left torn as to whether to run in the Ladies’ Classic or the Filly and Mare Turf.

“I thought she breezed super, I thought she handled the track great, but it wasn’t flashy, so I really don’t know what to do,” Motion said. “Did I see something that made me feel great? I’m not sure I did.”

Motion said he was going to discuss the options with Alan Cooper, the racing manager for the Niarchos family’s Flaxman Holdings, which owns Aruna.

There are plusses and minuses to both races for Aruna. The plus for the Ladies’ Classic is the distance, 1 1/8 miles, but the surface is a wild card. The surface of the Filly and Mare Turf is a known quantity for Aruna, but the distance of 1 3/8 miles is farther than the norm for her.

“I didn’t want a big work, since she’s coming off the race of her life, so there was a fine line between doing something, and not doing enough,” Motion said. “I didn’t want to overdo it.”

Sheldon Russell came in from Maryland to work Aruna, but Ramon Dominguez has the mount if she runs in the Ladies’ Classic. Julien Leparoux would ride Aruna in the Filly and Mare Turf if she goes there, because Dominguez is committed to Stacelita.

Because Dominguez and Leparoux are awaiting word on what race Aruna will enter on Monday, Motion said he would decide by Sunday morning.

Another horse preparing for the Ladies’ Classic, Super Espresso, was timed by Daily Racing Form working five furlongs in 1:01.86 with exercise rider Annie Finney aboard.

“I thought she worked well, for her,” said her trainer, Todd Pletcher, who said Super Espresso is not a particularly impressive work horse.

Though Super Espresso will be a longshot in the Ladies’ Classic, Pletcher said he had hopes she would run well because “she does like this track.”

Also at Churchill Downs, Drosselmeyer, the 2010 Belmont Stakes winner, worked five furlongs in 1:01.12 in preparation for the $5  million Classic next Saturday. The Classic will be the final race for Drosselmeyer, so Saturday’s work was the last drill of his career.

“I guess that was it,” trainer Bill Mott said. “It was a nice, even work.”

Drosselmeyer worked in company with his Mott-trained stablemate, Birdrun, who is running in the Marathon on Saturday.

In other Classic news, Calvin Borel will ride Rattlesnake Bridge, and he went to Belmont Park on Saturday to work the colt. In company with Champagne runner-up Alpha, he was timed in 1:00.83 for five furlongs.

“The thing is we’ve often thought about taking him back and making one run,” said Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains Rattlesnake Bridge. “The quality speed horses in the Classic, they’re going to go fast with Game On Dude and Uncle Mo and Havre de Grace close behind. I think they’re going to go a serious pace, we might never catch up to them but there’s going to be a pace.”

– additional reporting by David Grening