10/19/2013 2:35PM

Breeders' Cup workouts: Royal Delta turns in sharp breeze

Barbara D. Livingston
Royal Delta breezed five furlongs in 59.88 seconds Saturday at Belmont Park ahead of the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

ELMONT, N.Y. – As far as the Daily Racing Form clocker report is concerned, the path to the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Park once again begins 3,000 miles away at Belmont Park, where the majority of the New York-based trainers will complete preparations for their Cup-bound runners prior to putting them on their flights to California less than a week before the big event.

[MORE: BREEDERS' CUP WORKOUTS: Full DRF coverage, Mike Welsch video reports]

Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup work tab at Belmont was dominated by trainers Bill Mott and Todd Pletcher, who sent out four and three prospective starters, respectively, among them Royal Delta and Princess of Sylmar, who are on a collision course for a rematch in the Distaff.

The weather in New York was perfect during training hours, a little on the cool side, with the temperature in the mid-40s when the track opened at 5:30 a.m. Both the main and training tracks were fast, with the turf course listed as firm throughout the morning.

Main track:

Royal Delta (Distaff) turned in arguably the most impressive of the pre-Breeders’ Cup works at Belmont a year ago prior to her victory in the Ladies’ Classic, and she looked very sharp once again Saturday, breezing an easy five furlongs in 59.88 seconds after posting early splits of 24.88 for the opening quarter and 36.17 for three-eighths. She galloped out strong, as always, shading 1:13 for six furlongs before pulling up seven-eighths in a solid 1:27.63. Rating: B+

Emollient (Filly and Mare Turf) – An easy, maintenance-type half-mile over the main track in 48.16 for a filly coming off an impressive last-to-first Polytrack victory two weeks earlier in the Grade 1 Spinster. She too finished with interest while not asked to the wire before galloping out well, five furlongs in 1:01.82. Rating: B

Ron the Greek (Classic) – Never much of a work horse, the Jockey Club Gold Cup winner did little more than open gallop away from the five-eighths pole under jockey Jose Lezcano before breezing a half-mile in an average 48.52 while mildly encouraged to finish and gallop out five-eighths in 1:02.65. Rating: B-

Close Hatches (Distaff) – A nice five-eighths move for the steadily improving 3-year-old filly, who completed the final quarter-mile of a 1:00.42 drill in 23.63 and, like Royal Delta, galloped out very well, getting six furlongs in 1:13.58 before pulling up seven-eighths in 1:27.09 while never really extended. Rating: B+

Easter Gift (Dirt Mile) – Had Joel Rosario aboard. Went on even terms alongside Last Gunfighter, with the duo finishing well at the end of an easy half-mile in 47.54 before galloping out five-eighths in 1:00.01. Rating: B

Last Gunfighter (Dirt Mile) – As noted above, there was little to choose between this multiple Grade 3 winner and workmate Easter Gift, with the pair coming home a final quarter in 23.44 without much urging and galloping out well. Rating: B

Training track:

Princess of Sylmar (Distaff) – Finished just a half-length in front of recent maiden winner Tiz Chris but was easily best of the team, with her workmate under urging, trying to keep pace through the final furlong, and the likely 3-year-old filly champion cruising to the wire. She completed four furlongs in 48.46 before maintaining her advantage and galloping out five-eighths in a solid 1:01.62 into the turn. Rating: B

Verrazano (Dirt Mile) – Worked in company outside of Capo Bastone, with the pair covering five-eighths in 1:00.75 after barely shading 13 seconds for the opening eighth, neither being extended to the wire while galloping out willingly into the turn. Rating: B

Capo Bastone (Turf Sprint) – Held his own with Verrazano while inside his workmate, with the duo completing the final quarter-mile in 24.41 while finishing on even terms. Rating: B

Sweet Reason (Juvenile Fillies) – Her first work since her troubled second-place finish in the Frizette was of the maintenance variety, as she eased away from the half-mile pole under regular rider Alex Solis and went a leisurely opening quarter in 25.11 before picking up the pace a bit down the lane, covering a half-mile in 49.45, galloping out five-eighths in an average 1:03.41, and pulling up a bit abruptly once exiting the turn. She’s one of the few Cup horses based in New York who will ship early and get a work in at Santa Anita prior to her race. Rating: B-

Inner turf course:

Spring to the Sky (Turf Sprint) – Has always been a good work horse on grass and did not disappoint Saturday. Appeared to be striding out well and effortlessly, completing the final half-mile of a five-furlong drill around the dogs in 47.79 and, like Sweet Reason, will ship Tuesday and have one work at Santa Anita prior to the Breeders’ Cup. Rating: B

Saturday at Churchill

Fort Larned (Classic) – The 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner worked solo in splits of 12.73 and 25.09 seconds and was going easily to the wire in 49.12 for a half-mile. He continued out around the turn in 1:01.53 and 1:16.72 for six furlongs. This was an easy move but not nearly as sharp as the ones before last year’s race. We’ll need to see more in his upcoming works. Rating: B

Gentlemen’s Bet (Sprint) – Worked on the outside of stakes winner Right to Vote in 37.41 for three furlongs to the top of the lane and finished well to the wire in 1:01.02 for five furlongs while just being nudged a tad late. They both went strongly past the wire in 1:14.05 and 1:27.45 for seven furlongs. Rating: B+

Laugh Track (Dirt Mile) – Worked with recent maiden winner Northern Lion to the top of the lane in 36.46 for three furlongs and finished up by two lengths at the wire in 1:00.76 for five furlongs while under mild pressure. The pair galloped out six furlongs together in 1:14.11. Rating: B

Friday Belmont works

Artemis Agrotera (Juvenile Fillies) – The lone Breeders’ Cup work of the day was a very strong half-mile turned in by the undefeated Grade 1 winner, who shaded 23 seconds for her opening quarter but had enough left in the tank to complete four furlongs in 46.64 while well within herself. She galloped out five-eighths in 59.43 and pulled up six furlongs in 1:13.58 over what appeared to be a very lively main track after the break. Rating: B+

– additional reporting by David Grening and Mike Vesce