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Breeders' Cup workouts: Zenyatta gallops, plus Friday's report card
By Mike Welsch
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – There was action aplenty at Churchill Downs on Wednesday morning, including a couple of late workouts, but everything that transpired earlier took a backseat to Zenyatta’s first local appearance shortly before 9:30 a.m. The morning-line favorite for the Classic, she looked very strong galloping just more than a mile, during which she remained on her left lead throughout, a trait West Coast observers say is not out of the norm for the unbeaten superstar.
Dakota Phone (Dirt Mile, three furlongs in 36.29 seconds): A routine three-furlong workout became a lot more eventful than trainer Jerry Hollendorfer would have liked when a loose horse flying the wrong way into the backstretch forced the rider to abort his first attempt to breeze Dakota Phone just as the pair were beginning their approach to the three-furlong pole. After waiting several minutes for the wayward horse to be caught, Dakota Phone tried again, this time successfully cruising an easy three-eighths in 36.29 before galloping out a very strong half-mile in 48.67 in a move that indicates he is getting over this track extremely well.
Espoir City (Classic, four furlongs in 49.56): After warming up in the chute for nearly a half-mile, the Japanese contender broke off from the four-furlong pole at a leisurely pace, covering his opening eighth in 13.36. Although he picked up the tempo steadily, Espoir City continues to look uncomfortable over this strip, changing leads nearing midstretch and drifting steadily to finish out in the middle of the track before galloping out five-eighths in an unremarkable 1:04.26. This was his second half-mile work in 72 hours, and neither of them instills much confidence in this colt’s chances in the Classic.
A number of Europeans blew out anywhere from three to four furlongs or broke from the starting gate and pulled up before an eighth of a mile during the morning, including Plumania (Filly and Mare Turf), who open galloped from the three-eighths pole to the finish line in 40.07. The California-based Izshelegal (Juvenile Fillies) zipped an eighth in 13 seconds from the wire to the seven-furlong pole before pulling up a quarter around the turn in 26 and change.
Among the gallopers who caught my eye this morning were Biondetti (Juvenile), who made three passes by the grandstand while going as straight and strong the third time as the first; Jordy Y (Juvenile Fillies), who displayed the most energy of any Cup contender I saw today; and A. U. Miner (Marathon). Lookin At Lucky (Classic) also was very strong in his first trip over the surface since Kentucky Derby Day, the memories of his awesome pre-Derby workout still fresh in mind five months later.
The following is a final report card for Friday’s Breeders’ Cup card from observations I’ve made here over the past 10 days.
Prince Will I Am: Has looked good all week. Just a question of whether he can get the distance.
Romp: Really caught my eye galloping over the strip Tuesday. Might be a live longshot, if the old veteran can handle dirt equally as well in the afternoon.
A. U. Miner: Showed some surprising speed in his final half-mile blowout and looked a picture of health two-minute licking Wednesday. A proven stayer who seems to be going into the race on top of his game.
Juvenile Fillies Turf
Quiet Oasis: Got a feel for the local starting gate, breaking out of it and pulling up Wednesday. Looks the part of an improving filly who is in very dangerous hands for her U.S. debut.
Arch Support: Was able to fend off Pletcher juveniles Pluck and More Than Real when that duo came up to her at the end of a useful six-furlong drill, although she was under slightly more encouragement coming to the wire. No match for Winter Memories while turning in an improved effort in her New York finale.
Winter Memories: The logical favorite has done nothing since her arrival here early this week that would suggest looking in another direction in this event. She certainly looks the part of a special filly from what I’ve seen in her gallops over the past several days, and, according to colleague David Grening, she turned in a sensational final work at Belmont last weekend.
More Than Real: If the favorite falters, she could be the one picking up the spoils. Liked the courage she displayed in her local prep over the turf when forced to angle out behind Arch Support. She bulled her way between horses before finishing just in front of male stablemate Pluck, without need of urging.
Filly and Mare Sprint
Secret Gypsy: Showed high speed for three furlongs of a quick half-mile work, tired a bit at the end, and did not gallop out particularly strong over a racetrack officially listed as fast but with some residual moisture from rains the previous day. At her best on firmer ground, she figures to trip out well behind the outside speed.
Informed Decision: Defending champ appears to be rounding back to peak form at just the right time. I loved her final work Monday in which she started out at a lively pace and still finished up with interest. Gives every indication she’s not going to relinquish her title without a fight.
Evening Jewel: She was a handful to pull up at the end of her routine gallop Tuesday. Proved she loves this track when nosed by Blind Luck in the Oaks five months earlier. Should be kicking on strong at the end.
Sweet August Moon: Turned in a fast three-eighths blowout Monday, albeit under pressure. That came six days after she tired at the end of her first local work six days earlier. I’m guessing she just may be better on synthetics than dirt.
Switch: The third and last of her three local works was not a good one as she really fell apart during the latter stages after a quick beginning, drifting out coming to the wire and shutting down completely during her gallop-out. Gave Zenyatta a run for her money in the Lady’s Secret, but she is another who may prefer synthetics to this track.
Dubai Majesty: Versatile mare had her final work on grass and looked sharp, kicking home a strong final quarter-mile into a fairly brisk headwind without need of urging. Loves this track and appears to be maintaining top form.
Rightly So: Late arrival made good first impression galloping here Wednesday. The one to catch.
Champagne d’Oro: Seems to have adapted nicely to the local surroundings. Finished very willingly under only mild encouragement and galloped out very well in her final drill. Figures to press the pace throughout. A major player.
R Heat Lightning: Was quite rank getting to the pole before settling into a nice, even pace in her lone local Breeders’ Cup trial. Relaxing early may be key to this Grade 1 winner’s ability to stay two turns for the first time Friday.
Awesome Feather: Undefeated Florida invader has not been asked to do much since her local arrival but appeared to handle the track well enough Monday.
Joyful Victory: Made a very good first impression during routine gallop here Wednesday.
Delightful Mary: I loved her first serious experience over dirt when she easily outworked male stablemate Blue Laser while shading 1:00 for five furlongs without urging last week. Galloped out a strong six furlongs in 1:13.70 and could prove a very live longshot.
Tell a Kelly: Has been very good on synthetic surfaces on the West Coast, but after galloping well here last week she tired noticeably under pressure in her final local work. She completed her final quarter in 26 seconds while appearing to get out some turning for home and at the top of the stretch.
Jordy Y: Her final work wasn’t anything special, but she’s really caught my eye in her subsequent gallops, culminating with a great morning Wednesday.
Filly and Mare Turf
Plumania: Blew out a willing three-eighths over the main track Wednesday, and seems to have adjusted nicely to the local surroundings.
Midday: Didn’t do much in her first two days over the track since arriving here to defend her Breeders’ Cup title. Was on the wrong lead down the stretch over the main track in a routine gallop Wednesday. Strictly the one to beat again.
Red Desire: Turned in one of the more impressive works here this week, finishing full of run under very limited encouragement from jockey Kent Desormeaux while moving effortlessly over the local strip. Galloped out strong and could prove main threat to the defending champ.
Life At Ten: Was well in hand during a final maintenance work last weekend and has continually looked very good during a string of strong, high-energy gallops before and after that breeze. A suicidal pace duel led to her only setback in nearly a year at Saratoga, and she appears to be coming up to the Ladies’ Classic in peak form.
Malibu Prayer: The second of the Pletcher fillies in the race, and like stablemate Life At Ten was not asked to do much in her lone local work. Figures to force the pace from the outset.
Unrivaled Belle: Headstrong filly has had a good couple of weeks, finishing willingly in her last two works under Desormeaux. Paddock behavior on Friday could be key to her chances.
Blind Luck: Little fire plug showed her affinity for the local surface winning the Oaks five months earlier and seems to be holding that form, considering the way she’s zipped over the strip in a couple of sharp-looking gallops early this week.
Havre de Grace: Shipped in right on top of the race but looked well galloping over the strip Wednesday.
Welsch's Breeders' Cup report card for Saturday will be available Thursday.
- 1.Posted 05/08/2013 04:00PM
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