10/28/2009 11:00PM

Clocker: Classic hopefuls not too smooth

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Barbara D. Livingston
Mine That Bird, with exercise rider Charlie Figueroa, appeared a bit choppy while galloping Thursday morning.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Mine That Bird and Summer Bird have two things in common. Both are Triple Crown race winners and neither would have you running to the bank in anticipation of next week's Breeders' Cup Classic after watching them gallop over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface on Thursday morning.

That impression, which is obviously subject to change in the final days leading up to the big event, is one of many, both good and bad, that figure to be made over the next week or so as more and more candidates continue to arrive at the site of the 2009 Breeders' Cup.

Thursday dawned clear and cold but was relatively quiet and a calm before what figures to be a storm of workouts that will take place not only at Santa Anita but also across town at Hollywood Park, and across the country at Belmont Park and Aqueduct, over the next several mornings.

The only two Breeders' Cup workouts here Thursday began and ended the morning's activities. Music Note breezed under the cover of darkness shortly after 6 a.m., going five furlongs in 59.40 seconds, according to track clockers, for the Ladies' Classic. Four hours later, Canadian Ballet zipped down the hillside turf course in preparation for the Turf Sprint. She was immediately followed down the hill by Cannonball, who merely blew out little more than an eighth of a mile across the main track before being eased up well before the wire.

Mine That Bird, wearing his Kentucky Derby towel, came onto the track shortly after 7 a.m. and looked quite uncomfortable and choppy the first time around the Pro-Ride surface. He did level out a lot better while picking up the pace during his second mile, but just does not make the kind of physical impression one would expect to see from the Kentucky Derby winner.

Belmont and Travers winner Summer Bird, equipped with blinkers, went out immediately after the renovation break. He appears to be holding his weight well and jogged willingly enough clockwise past the finish line. But he, too, needed a good mile to look even remotely comfortable galloping over the course and his third and final workout over the Pro-Ride sometime this weekend will be eagerly anticipated.

Canadian Ballet has proven that she adapts well to almost any turf course with her last four victories coming at four different tracks. But she had never been down the hill or had to experience crossing over from turf to dirt and back to turf again prior to Thursday morning and she appeared to pass the test nicely

Timing workouts down the hillside course is subject to interpretation with the only clearly discernable poles at the 4 1/2- and 2 1/2-furlong markers. Canadian Ballet broke off farther up the chute but wasted little time getting right into the bit. She seemed to cross over the main track without issue, getting a half in 45.62 and 4 1/2 furlongs in a crisp 51.51, according to Daily Racing Form, without too much urging. She was given an official time of 57.00 for five furlongs by the track clockers.

Cannonball, on the other hand, appeared a bit reticent at first moving onto the dirt from the grass, but adapted quickly and continued back onto the turf without incident before quickly easing up near midstretch.