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Clocker: Cocoa Beach ready for big race
ARCADIA, Calif. - While most of the racing world turned its Breeders' Cup attention on Saturday morning to Hollywood Park and Zenyatta's final work in preparation for her expected appearance in the Classic, the real action took place at Santa Anita, where nearly two dozen Cup hopefuls breezed, including another leading Classic contender, Summer Bird.
Clear skies and crisp temperatures again greeted the ever-increasing number of Breeders' Cup contenders on the grounds with several new faces making their first appearance over the track, including reigning Juvenile Fillies turf winner Maram, Justenuffhumor, Negligee, and Courageous Cat.
Work of the day
Cocoa Beach (five furlongs in 59.62 seconds): The best work of the morning was the first, coming shortly after 6 a.m. by last year's Ladies' Classic runner-up. Cocoa Beach relaxed nicely leaving the five-furlong pole, going her opening quarter in an easy 25.40 seconds before really picking up the pace approaching and exiting the turn. She was given a little encouragement with a shake of the reins near the eighth pole and responded willingly, completing her final quarter-mile in 22.70 before continuing on strongly into the turn, pulling up three quarters in 1:12.90. She looks right at home over the Pro-Ride and ready to deliver another top performance in the Ladies' Classic.
Summer Bird (five furlongs in 59.28): Classic candidate Summer Bird makes a striking appearance and although he doesn't have the smoothest way of travelling when galloping, he certainly had no such issue when asked to really open up for his final Breeders' Cup work shortly after the renovation break while equipped with blinkers. It was clear from the outset trainer Tim Ice was looking for something strong as Summer Bird was allowed to roll away from the five-furlong pole, posting fractions of 11.34, 23.08, and 34.66 seconds for his opening three-eighths. The crisp early pace took a little toll, however, coming out of the turn, as the three time Grade 1 winner did begin to tire some through the stretch. Despite getting several taps of the stick from the eighth pole to the wire, Summer Bird completed his final quarter in an average 24.62 seconds before galloping out another eighth in 13.62, pulling up six furlongs in 1:12.90. Appears to handle but not really relish the Pro-Ride surface.
Fatal Bullet (five furlongs in 59.47): Turned in nearly a carbon copy of his final workout prior to a second-place finish in the 2008 Sprint. After galloping nearly 1 1/2 miles alongside a pony to loosen up, Fatal Bullet relaxed nicely coming away from the pole, putting up relatively slow splits of 12.44 and 24.32, for a speedball of his caliber. Picked up the pace around the bend, fanned out three wide leaving the turn, then tired just a bit nearing the wire while having his head cocked slightly inward at the end. Galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.41. Ran his eyeballs out behind Midnight Lute off a similarly unremarkable final workout in this race a year ago.
Neko Bay (five furlongs in 59.00, according to track clockers): Jockey Mike Smith obviously needed to get this work over as quickly as possible to keep his date with Zenyatta at Hollywood later in the morning, and Mile prospect Neko Bay cooperated by zipping five furlongs in 59.00 with only a slight bit of urging from his rider once turning into the stretch. Gives every indication he's maintaining his present sharp form.
Dancing in Silks (five furlongs in 1:00.36): This Turf Sprint prospect broke off a length behind a workmate, drew even with his target midway on the turn, came three wide into the stretch, but appeared to tire some through the final furlong. Finally managed to edge about a half-length clear of his partner while completing the final furlong in a slow 13.19 while pretty much in hand throughout.
Get Funky (six furlongs in 1:11.06): Did not have the luxury of a run-up, breaking off right on top of the six-furlong pole. Turf Sprint candidate zipped right along at a crisp pace for his opening five-eighths which he completed in 58.41 before becoming a little leg weary at the end. Was put to steady urging from the sixteenth pole to the wire, covering the final furlong in 12.75. Galloped out seven-eighths in a respectable 1:24.51.
Noble Court (five furlongs in 59.68 on the turf): The first of the morning's three grass workers tuned up for the Turf Sprint. Actually broke off at the six-furlong pole and was extremely slow getting into his best stride but once asked to quicken on the turn, Noble Court responded very willingly, especially when put to pressure by exercise rider Dana Barnes nearing the eighth pole. Shaded 23.00 for his final quarter-mile and 12.00 galloping out into the turn, pulling up six furlongs in a strong 1:11.25. Couldn't be doing better.
Bridgetown (five furlongs in 1:02.03): This Juvenile Turf candidate worked in company with stablemate House of Grace and seemed full of run while under restraint from start to finish. Galloped out very willingly and perhaps just slightly better than his partner.
Beautician (five furlongs in 1:03.92): After she worked five-eighths in 59.00 one week earlier in preparation for the Juvenile Fillies, the intent here was very clear when Beautician loped through her opening eighth and quarter fractions in 14.40 and 27.89 with exercise rider Walter Blum Jr. having his feet in the dashboard from the outset. Finished with some interest under almost imperceptible urging nearing the wire and continues to make a favorable impression despite the pedestrian final time of this work.
Zilva (four furlongs in 48.91): Another Juvenile Fillies prospect, she breezed easily in company and outside stablemate Smart Seattle with both never asked at any time. Galloped out well and just slightly behind her mate.
Magical Fantasy (five furlongs in 1:00.58): Was never asked by jockey Alex Solis. Galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.92. This Filly and Mare Turf pre-entrant looks good.
Evita Argentina (six furlongs in 1:11.43): Prepping for the Filly and Mare Sprint, she went along at a fairly crisp pace down the backstretch and around the turn, then had to be put to some vigorous pressure to complete her final eighth in 12.59 and gallop out seven furlongs in 1:24.48.
House of Grace (five furlongs in 1:02.04): Carbon copy of workmate Bridgetown's easy five-furlong breeze. Pointing to the Juvenile Fillies Turf, she gave the impression she wanted to do more at the end.
La Nez (five furlongs in 1:02.06): Another Juvenile Fillies Turf prospect, she went along at an even clip under Smith, came home her final quarter in an ordinary 24.78 and did not gallop out particularly strong.
Smart Seattle (four furlongs in 48.91): Worked alongside stablemate Zilva, was never asked while slightly in front at the wire and after the gallop out. She, too, is pointing for the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Tapitsfly (five furlongs in 1:00.46 on the turf): Loved the looks of her efficient stride over the course and it would appear her future will definitely be on grass. Rolled right along from the outset and was able to maintain that pace right through six- furlong gallop out in 1:12.18. Could be a sleeper in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Workouts I did not see amidst all the confusion after the renovation break included Square Eddie (six furlongs in 1:13.40) and Lord Shanakill (six furlongs in 1:11.80), both times according to the track clockers.
All works timed by Daily Racing Form unless indicated otherwise.
Zenyatta (six furlongs, 1:12.40): In her final work for the Breeders' Cup Classic, the nation's best older female turned in another flawless drill to put her on edge for her first start against males. With jockey Mike Smith aboard, Zenyatta broke off about three lengths behind her John Shirreffs-trained stablemate Green Cat at the 5 1/2-furlong pole and was briefly on her wrong lead before switching. She gradually edged closer to Green Cat on the far turn, took over in the stretch, and drew off without being asked at any time, then galloped out tremendously on the clubhouse turn and widened the margin between herself and Green Cat. Of the 114 horses who worked at Hollywood Park on Saturday, only two received "breezing" designations from the clockers, and she was, deservedly, one of them. Russell Hudak, Hollywood Park's lead clocker, had Zenyatta in fractions of 24.60 seconds, 36.60, 48.40, and 1:00.20, with a seven-furlong gallop out in 1:25.20. This work was superior to the final work Zenyatta had last year before she captured the BC Ladies' Classic.
- Jay Privman
Diamondrella (four furlongs, 48.22 seconds): Displeased with the turf course, trainer Angel Penna Jr. opted to work Diamondrella, a candidate for the Turf Sprint, on Belmont Park's fast main track after the renovation break. Working basically on her own under exercise rider Ruth Hargreaves, Diamondrella went in fractions of 12.23 seconds, 23.74, and came home in 24.48. She galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.35.
Gio Ponti (four furlongs, 52.59 seconds): Trainer Christophe Clement was satisfied enough with the soft Widener turf course to let Classic hopeful Gio Ponti to breeze over it. Exercise rider Jerry Fogarty kept Gio Ponti in the three-to-four path and let him break off extremely easy - his first eighth went in 14.62 seconds and the quarter went in 28.15 - before he opened his hands ever so slightly and Gio Ponti came home in 24.44 seconds and galloped out well, though no time was available for that. If there is good pace in the Classic, Gio Ponti should be coming late.
Game Face (five furlongs, 1:02.97): Following the second renovation break on the fast training track, Filly and Mare Sprint candidate Game Face led the Todd Pletcher brigade. She seemed eager going to the pole, but once Edgar Prado got her to relax she went off in a modest 13.04 seconds, went three furlongs in 37.63 seconds and came home in 25.34 seconds. There was not much of a gallop out in a work that Pletcher said was slower than he was seeking.
Interactif (four furlongs, 50.41 seconds): Interactif got hooked in with a horse trained by Mike Hushion, causing exercise rider Hector Ramos to reach up and take a hold of his Juvenile Turf contender and also forcing him to take the horse a couple of paths farther off the rail then he otherwise would have, especially in the stretch. Interactif went an opening quarter in 25.13 seconds and the second quarter in 25.28. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:05.22.
Quality Road (five furlongs, 1:00.81): For the second time in six days, Classic contender Quality Road worked in company outside of the multiple stakes winner Harlem Rocker, and worked a very good five furlongs without much encouragement from jockey John Velazquez. The tandem broke off in 13.04 seconds, but quickly picked it up through a half-mile in 25.02 seconds, three furlongs in 36.58 and the pair came home in 24.23 seconds. Quality Road and Harlem Rocker galloped out almost together in 1:14.05 but Quality Road kept on going, getting seven furlongs in 1:28.46. For as settled as he was, this was a very sharp work for Quality Road.
Eskendereya/Aikenite (five furlongs, 59.46 seconds): These two Juvenile pre-entrants worked together for the second time in six days, and appear to bring out the best in each other. Basically head and head throughout the move, they got the last three furlongs in 35.66 seconds. As he did in Monday's work, Eskendereya, under Javier Castellano, galloped out impressively, getting six furlongs in 1:13.89 and seven-eighths in 1:28.95. Aikenite, under Alan Garcia, galloped out better Saturday than he did last Monday. Pletcher called Aikenite's work the best he has seen from that colt.
Ready's Echo (four furlongs, 49.43 seconds): A basic work for this late-running longshot in the Dirt Mile, who went his first half in 25.49 seconds and his final quarter in 24.04. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.87 under Carlos Castro.
- David Grening
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