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Clocker: Cocoa Beach, Tapitsfly impress
ARCADIA, Calif. - Watching horses train up to a big race or a big series of races such as the Breeders' Cup is far from an exact science and no two observers are likely to have the same opinion regarding the manner in which each runner appears to be training into the event. After spending the last week at Santa Anita, the following is one man's impressions about how many of the key and perhaps not-so-key contenders seem to be doing coming into the six races that make up the Friday portion of this year's Breeders' Cup program.
Father Time: Has trained willingly enough over the Pro-Ride the past couple of mornings in company with stablemates Twice Over and Midday and appears to be doing well and handling the surface nicely enough. The tepid choice.
Mastery: Unlike some of his Godolphin mates who emerged from quarantine earlier this week, he has done relatively little during training hours the last couple of mornings, but on paper he is the one to beat in this race.
Man of Iron: Like all of Aidan O'Brien's Cup hopefuls, he did little more than jog a mile on Wednesday in his first morning out of quarantine.
JUVENILE FILLIES TURF
Smart Seattle: Consistent filly was well held in an easy half-mile drill in company with stablemate and Juvenile Fillies candidate Zilva. She finished slightly in front of Zilva during the gallop-out. Has been on her toes since her arrival last week.
La Nez: Didn't finish particularly strong or gallop out well in her last local work, with jockey Mike Smith aboard.
Jungle Tale: Her lone local work came in the dark, but she appeared to be travelling well under her own courage, completing the final eighth-mile of a half-mile drill in 11.40 seconds under a loose rein.
House of Grace: Breezed last weekend in company with Bridgetown, who runs in the Juvenile on Saturday. More than held her own with her male counterpart, going an easy five furlongs in 1:02 and change while well in hand and with plenty in reserve at the end.
Tapitsfly: Really loved the efficient way this filly handled the surface and reached out when testing the local turf course for the first time. Turned in arguably the most impressive of three very good turf works here last Saturday, including works by the multiple Grade 1 winner Magical Fantasy and Grade 1-placed Noble Court. My choice at the price.
Zilva: Workmate of Smart Seattle last weekend and like her stablemate went along easily and appeared to have plenty more left in the tank had her rider asked.
Blind Luck: Finished with interest and galloped out strongly in her final prep while giving the impression she was traveling much faster than her 1:01 and change final clocking. Did begin to drift noticeably while galloping out at the conclusion of her work, which may be nitpicking considering the success she has had since her arrival in Southern California.
Beautician: Has made an impressive appearance here this week, and the slow final clocking of her most recent breeze was by design and should be overlooked, considering she was hard held throughout after working a little too fast the previous week. Like her chances.
Bickersons: Seems to have really flourished since her third-place finish in the Oak Leaf. Completed her final three furlongs in an eye catching 34.13 and galloped out five-eighths in 59.07 in one of the better works I have seen here this past week. Expecting her best yet.
Connie and Michael: Talented but inexperienced filly had a very good day galloping over the Pro-Ride on Wednesday. Looks the part but is a big question with only a single maiden race under her belt.
She Be Wild: Hasn't done much since her arrival here earlier this week, but she has made a very striking appearance on the racetrack.
Negligee: Improving filly earned work of the day honors on Sunday morning when zipping home the final three-eighths of a half mile drill in 34.24 seconds while under only mild encouragement before galloping out another strong quarter-mile into and around the turn. Would have been my pick if she had drawn a little farther inside.
Always a Princess: Her final prep was fast (five furlongs in 58.50 seconds) but she struggled through the latter stages to keep up with stablemate Miss Heather Lee, a 2-year-old filly allowance winner, who was under less pressure to finish. Drawn poorly on the extreme outside.
FILLY AND MARE TURF
Forever Together: Got my first real look at the defending champ on Wednesday when she did little more than gallop around the training track. Continues to hold her form remarkably well.
Rutherienne: Was on her toes and full of herself galloping down the stretch on Wednesday morning. Never runs a poor one but a question mark at 10 furlongs.
Magical Fantasy: Displayed her fondness for the course when just cruising through a nice five-furlong maintenance work here last weekend. Definitely remains on top of her game.
Midday: Open galloped over the main track very willingly on Wednesday along with stablemates Father Time and Twice Over. Will race on Lasix for the first time in the Filly and Mare Turf.
Dynaforce: Has been a handful during her morning gallops, going in draw reins to prevent her from running off. Toss her last over soft ground and she looks like a real sleeper, especially if allowed to get loose on the lead in a relatively paceless event.
Maram: Last year's Juvenile Fillies Turf winner has made an excellent appearance in the morning since her arrival from New York, but has never been the distance or faced this caliber of competition.
FILLY AND MARE SPRINT
Sara Louise: Passed the Pro-Ride test with flying colors during the last of three local preps, going off an easy opening quarter-mile then finishing in 23.54 under the mildest of encouragement from jockey Richard Migliore. Peaking at the right time but up against a couple of synthetic track monsters in Ventura and Informed Decision.
Evita Argentina: Has put in some sharp morning gallops but did get a little tired at the end of her most recent six-furlong work after showing some surprising early speed. May be a notch or two below some of these.
Informed Decision: Has spent her first two mornings locally on the training track, where she has put in a couple of aggressive looking sessions, an indication she's likely to bring her very potent "A" game to the table once again.
Seventh Street: She may be a little more of a question mark over the Pro-Ride than stablemate Sara Louise. Wasn't really asked to do much in the one local work I saw, although would have preferred she had shown a bit more interest during what can only be described as a very ordinary gallop-out.
Ventura: Touted herself as the best bet of the day in her final Breeders' Cup work over this track a year ago, and appeared just as good, from what I could see on tape of her final work at Hollywood Park, in preparation for a defense of that title. Touted herself on looks alone when making her first appearance here Wednesday.
Careless Jewel: Did not arrive in time to see her final work, but she has certainly been a handful ever since with her unorthodox style of cocking her head outward or at times even farther around, as if she was looking behind to see if anything was gaining on her during training hours. Gives every impression she's coming into this race in peak form, but I'm just a little uncomfortable with the way she drifted off the rail in her last two starts. Doubt she can afford that luxury against this bunch.
Lethal Heat: Showed some real zip in her final workout on Monday before getting a little leg weary at the end, which could mean she will give Careless Jewel some pace pressure.
Cocoa Beach: Her form is not quite as good coming into the race as it was a year ago when she finished second behind Zenyatta, but she certainly appears to be peaking at the right time. Earned the work of the day award on Saturday morning after cruising home her final quarter-mile in a blistering 22.70 to close out a nifty 59.62 five-furlong drill. Obviously loves the track. Could be capable of outrunning her 8-1 morning line.
Music Note: I missed her pre-dawn workout on Oct. 29, which on paper, at least, indicates she remains in the best form of her career and surely sharper than a year ago when third behind Zenyatta in this same event. Giving her the slight edge in a very competitive race.
Rainbow View: Have had mixed opinions regarding her two works this past week. Struggled a bit to get by her target on Oct. 30, although she did break off well behind her workmate and wound up galloping out five-eighths in 59.07, albeit under some urging. Returned to blow out an easy half-mile just five days later under jockey Frankie Dettori and she was a little rough and late making her lead change down the stretch. Remains a question mark over the Pro-Ride.
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