10/18/2008 11:00PM

Clocker: Ladies' Classic hopefuls out in force


ARCADIA, Calif. - Saturday was a busy morning for Breeders' Cup hopefuls at Santa Anita, with nearly two dozen contenders getting in their final preps, beginning shortly after dawn with a sizzling drill by Cocoa Beach and ending four hours later when former Eclipse Award winner Wait a While crossed the wire after cruising an easy five furlongs over the turf.

The Pro-Ride surface was very fast and yielded some extremely fast times.

Ladies' Classic

Cocoa Beach (five furlongs in 57.80 seconds, according to track clockers): As impressive as anybody during the busy morning, she zipped along at a fast pace while never asked and still had plenty in reserve to gallop out an additional furlong to the seven-eighths pole in 11.83 seconds. She is apparently having little difficulty adapting to the Pro-Ride. She will face a formidable foe in Zenyatta but couldn't be coming into the race looking any sharper.

Music Note (five furlongs in 1:00.74): In a contrast in style from stablemate Cocoa Beach, she went off at a leisurely pace through early fractions of 25.46 and 37.07 seconds before finishing up a solid enough final quarter in 23.67 under a loose rein despite appearing to bobble momentarily inside the sixteenth pole. She galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.62.

Ginger Punch (five furlongs in 1:00.76): Working with rings, equipment designed to help give a rider a little more leverage, Ginger Punch cruised along at an even pace, covering her opening three furlongs in 36.63 seconds before coming home in 24.13 without urging. Her gallop-out was ordinary (six furlongs in 1:13.88). Nothing flashy here, and perhaps she is still somewhat of a question mark over the surface.

Bear Now (five furlongs in 1:03.48): She spent a long time warming up before finally breaking off at the five-furlong pole. She seemed willing enough after angling to the rail and getting her opening eighth in 12.48 seconds but was somewhat lackluster thereafter, completing the final quarter in a dull 25.90 before galloping out three-quarters in a very slow 1:18.83. The work was perhaps a bit of an overreaction to a near bullet five furlongs in 58 and change here last week.

Filly and Mare Sprint

Indian Blessing (five furlongs in 59.14 seconds): This Eclipse Award winner was never asked for any speed but still turned in a rapid move while going along rather effortlessly. She switched leads on cue at the top of the stretch and finished up nicely without need of urging before galloping out six furlongs in 1:12.28. It was perhaps not as brilliant as her work over dirt, but it did not show enough to suggest the Pro-Ride might prove a major chink in her armor.

Ventura (final half in 46.14 seconds): This turf specialist looked great over the Pro-Ride, breezing along at a crisp pace without need of pressure, with her final quarter in 23.16 seconds before galloping out another furlong in 13.22. She may prove a live alternative to the favorite.

Zaftig (six furlongs in 1:11.40, according to track clockers): With so much activity taking place at the same time, some works just slip through the cracks, and this was one I did not see. That was unfortunate, since it was a key work for a filly who has not started in nearly five months. Her final time suggests she's sharp and obviously having little difficulty adapting to the unfamiliar surface.

Filly and Mare Turf

Wait a While (five furlongs in 1:01.48 over the turf): The cones were placed well out past the middle of the course, making the final time somewhat irrelevant. Wait a While was a bit anxious breaking away from the pony but quickly settled into a nice stride and one unmistakably of a turf specialist. She completed her final quarter in 24.57 seconds with her head cocked toward the grandstand the entire length of the stretch. She looks poised for a big effort in her career finale.

Sealy Hill (five furlongs in 59.51 seconds): She followed tradition by working over the artificial main-track surface rather than on grass and made a very good impression, especially the manner in which she galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.10 with the need of only a couple of light taps from her rider's turned-down stick.

Juvenile Fillies

Black Magic Mama (six furlongs in 1:14.76): One might have expected a little stronger finish after she loped along in a rather leisurely 50.50 seconds for her opening half-mile. She was put under some mild urging to finish around the turn to the seven-furlong pole.

Juvenile Fillies Turf

C Karma (five furlongs in 1:00.09): This versatile filly went easily enough with the gallop-out (six furlongs in 1:12.47), perhaps the most impressive part of her work.

Dirt Mile

Albertus Maximus (five furlongs in 59.24 seconds): He breezed swiftly, albeit under a loose rein while working with rings. He finished with interest despite zipping his opening three-eighths in 35.04. He had enough left in the tank to gallop out six furlongs in a very solid 1:12.36. He gives the impression he's peaking at just the right time.


Azul Leon (six furlongs in 1:14.34): He drifted out off the turn, attempting to lug in some through much of the final furlong before finishing up to the seven-furlong pole under moderate pressure.

Square Eddie (six furlongs in 1:15.15): He went along at a slow pace, seemingly by design. He has high action and really jumped into his lead change when finally switching over nearing the eighth pole. He was put to some pressure to finish, but did shade 12 seconds for his final furlong around the turn.

West Side Bernie (four furlongs in 47.60, according to track clockers): He was under strong urging to finish.


Zappa (six furlongs in 1:12.06): As would be expected from a horse heading to the Marathon, he did his best work through the stretch and out to the seven-furlong marker on the clubhouse turn.


Whatsthescript (seven furlongs in 1:26.40, according to track clockers): Caught the last three furlongs of this one in a credible 36.50 seconds, and he was still going strong enough to gallop out a mile in 1:39 and some change.


Cost of Freedom (five furlongs in 59.83 seconds): He was under cruise control from the outset, and it was somewhat surprised to see he had shaded 1:00 as easily as he loped along, especially after completing his opening quarter-mile in an ordinary 24.22 seconds. The gallop-out was especially sharp, six furlongs in 1:11.92. He seems to be maintaining his vastly improved form.

In Summation (four furlongs in 47.99 seconds): The rider had his feet on the dashboard coming away from the pole, restraining the Grade 1 winner through a quarter in 24.74 seconds before finally letting him roll a bit down the stretch. He posted one of the better final quarter-mile fractions (23.24) of the busy morning. He galloped out equally well (five eighths in 1:00.43) and has the looks of a sleeper.

Belmont Park

Ladies' Classic

Carriage Trail (four furlongs in 48.49 seconds: Having just won the Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland by 7 3/4 lengths and then shipping back to New York, not much was expected in her last work before shipping cross-country for the Ladies' Classic. But her half-mile move over Belmont Park's main track Saturday signified she could be a strong exacta threat under Zenyatta.

Carriage Trail, trained by three-time Distaff winning trainer Shug McGaughey, broke into a light jog at the 1 3/8-mile pole and didn't get out of it until leaving the stable pony and breaking into a gallop at the 5 1/2-furlong pole.

Under exercise rider Pam York, Carriage Trail went along slowly until about four strides before the half-mile pole, when she picked up the pace quickly, and went an opening eighth mile in 12.54 seconds. Her next eighth was 11.84 and she finished her final quarter in a solid 24.09 while York maintained a strong hold on the reins. She galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.34 and pulled up six furlongs in 1:16.27.

Carriage Trail was scheduled to ship to California on Sunday.

Juvenile Fillies Turf

Maram (five furlongs in 1:02.36): The undefeated winner of the Grade 3 Miss Grillo worked on the main track, breezing in company with Victory Sign, an older claiming horse whom trainer Chad Brown said is not an overly zealous workhorse. Brown said he didn't want Maram to do too much,as she just ran on Oct. 1.

Under exercise rider Punchie Goberdhan, Maram, working outside of Victory Sign, went in fractions of 12.45, 24.27, and 35.69 seconds for three furlongs. In the stretch, Maram drifted slightly, but Brown said that was by design. He didn't want Maram to go past Victory Sign, so Goberdhan took the filly a few paths away from her when he felt her getting aggressive.

Maram was scheduled to ship on Sunday.

Freedom Rings/Dancing Daisy (four furlongs in 51.97 seconds): Though still a maiden, Freedom Rings, a New York-bred daughter of Proud Citizen, got into the field, while the statebred maiden winner Dancing Daisy is buried seven-deep on the also-eligible list and was not scheduled to be put on Sunday's plane to California.

The David Donk-trained pair worked a half-mile in company over the training track. Freedom Rings, beaten a neck by Maram in the Grade 3 Miss Grillo, is dwarfed in size by the scopey Dancing Daisy. Freedom Rings, under jockey Alan Garcia worked on the inside of Dancing Daisy, under Josue Villa. The pair went together through an opening eighth in 13.29 seconds and a quarter in 25.53. They finished their last quarter in 26.44 and Garcia was urging Freedom Rings while Villa was barely asking Dancing Daisy. Freedom Rings galloped out five furlongs in 1:16.17.

Juvenile Turf

Relatively Ready (five furlongs in 1:04.16): Working in company with the older filly Queen of Protocol, a 3-year-old multiple winner, and ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, Relatively Ready broke off about a length behind Queen of Protocol but less than a sixteenth of a mile into the breeze he was on even terms. The pair went 12.86 seconds for the opening eighth and 24.96 for the first quarter. After three furlongs in 36.81, Relatively Ready put a head in front.

Late switching leads, Relatively Ready began to drift out several paths while pulling away from Queen of Protocol. Once he switched, Relatively Ready did go back to the inside, but his final quarter of 27.35 seconds does not inspire confidence.

Donk noted that Relatively Ready only has one eye, his left.

"I think he's got ability, but he's only got one eye," Donk said. "It's an education process. He's going to come across different situations, but it's not often you get to run for a million dollars."

Filly and Mare Sprint

Jazzy (four furlongs in 48.54 seconds): Under exercise rider Gustavo Delgado, this Argentine-bred mare went four furlongs over the main track, carrying her head high as she normally does.

- Belmont reporting by David Grening

All times clocked by Daily Racing Form, unless mentioned otherwise.