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Clocker: O'Brien's team takes the field
ARCADIA, Calif. - With nearly all 164 horses entered for this year's Breeders' Cup on the grounds, there was plenty of action here Wednesday, highlighted by the first local appearances of Aidan O'Brien's powerful stable and leading Classic hopeful Go Between.
There were only three recorded workouts during the long morning session, each a relatively easy drill over the main track. Among them was a pre-dawn blowout by the Sprint's morning-line favorite, Street Boss, who worked three furlongs in 38.35 seconds before pulling up rather abruptly and being angled well out past the middle of the racetrack almost immediately after crossing the finish line. Other workers included Van Lear Rose, who went three-eighths in 36.20 seconds, according to track clockers, for the Juvenile Fillies, and Storm Treasure, who drilled a half-mile in 49.69 seconds, with a final furlong in an easy 13.06 in preparation for the Turf Sprint.
The O'Brien horses, eight in total, jogged the wrong way around the main track in single procession. The group was led by Classic hopefuls Duke of Marmalade and Henrythenavigator, both of whom seemed to get a little hotter than the others despite having a relatively easy morning.
Go Between couldn't have looked better, bowing his head down the stretch after breaking away from the pony and galloping straight and strong down the lane the second time around.
Others who turned in strong gallops were Carriage Trail (Filly and Mare Sprint) in her first visit to the track since arriving from New York, Albertus Maximus (Dirt Mile), who has looked exceptionally well all week, and Zaftig (Filly and Mare Sprint).
Several of the Europeans who were on the track the previous morning were given an opportunity to stretch out a little more, including Eagle Mountain, Visit, and Conduit, all of whom went to the turf during the renovation break.
Eagle Mountain, small in stature but large on talent, really handled the hard strip well in his first trip over the local turf course, while Visit appeared to stride a little more confidently over the surface than stablemate Conduit.
A trio of candidates in the Juvenile Fillies Turf tried the course when it reopened a couple of hours later. Both Renda, who two-minute-licked down the stretch under trainer Juan Arias, and Euro invader April Pride seemed very comfortable over the going, while C Karma looked stiff and a bit tentative over the surface.
The following are some thoughts on horses competing in the five Breeders' Cup races on Friday's card who I've been able to observe training here this past week. The listings are arranged in post position order, not order of preference.
Filly and Mare Sprint
Lady Sprinter: She worked an extremely fast half-mile between races last Friday and did so without encouragement, but was a bit rank breaking away from the pole and weakened some during her gallop-out. Seems destined to be part of early speed duel.
Indian Blessing: You cannot fault her final prep, in which she went along in hand for three furlongs before finishing up strongly and galloping out with continued interest into the turn. It's hard to find a chink in the favorite's armor here this week.
Zaftig: She worked a crisp six furlongs in her first serious run over the Pro-Ride but was under some urging through the latter stages. She seems to have bounced out of the work nicely, considering the manner in which she galloped here Wednesday.
Tiz Elemental: She blew out nicely enough for the race. She's doing well but is in very tough.
Ventura: Loved her final work. She showed nice speed under little urging, finished up and galloped out very strongly. She couldn't be doing better and should get a perfect pace setup turning back off series of longer races.
Tizzy's Tune: She likes the artificial track but is in deep in this spot. She did not inspire much confidence during a relatively slow final work over the weekend.
Juvenile Fillies Turf
April Pride: This European invader arrived late but moved well and was full of herself in her first visit to the local turf course.
Maram: She had her final work in New York but was very impressive galloping over the Pro-Ride for the first time on Tuesday.
C Karma: She finished nicely working over the Pro-Ride, but wasn't visually appealing galloping over the grass on Wednesday, looking a bit stiff and tentative over the rock-hard course.
Consequence: She turned in an eye-catching work, the best of nearly two dozen Breeders' Cup horses to breeze here Sunday. She broke off at a slow pace then ripped off three consecutive 11-second-and-change furlong splits under little urging and equipped with rings. She galloped out five-eighths faster than all but Sprint contender First Defence on the morning's five-furlong tab. Expect a big effort.
Renda: A strapping filly, she has never raced on turf but appeared to handle the course rather willingly on Wednesday. Could be a sleeper.
Saucey Evening: This versatile filly zipped a handy and very useful three furlongs over the turf equipped with blinkers for the first time. She galloped out strongly. Coming up to the race in good form, she must overcome tough post.
Persistently: She never really picked up the bit during her first Pro-Ride workout while also ducking out suddenly turning into the stretch. She enters the race in good form but one must question how she will handle this surface.
Black Magic Mama: She could be a live longshot behind the obvious favorite, Stardom Bound. I thought she was the best of trainer Doug O'Neill's several local Breeders' Cup workers on Saturday. She went off slowly, finished with interest under no urging.
Palacio De Amor: She turned in a sharp but somewhat eventful work when forced to circle a pair of horses who had broken off in front of her. Looked good drawing clear down the lane but must wonder what toll the extra effort might take just four days out from her race.
Dave's Revenge: I was at Hollywood Park the morning she zipped a bullet five furlongs at Santa Anita, but did witness a couple of nice gallops subsequent to the drill, an indication she has bounced out of the fast work nicely.
Filly and Mare Turf
Sealy Hill: She seems to be peaking at just the right time. She followed her career-best performance in the E.P. Taylor with a sharp local drill on Pro-Ride, during which she finished up strongly without need of urging before galloping out another very good eighth-mile under mild encouragement.
Visit: I had the opportunity to witness only a couple of easy gallops on the grass, but she seems to be striding out nicely and looks happy over the hard course.
Wait a While: She couldn't be doing any better over her favorite track. She was full of run during an easy, final prep on the turf and has not missed a day or a beat in the a.m. ever since, with her rider having all he can do to keep her from running off on a regular basis.
Mauralakana: She has also been full of herself all week, pulling her rider out of the saddle on a regular basis during morning gallops. I'm willing to forgive her setback over boggy ground in the Flower Bowl.
Zenyatta: You couldn't have asked for a more perfect final prep. She exploded through the stretch to pick up not only her mate but a couple of other workers who had broken off many lengths in front of her down the backstretch. This long-striding filly returned to the barn hardly breathing from the effort. Inside draw is the lone concern.
Cocoa Beach: She turned in an explosive final prep of her own in her maiden voyage over the Pro-Ride and as a result is perhaps the main threat to the favorite in her current form.
Music Note: She did not work quite as brilliantly as her mate, although she went along willingly enough without any undue pressure despite bobbling briefly inside the sixteenth pole. A very attractive-looking filly.
Carriage Trail: Arrived late but was very aggressive in her first gallop over the track.
Ginger Punch: The defending champ is flying a bit under the radar. You could not fault her final prep, but be skeptical about whether she is as good over artificial surfaces as on conventional dirt.
Bear Now: She did not finish or gallop out particularly well in her most recent local trial, perhaps a reaction to a near-bullet drill over the same course six days earlier.
All times clocked by Daily Racing Form unless mentioned otherwise.