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Contenders hit home tracks for their last workout before race day
With the overwhelming majority of Breeders' Cup runners staying home for their final workouts and not arriving at Lone Star Park until later this week, Daily Racing Form reporters tracked works in New York, California, and Kentucky, as well as on location in Texas.
Sunday was far and away the busiest work morning for Breeders' Cup contenders from coast to coast, especially at Belmont Park, where the action was brisk on all fronts with Breeders' Cup hopefuls working on both the main and training tracks and the turf course.
Cloudy, 45 degrees
Main track fast, training track fast, turf good
Storm Flag Flying, Distaff, four furlongs, 48.26: Trainer Shug McGaughey said he wanted to work Storm Flag Flying "at first light" and held true to his word. In fact, Storm Flag Flying, the 2002 Juvenile Fillies winner, stood alongside a stable pony at the gap leading to the paddock tunnel for 15 minutes before dawn finally broke and McGaughey gave the rider the sign to begin her work.
Once a roguish filly, Storm Flag Flying has settled down with age but did pause briefly behind the pony a couple of times upon entering the backstretch before getting herself in gear and breaking off at the half-mile pole at a lively pace. Despite the quick start, she came to hand around the bend and was able to finish strongly, going her final furlong in 11.81 seconds. She also galloped out willingly, pulling up after five furlongs in 1:00.45 seconds.
Ghostzapper, Classic, five furlongs, 1:00.08: The first of three Breeders' Cup runners from trainer Bobby Frankel's barn to work over the main track immediately after the renovation break. With regular rider Javier Castellano aboard and wearing blinkers, Ghostzapper was never asked for any of his abundant speed, breezing along well within himself in fractions of 24.59, 35.96, and 48.18, before galloping out a very strong six furlongs in 1:12.50. He looked great and is showing no ill effects from his gut-wrenching performance in the Woodward.
Midas Eyes and Cajun Beat, Sprint, four furlongs, 48.97 seconds: Frankel's two Sprint candidates worked in company with Edgar Prado aboard Midas Eyes and Angel Cordero Jr. on Cajun Beat, who was equipped in blinkers. The pair was only scheduled to go a half-mile because Frankel felt they would gallop out strongly, but as they approached the five-furlong pole they were passed on the inside by a set of three workers, briefly unnerving Midas Eyes, who was eager to get down to business and suddenly became a handful for Prado.
Prado was finally able to wrestle Midas Eyes under control approaching the half-mile pole, with Cajun Beat, on the inside, about a half-length in front when the work began. The two speedsters went a relatively slow opening quarter in 24.38, allowing Midas Eyes to draw even with Cajun Beat coming out of the turn. The two raced on even terms through most of the stretch before Cajun Beat gradually forged back in front by a short head near the wire. They completed their final furlong in a somewhat disappointing 12.28 before galloping out five eighths in 1:01.38, perhaps a bit slower than expected, with Cajun Beat looking slightly stronger of the pair.
Ashado, Distaff, five furlongs, 59.64: With Cordero aboard and working in rings, Ashado broke outside stablemate Capeside Lady and went a brisk five furlongs without need of any urging. The two fillies went in fractions of 23.96, 35.24, and 47.27, then galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.12. Ashado continues to make a good appearance and seems to be coming up to the Distaff in top form.
Speightstown, Sprint, five furlongs, 1:02.34: Was a bit rank as he made his way to the five-furlong pole, where he broke off outside stablemate Kathir. He came away a bit eagerly, getting his opening furlong in 11.98 before settling in around the turn and completing his opening three-eighths in 36.95. Entering the stretch it appeared exercise rider Patti Krotenko reached around to grab the whip out of her back pocket, perhaps to keep Speightstown on his toes down the stretch, but she never did take the stick and instead continued to hand ride him home. While eventually edging clear from his workmate, Speightstown completed his final furlong in a very uninspiring 13.04 before galloping out six furlongs in a slow 1:17. He might be starting to tail off just a little nearing the end of what has been a very successful campaign.
Proud Accolade, Juvenile, Newfoundland, Classic, both five furlongs, 1:00.74: Proud Accolade, with jockey John Velazquez aboard, broke inside Classic longshot Newfoundland, and the two went along at a crisp early pace of 35.58 for the first three furlongs. They finished on almost even terms, with Proud Accolade under a bit more pressure nearing the wire to keep pace with his older mate.
The dogs were out a good 25 feet over a turf course that still has a bit of moisture in it.
Nothing to Lose, Mile, five furlongs, 1:04.27: With Cordero up, Nothing to Lose broke off about three-quarters of a length in front of Denon, went a very slow opening three furlongs in 39.99, but came home a strong final quarter-mile in 24.37. Nothing to Lose finished about a head in front of his mate under mild urging in what appeared to simply be an easy maintenance move.
Riskaverse, Filly and Mare Turf, five furlongs, 1:02.94: Another who began slowly but finished extremely well, she completed her final furlong in 11.49 seconds when put to mild urging in the run to the wire.
Super Brand, Filly and Mare Turf, four furlongs, 50.22: Perhaps the most impressive of the morning's turf workers, considering the manner in which she finished after merely galloping the opening two furlongs in 26.61. She was under no pressure down the lane but still came home her final quarter-mile in an impressive 23.61.
Request for Parole, Turf, five furlongs, 1:03.10: Of the morning's five grass workers, he was the most eager to begin, but changed leads late, not until almost reaching the eighth pole, and weakened noticeably near the end. Was under some urging to complete his final eighth in 12.75 seconds.
Mustanfar, Turf, four furlongs, 52.02: Like stablemate Super Brand, he crawled early but finished willingly enough when set down through the stretch. But he did "cheat" just a bit, cutting inside the outermost of the orange cones (dogs) at the head of the stretch.
- Mike Welsch
Main track fast
Elloluv, Distaff, six furlongs, 1:11.40: Working under Corey Nakatani, Elloluv had the fastest of 15 recorded works at the distance. She worked in company with another horse. "She relaxed really well," Dollase said. "That was one of the best works she's ever had. It needs to be for the kind of race that she's about to run in."
Kela, Sprint, six furlongs, 1:15.40: The workout was categorized as a breeze, and trainer Mike Mitchell disputed the final time. He clocked Kela breezing in 1:14.60. Mitchell emphasized that he was not bothered by a slow workout.
"I didn't want anything quick," he said.
Light Jig, Filly and Mare Turf, five furlongs, 1:00.80: Light Jig worked alone and went a little faster than expected, according to Humberto Ascanio, the assistant trainer to Bobby Frankel.
"Bobby wanted to go a little slower, but she did it easy," Ascanio said.
Light Jig won the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon Stakes earlier this month.
Personal Rush, Classic, four furlongs, 50.80: A stakes winner in Japan, Personal Rush was based at Hollywood Park after clearing quarantine. An outsider for the Classic, Personal Rush has won 5 of 9 starts and more than $1.1 million. This half-mile workout was one of the slower of 37 works at the distance.
Pt's Grey Eagle, Sprint, four furlongs, 47: Ridden by Nakatani in this workout, Pt's Grey Eagle was rated behind stablemates. "He got some dirt in his face," trainer Craig Dollase said. "He finished the last furlong in 11 [seconds]."
Nakatani will have the mount in the Sprint, replacing Alex Bisono, who was aboard for a win in the Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap.
"Alex did a great job, but it is the Breeders' Cup," Dollase said. "I don't want to take anything away from Alex. Corey won the Sprint for me."
Dollase won the Breeders' Cup Sprint in 1998 with Reraise.
Singletary, Mile, five furlongs, 1:01: Singletary is bound for turf, but always works on dirt, trainer Don Chatlos said.
"I worked him on turf at Del Mar once because I didn't like the dirt," he said.
Not surprisingly, Chatlos said he is happy with Singletary.
"He looked better than he's ever looked," he said.
Star Over the Bay, Turf, six furlongs, 1:13.20: A winner of this last three, Star Over the Bay was only breezing during this workout. "It was just sensational," Mitchell said. "He really needed to work. He was tearing the barn down. He needed that breeze really bad."
- Steve Andersen
Clear, 61 degrees
Main track fast, turf firm
Culture Clash, Juvenile Fillies, five furlongs, 59.40: Fourth in the Oak Leaf Stakes earlier this month, Culture Clash worked alone and impressed trainer Marcelo Polanco.
"She came home very good," he said. "She was going a good pace and she kept going. The last eighth was her best eighth."
Island Fashion, Distaff, five furlongs, 1:00.60: Trainer Polanco timed Island Fashion through an opening quarter-mile in 25, three furlongs in 37.20, and galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.40. The runner-up in the Santa Anita Handicap earlier this year, Island Fashion won the Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap in her last start earlier this month.
Polanco said he was impressed with the way Island Fashion finished the final quarter-mile.
"That's the way she likes it," Polanco said. "She's not one to show a fast work early."
Our New Recruit, Sprint, six furlongs, 1:12.20: Our New Recruit has won his last two starts: the $2 million Golden Shaheen Sprint in Dubai in March and the restricted Pirate's Bounty Handicap at Del Mar in early September. He worked alone Sunday.
"He was so fluid," Sadler said. "What makes a good 1:12 and a bad 1:12 is the way they stride out. He was very comfortable. He's trained well since his last race. He's had plenty of time. He's better than he was for his first race back."
Quiet Honor, Juvenile Fillies, five furlongs, 1:01: Quiet Honor has made only one start, winning a maiden race at Oak Tree. She will be trainer Paula Capestro's first starter in the Breeders' Cup.
Quiet Honor worked under jockey Tyler Baze and worked alone.
"[Tyler] said it was beneficial to ride the horse," Capestro said. "I caught her galloping out in 1:40. She picked it up after the wire. That, I was happy about. The question now is how she comes out of it. If everything looks good, she'll go."
Roman Ruler, Juvenile, five furlongs, 58: Working in company before the first race, Roman Ruler began his work five lengths behind a stablemate. He gained ground quickly on the final turn and finished two lengths in front.
The winner of the Norfolk Stakes earlier this month, Roman Ruler went the first quarter-mile in 23 seconds and a half-mile in 46.40.
Sweet Catomine, Juvenile Fillies, five furlongs, 58.80: Trainer Julio Canani caught Sweet Catomine in 58.40 and galloping out six furlongs in 1:11.26 and seven furlongs in 1:25.94. The workout was the fastest of 126 recorded works at the distance.
Sweet Catomine has won her last two starts: the Del Mar Debutante and the Oak Leaf Stakes.
Canani was pleased by the work, saying Sweet Catomine was "doing super. It's how she did it," he said. "She was breezing with a 160-pound exercise rider on her."
Blackdoun, Mile, five furlongs, 1:02: Canani timed Blackdoun going the final quarter-mile in 24 seconds. Unbeaten in three starts in the U.S., Blackdoun worked alone. "He's doing super," Canani said.
Musical Chimes, Mile, six furlongs, 1:15: Working with the stakes-placed King of Happiness, Musical Chimes started a few lengths behind his workmate. He drew even on the final turn with a two-wide rally and then finished on even terms with King of Happiness.
- Steve Andersen
Overcast, 60 degrees
Main track good
Stellar Jayne, Distaff, five furlongs, 1:01.60: One of the first horses to hit the racetrack at 6 a.m. sharp, Stellar Jayne tuned up for the Distaff under cover of darkness for trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who also has Azeri pre-entered in the race. Both horses were to leave Tuesday for Texas with the rest of the Churchill contingent.
- Marty McGee
Monday morning is usually hectic at the host site the week of the World Thoroughbred Championships. But as it has been the past several days, activity was relatively light during training hours at Lone Star on Monday, with only three Breeders' Cup contenders out for serious works, two of those coming over a still less-than-firm turf course.
Lone Star Park
Cloudy, 70 degrees
Main track fast
Afleet Alex, Juvenile, five furlongs, 58.44: He put on quite a show as the lone Breeders' Cup runner to turn in a recorded work over the main track.
He was one of the first horses on the racetrack following the renovation break and surprisingly spent an inordinate amount of time loosening up before his work, jogging 1 1/2 miles the wrong way of the track on the outside fence. Not sure of the reason for the long pre-work routine, since he did not appear stiff or sore during his leisurely jog.
Once hitting the five-furlong pole, Afleet Alex was immediately in high gear, ripping off fractions of 11.98 and 23.76 seconds for the opening eighth and quarter miles while under little urging. He continued along at a brisk pace into the stretch, changed his leads right on cue, and never let up, completing a final furlong in 11.79 seconds with exercise rider Sam Cabrera barely moving a muscle at any time during the work. The gallop out was similarly impressive, six furlongs in 1:11.84.
Afleet Alex obviously loves the racetrack and is on his toes coming into the Juvenile. And while such a fast work might be some cause for concern just five days before his race, the relative ease in which he went about his task should help alleviate those fears.
Domestic Dispute, Mile/Classic, five furlongs, 1:02.50: Working in rings, he went more than a second better than Royal Regalia. The faster final time was due not only to a surprisingly quick opening quarter of 23.50, but also because he covered slightly less ground after his rider inexplicably chose to work him in between the orange cones (dogs) that were set out on the course rather than around the dogs, as is customary for grass works.
Gold Storm is a powerhouse of a colt with the unmistakable look of a sprinter. Equipped with blinkers, he was scheduled for simply a two-minute lick but wound up picking up the pace to the point Daily Racing Form unofficially clocked him a half-mile in 50.42 seconds from the three-eighths to the seven-eighths pole, with an 11.92 split from the eighth pole to the wire.
Royal Regalia, Mile, five furlongs, 1:03.66: An uneventful and effortless work. Went along at a pretty even clip, slowing down just slightly when forced to cope with some deeper ground around the turn. He completed his final two furlongs in 12.56 and 12.65 while under little pressure throughout what was obviously an easy maintenance move.
- Mike Welsch
Partly Cloudy, 54 degrees
Main track fast
Cuvee, Sprint, four furlongs, 47.80 seconds: Working just before daybreak at about 7 a.m. with exercise rider Dane Kobiskie aboard, Cuvee "worked great," said trainer Steve Asmussen. "I feel great about it. From Kentucky Cup Day to here, he's gotten to train every day. It's the time frame to be brilliant."
Runway Model, Juvenile Fillies, five furlongs, 1:00.60: Working just after the 8 a.m. harrow break, the Alcibiades winner went in workmanlike fashion for trainer Bernie Flint.
Silver Tree, Mile, four furlongs, 47.20: Working just after the 8 a.m. harrow break, the Bill Mott trainee went solo under former jockey Keith Allen. "He looked extremely good, I thought," said Churchill clocker John Nichols.
- Marty McGee