10/30/2010 9:55AM

Girolamo acting like he's ready for Sprint

Barbara D. Livingston
Girolamo is the early favorite for the BC Sprint.

ELMONT, N.Y. - In his third start off a layoff last year, Girolamo ran perhaps the best race of his career when he won the Grade 2 Jerome at Belmont Park, running a mile in 1:33.81. This year, Girolamo’s third start off a layoff will be the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint next Saturday at Churchill Downs where he will need a new career-best effort to win.

On a crisp but clear fall Saturday morning at Belmont Park, Girolamo gave an indication that he may be up to the challenge, working a strong five furlongs in 1:00.07 over Belmont’s main track. After going off an opening quarter in a relatively easy 24.81 seconds, Girolamo, with little urging from exercise rider Simon Harris, powered home his final three furlongs in 35.26 seconds. He proceeded to gallop out six furlongs in 1:12.68 and pulled up seven furlongs in 1:27.50.

“He usually runs a good race when he works like that,” said Rick Mettee, Godolphin’s New York-based assistant trainer.

Girolamo is the 5-2 favorite on Daily Racing Form national handicapper’s Mike Watchmaker’s early line for the Sprint. Girolamo, who finished last in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic, is coming off a 2 1/2-length victory in the Grade 1 Vosburgh here Oct. 2. Prior to that, he finished fifth in the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga, his first start since the Classic.

Mettee thinks Girolamo will “pull the right trip” in the Sprint, it will just be a matter of if he’s good enough.

Also working for Godolphin over the main track on Saturday was Filly and Mare Sprint hopeful Sara Louise, who went four furlongs in 47.93 seconds, with a final quarter of 23.73 seconds under exercise rider Jose Sierra. Sara Louise galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.90.

Sara Louise, who finished fourth in the Filly and Mare Sprint last year, has only run once this year, a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Handicap at Belmont on Sept. 25. She was plagued by foot problems earlier in the summer.

Mettee believes Sara Louise probably needed her start in the Gallant Bloom and wished the filly had one more race coming up to this year’s Filly and Mare Sprint.

“In a perfect world you would have got another run into her, but she’s coming up to the race good,” Mettee said. “I think she’s going to run a good race just the way the race sets up.”

Frankie Dettori will ride Sara Louise in Friday’s Filly and Mare Sprint.

Persistently works for Ladies’ Classic

Persistently, who upset Rachel Alexandra and Life At Ten in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga in August, worked four furlongs in 49.42 seconds over Belmont’s training track Saturday morning. She worked in company with Freedom Flag, a 3-year-old filly with one win from six starts.

Persistently, with exercise rider Cecil Putnam up, arrived at the training track with her workmate just as it was closing for renovation. Persistently waited patiently at the gap for nearly 15 minutes and never turned a hair as a crowd of horses gathered around her waiting for the track to re-open.

Persistently maintained her laid-back demeanor throughout the work, going easy fractions of 12.57 seconds and 24.47 while breezing inside of Freedom Flag. After the wire, Persistenly galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.56 and six furlongs in 1:16.89.

“Didn’t need to go crazy,” trainer Shug McGaughey said. “She’s done well. It just depends on whether we get a [favorable] pace scenario. I think two turns will be a big plus.”

McGaughey usually trains his horses on Belmont’s main track. He has opted to train Persistently on the one-mile training track in part because it’s smaller - more like Churchill’s main track - and it has lights. Though she breezed after sunrise, Persistently has been galloping under the lights, McGaughey said.

The Ladies’ Classic will be run under the lights at Churchill Downs.