10/26/2010 9:14AM

Koriner's pair works five furlongs at Churchill

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The weather was perhaps the main topic of conversation Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs. Strong winds, gusting up to as much as 40 mph, blew almost directly down the stretch from the start of training hours at 6 a.m. In addition, a forecast that called for heavy rains and possible tornadoes later in the morning had trainers hopeful just to get in their scheduled works, most notably the three with Breeders’ Cup contenders penciled in to breeze over the turf at 9:30 a.m.

The main track was noticeably faster Tuesday than the previous morning, and according to several local horsemen quicker than it’s been here in weeks. The turf course was upgraded from good to firm overnight, although in actuality looked to be somewhere in between with the dogs set out a good 20 feet or more from the inside rail.

Five Breeders’ Cup contenders worked – two over the main track along with the aforementioned trio on the grass – beginning with Warrior’s Reward on the dirt at 7:15 a.m. and finishing with Banned over the turf some 2 1/2 hours later.

Warrior’s Reward (Sprint, five furlongs in 1:01.04): With his regular rider Julien Leparoux aboard, the Grade 1 winner posted splits of 13.01 seconds, 24.96, 36.61, and 48.68 before completing his final eighth in 12.36 and galloping out three-quarters of a mile in just 1:15.26. Although the headwind was obviously a factor, he didn’t finish quite as strong as I had expected or with quite the same flash I remember seeing during his final work prior to that career-best (113 Beyer Speed Figure) entry-level allowance win during Derby week of 2009.

Sweet August Moon (Filly and Mare Sprint, five furlongs in 1:00.80): An important work, since it was this filly’s first exposure to dirt, and she also was a little disappointing at the end and during her gallop out, switching back to her left lead while tiring some coming to the wire and into the turn. Posted splits of 12.17, 24.28, 36.02, and 47.89 before coming home her final eighth in 12.91 and galloping out six furlongs in 1:15.06.

California Flag (Turf Sprint, five furlongs in 1:00.80 on the turf): No doubt what the intention was here when the defending Turf Sprint champion came flying away from the pole and actually shaded 11 seconds for his opening eighth-mile split of a very purposeful five-furlong drill. Continued to zip around the turn through fractions of 23.30 and 36.43 and came home in a respectable 24.37 against the wind, despite not changing leads until the eighth pole and then swapping back to his left lead nearing the wire. Look for him to be out and winging on or with the lead in hopes of defending his Turf Sprint title.

Dubai Majesty (Filly and Mare Sprint, four furlongs in 49.88 over the turf): Seemed a bit odd to see this filly working on the turf, considering she’ll be racing over the main track on Breeders’ Cup Day, although she’s won on grass in the past. With jockey Jamie Theriot aboard, she was a study in contrast compared to California Flag, just loping through her opening quarter in 26.22 before finishing extremely well without need of urging, completing her final quarter into the wind in a crisp 23.66. Arguably the best of the five moves I saw this morning.

Banned (Juvenile Turf, four furlongs in 51 seconds): This work didn’t go as planned as he inadvertently wound up with company for nearly the entire drill, joining in with trainer Steve Asmussen’s Expansion, who was in the midst of a seven-furlong work at the time. The pair arrived at the half-mile pole simultaneously, with Banned reserved alongside his unexpected workmate through an opening half in 26.40 before eventually edging clear by nearly three lengths to the wire without any serious urging through the final sixteenth of a mile.

Proviso (Mile): She was a handful this morning, galloping at better than a two-minute clip through the stretch and around into the backstretch, where it took the stable pony to help finally get her to pull up. Will be watching with interest over the next several days to see if she can maintain a similar energy level with her final prep for the Mile not scheduled until Sunday or Monday.

Espoir City (Classic): Got my first look at the Japanese hopeful for the Classic this morning and came away with the feeling he just looked uncomfortable galloping around the main track while on his left lead the entire way.