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Red Desire, Smiling Tiger top Saturday morning workers
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – After a very quiet week, there was action aplenty Saturday at Churchill Downs when it came to Breeders’ Cup workers with 21 horses recording official trials, including four on the grass.
The weather was unseasonably cold with frost on the turf course when training hours began just before 6 a.m. The main track was fast but seemed a bit duller before the renovation break than afterwards. The frost burnt off the turf shortly after the sun rose at 8 a.m. with the course again rated firm.
Work of the day
Red Desire (Filly and Mare Turf, five furlongs in 59.88 seconds): Although she hadn’t made the greatest of impressions during recent morning gallops, the Japanese filly Red Desire certainly was on her game this morning, working after the break with jockey Kent Desormeaux aboard. After galloping one mile before beginning her work and then relaxing through an easy opening eighth in just less than 13 seconds, Red Desire really began to pick up the pace, completing her final three-eighths in 35.06 seconds while eased off the rail with Desormeaux only offering mild encouragement a couple of times through the final furlong. She then galloped out willingly around the turn, pulling up six furlongs in 1:13.32 while moving smoothly throughout this very impressive looking drill.
Smiling Tiger (Sprint, five furlongs in 58.40): Perhaps the second best work of the day and easily the most eventful as he wound up hooking in with a quartet of non-Breeders’ Cup workers, including Noble’s Promise, who was beaten less than a length in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Breaking off about 10 lengths behind Noble’s Promise and another Ken McPeek worker, Smiling Tiger quickly made up the ground while also passing Breeders’ Cup Turf candidate Telling in the process. Despite being forced five-wide circling his unsolicited company into the stretch, Smiling Tiger was strong enough to hook up with and finish on even terms with Noble’s Promise under moderate encouragement despite giving the 3-year-old such a huge head start after posting splits of 23 and change and 45 and change along the way. California invader Smiling Tiger likely put an end to any question of whether he will handle dirt.
CLOCKER ARCHIVE: Find Mike Welsch's previous Breeders' Cup workout reports
Champagne d’Oro (Filly and Mare Sprint, four furlongs in 47.40): Worked during all the confusion following the break, completing her final three eighths in 35.48 with jockey Miguel Mena only shaking the reins at her a couple of times for encouragement down the lane. Galloped out strongly while making a very favorable appearance.
Life At Ten (Ladies' Classic, four furlongs in 48.21): Arguably the best of trainer Todd Pletcher’s contingent of Breeders’ Cup workers this morning, Life At Ten went in company with her Grade 3-winning stablemate Colizio. After appearing a bit rank coming to the pole, she settled in nicely for exercise rider Patti Kotrenko, who had her well in hand throughout what appeared to be nothing more than a maintenance move following a couple of previous works at Belmont Park earlier this month.
R Heat Lightning (Juvenile Fillies, four furlongs in 48.20): The first of the Pletcher’s horses to go, with Kotrenko also aboard, R Heat Lightning was very rank getting to the pole, tossing her head numerous times while obviously on the muscle and ready to go better than three furlongs before ultimately breaking away at the half-mile pole. She did come to hand well once under way, posting an opening quarter in 24.14 and a final quarter in a nearly identical 24.06. R Heat Lightning gallops with her head cocked to the outside, just like Life At Ten, but held her head much straighter while breezing. Must question whether her eagerness will play against her when she makes her two-turn debut in the Breeders’ Cup.
Malibu Prayer (Ladies' Classic, four furlongs in 49.00, according to track clockers): Only caught the tail end of this one, but she appeared to be well in hand coming to the wire and during a gallop out of 1:02.60.
First Dude (Classic, five furlongs in 1:01.18): The first of trainer Dale Romans’s two Classic contenders to work Saturday, along with Paddy O’ Prado. Going in blinkers with exercise rider Tammy Fox aboard, First Dude took a fairly long run up to the five-furlong pole, beginning with an opening quarter in 23.90 before continuing on well while moving easily and effortlessly for such a massive individual. Galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.06, double galloped out seven-eighths in 1:29.39.
Paddy O’Prado (Classic, five furlongs in 1:00.88): Pretty much a carbon copy of First Dude’s work about 90 minutes later with Fox also aboard. Paddy O’Prado stretches out nicely and continues to give the impression he loves the local strip, but Saturday’s move was not quite as sharp as his final drill over a wet track here prior to the Kentucky Derby. He stretched out nicely down the lane and while galloping out into the turn, pulling up six furlongs in 1:14.06 and seven furlongs in a good 1:28.38.
Switch (Filly and Mare Sprint, five furlongs in 1:01.20): A disappointing work for one of the favorites in the Filly and Mare Sprint, perhaps significant since her only previous race over dirt resulted in a disappointing effort this past spring at Gulfstream Park. Switch began quickly but fell apart through the stretch, completing her final three furlongs in a slow 38.60 while drifting out coming the wire. Continued to shut down during her gallop out, taking another 15 and change to get around to the seven-furlong pole.
Seeking the Title (Ladies’ Classic, four furlongs in 50.22): Seeking the Title wasn’t allowed to do much in an easy maintenance work with jockey Calvin Borel aboard, cruising through an opening quarter in 25.27 and while never asked down the stretch and beyond the wire. Galloped out five-eighths in 1:03.82.
Tell a Kelly (Juvenile Fillies, six furlongs in 1:15.59): Loved a couple of her gallops earlier in the week, but not this work, in which Tell A Kelly tired noticeably under pressure through a final quarter in 26 while appearing to try to get out some turning for home and through early stretch. Galloped out a slow seven furlongs in 1:30.39.
Hurricane Ike (Dirt Mile, six furlongs in 1:12.71): Was easily the most impressive of trainer John Sadler’s Breeders’ Cup workers Saturday morning, hugging the rail throughout while put under only mild urging through the final furlong. The lone caveat is the fact he did seem to pull up abruptly, galloping out in 1:27.21 before coming to a stop before barely completing another eighth of a mile ,which is uncharacteristic for any worker with Borel aboard.
Prince Will I Am (Marathon, four furlongs in 49.40, according to track clockers): He was in hand under trainer Michelle Nihei in an easy maintenance work.
A U Minor (Marathon, four furlongs in 48.49): Flashed a little more speed than one might have expected for a horse racing in the Marathon but did bear out about five-wide leaving the turn while under some urging to finish.
Atta Boy Roy (Sprint, four furlongs in 48.07): He went easily under Borel but appeared to shut down a bit nearing the wire and through disappointing gallop out of 1:02.79.
More Than Real (Juvenile Fillies Turf, four furlongs in 50.39 on turf): Went in company with male stablemate Pluck (Juvenile Turf, four furlongs in 50.59) and she maintained a narrow advantage through the stretch. More Than Real showed a bit of spunk and got a little schooling to boot when forced to take out from behind Arch Support nearing midstretch, pushing Pluck out of the way in the process to secure running room between horses while finishing up in hand. The most impressive of the morning’s grass workers.
Due Date (Turf Sprint, half-mile in 49.39 on turf): Finished fairly well, shading 24.00 for his final quarter-mile, despite changing leads and briefly taking a bit of an erratic path near midstretch.
Arch Support (Juvenile Fillies Turf, six furlongs in 1:18.59 on turf): Cruised a slow opening half in 54 and a piece, then did fend off the two Pletcher juveniles through the final furlong albeit under more encouragement.
At Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., the clockers also were “run-over busy” Saturday morning, according to head clocker Billy Pettingill, when 11 BC candidates posted breezes.
Foremost among the workers were the Ken McPeek foursome of Rogue Romance (BC Juvenile or Juvenile Turf) and Harlan’s Ruby (BC Juvenile Fillies), who worked five furlongs in tandem in 59 seconds over the Polytrack, and team workers Kathmanblu (BC Juv. Fillies Turf) and Bridgetown (BC Turf Sprint), who went five furlongs together in 1:00.80 with the dogs up on a firm turf.
Bridgetown (outside) and Kathmanblu
McPeek, who won the training title for the second straight fall at Keeneland, said he was “very happy” with all the works.
Other Keeneland works Saturday: Silver Timber (BC Turf Sprint) went a half-mile in 48 seconds on the Polytrack; Hot Cha Cha (BC Filly-Mare Turf) breezed a half-mile in 50.60 on the turf; and Mad Flatter (BC Dirt Mile) went a swift half-mile in 46.40 over Polytrack.
– additional reporting by Marty McGee