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Rock Hard Ten works sharply
ARCADIA, Calif. - Already in the midst of a four-race winning streak over a span of nine months, Rock Hard Ten remains on course for the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Belmont Park on Oct. 29 after a flashy six-furlong workout on Wednesday at Santa Anita.
Rock Hard Ten worked in 1:12.80, leaving trainer Richard Mandella enthused about the 4-year-old's chances in the richest race in the United States later this month.
"Everything is going great so far," trainer Richard Mandella said.
The workout was Rock Hard Ten's first major exercise since a victory in the Grade 2 Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap here on Oct. 1. The Goodwood was Rock Hard Ten's first start since a victory in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap last March. Rock Hard Ten missed a summer campaign because of minor injuries.
Mandella said he has seen no such problems in recent weeks, saying that the Goodwood "had to move him forward, and I think he will improve. We want him to at least stay at the level he's at."
Mandella said that Rock Hard Ten will have a seven-furlong workout at Santa Anita next week and will be sent to Belmont Park on Oct. 23.
"I can give him a couple of eye-opening gallops back there," Mandella said.
Rock Hard Ten, 4, has won 7 of 11 starts and $1,870,380 for Mercedes Stable and Madeleine Pickens. All four races of the winning streak came at Santa Anita. The streak began in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes over seven furlongs last December and continued with the Grade 2 Strub Stakes over 1 1/8 miles in February.
Brecon Beacon a mystery horse
Saturday's $150,000 Oak Tree Derby is likely to have seven starters, including the first three finishers of the Del Mar Derby - Willow O Wisp, Tedo, and Osidy - and the European import Brecon Beacon, who was scheduled to clear quarantine on Thursday.
Recently purchased by Paul Reddam, Brecon Beacon will be turned over to trainer Doug O'Neill.
Racing in England, Brecon Beacon won 3 of 11 starts, but is winless in five starts this year. He was second in the 21-runner Britannia Handicap over a mile at the Royal Ascot at York meeting in June.
O'Neill said he does not know what to expect from Brecon Beacon in the Oak Tree Derby, considering that he has yet to have a chance to train the colt.
"I don't know a lot about him," O'Neill said. "I will give him an easy jog or gallop. Hopefully, he was race ready before he got on the plane."
A similar situation occurred with Tedo, who arrived a few days before the Del Mar Derby. In that Grade 2 race, Tedo rallied from sixth to finish a length behind Willow O Wisp.
Other probable starters in the Oak Tree Derby over 1 1/8 miles on turf are Eastern Sand, Follow the Rainbow, and Orbits World.
Designed for Luck iffy for Citation
Designed for Luck emerged from a runner-up finish in the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile last Saturday with a leg injury that required staples and stitches, trainer Vladimir Cerin said.
Cerin said that a rival struck Designed for Luck's hind leg going into the first turn, leaving cuts from the hock down to the foot on that leg. Despite the injury, Designed for Luck finished just 1 1/2 lengths behind Singletary.
"He ran even better than it looked," Cerin said.
Cerin said it was unclear whether the injury would affect Designed for Luck's ability to be ready for the Grade 1 Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park in late November. "We will know more in a couple of days," Cerin said.
Owned by David and Holly Wilson, Designed for Luck, 8, was making his second comeback from injury in the Oak Tree Mile. He missed 18 months because of a hock injury suffered in the spring of 2002. After a comeback that included a win in the 2003 Oak Tree Mile, Designed for Luck was sidelined in the summer of 2004 when he was found to have a small tear in his suspensory.
Said Cerin, "He wasn't named all that well."
Throat surgery for River's Prayer
River's Prayer, the beaten favorite in Monday's Cover Gal Stakes, was found to have displaced her palate during the running of the race and will undergo surgery to correct a breathing problem in coming days, trainer Paula Capestro said.
River's Prayer, who was third in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante in August, finished third in the Cover Gal, losing by 1 1/2 lengths to Malley Girl.
"She displaced quite badly," Capestro said. "It looks like she needs throat surgery."
Balky knee hampers Valdivia
Jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. is experiencing prolonged problems with a knee that required surgery after a spill at Del Mar on Sept. 4 and is uncertain when he will ride again, according to his agent, Brian Beach.
Beach said he's hopeful that Valdivia can return next week, possibly by Oct. 20.
Valdivia is undergoing physical therapy on his knee, which required surgery for cartilage damage. Valdivia also suffered a hairline fracture in a lower leg in the spill.
"He doesn't have full range of motion," Beach said. "The cartilage damage is not healed yet. He's just day-to-day."
Pedroza sits for three days
Jockey Martin Pedroza has received a three-day suspension for causing interference aboard Riley's Life, the winner of Monday's seventh race.
Pedroza was cited for altering course without clearance. In early stretch, Riley's Life collided with Dragon King, the pacesetter who was fading from contention when the two made contact.
The stewards conducted an inquiry into the incident but did not alter the order of finish.
Pedroza's suspension begins on Sunday and continues through Thursday.
Rhythm Mad goes to Mandella
Mandella has begun training Rhythm Mad, the winner of the 2004 Jim Murray Memorial Handicap. Previously trained by Bruce Headley, Rhythm Mad has not started since the 2004 Jim Murray, because of a tendon injury.
Rhythm Mad worked six furlongs in 1:15 on Wednesday and is likely to start by the end of the year.
Rhythm Mad is owned by Jess Jackson, who recently sued Headley and two other people, alleging that the values of horses purchased on his behalf were inflated and that secret commissions were paid in some transactions.