10/24/2015 1:43PM

Tonalist leads busy morning for Breeders' Cup workers

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Barbara D. Livingston
Tonalist, who won the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup for the second straight year Oct. 3, worked five furlongs Saturday.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Tonalist, the two-time Jockey Club Gold Cup winner, and 10 horses from trainer Chad Brown’s stable led a flurry of Breeders’ Cup workers Saturday morning at Belmont Park.

A total of 15 horses with designs on getting into a Breeders’ Cup race had published workouts on one of three surfaces at Belmont on a cool, partly sunny fall morning.

Tonalist, preparing for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, led off the morning, working five furlongs in 1:00.41 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:14.17 and pulling up seven-eighths in 1:29.36.

With jockey John Velazquez up, Tonalist started his move two lengths behind the New York-bred gelding Bluegrass Flash. He tracked Bluegrass Flash through an opening quarter of 24.19 seconds. Turning into the stretch, Velazquez put Tonalist right behind Bluegrass Flash to take some dirt.

At the three-sixteenths pole, Velazquez guided Tonalist outside of Bluegrass Flash, who was being hard held by his exercise rider. Tonalist, under some mild urging from Velazquez, gradually got to Bluegrass Flash, putting a neck in front at the wire for a half-mile time of 48.13 seconds. Tonalist maintained that minor advantage through a final eighth in 12.28 seconds as the official work ended a furlong past the wire.

“Nothing of great excitement, nothing speedy, but willing, steady, and he kept finishing all the way,” trainer Christophe Clement said.

:: BREEDERS’ CUP 2015: Pre-entered horses, odds, comments, and videos

For a long time, Clement has considered putting blinkers on Tonalist for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, for fear of Tonalist being too far back on a Keeneland surface that often is unkind to horses with that style. While Clement said he will talk with owner Ralph Evans about it, he said late Saturday morning, “Most probably, I think we should leave the blinkers off.”

Tonalist has not worn blinkers in his last three starts, including a victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Clement also worked Hard Not to Like, a two-time Grade 1 winner, on the turf. Hard Not to Like worked four furlongs in 48.57 seconds, starting three lengths behind workmate Ansible. Under Velazquez, Hard Not to Like came home in 22.41 seconds, though she switched back to her left lead late. She is being pointed to the Filly and Mare Turf.

“She settled, finished up well, very fast time for the last quarter-mile,” Clement said. “Johnny was happy.”

Ten of the 14 horses Brown pre-entered for the Breeders’ Cup put in works here Saturday.

Brown’s trio of horses for the Breeders’ Cup Turf – Big Blue Kitten, Slumber, and Shining Copper – all worked on the dirt. Big Blue Kitten and Slumber went a half-mile in 50.44 seconds together, with Slumber, on the inside, going slightly better of the pair. They came home in 24.54 seconds and galloped out five furlongs in 1:03.28.

“Those are two horses that have run all year, are very fit, just looking to keep them sound and happy, and that’s what we accomplished there,” Brown said. “Big Blue Kitten has always been an unimpressive work horse in the morning but shows up in the afternoon.”

Shining Copper, who will be used as a pacesetter for Big Blue Kitten as both are owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, worked a half-mile in 50 seconds.

Wavell Avenue, the runner-up in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom, continues to impress in the morning. She went a half-mile in 48.18 seconds, with a final quarter of 23.66, in preparation for the Filly and Mare Sprint.

“I thought she breezed great, finished great, more of the same from her,” Brown said. “She’s coming into the race very well.”

Brown used the turf course for the remainder of his Breeders’ Cup charges.

Stephanie’s Kitten and Dacita, both pointing to the Filly and Mare Turf, went five furlongs together in 1:04.34 after going off a slow first quarter of 28.19 seconds. The rails were up 27 feet, and a set of three orange cones, referred to as “dogs,” were on the course, forcing works far off the inside, rendering times less relevant.

Unlike last week, when Dacita was the stronger of the two, it was Stephanie’s Kitten who looked a touch better on Saturday.

“With Dacita, she can be a bit inconsistent mentally in her works,” Brown said. “In the early stage of the work, her mind was wandering a little bit, and I thought she focused well through the lane and galloped out well. She was a little sharper last week with her leads. This week, she got to wandering a little bit out there, but all in all, I was just looking for some maintenance from these two fillies, and I got it.”

Watsdachances, Brown’s other Filly and Mare Turf contender, worked five furlongs in 1:02.26 with Juvenile Fillies contender Last Waltz, with a final quarter of 23.25. This was a solid move for both horses, especially Last Waltz, who was only having her second work since coming to Brown this month.

“They were both moving great,” Brown said.

Speaking of Last Waltz, Brown added, “She has a beautiful action. This week’s work was better than last week’s, and last week’s was good. She continues to improve. Do I wish I had her longer? Absolutely, I wish I had this filly here longer, but from her two works and her couple of weeks of galloping, I’ve been impressed, and she’s improving by the day.”

Ray’s The Bar and Llanita went five furlongs in 1:03.65, going the last half in 50.21 seconds. Ray’s The Bar will get into the Juvenile Turf, while Llanita will need help to make it into the Juvenile Fillies Turf. If she doesn’t get in, Llanita will run in the $100,000 Chelsey Flower at Belmont next Saturday.

Brown noted that Pricedtoperfection, who won a maiden race last weekend, remains on schedule for the Juvenile Fillies Turf. Catapult, a maiden winner last weekend, is too far deep on the preference list to make it into the Juvenile field and will not ship to Kentucky, Brown said.

Artemis Agrotera had her saddle slip in a five-furlong work that went in 1:01.57 over the Belmont training track Saturday as she prepares for the Filly and Mare Sprint.

A little more than an eighth of a mile into the work, Artemis Agrotera caught sight of a Gary Contessa-trained horse in front of her and wanted to catch her. Artemis Agrotera was pulling hard on exercise rider Simon Harris, who took the filly a few paths outside in the stretch. She got her final quarter in 24.39 seconds.

Artemis Agrotera stayed on her left lead down the lane and did not gallop out, though trainer Mike Hushion said he did not want her to gallop out.

“He said she was pulling him so much to get to that horse [that] she pulled the saddle forward,” Hushion said. “That’s why he had to sit like he did the last part of it. I wish the saddle didn’t slip, probably would have gone two- or three-fifths faster, but I don’t think that’s going to be the difference in how she runs.”

In other works on turf:

• Recepta worked five furlongs in 1:03.93, finishing well after slow early fractions. Trainer Jimmy Toner is hoping she can break into the field for the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

• Time and Motion went five furlongs in 1:01.17, with a final quarter of 23.47 seconds, and Toner is hoping she can get into the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Toner said he won’t fly the two as scheduled Monday but instead will van them to Kentucky on Tuesday should they get into their respective races.