11/04/2010 11:14AM

Workforce gallops, breezes but is still not definite for Turf


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – It was a busy Thursday morning for Breeders’ Cup Turf favorite Workforce, who galloped and had a short breeze on the Churchill turf course. But the condition of that turf course still troubles Workforce’s connections, and Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms, said after training hours that Workforce’s participation in the Turf remained in doubt.

“It’s still a possibility,” Grimthorpe said when asked if Workforce still could be scratched because of what his connections consider to be hard ground.

Workforce’s people, and some of the other Europeans, have been lobbying Churchill to more heavily water the turf in order to soften it. Grimthorpe said that trainer Michael Stoute would be conferring with track officials Thursday morning.

“We want to see what they’re going to do with the turf,” Grimthorpe said. “I’ll speak to the prince [Abdullah] tonight. We’ll decide as late as we can.”

The local weather forecast calls for a 20-percent chance of isolated showers Thursday, and a 30-percent chance of rain or snow Thursday night through Friday night.

Grimthorpe used the same word, “jarring,” as Henry Cecil, the trainer of Filly and Mar Turf favorite Midday, to describe the local grass condition, but others believe the turf is not all that hard.

“When I walked the turf last night it was good to firm,” said trainer John Gosden, who has horses for three turf races this weekend. “There’s not a lot of jar to it.”

Gosden is based in England now, but spent years working in the U.S. and knows the Churchill grass inside and out. Gosden emphasized that the course here is sand-based and designed to drain quickly in heavy rain. Water quickly passes through the turf’s surface, and heavily irrigating the course, Gosden said, would be “counter-productive” and could make the top layer of grass loose and tricky.

“It will always ride good-to-firm by our standards,” said Gosden.

Workforce himself has not spoken out on the course condition, and his jockey, Ryan Moore, was hardly more communicative after coming off the track Thursday. Asked if Workforce had been comfortable on the grass, Moore asked rhetorically, “Did he look comfortable?”

“He feels fine. He’s in good shape, and he went well,” Moore added.

Workforce and several other horses had to wait at the gap between the main track and the turf course for at least 10 minutes while waiting for traffic on the grass oval to diminish. Moore actually exercised Mile starter Paco Boy while an exercise rider galloped Workforce, but the rider then dismounted and Moore climbed aboard as Workforce took another lap, running fast down the Churchill straightaway.

Grimthorpe also said that another issue, whether Workforce will return to race again in 2011, hadn’t yet been decided, either.

“What happens here might be a catalyst one way or another,” said Grimthorpe.