11/03/2010 4:01PM

Workforce's status in Breeders' Cup Turf up in the air

Barbara D. Livingston
Workforce, winner of this year's Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, is not certain to run in the Breeders' Cup Turf. His connections said they were not happy with the hardness of the turf.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – After walking around the Churchill Downs turf course Wednesday, prodding the ground with a cane-like probe to determine just how firm the going was here in Louisville, trainer Michael Stoute and Juddmonte Farms racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe reached a decision on Workforce’s status for the Breeders’ Cup Turf: They decided not to decide.

“We’re going to monitor each day,” was how Stoute put things.

The connections of Workforce, winner of the Epsom Derby and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe this year, were aware of the unusually dry conditions in Kentucky before they shipped Workforce from England on Saturday. But by Monday, Stuart Messenger, Stoute’s assistant who had traveled with the horse, expressed disappointment with the turf’s hardness. Wednesday marked Stoute’s first morning in Louisville, and he wasted little time in getting familiar with the going.

“The turf is in wonderful shape, and there’s some cut in it,” said Stoute, who was joined on his walk around the oval by jockey Ryan Moore. “It’s a bit firm. They need to keep watering. It doesn’t look like there’s going to be rain.”

Workforce won the Epsom Derby over turf rated good-to-firm, but the going here apparently is much firmer. While the grass on the course is a lush green and thick, the ground beneath it has little give, at least to the weight of a human.”

“It’s got great covering. It’s just really firm,” said Tom Queally, the jockey of Filly and Mare Turf favorite Midday. Queally said the turf at Churchill Downs is firmer than the turf was at Santa Anita last year.

Churchill track superintendent Butch Lehr said he has no plans to change the turf course watering regimen in response to European complaint, and the course will continue to receive 10 minutes of watering at night.

“We’re not going to over-irrigate,” Lehr said. “This course is not overly firm.”

Workforce was one of only two Europeans to exercise on turf Wednesday morning, with the rest of the overseas invaders going out on the main track. Goldikova, the Mile favorite, will train on dirt the rest of the week, as will Filly and Mare Turf favorite Midday.
– Marcus Hersh