Melatonin winning the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (gr. I) – © Benoit Photo
With the Breeders’ Cup less than two weeks ago, the action is beginning to heat up at Santa Anita, where Breeders’ Cup contenders are busy turning in pre-race workouts as they prepare for the championship races. Thanks to XBTV.com, which has been posting videos of the workouts at Santa Anita (click here to watch them), racing fans and handicappers can watch the Breeders’ Cup contenders in action and form opinions on how they are training as the Breeders’ Cup approaches!
After analyzing the workouts from October 22nd, here are my thoughts on a few prominent Breeders’ Cup contenders, including the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) contenders Hoppertunity and Melatonin…
Daddys Lil Darling: This two-year-old filly turned in a fast half-mile workout, getting the distance in :47 2/5, which ranked as the third-fastest of 53 morning works at the distance. Visually, she looked focused and determined in her exercise, and her ears were back as she bounded aggressively down the homestretch while under slight urging from her wire. She continued past the wire through another quarter in about :28 3/5 for a six-furlong time of 1:16 flat while easing up and relaxing after the main body of the workout was complete. Coming off a runner-up effort in the Darley Alcibiades Stakes (gr. I) and a win in the Pocahontas Stakes (gr. II), she could be among the favorites in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Finest City: She went early in the morning and could not have gone much easier, simply cruising five furlongs in 1:05.20 with her ears up while under no urging at all. Just as in her races, she was equipped with a shadow roll.
Gormley: The unbeaten FrontRunner Stakes (gr. I) winner worked six furlongs in 1:14.00, and while the time wasn’t particularly remarkable, he looked great doing it. He started the work by himself, running easily with his ears pricked, and didn’t seem to mind when workmate Oregon (a three-year-old maiden trained by Shirreffs) quickly rallied inside of Gormley to take a 1 1/2-length lead. Rounding the turn, with the slightest encouragement from his rider, Gormley appeared to focus on Oregon and quickly reeled him in to reach even terms at the top of the stretch, where he switched leads on cue and left Oregon behind. Once clear by a length or so, Gormley’s ears pricked once again and he cruised across the wire two lengths in front while continuing nicely past the wire.
By my watch, Gormley ran the opening quarter in :24 4/5, three furlongs in :36 4/5, and the final three furlongs in :37 1/5 before galloping-out another quarter-mile in about :28 3/5 for a mile in 1:42 3/5. Over a track that was playing on the slow side–the bullet time for six furlongs was a modest 1:12.20–Gormley’s workout caught my eye as an excellent breeze from a very promising colt.
Hoppertunity: This amazingly consistent Bob Baffert runner has never had a reputation as a good workhorse, but he turned in a solid workout on Saturday. Working a half-mile in company with stablemate Viva Vegas, a two-year-old maiden, Hoppertunity started off about two lengths behind and had to be encouraged by his rider to close the gap, even resorting to waving the whip at Hoppertunity to try and keep him focused.
Hoppertunity eventually fell about a neck short of catching Viva Vegas while clocking a time of :47 4/5 (the 8th-fastest of 53 works at that distance), but he was also running with his ears pricked through the homestretch and appeared to be well within himself and not particularly concerned with catching his workmate. The pair then galloped-out another furlong in around :13 seconds, with Hoppertunity continuing to lope along running easily.
Living the Life: This accomplished mare turned in an easy five-furlong workout in preparation for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, going five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 with her ears up while her rider offered little encouragement. Her time, although modest at first glance was the 10th-fastest of 56 morning works at that distance, with the bullet time being 1:00 flat.
Melatonin: He’ll enter the Breeders’ Cup Classic off a long layoff, as he hasn’t run since winning the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (gr. I) back in June, but no other horse can boast his record of two grade I wins going ten furlongs at Santa Anita, and he’s training as though he could be a live longshot in the Classic. He went a mile at a decent pace on Saturday, getting the distance in 1:41.20 while running the final quarter under slight encouragement in about :25 flat. Switched leads at the top of the stretch and drifted inward while doing so, but straightened out for the run down the homestretch and had his ears straight up while seeming to finish easily. Despite his rider standing up in the stirrups shortly after the wire, Melatonin galloped out with interest and looked like he had something left in the tank.
Point Piper: The Longacres Mile (gr. III) winner worked five furlongs in company with a stablemate and started about four lengths behind, but quickly found extra company in the form of a gray horse (after studying the work tab, I believe it was Louden’s Gray) that was just breaking off for a half-mile workout. Point Piper found himself racing in third place of the trio, but moved up decisively around the turn to reach even terms while racing on the outside, about five paths off the rail. In the homestretch, Point Piper went clear of his workmate while under little urging from his rider, but just barely got his head across the wire in front of Louden’s Gray, who was under a hard hold from his rider. Point Piper’s time was 1:01.80, which ranked as the 23rd-fastest workout of the morning.
Twentytwentyvision: He’ll be a longshot in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, but looked solid breezing six furlongs in 1:16.40 over the main track. Like Finest City, he was out early in the morning and worked by himself until catching up with another horse, which he easily passed on the outside while cruising along under no urging, with his ears flopping around as a sign that he was well within himself.
With Honors: The Chandelier Stakes (gr. I) runner-up hit the six-furlong pole running fast and with her ears pinned back. Trailing her workmate Majestic Quality (a two-year-old maiden) by about six lengths, With Honors went fast through the opening quarter (approximately :23 1/5) and caught her rival at the top of the stretch, then raced on even terms with her for the rest of the work while slowing down slightly and continuing to run with her ears back.
With Honors’ final time was a bullet 1:12 1/5, substantially quicker than the time of 1:13 2/5 awarded to Majestic Quality. However, after the wire, With Honors slowed down quickly and drifted out a bit entering the turn while Majestic Quality pulled well clear.
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