Breeders’ Cup Photo ©
On Saturday morning, one week before the Breeders’ Cup, racetracks across the country couldn’t have been busier as dozens of Breeders’ Cup contenders turned in their final pre-race workouts. Most of the action was focused at Santa Anita, where the Breeders’ Cup will be held, but there were also major workouts at Belmont Park and Keeneland. I’ll be posting three separate articles recapping the workouts from these tracks, and we’ll start the ball rolling with Santa Anita. Enjoy!
Accelerate: Turned in a solid six-furlong workout in company as he prepares for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, starting a bit more than a length behind his rival before moving up through fractions of :12 2/5, :24 4/5, :36 4/5, and :48 4/5 (which includes a solid second quarter-mile in :24 flat.) He had to be urged just a bit in the homestretch to pass his workmate (who was under more urging), but Accelerate did have his ears back and appeared to be putting some effort into his exercise. His official final time was 1:13 1/5; I had him slightly slower at 1:13 3/5.
Champagne Room: Was eager to get turned loose, tossing her head when another worker shot past her while she jogged to her starting point, then began quickly and soon found herself on the heels of Hoppertunity and his workmate, who were working a half-mile. Another horse (possibly a target for Champagne Room?) was also in the mix, and Champagne Room found herself running four-wide around the turn while trying to catch Hoppertunity. With her ears back and her rider urging her a bit, Champagne Room did well to finish about 2 1/2 or three lengths behind Hoppertunity while clocking five furlongs in a solid 1:00.20. The only question is whether she did too much hooking up with such an accomplished older horse, but off this exercise, she might be worth a look as a live longshot in the Juvenile Fillies.
Corona Del Inca: Breeders’ Cup Distaff longshot was very eager to get going, tossing her head and jumping slightly while slowly galloping to the starting point of her workout. When finally allowed to run, she flew through an opening quarter in :22.80 on my match while breezing in company, then finished a half-mile in :47 1/5 (official time of :47.80) while edging clear of her workmate under very little urging at all.
Daddys Lil Darling: Went a very easy half-mile in :51.20 with her head low and her ears flopping around, clearly wanting to do more. Coming after a rapid :47.40 breeze on October 22nd, this looked like a simple maintenance work designed to keep Daddys Lil Darling in good shape during the final week before the Breeders’ Cup.
Gloryzapper: Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint contender worked five furlongs in 1:01.20, getting the first three furlongs in :36.20 per my watch. Carried her head to the right in the homestretch and didn’t seem very focused, with her ears up and moving back and forth, but she also wasn’t asked for much run and finished easily with a solid gallop-out.
Gormley: He worked six furlongs in 1:16.20, but don’t let his slow time fool you — Gormley looked terrific today. Starting off two lengths behind a stablemate, Gormley was completely relaxed, but with his ears forward alertly as he kept an eye on his stablemate. When asked by his rider to close some ground, Gormley pinned his ears back and eagerly went past his workmate, throwing his ears forward again as soon as he was in front. From there, Gormley galloped down the homestretch in completely relaxed fashion, keeping his ears up through the finish and around the turn as he galloped-out nicely. Gormley’s body language was great during this exercise and gives me confidence that he can rate off the lead in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and still be successful.
Happy Mesa: Couldn’t have worked much easier, going five furlongs in 1:03 flat. Started four or five lengths behind another worker and closed ground to reach nearly even terms at the top of the stretch, then appeared to be going a little easier than her rival through a modest final quarter-mile in :25.20 with her ears up. Happy Mesa was eased up fairly quickly on the gallop-out, but given the overall ease of the workout, that wasn’t surprising.
Harbour Master: Two-time winner in England is an also-eligible in the Juvenile Turf, but looked good in an easy breeze on the main track this morning. His official time was :50.20, but I caught him going five furlongs in 1:03 1/5 with fractions of :13 1/5, :25 2/5, and :37 3/5. Even while posting a respectable :24 2/5 internal quarter-mile, he looked relaxed throughout with his ears up and his rider not asking him for much. For a turf horse working on dirt, he looked solid, even if it was an easy workout.
Hoppertunity: The Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) winner had one of the most interesting workouts of the morning, starting off at a good pace with a workmate before encountering additional company in the form of Champagne Room (see above) and her workmate. Hoppertunity wound up going inside as the four horses turned for home on even terms, but while the outside three had their ears pinned back, Hoppertunity’s were up as he cruised through the homestretch under light urging from his rider. Hoppertunity hit the wire a half-length in front of his workmate (with Champagne Room farther back) while clocking five furlongs in a rapid :59 4/5, and I caught him going another quarter-mile (under more vigorous urging, but with his ears still up) in about :26 flat. Overall, Hoppertunity looked a bit sharper today than he did last week, and my impression is that he’s coming up to the Classic in great form and could have a big chance to finish in the trifecta.
Masochistic: Remarkably fast sprinter completed his serious preparations for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint with an easy six-furlong workout from the starting gate, posting fractions of :12 4/5, :24 3/5, :36 1/5, and :47 4/5 on his way to a final time of 1:13 1/5. For a horse that usually works very, very fast, it was nice to see Masochistic relax nicely under jockey Mike Smith, and a week out from the Breeders’ Cup, this was a nice way to wrap up his preparations.
Mind Your Biscuits: He’s looked enthusiastic in the mornings and that continued today when he worked five furlongs in 1:02 flat under little urging. He had his ears back and looked focused charging down the homestretch, and coming on the heels of a :46.88 half-mile breeze on October 21st at Belmont, he’s looking more and more like a live longshot in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
Not This Time: After making a great impression in his gallops at Santa Anita, Not This Time looked excellent breezing five furlongs in 1:01.60, starting off with fractions of :13.60, :25.80, and :37.60 per my watch. He ran the final quarter in :24 flat while barely being urged at all and galloped-out another furlong at a decent speed. Given how strongly he finished in his maiden win and the Iroquois Stakes (gr. III), it wasn’t surprising to see him finish with such power in his workout.
Obviously: He worked five furlongs on the training track in quick 1:00.20, but for a horse as fast as Obviously, that was a very easy time. In fact, after starting off eagerly while tugging at his rider, Obviously relaxed in the second half of the work and seemed to be running with almost unbelievable ease, his ears pricked and flopping around as though going five furlongs in 1:00.20 was as easy as walking to his barn. He’s a veteran of four Breeders’ Cup Miles and will likely give the Turf Sprint a try this year; it’s been 3 1/2 years since he last ran on the downhill turf course, but he’s doing very well and looks primed for a big effort.
Runhappy: After a pair of one-mile workouts at Keeneland where he didn’t look quite as sharp as he did before his win in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Runhappy cut back in distance for a five-furlong workout this morning and looked much more like his old self, blazing five furlongs in :58.40 with his ears up (from what I could see) and his rider not asking him for much at all. Runhappy’s been a bit stubborn in the mornings, breaking off for exercise only when he’s ready, but his workout this morning looked like a major step in the right direction, and he seems to be rounding into form just in time for a big run in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Shaman Ghost: Woodward Stakes (gr. I) winner will be entering the Classic off a layoff, but posted a sharp workout while under some fairly vigorous urging in the homestretch — it appeared as though his jockey even used the whip once. Officially, he went four furlongs in :47 2/5, but I caught him starting a furlong earlier for five furlongs in 1:00 flat, with fractions of :12 2/5, :24 1/5, and :35 4/5.
Sweeping Paddy: Impressive Kentucky Downs maiden winner took off like a rocket at the start of a five-furlong work, posting fractions of :12 1/5, :23 1/5, and :34 2/5 with her ears up, but had to be urged a bit to finish and her ears went back at that point as she slowed down through a final quarter-mile in :25 3/5 for a final time of 1:00 flat per my watch (her official time was :59 2/5.)
Union Strike: Breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40 while coming wide in the homestretch to go around two other workers. She seemed to be going strongly at that point and looked poised to go past both of them, but one of the workers kicked clear from Union Strike in the homestretch (albeit while under more urging than Union Strike), and Union Strike appeared to pin her ears back as she was left behind. If true, it’s a good sign of her competitive nature!
Vyjack: Versatile miler had a routine five-furlong workout, going by himself through fractions of :12, :24 1/5, and :36 en route to a final time of 1:00 2/5 while his rider sat basically motionless. Overall, it was a solid final workout a week in advance of the Breeders’ Cup.
With Honors: Chandelier Stakes (gr. I) runner-up went early in the morning and did little more than gallop at a decent speed, going five furlongs in 1:05.80 with her ears flopping around and her rider sitting motionless.
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