Keen Ice, Curalina Headline Pletcher Workouts at Belmont

Keen Ice, Curalina Headline Pletcher Workouts at Belmont

Photo by Coglianese Photos/Courtney Heeney

NYRA Press Release: Donegal Racing’s Keen Ice is under serious consideration for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 5 at Santa Anita, said trainer Todd Pletcher following a six-furlong breeze over the training track Sunday morning at Belmont Park.

Keen Ice was ridden in the breeze by Javier Castellano, who was aboard the son of Curlin in his allowance comeback race earlier this month as well as his victory over American Pharaoh in the 2015 Travers. The pair worked three-quarters in 1:13.03, finishing on even terms with workmate Tommy Macho.

Pletcher caught Keen Ice galloping out seven-eighths in 1:26 and a mile in 1:39 4/5.

“I thought it was good. It seemed like the further he went the stronger he got,” said Pletcher. “Javier had to reach up and really pull him up at the end. I think we got what we were hoping to get out of it.”

It was the second work for the 4-year-old colt since he finished third in an allowance optional claiming race on October 7, his first start in more than six months following his eighth-place finish in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup in March.

Pletcher indicated that as long as the colt emerges from the work in good order, he will talk with Jerry Crawford of Donegal Racing and will likely pre-enter Keen Ice into the Classic on Monday.

“My impression, talking to Jerry, is that everyone is on board to pre-enter and take a look at it,” he said. “The real key for him is that he’s proven that he wants a mile and a quarter and what he needs is a legitimate pace in front of him and it certainly looks like this race could offer that. Obviously, it’s a very difficult race to win but the pace scenario and distance could suit him.”

The jockey assignment will still need to be decided, Pletcher noted, as Castellano could already have a Classic mount aboard Grade 1 Woodward victor Shaman Ghost.

Earlier in the morning, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Curalina wrapped up her serious preparations for the Breeders’ Cup, turning in a half-mile bullet work on the training track in company with 2016 Grade 2 Fountain of Youth runner-up Zulu.

The 4-year-old Curlin filly, who has been training up to the Breeders’ Cup since her runner-up finish in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign on August 27, breezed four furlongs in 59.59 seconds, the fastest of 15 at the distance.

“She’s always been a good workhorse,” said Pletcher. “A lot of times, we don’t work her in company because she does things pretty willingly on her own, but for today’s work we wanted to make sure we got a good, solid work. This is her most significant breeze leading into it and we wanted to make sure she got a good one and she certainly did.”

Curalina galloped out six furlongs in 1:12 3/5 and seven furlongs in 1:27, according to Pletcher’s watch, finally pulling up after a mile in 1:44 and change. Third in last year’s Distaff, Curalina will be pre-entered in the $2 million Distaff at 1 1/8 miles as well as the seven-furlong, $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint

“It gave me confidence that she’s in excellent form,” Pletcher said, “and it puts her in a position that we can feel comfortable that she’s ready to go a mile and an eighth off a little bit of freshening and sharp enough that, if we decide to go seven-eighths, she could do that as well.”

Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile hopeful Syndergaard made his first appearance on the work tab since finishing a close second to Practical Joke in the Grade 1 Champagne on October 8.

A New York-bred son of Majesticperfection, Syndergaard breezed five furlongs with John Velazquez aboard in company with 2-year-old maiden Kahramani, covering the distance over the training track in 1:00.80. As for pre-entries into the Juvenile, Syndergaard will be joined by Grade 3 Futurity winner Theory, said Pletcher.

Rounding out Pletcher’s Breeders’ Cup workers on Sunday morning were Grade 1 Spinaway dead-heat winner Sweet Loretta ($2 million Breeders’ Cup 14 Hands Winery Juvenile Fillies), who breezed five furlongs in 1:01.20 in her first local work since arriving from Saratoga last week; Made You Look and J. S. Choice ($1 million Juvenile Turf), who worked four furlongs in company on the dirt in 50.22; and Grade 1 First Lady heroine Photo Call, who will be pre-entered in both the Breeders’ Cup Mile and Filly & Mare Turf, worked a half-mile in 49.23.

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Follow J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman"):

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin's quest to become North America's richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the blog Unlocking Winners.

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