$1 MILLION LAS VEGAS BREEDERS’ CUP DIRT MILE
Dortmund – Dortmund stood in the gate before galloping one mile under exercise rider Dana Barnes.
Gun Runner – Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm’s Gun Runner made a solid impression Wednesday morning, leaving Barn 59 at approximately 7 a.m. before standing in the gate and galloping a mile with assistant trainer Scott Blasi looking on from horseback. Trained by Steve Asmussen, the son of Candy Ride hails from a barn and Winchell ownership that has won (Tapizar, 2012) and finished second (Tapiture, 2014) in two of the past three Dirt Miles held at Santa Anita.
“He’s doing well,” Blasi said. “I think the race will set up well for him.”
Gun Runner breaks from the outside post nine under regular Florent Geroux and is the fifth-leading earner in North America so far in 2016.
Runhappy – James McIngvale’s reigning Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Runhappy jogged twice around the main track at 5:30 Wednesday morning with exercise rider Marcus O’Donnell up for trainer Laura Wohlers.
Runhappy also had a paddock schooling session later in the morning as he continued preparations for Friday’s Las Vegas Dirt Mile, his first race around two turns in more than 21 months.
Gary Stevens will be aboard Runhappy on Friday. The first time the Hall of Famer was on Runhappy was when he won the 7f Malibu (G1) by 3 ½ lengths as the 1-2 favorite last Dec. 26.
“The first thing I told them (after the race) was that he’ll run long,” Stevens said. “I knew after the first eighth of a mile. He has such an efficient stride and a joy to ride. He’s got a lot of class.”
Wohlers is uncertain how Friday’s race will play out.
“When the gates open, it is up to the jockeys,” Wohlers said. “Gary knows him and if he gets him relaxed and in stride without forcing him, we will be fine.”
Tamarkuz – Godolphin Stable’s 6yo Speightstown horse galloped 1 1/2m under exercise rider Rob Massey Wednesday morning at Santa Anita. Tamarkuz and Kiaran McLaughlin’s two other Breeders’ Cup horses, Frosted and Senterio Italia, are scheduled to visit the gate later this week. Winless in six straight races since a victory in the Godolphin Mile in March 2015, Tamarkuz has finished second in this last two outings, the 7f Forego at Saratoga and the 1m Kelso at Belmont Park under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who will be up for the Dirt Mile.
Tom’s Ready – G M B Racing’s Dallas Stewart-trained 3yo Tom’s Ready left Barn 59 at 7 a.m. Wednesday and again had a spirited gallop under the watchful eye of his conditioner. A winner of the 1m Ack Ack Handicap last out at Churchill Downs, the son of More Than Ready is 12-1 on the morning-line and will break from post two under Joel Rosario in the nine-horse field.
“He’ll be in the back early, so the post position could be beneficial,” Stewart said. “He will just have to fight it out from there. He needs to be at a good spot at the top of the stretch and roll on. Rosario has ridden here a lot and knows the track, so I hope he has a great day that day and gets along with Tom’s Ready. He’s 1-for-1 on him and I trust him and know he can get the job done.”
Stewart already looks forward to next year with the improving Pennsylvania-bred. First or second in seven of 13 starts, he has earned $640,267 and won or placed in five stakes. His most impressive victory was a last-to-first win in the Woody Stephens on Belmont Stakes Day under Rosario.
“My goal would be to aim him toward the Met Mile next year,” Stewart said. “He likes Belmont and ran really well there, so that makes sense.”
Vyjack – Pick Six Racing’s Vyjack stood in the gate before galloping a mile under exercise rider Jose Dominguez for trainer Phil D’Amato.
$1 MILLION BREEDERS’ CUP FILLY & MARE SPRINT
Carina Mia – Three Chimneys Farm’s Carina Mia continues to train forwardly for conditioner Bill Mott in the mornings at Santa Anita. The morning-line 7-2 second choice in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint will take on her elders in Grade I, seven-furlong company for the second time in her career after finishing third as the favorite two back in the Ballerina at Saratoga. Julien Leparoux, who has been aboard for all four of her victories, rides from the eight hole in the field of 13.
“She looked good training today and has every day here (at Santa Anita),” Mott said. “She’s doing well.”
After a juvenile season last year in which the daughter of Malibu Moon won the Golden Rod at Churchill Downs at 1 1/16m, she kicked off her sophomore season at the same distance when setting the pace and fading to fourth in the Ashland at Keeneland. Naturally still a Kentucky Oaks candidate, her connections opted to run her in the Eight Belles at seven furlongs on the same card instead. She responded with a six-length drubbing of her opponents, prompting some to think she would have been very tough to beat in the Oaks going 1 1/8m.
“The way she ran, she would have been competitive,” Mott said. “You never say she would have won, because that’s all speculation. I guess in the end it worked out only because we were able to win the Acorn.”
The Acorn, like the Kentucky Oaks, is a Grade I event and winning it decisively came at the expense of Kentucky Oaks champ Cathryn Sophia. Since then, Carina Mia has beaten all but divisional leader Songbird when trying two turns, including a second last out in the Cotillion at Parx, where she was again well clear of Cathryn Sophia. She will now cut back to the same trip as the Ballerina and Eight Belles.
“I haven’t looked at the race on paper, but she seems like she’s a stalker type and been very effective that way,” Mott said. “I imagine there’s a fair amount of speed in there. What we think we should do and what happens when the gate opens are two different things.”
Gloryzapper – Gloryzapper, the 4yo daughter of 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Ghostzapper, stood in the gate Wednesday morning before galloping 1m under exercise rider Norberto Olguin for trainer Phil D’Amato.
Haveyougoneaway – Trainer Tom Morley liked what he saw when Haveyougoneaway galloped on the main track at Santa Anita Wednesday morning. Owned by Gary Barber and Sequel Racing, Haveyougoneaway has won three in a row, including the Ballerina, a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race at Saratoga, and is the 3-1 morning-line favorite in the Filly & Mare Sprint. The 5yo New York-bred daughter of Congrats shipped from New York on Sunday and Morley said she has handled the trip across the country well.
“She shipped out here absolutely no problem,” Morley said. “She’s done a lot of shipping in her life, but I don’t think she has ever flown, so I was a little bit nervous about that. Julio Garcia, her groom flew with her and said she was absolutely perfect. I thought she was just a tiny bit dry in her coat (Tuesday) when we got here and I pulled her blanket off. I couldn’t believe the difference in 24 hours this morning. She looks exactly like she did when she left Belmont Park. The weight has gone back on from the flight and she trained like an absolute beast this morning.”
Haveyougone away galloped 1 1/2m under exercise rider Orlando Tapia.
“It’s always a good sign when you see her flicking her leads,” Morley said. “Initially when I got her I was a little bit concerned about that, but actually, that’s her saying, ‘I’m ready.’ I saw her doing that this morning on the track and her rider came back blowing harder than she was. It’s all systems go.”
Wavell Avenue/Irish Jasper – Trainer Chad Brown’s runners were sent out to gallop approximately 1 3/8m Wednesday morning at Santa Anita Park. Brown said his entire crew of 12 Breeders’ Cup runners was settled in and fine.
Last year at Keeneland, Wavell Avenue turned in a big performance, rolling from off the pace at odds of 10-1 to beat La Verdad by 1 3/4 lengths. It was her first and still only graded stakes victory and
provided Brown with his first Breeders’ Cup victory on dirt. This year, she is 1-1-2 in six starts, a record Brown described as disappointing. However, he said her training has improved since finishing third in the Gallant Bloom on Oct. 1 at Belmont Park.
“I love the way she is moving,” Brown said. “She is a picture of health physically and I’m hoping that she does what she did last year, and that’s get good at the right time. She might just be a fall horse. I’ve had several horses run through my hands that are that way, they’re seasonal. This horse is, hopefully, one of them.”
Irish Jasper, owned by William Farish and David Mackie, sold for $12,000 as a yearling and has earned $550,000. She was away from the races from mid-October 2015 to early July with physical issues. She enters the Breeders’ Cup on a two-race win streak that has pushed her record to eight wins in 15 career starts. In her last race she won the Thoroughbred Club of America at Keeneland, a key prep for the Filly & Mare Sprint.
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. replaces Julien Leparoux, who will ride Carina Mia in the Breeders’ Cup.
$2 MILLION SENTIENT JET BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENIILE
Classic Empire – John C. Oxley’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile contender Classic Empire left Barn 59 at 6:30 a.m. in tandem with Juvenile Fillies entrant Valadorna for trainer Mark Casse and proceeded to gallop 1m on the Santa Anita main track.
Gormley – The Malibu Moon colt, upset winner over Klimt and Straight Fire in the Grade I FrontRunner in only his second career start, galloped 1 1/2m on the main track under exercise rider Juan Gonzalez for the Zenyatta connections – trainer John Shirreffs and owners Jerry and Ann Moss.
Klimt – Klimt jogged a mile, returning to the track for the first time following a Monday work.
Practical Joke – Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence’s Into Mischief colt arrives at the Breeders’ Cup with a perfect record after three races and is the only runner in the field with two Grade 1 victories. He won the Hopeful at Saratoga by a neck and the Champagne at Belmont Park
by a nose.
“He has a lot of heart and a lot of guts,” trainer Chad Brown said. Brown said that the early success of Practical Joke, who galloped 1 3/8m Wednesday at Santa Anita, was not a surprise, but it has been satisfying.
“We always thought he was a top prospect when he came to the barn,” Brown said. “But you’re always impressed and relieved when it happens because so many of them come in as highly regarded and really have all the makings of a top prospects potentially and so very few of them actually develop to it. With him, it’s extremely rewarding that he has done it.”
Syndergaard/Theory – Eric Fein and partners Syndergaard got acquainted with the Santa Anita racing surface Wednesday morning during a 1 1/4m gallop.
The son of Majesticperfection, who launched his career with two easy wins against New York-bred juveniles, fell a nose short of winning the Champagne at Belmont Park Oct. 8 after setting a pressured and blistering pace. Trainer Todd Pletcher has been happy with how Syndergaard has responded since the hard-fought loss to Practical Joke.
“What I liked about it is that it seemed to move him forward. He didn’t seem stressed by the race in any way. His appetite and energy level were back immediately and he’s come back with two very good breezes since that,” Pletcher said. “I think sometimes with a horse with a lot of natural talent like he has and how easily he won his first two races that maybe that race was what he needed, in retrospect, to bring him forward. We’ll see, but I liked the way he’s bounced out of it.”
China Horse Club and WinStar Farms’ Theory, who is slated to join Syndergaard in the starting gate for the Juvenile, also galloped 1 1/4m Wednesday.
“I thought he took things in and looked around a bit, but overall I thought he went well,” Pletcher said.
Theory impressively won his first two starts, including a 3 ½-length victory in the 6f Futurity Oct. 15. Pletcher expressed confidence that the son of Gemologist will be effective around two turns Saturday.
“He’s a son of Gemologist, who won the Wood Memorial, and he has efficient action,” Pletcher said. “In particular, what gave us the confidence to go ahead and try this was the way he finished the Futurity, and the way he galloped out afterwards was very strong. He put in a little more gallop-out than I would have liked him to. Javier (Castellano) asked him to gallop out a little bit. To me, he almost ran a mile that day. The way he came out of it and the way he’s trained hopefully will set him up for this.”
Term of Art – Term of Art, whose stakes debut will occur in Saturday’s Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, continued his steady preparation on Wednesday with an easy gallop of 1m over Santa Anita’s main oval under exercise rider David Rodriguez.
Trainer Doug O’Neill reported that the decision to run the son of Tiznow was jointly made with Calumet Farm manager Eddie Kane, “It didn’t require a lot of arm twisting because he acts like he’ll improve with distance,” O’Neill stated. “I’ve got four horses for Calumet and, so far, he looks like the best of them. Although he’ll be a longshot in the race, I think he’s got a serious chance.”
Added O’Neill, “You know at this stage of their development, they can improve dramatically from race to race. And, he’s shown steady improvement both in his numbers and finishes after three starts.”
$2 MILLION 14 HANDS WINERY BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE FILLIES
American Gal/Noted And Quoted – American Gal walked in the barn area after a 4f work on Tuesday under Mike Smith in 46 seconds, the best of 35 at the distance.
“I got on her for the first time and I’m glad that I did,” Smith said Wednesday morning. “My confidence level shot through the roof with her. It remains to be seen if she’s good enough, but I was really impressed with the way she moved and responded with me.”
Noted And Quoted jogged 1m under Dana Barnes, returning to the track two days after working 4f in 46 seconds.
Champagne Room – Sorrento Stakes winner Champagne Room took to the main track at 8 am and galloped 1 1/4m with exercise rider Max Corrales.
Trainer Peter Eurton hopes for a relaxed trip in the Juvenile Fillies for the 2yo daughter of Broken Vow who drew post six in a field of 12.
“She got a great draw,” Eurton said. “If somebody wants to go, she has no problem tracking, but I wouldn’t fight her to make that happen.”
Dancing Rags – Chadds Ford Stable’s Dancing Rags galloped 1 1/2m at Santa Anita Wednesday morning in preparation for a start in Saturday’s Juvenile Fillies.
The daughter of Union Rags broke her maiden in her second career start at a mile at Laurel Park and went on to capture the 1 1/16m Alcibiades at Keeneland in her most recent start. The Graham Motion-trained filly debuted at Laurel in a 5 1/2f turf race, in which she closed to finish third.
“I run a lot of my 2-year-olds on turf first time, because they don’t get that kickback,” Motion said. “She handled the grass really well, but she breezed equally well on the dirt and I wanted to stretch her out. She won very impressively when she broke her maiden and beat Michael Matz’s filly (Tequilita) who came back to win at Keeneland.”
Sweet Loretta – St. Elias Stable’s Sweet Loretta made her first visit to the Santa Anita racetrack Wednesday morning, galloping 1m for Saturday’s Juvenile Fillies.
“She’s been a consummate professional so far to win her three starts and step up in class and distance each time,” trainer Todd Pletcher said.
Sweet Loretta won her debut by seven lengths at Monmouth before winning the Schuylerville and finishing in a dead-heat for the win in the Spinaway at Saratoga. Both of her stakes victories were achieved after breaking awkwardly from the gate.
“I think she’s trying to overachieve a little bit. She broke so hard the ground kind of came away from her in the Schuylerville,” Pletcher said. “She doesn’t have a behavioral problem, she just wanted to get into the race.”
Yellow Agate – “We really don’t know how good she is,” assistant trainer Christophe Loreiul said about the 2yo filly Yellow Agate, who is preparing to contest the 14 Hands Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. The daughter of Gemologist is one of only two unbeaten entrants in the 1 1/16m fixture, but boasts the biggest bankroll of earnings among the starting field.
“She won her first race impressively, then returned to win the Frizette. That got her a start here, of course (as a “win and you’re in” designated race),” Lorieul said. “We obviously very much like the way she’s progressing. Both wins were very game, but especially in the stakes (Frizette). She has good tactical speed and should be around mid-pack in the race, although she is versatile enough to be placed anywhere. She’s doing very well.”
Like the rest of the barn’s Breeders’ Cup entrants (Lull and Pure Sensation), the approach to preparation has been slow and steady, initially with jogging, followed by light gallops leading up to the race.
$1 MILLION BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE TURF
Big Score – The Tim Yakteen trainee Big Score entered the track at 5:30 a.m. and galloped 1 1/2 m over the main track with exercise rider Jesse Rodriguez.
“He is doing good,” Yakteen said. “It’s going to take his best effort and a clean trip to get the job done.”
Big Score drew post six in a field of 14. Big Score is listed at 8-to-1 in the morning line.
Bowie’s Hero – Del Mar Juvenile Turf winner Bowie’s Hero galloped on the grass under exercise rider Jose Dominguez for trainer Phil D’Amato.
Favorable Outcome/Ticonderoga – Trainer Chad Brown sent his colts out to gallop 1 3/8m in the bright sunshine Wednesday at Santa Anita Park. With a third-place finish in the Champagne on his resume, Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence’s Favorable Outcome changes surfaces for the Juvenile Turf. Brown said the move had less to do with his pedigree – he is by Flatter out of an Eltish mare – than his action.
“I just had a feeling that he would handle it, despite his lack of breeding, just by the way he moves,” Brown said. “When I purchased the horse at the 2yo sale, he breezed on a synthetic track, which oftentimes translates into turf racing. We’re just taking a shot and hoping he can move up on the turf.”
Ticonderoga, named for a historic 18th century fort in upstate New York that overlooks the north-south waterway between Lake Champlain and Lake George, was an $850,000 yearling purchase. He was equipped with a new bit after running second in the Bourbon Oct. 9.
“He’s a well-bred and good-looking horse,” Brown said. “He’s still a work in progress mentally, but does have good talent.”
$1 MILLION BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE FILLIES TURF
Happy Mesa – Happy Mesa galloped 1 1/2m Wednesday at Santa Anita in preparation for a start in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
The daughter of Sky Mesa launched her career with a pair of victories for trainer Hamilton Smith at Laurel, where she captured her debut in a $40,000 claimer on dirt by more than three lengths and won the Selima Stakes on turf by 2 ¼ lengths. She was purchased privately by Great Point Stables, Highclere America and Zoom and Fish Stables and transferred to trainer Graham Motion.
Happy Mesa finished second over the Santa Anita turf course in the Surfer Girl Stakes in her first start for her new connections Oct. 10.
“She was a private purchase after her second race with the idea of getting her here for the Breeders’ Cup,” Motion said. “She ran well here in the prep. I thought she ran well here to finish second in the prep. We kept her out here hoping to get in and fortunately she drew in. I haven’t been around her a great deal, but she’s a straight-forward filly.”
Lull – Assistant trainer Christophe Lorieul, who arrived Tuesday night, supervised a light gallop of 2yo filly Lull as she prepares for the Juvenile Fillies Turf Friday. The daughter of War Front has taken it slow and easy since her arrival from Kentucky.
“She’s shown us her fondness for grass and won a nice stakes at Kentucky Downs in September,” said Lorieul. Offspring of her sire are typically better on the turf. This race might be a little quick for her return to racing (her last race was Oct. 12), but she’s going well. This is the type of race where anything can happen.”
New Money Honey/Rymska – Alain Jathiere’s French-bred Rymska finished second to New Money Honey at Belmont Park on Oct. 16 and will face her new stablemate in Chad Brown’s barn again Friday afternoon in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
“I received her just after the Miss Grillo and she is a horse that has just improved daily,” Brown said. “I’m so impressed with this horse’s development this month. She’s earned her way into this race on her works.”
Rymska drew post 11 in the 14-horse field and is 20-1 on the morning line. She will be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.
“I would have preferred to be a little further inside,” Brown said. “It is what it is. She will try to work out a trip from there with Irad.”
Brown opted to keep New Money Honey, owned by e 5 Racing Thoroughbreds of Boca Raton, Fla., on turf rather than give her a try on dirt in the Juvenile Fillies. She broke her maiden on grass in the Miss Grillo on Oct. 2.
“I cross-entered in the dirt only to think about it. I think she favors a little more distance, the Juvenile Fillies is a mile and a sixteenth, and I’ve always felt that she will handle the dirt, but at the end of the day she is coming off a nice Grade 3 win on the turf. I felt like it probably wasn’t the right stage to experiment on, so I just stuck with the turf, a more conservative route and prayed for a good post and she got it. Hopefully she can get up in time going a mile.”
New Money Honey and Javier Castellano will start from post three and are 10-1 on the morning line.
Both of Brown’s Juvenile Turf Fillies runners galloped 1 3/8m at Santa Anita on Wednesday.
Spain Burg – Highly regarded import Spain Burg, once beaten from five career starts in Europe, will make her North American debut in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf for trainer Kathy Ritvo. The daughter of past Breeders’ Cup 2 yo champion Johannesburg, was acquired at the Arquana Arc Sales in France this fall for 1.5 million Euros, the second-highest priced horse sold at the auction.
“Mr. Reeves (owner Dean Reeves, who successfully raced Mucho Macho Man, the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner) purchased this filly last month and we shipped her to Kentucky,” Ritvo noted. “She had an easy 5f work over the grass at Keeneland before shipping to Santa Anita for this race. She arrived on Saturday.”
Ritvo also brought along her exercise rider Daniel Vera to pilot the filly during her morning gallops. “She galloped twice around the track on Tuesday and we also took her into the saddling paddock for schooling. She really seems focused and ready. All I’ll need to do between now and race day Friday is keep her happy and stay out of the way,” Ritvo added.
“I really like it here at Santa Anita. The weather is great and I’ve been very fortunate here during the Breeders’ Cup with a win and a runner-up effort in the Classic.”
Asked what she’s doing to occupy her time with only a single horse to mind during the week, Ritvo stated, “I stall walk a lot.”
$1.5 MILLION TWINSPIRES BREEDERS’ CUP SPRINT
A.P. Indian – Green Lantern Stables’ homebred A. P. Indian arrived at Santa Anita at 7 p.m. Tuesday and wasted little time getting familiar with the main track Wednesday morning at 8 o’clock with a mile gallop under exercise rider Moises Nava.
“He shipped well, no problems,” trainer Arnaud Delacour said, adding with a laugh, “I got here at 4:30 which is not a good time with the traffic.”
After jogging back to the seven-eighths pole. A. P. Indian galloped an enthusiastic mile and then returned to the barn with a walk through the paddock.
“He trains very hard in the mornings,” Delacour said. “His schedule the rest of the week depends on how he is eating, his demeanor but he will probably go out a little after 8 when there are fewer horses.”
A winner of all six starts this year, including two Grade 1 victories and a track-record performance at Keeneland in his most recent start in the Phoenix, A. P. Indian drew post position five and will be ridden by Joe Bravo.
“The post is perfect and it is a small field,” Delacour said. “Hopefully he gets a good trip, better than the one he got at Keeneland when he had quite a bit to overcome.”
Drefong/Lord Nelson – Drefong galloped 1m under Dana Barnes, returning to the track two days after working. Lord Nelson jogged 1m.
Masochistic – Trainer Ron Ellis can see the difference with Masochistic this year. Heading into the Breeders’ Cup Sprint with the 2-1 morning line choice, he also feels very fortunate to be here in this position.
“He came out of this race last year with a small crack in his right hind cannon bone,” Ellis said. “Mike (Smith, his rider) didn’t like the way he was going shortly after breaking from the gate and he tried to pull him up for most of the race. (Masochistic ultimately finished 14th and last.) He wasn’t lame, but we took precautionary x-Rays afterward and it lit up his hind leg. Fortunately, he didn’t require surgery, so we just turned him out for three months.
“When I got him back, I just started at square one. He seems almost like a different horse. He’s much more mature and more relaxed in his races. It’s a nice feeling going into this year’s race fresh and not having raced all year long. Last year we were beaten in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship. Maybe that was an indicator of something bothering him.”
To keep him sharp now that his major work is completed, Ellis has been sending the 6 yo to the training track in the mornings. “We’ll probably school him once before the race, but, otherwise, we’re ready to go. I’m really excited about our chances this year,” he said.
Noholdingback Bear – Bear Stables’ Mike De Paulo-trained Noholdingback Bear shipped without an issue from his Woodbine base in Canada and has settled in well into Barn 59, according to his connections. A winner of the Gallant Bob last out at Parx, he ran the best race of his career in the process, while effectively transitioning to stalker tactics.
“He shipped really well,” De Paulo said, who came in from Toronto with wife and assistant Josie. “He’s traveled everywhere, though, including going to the Breeders’ Cup last year (for the undercard) and to Florida and Philadelphia this year. He has a lot of stamps in his passport. We vanned to Kentucky and then flew to California from there.”
Noholdingback Bear, who was a confirmed speed horse until attempting to rate for the first time two back in the King’s Bishop, has drawn post eight of nine in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and will face older horses for the second time after finishing second to them in the Bold Venture this season.
“I’m not overly concerned about the post,” De Paulo said. “I’ll leave it all up to the jockey (Eurico Da Silva) and it’ll depend on how he and the rest of the field break. He’ll either move forward or drop in. It all just depends on how things go.
“I gave him five weeks after his big effort last time,” he continued. “He seems like he’s doing really well and his last work at Woodbine was really good. We’ll go lightly into the race from here on in.”
$1 MILLION BREEDERS’ CUP TURF SPRINT
A Lot – Amerman Racing’s 4yo Tapit colt galloped 1 3/8m Wednesday morning at Santa Anita. The son of Tapit returns to sprinting on turf, where he recorded three of his four victories. Trainer Chad Brown won this race on Santa Anita’s distinctive downhill course in 2014 with Bobby’s Kitten.
“He’s never been down the hill, but he strikes me as the type of horse that would fit the hill very well,” Brown said. “I think the distance will suit him and the flow of the race will suit him. I think now he’s mentally able to handle that kind of trip. We don’t know for sure until we try it. He has the profile of a horse that could be successful.”
Celestine – Phaedrus Flights LLC’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint entrant Celestine did light work Wednesday morning for trainer Bill Mott. A 4yo filly, the daughter of Scat Daddy jogged two days after putting in her final drill (48 flat for a half-mile on the Santa Anita main track). She will be taking on the boys for the first time and going after her second Grade I victory on the season after landing the Just A Game in June at Belmont going a one-turn mile.
“She’s training great,” Mott said. “We feel good about her going in. Obviously it’s a question going down the hill, but she is doing well.”
Joel Rosario will ride from post 14. The pair were assigned morning-line odds of 8-1.
Mongolian Saturday – Mongolian Stable’s defending Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint champion Mongolian Saturday once again had an easy gallop around the Santa Anita main track after leaving Barn 59 for trainer Enebish Ganbat. The son of Any Given Saturday was a 15-1 winner at Keeneland last year and has since raced in Hong Kong twice, England twice soldiered through a series of painful ulcers and then returned to win the Woodford Stakes last out at Keeneland on just three workouts between mid-July and early October.
“He’s been good since he got to Santa Anita,” Ganbat said. “Compared to last year, I think the difference is the distance is longer. I worry about that and the heat. He doesn’t use Lasix and it’s a higher chance to bleed on hotter days. I also think there are better horses this year from Europe. He only had two serious works going into Keeneland and he ran very good.”
Mongolian Saturday finished up his prep work with a bullet 3f on Oct. 27 in 35 1/5.
“He worked very good last week and came out ok,” Ganbat concluded. “We came to win, so we are going to try to do it again.”
Obviously – Obviously is poised to become the fifth horse in history to compete in Breeders’ Cup events in five consecutive years. And, the first to step outside a specific race in that time span.
The other five-timers, who all stuck to one event, were: Kona Gold (Sprint, 1998-02), Perfect Drift (Classic, 2002-06), Better Talk Now (Turf, 2004-08) and California Flag (Turf Sprint, 2008-12).
Obviously has been sent out in the Mile for four straight years, saddled by the late Mike Mitchell in 2012-13 and by Phil D’Amato, the protege of and successor to Mitchell, in 2014-15. The results for the Irish-bred Obviously: third, fifth, fifth and ninth, after setting the pace for three quarters or more in his first three tries and for the first half in 2015.
On Saturday, D’Amato will saddle Obviously for the Turf Sprint, 6 1/2 furlongs down Santa Anita’s unique hillside course, with the hopes of the 8 yo gelding finally being in front at the finish rather than the start.
“Usually the Turf Sprint turns up a little easier than the turf Mile,” D’Amato said. “He’s eight years old and we wanted to give him the best chance possible to win a Breeders’ Cup race. As of now, I don’t see any slowing down in him. He’s maintained his speed and his class, and as long as he does that we’ll keep running him. And if he shows any signs of slowing down, we’ll see that he has a great home.”
Om – Multiple graded stakes winner Om took to the track at 7:45 and galloped 1 m on the main track. Trainer Dan Hendricks’ son, Greg, was in the irons.
The 4yo son of Munnings drew post 12 and is listed at 12-to-1 in the field of 14 with two also eligibles. Trainer Dan Hendricks hopes for a clean trip in the down the hillside Turf Sprint.
“Mostly to win you need a clear, safe, lucky trip. Fourteen horses down the hill, so you know it can get a little congested, troublesome, but hopefully we sit behind a hot pace and we finish better than the rest; if that happens hopefully we win,” Hendricks said.
Pure Sensation – Jockey Kendrick Carmouche will have his first mount in a Breeders’ Cup race aboard Pure Sensation in the Turf Sprint on Saturday. According to assistant trainer Christophe Lorieul, the rider is a perfect fit for the 5yo gelding, who’s won five of his last seven races.
“In last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, Pure Sensation was unable to handle the soft going at Keeneland. (He finished eighth.) While this year’s 6 1/2 furlongs might be at the limit of his best distance, the course is partially downhill, so that should compensate for that a bit,” he said. “This horse is an old pro. From the rail post position, he should be able to get cover early and sit off the lead. He’s a very quick and efficient horse.”
Since arriving Sunday, Pure Sensation has jogged and galloped around the main oval. He’ll school in the paddock Thursday once trainer Christophe Clement is on hand. He is scheduled to arrive in town Wednesday evening.
Undrafted – The last time trainer Wesley Ward had horses in a Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita, he finished second and third in a heartbreaking three-pronged photo finish. Third that day was Wes Welker and Sheep Pond Partners’ Undrafted, who has since proven his international mettle with a victory in the 2015 Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot. Since that victory, he has only visited the winner’s circle once when taking his 2016 debut at Keeneland in the Shakertown. He exits a sixth, beaten 2 3/4 lengths, in the Woodford where the 6yo son of Purim closed from last at the top of the stretch.
“Being overlooked is kind of like his name,” Ward said. “I’m really confident and excited about the race and it helps that he has a start down the hill. I think he busted out running this year and won a stakes and we were looking for big things. He then was compromised by the track at Royal Ascot when he tried to defend his title and before that, in last year’s Breeders’ Cup, the track was soggy. We came back a little quick at Saratoga when he finished third (in the Lucky Coin Stakes) and he was also up on the pace that day and he doesn’t like that, so I forgave him for that.
“His race at Kentucky Downs next out (a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint) was not great, but forgivable, but his last race, to me, was impressive,” Ward continued. “He got lost out of the race when the jockey took him back too far and then got stuck and only got to run the last part of the race. It wasn’t visually impressive, but he came out of the race like a bear and his works since that race are back to what he was when he was as good as he has ever been.”
John Velazquez, who was aboard for his third-place Breeders’ Cup effort in 2014, returns to ride the chestnut.
“He’s an older horse and you can see it, but I’m honestly expecting a huge performance,” Ward concluded. “He doesn’t have to be as good as he once was, he just has to perform as good as he was one time.”