In stark contrast to weather patterns plaguing the central and eastern part of the country, Saturday morning in Arcadia, California dawned sunny and warm as several Breeders’ Cup contenders put in their final works ahead of the Championships next weekend. Heading the cast was Classic favorite Accelerate (Lookin At Lucky) (video), who went six furlongs under John Sadler assistant Juan Leyva in 1:12.80. The four-time Grade I winner covered five furlongs in 1:00.80 with a seven furlong gallop out of 1:26.20, according to Santa Anita clockers. Sadler also sent undefeated GI Dirt Mile favorite Catalina Cruiser (Union Rags) (video), who negotiated five furlongs in :59.80; and GI Filly & Mare Sprint contender Selcourt (Tiz Wonderful) (video) the same distance in 1:00.40. Both Catalina Cruiser and Selcourt have recorded back-to-back graded stakes wins heading in next week’s races. All three horses are scheduled to depart for Kentucky today, as is Sadler. “Accelerate’s work was super-duper, but all went really well,” enthused Sadler. “It was a good morning. I’m happy with all of them.”
Bob Baffert has another busy day Saturday, highlighted by workouts by Classic contenders Gary and Mary West’s West Coast (Flatter) and Watson/Pegram/Weitman’s McKinzie (Street Sense). West Coast (video) breezed four furlongs in company with unraced juvenile Trojan Magic (Twirling Candy). They were timed in :47.20 and :47.40, respectively. McKinzie , in company with Dabster (Curlin), covered five furlongs in a minute flat while his year-older stablemate completed the task in :59.60. McKinzie was partnered by Joe Talamo, who would ride last year’s GI Pacific Classic winner Collected for Baffert in the 10-furlong test should the colt draw into the field. Drayden Van Dyke worked West Coast. Also working for Baffert Saturday, GI Filly & Mare Sprint favorite Marley’s Freedom (Blame) (video), in tandem with workmate Super Sol (Awesome Again), went four furlongs in a bullet :47 flat. They were the fastest of 53 drills at the distance.
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer sent out Juvenile aspirants GI American Pharoah runner-up Gunmetal Gray (Exchange Rate) and recent maiden scorer Dueling (Violence) at Santa Anita Saturday morning. The duo completed their respective tasks in :48.60 and :49.40. “Both riders were happy,” Hollendorfer said, alluding to Flavien Prat on Gunmetal Gray and Freddie Rodriguez aboard Dueling. “We’re all set to go.” The 2-year-olds are scheduled to ship early today, while Hollendorfer will leave on Monday.
Prior to Santa Anita’s first race Friday, Classic longshot Pavel (Creative Cause) worked seven furlongs in 1:26.45 under regular rider Mario Gutierrez. Winner of the June 16 GI Stephen Foster H. at Churchill Downs, the Doug O’Neill trainee recorded fractional times of :24.87, :49.87 and 1:14.37. “He’s got a win over the track, so we’re looking at all the positive aspects,” O’Neill said. “He’s had a little breather since the Pacific Classic [a distant second to Accelerate Aug. 18] and he’s doing well.”
Working in company over the muddy Churchill Downs main track, GI Breeders’ Cup Classic contender Axelrod (Warrior’s Reward) and Vibrance (Violence), slated to contest the GI Juvenile Fillies following a runner-up finish in the GI Chandelier Sept. 29, completed their championship preparations with a half-mile move in :48.40 Saturday morning. Internal fractions for the work were :12.20, 24.20, :36.20 and with both going out five furlongs. Dual graded stakes winner Axelrod rounded out six furlongs in 1:14.60; and Vibrance in 1:14.80, according to Churchill Downs Clocker John Nichols. “I just wanted them to stretch their legs,” trainer Michael McCarthy explained. “Conditions were not ideal weather wise but I knew they would do a good job with the track. I was more than pleased with the works.” Runner-up in the GI Pennsylvania Derby Sept. 22, Axelrod was partner by jockey Jose Ortiz in yesterday’s work and will be reunited with Joe Bravo in the Classic.
Tommie Lewis, David Bernsen and Magdalena Racing’s GI Breeders’ Futurity runner-up Signalman (General Quarters) completed his GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile preparations with a four-furlong move in :47.60 Saturday morning at Churchill Downs. Breezing with jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. in the saddle, Signalman began his work one length behind stablemate Math Major (four furlongs in :48) through opening splits of :11.60 and :23, before finishing one length in front on the five-furlong gallop out in 1:01 and completing six furlongs in 1:15.
Impact Thoroughbreds and Madaket Stables’ Reflect (Trappe Shot) worked five furlongs in 1:00 over a track rated as sloppy after the first renovation break Saturday morning. Accompanied by Jose Ortiz aboard, Reflect carved out fractions of :12.40, 23.40, 35.40, :47.60 and 1:00 with gallop-out times of 1:13.60 and 1:27.80 for six and seven furlongs. “I liked it; she did it pretty easy,” said Julie Clark, assistant to trainer Keith Desormeaux. “Jose liked her last week too [a half-mile in :48.40 Oct. 20]. He said she does it so easy and feels like there is another gear there.” Ortiz will ride the Oct. 5 GI Alcibiades runner-up for the first time in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Trainer Tom Amoss confirmed Saturday that G M B Racing’s Lone Sailor (Majestic Warrior) would be entered in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic. Winner of the GIII Oklahoma Derby last time, Lone Sailor was pre-entered in the Classic as well as the GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, but Amoss said the determining factor was the pace setup for the Classic. James Graham, who has ridden Lone Sailor five times including the Oklahoma Derby victory, will have the mount in the Classic.
Calumet Farm’s Derby Date (Will Take Charge) worked a half-mile in :48.20 Saturday morning at Churchill Downs. It was the third fastest of 24 at the distance on the day. Previously sitting on among the also eligibles, the D. Wayne Lukas trainee appears likely to enter the GI Juvenile fray following the defection of Trophy Chaser (Twirling Candy), who is now expected to enter in the Street Sense S. Nov. 2.