Breeders' Cup Monday Bulletin: Locals, International Challengers On Track

Arabian Knight Horsephotos

GI Breeders' Cup Classic contender Arabian Knight (Uncle Mo) was first onto the main track Monday morning when he worked a bullet five furlongs in :59 flat, will walk at the barn Tuesday, and then is planned to return to the track Wednesday.

“He's healthy, he's working well. There have been no hiccups,” Baffert said. “He's ready. I know this is going to be a tough race, but if he brings his 'A' game, I don't really care who's running against us. That's my focus with him.”

The colt made an auspicious debut at Keeneland during the 2022 Breeders' Cup under card. The seven-length romp and a subsequent resounding victory at Oaklawn Park put him squarely in the Kentucky Derby discussions until he was sidelined for half a year. He returned to the races in the GI Haskell S., finishing third in an effort Baffert says showed Arabian Knight had some growing up to do:

“The race was a disaster,” Baffert said of his runner's effort in which he relinquished the lead late. “He was too fresh and wouldn't rate on the lead. I think it showed his immaturity. But despite the outcome, we did learn from it.”

Two months later, he won the GI Pacific Classic over the extended 10-furlong distance and prevailed in a hard-fought contest:

“That was a good race,” he recalled. “I thought Arabian Knight might get beat from the quarter-pole home, but he really dug it. Now he's finally getting into form where we're going to see the best of him.”

Baffert added: “We always thought of him as a top-class horse. You could see that as a yearling, which is why he cost us a pretty penny [$250,000 at KEESEP; $2.3 million 2-year-old at OBSAPR in 2022].”

GI Belmont S. winner Arcangelo (Arrogate) walked the shedrow for the second day in a row Monday after having a shoe removed Saturday afternoon.

“He just walked today,” said trainer Jena Antonucci. “I wasn't able to get the shoe back on yet. He walked for about 45 minutes. There's no reason not to have an extra walk day on him. He's pretty fresh back there, so I probably won't be able to get many more walks on him. I'm happy with the direction it's going. Everything is going the right way.”

Japanese Runners Fine Tune

Japan's Classic contender Ushba Tesoro (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn}) had a routine warm-up and canter around the Santa Anita dirt track, but things were less than routine when he was schooling at the gate Monday morning. The G1 Dubai World Cup winner kicked out multiple times and was irritable with the gate crew.

“The gate is set lower than in Japan and he's such a big horse that the doors brushed against his hocks in an awkward manner, causing him to kick out,” explained the Breeders' Cup Japan representative Kate Hunter. “The vet checked him over and there are no issues. We will school him again on Wednesday after his breeze. For horses with similar issues, Santa Anita provides green mats that tie to the inside of the starting gate that we will use with him. They hug the hind-end and make it easier. We will now use that with all of our runners.”

Fellow Japanese hopeful Songline (Jpn) (Kizuna {Jpn}) (Mile) cantered two laps of the turf with the final half easing up.

Juveniles & Sophomore Sprinters Make Moves

In his final prep for the GI Qatar Racing Breeders' Cup Sprint, Speed Boat Beach (Bayern) worked four furlongs in :47 4/5 and will walk at the barn Tuesday. Back from a long freshening to only begin his 3-year-old year in September, the colt made a strong impression in that seasonal bow, battling for the lead throughout the six furlong contest before ultimately just missing by a head on the wire.

“I really liked his comeback race,” Baffert said. “Since that effort, he's trained really well. I've got the screws tightened on him now.”

Bill Mott, no stranger to a big day at the Breeders' Cup, sent out GI Frizette victress Just F Y I (Justify) to work four furlongs in :48 3/5 with assistant trainer Neil Pozansky in the irons. The Krikorian homebred will try to get her owner his first 'Cup victory in 11 starts via the GI NetJets Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies  alongside War Like Goddess' second tilt in the GI Longines Breeders' Cup Turf against the boys.

Of Just F Y I's work, Mott was very happy: “She went well. She had galloped really strong for two days in a row and I didn't want to work her off that. Neil was really happy with her and she looked great to me. He said she felt good and was responsive to whatever he wanted when she started the work.”

Unleash the Europeans

On the international front, the Saturday arrivals were released from quarantine Monday night and will be on track to train Tuesday morning. Live In The Dream (Ire) (Prince of Lir {Ire}), in prep for the Turf Sprint, had a strong canter on the grass over five furlongs. He continued to travel with great enthusiasm in the hands of regular work rider Shoshana Cooksley since arriving. His owners Steve and Jolene De'Lemos were trackside to watch their sprinter exercise.

Mawj (Ire) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}), also part of the Mile contingent, had a canter around the main track, gate schooled, and then walked in the gates before backing out in controlled fashion. The Godolphin team swapped riders to do the gate schooling with regular work rider Michael Greig hopping off for Matthew Lawson, who stood her in the gates.

“Mawj exercised very well this morning,” Greig said. “I'm really happy with her. She knows what she needs to do so I just leave it up to her.”

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