On to Breeders' Cup for Max Player

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Max Player | Sarah Andrew

George Hall and Sport BLX Thoroughbreds' Max Player (Honor Code) will train up to the Nov. 6 GI Breeders' Cup Classic at Del Mar following his win in Saturday's GI Jockey Club Gold Cup, trainer Steve Asmussen confirmed Sunday.

“Max Player is better than he's ever been and physically he's developed into this,” Asmussen said. “There's more of him. He's a horse that's continued to grow, fill out and mature. There's a lot more of Max Player as a 4-year-old than there was as a 3-year-old. He's bigger and stronger. His next race will be the Breeders' Cup Classic.”

When Del Mar last hosted the Breeders' Cup in 2017, Asmussen was represented by Classic winner Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}) and he plans to follow a similar schedule ahead of this year's championship weekend with Max Player.

“We just want to acclimate them to West Coast time,” Asmussen said. “For previous Breeders' Cups in California, we like to get out there and be on Pacific Coast time and I think we've gotten solid runs doing that, so we're planning on doing the same this time. Last time the Breeders' Cup was at Del Mar, we had Gun Runner. He went out and trained at Santa Anita before going to Del Mar.”

Also expected to train up to the Breeders' Cup Classic is Wertheimer and Frere's Happy Saver (Super Saver), who was second while attempting to defend his title in Saturday's Jockey Club Gold Cup for trainer Todd Pletcher.

“There wasn't a lot of pace and he was sort of bottled up. He was wanting to advance, but didn't really get the opportunity until it was too late. The winner was very good and he got the jump on him,” Pletcher said of the Gold Cup result. “I was happy with his performance and he closed well, which is probably a little better suited to a race where there's more pace and everybody spreads out a little more. He got a good trip, but it was behind the wrong pace scenario. He came back in good shape.”

Pletcher also saddled Bass Racing's Annapolis (War Front) to a 'TDN Rising Star' debut over the turf at Saratoga Saturday.

“I was very pleased with him. He trained well into it and delivered the type of performance we were hoping for,” Pletcher said. “The race was slow to develop and the early fractions weren't really fast, but I liked the way he picked it up around the turn. He finished strongly and galloped out well.”

Pletcher said the colt, a son of graded stakes winner My Miss Sophia (Unbridled's Song), would likely make his next start in the Oct. 3 GII Pilgrim S. over the Belmont lawn, but he did not rule out eventually starting the colt over the dirt.

“At this stage, he's shown us he's a little better on the turf, but he's a big, strong colt,” Pletcher said. “Obviously the mare was second in the Kentucky Oaks, but sometimes these type of horses, as they mature, they get better on the dirt, but for now we'll stay focused on the turf.”

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