Morning traffic far more bustling at Belmont
OCEANPORT, N.J. -- The Breeders' Cup begins in just a few days but things remain relatively quiet at Monmouth Park. Only three works took place Monday morning here, where the star of the show remains Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, even when he's sent out for only a routine gallop.
There was a distinct contrast in styles from each of the morning's three workers. Benny the Bull went very fast, Smokey Stover worked relatively slow, and Miss Macy Sue barely seemed to be working at all.
All clockings are according to Daily Racing Form, unless otherwise noted.
Benny the Bull (Sprint) five furlongs in 57.86 seconds: With Pablo Fragoso aboard, Benny the Bull went along under his own courage until nearing the wire but still reeled off some fast splits, including a 10.80 eighth-mile from the three-furlong to the quarter pole. He completed a final eighth in 11.88 under slight encouragement, then continued nicely under mild urging through a six-furlong gallop out in 1:10.18. It raises the question of whether the work was a little too fast coming just five days out from his race, but trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. seemed unconcerned.
"The track there is pretty fast and I'm hoping it's just what he wanted," said Dutrow. "He certainly doesn't seem to have any problems getting over that track, which was the main concern."
Smokey Stover (Sprint) five furlongs in 1:01.38: Trainer Greg Gilchrist instructed jockey Aaron Gryder to first visit the paddock with Smokey Stover to avoid the crush following the renovation break. It was obvious from the instant he broke off at the five-furlong pole that this was going to be nothing but a maintenance move, with an opening furlong in 12.66 and quarter in 25.54 in comparison with Benny the Bull's early fractions of 11.76 and 23.36. Gryder allowed his horse to relax nicely and never asked for any real speed, although they came home a final quarter-mile in 23.80, much to Gilchrist's delight. Smokey Stover did ease up quickly once passing the wire, galloping out six furlongs in 1:15.27.
"He had his fast work before leaving California," said Gilchrist. "I told Aaron this work wasn't going to win or lose the Breeders' Cup and it was exactly what I was looking for."
Miss Macy Sue (Filly and Mare Sprint) three furlongs in 36.13): It looked like she was going to break off at the half-mile pole but didn't really get going until hitting the three-furlong pole, at which point she was taken in hand and kept well off the rail. She was quickly passed by the streaking Benny the Bull approaching the stretch and remained out near the middle of the track while never allowed to really level off at any point.
Street Sense (Classic): He seemed a bit reluctant to leave the six-furlong chute once entering the racetrack and ultimately had to be led out onto the track by trainer Carl Nafzger, although once he was turned the wrong way he jogged off willingly. Street Sense balked again briefly after stopping at the wire but once hitting his stride galloped along strongly and looked well in his final prep prior to Tuesday's scheduled five-furlong work.
Tiago (Classic): He gave trainer John Shirreffs a brief scare when he reared up and spun around down the backstretch after being spooked by a sudden loud noise coming from off the track. Tiago settled in nicely once back on track, galloping a 1 1/2 miles while appearing to want to do more.
Other Breeders' Cup works recorded by track clockers around the country on Monday included:
Hard Spun (Classic), five furlongs in 1:00.20 at Delaware Park; Curlin (Classic), four furlongs in 50.20 at Keeneland; Lady Joanne (Distaff), five furlongs in 1:01.80 at Churchill Downs; Better Talk Now (Turf), six furlongs in 1:13 at Fair Hill; La Traviata (Filly and Mare Sprint), four furlongs in 45.60 from the gate at Keeneland; Slews Tiznow (Juvenile), 58.80 at Keeneland; and Lewis Michael (Mile/Dirt Mile), five furlongs in 1:01 at Keeneland.
Tale of Ekati (Juvenile) four furlongs in 45.79 seconds: Trainer Barclay Tagg said he was looking for an easy half-mile between 48 and 49 seconds, but somewhere from the barn to the track jockey Eibar Coa dropped the memo.
Tale of Ekati, scheduled to run in the Juvenile, was accompanied to the main track by Funny Cide, Tagg's stable pony, who was ridden by Robin Smullen. After backing up to the sixteenth pole where he stood briefly, Coa turned Tale of Ekati the right way and he galloped smoothly through the stretch and around the clubhouse turn. At approximately the seven-furlong pole, Tale of Ekati began to get eager as he galloped up to his breeze. So, he had some momentum when he broke off at the half-mile pole and zipped his first eighth in 11.52 seconds and the quarter in 22.49 seconds. Straightening into the lane, Tale of Ekati kept on trucking with only the slightest of urging from Coa. He galloped out five furlongs in 58.95 seconds.
As Coa came into the stretch, Smullen, who was near the finish line, stood up in the stirrups and put her hand up trying to get Coa to slow down.
"He worked way, way, way too fast,'' Tagg said. "It wasn't what I told him to do. It wasn't what I asked him to do.''
Z Humor (Juvenile) five furlongs in 1:00.13: Having already declared Majestic Warrior out of the Juvenile due to injury, trainer Bill Mott is left with Z Humor, third-place finisher in the Champagne, for the Juvenile. His chances took a hit, however, with a poor finish to a five-furlong work over the main track.
Z Humor, with exercise rider Neil Poznansky up, worked outside of the 2-year-old filly Sunday Holiday, third in the Grade 1 Frizette. The two horses were within a half-length of each other when they broke off into their work, and after a relatively moderate opening eighth of 12.33 seconds they picked up the pace going 11.40 seconds for the second eighth and 11.03 for the next eighth. The two were still together until deep stretch, when Z Humor tired badly, shortening stride while Sunday Holiday continued on and won the work by nearly four lengths. Z Humor did not gallop out at all.
Zee Zee (Juvenile Fillies) four furlongs in 46.71: She has raced only on turf, winning 2 of 3 starts, but has handled the dirt well in her last two works. Last week, in a five-furlong move in 1:03.34, Zee Zee went off slow and finished fast while working in company. Monday, working a half-mile by herself under exercise rider Kim Doran, she went her last quarter in 23.77 seconds and galloped out five furlongs in 59.08 seconds.
My Typhoon (Mile) four furlongs in 48.73: This mare, who is going to take on males in the Mile, went a steady half-mile under exercise rider Leana Willaford. She broke off in 12.89 seconds and picked it up her second eighth for an opening quarter in 24.51 seconds. Willaford asked for very little in the stretch as My Typhoon finished up in 23.22 seconds. She galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.79.
Forefathers (Dirt Mile/Sprint) four furlongs in 47.90: With Kent Desormeaux up, Forefathers worked in company with Queen Amira, a minor-stakes-winning turf sprinter. Forefathers began the work on the inside and was a half-length in front of Queen Amira through fractions of 11:79 seconds and 23.08. In deep stretch, Forefathers opened up another length on Queen Elmira and galloped out well.
Teammate (Distaff) five furlongs in 59.04: Working on the training track after the renovation break, Teammate got her first eighth in 12.63 seconds but then really picked things up, getting the quarter in 24.02 seconds and three furlongs in 35.14. Exercise rider Winston Ellis shook her up somewhat in the stretch and Teammate got her last quarter in 23.80. She slowed down past the wire and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.41.
In other New York works, Prussian (Juvenile Turf), worked four furlongs in 48.22 seconds over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga. According to the Saratoga clockers, Prussian went in fractions of 12.24 seconds, 24.21, and galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.38 and pulled up in 1:16.28.
At Aqueduct, Classic hopeful Diamond Stripes went five furlongs in 59.27 seconds, according to track clockers.
- Additional reporting by David Grening
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The ultimate test of a Thoroughbred's talent and ability, this year's 24th running of the Breeders' Cup World Championships crowned champions in eleven divisions at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.
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