LNJ Foxwoods’ United
Photo Credit Eclipse Sportswire / Breeders’ Cup Photos ©
Acclimate – Acclimate, who earned his way into Saturday’s starting gate for the Longines Breeders’s Cup Turf as a Breeders’ Cup Challenge winner, went to the training track early Thursday for a 1 1/4m gallop with regular exercise rider Humberto Olguin. Trainer Phil D’Amato declared his charge “fit and ready” for the testing 1 1/2m race.
Arklow – Arklow, who is returning to the Turf for the second consecutive year, stood in the gate Thursday and then galloped 1 5/8m over the main track. He had galloped over the turf Wednesday on his first day at Santa Anita.
“He’s doing fantastic,” trainer Brad Cox said. “He looks amazing, really took to the turf course here (Wednesday). If he can get the trip, I think he can be right there. It’s a solid group, but I don’t think it’s any tougher than what he faced last year and he was fourth. He’s a better horse this year, there’s no doubt about that. I know he hasn’t won as many races, but he’s faced better company all year. He’s shown up and given a big effort every time.”
Arklow enters the Turf off his first career Grade 1 victory in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park. It was breakthrough win for the 5yo Arch horse, who had been knocking on the door in some big races.
“I’m not sure if it was good feeling or a relief,” Cox said of the win. “It was a great race to watch. A couple times down the lane, I was thinking he was going to at least hit the board, but for him to get his head in front at the wire just shows his mental toughness, how tough he is. He gives you his best effort every time. It doesn’t matter if the turf is firm or soft, he shows up every time. He’s so honest.”
Bricks and Mortar –Turning heads consistently this week has been Horse of the Year candidate Bricks and Mortar, who will go to post as the likely favorite in the Turf. The Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence-owned son of Giant’s Causeway left Barn 48 and galloped just over a mile Thursday in preparation for his career swan song Saturday. He was joined to and from the barn by Grade 1-winning Chad Brown-trained stablemates Dunbar Road and Sistercharlie.
“He’s just so consistent,” Brown said. “He’s all heart with such a strong closing kick. I think we’ve seen his best and on Saturday he just has to show it again.”
United – It may have been a surprise for some people when LNJ Foxwoods’ United showed up in the entry box for the Turf, but it wasn’t for his Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, who won the Turf in a dead heat in 2003 with Johar along with three other Breeders’ Cup races that day.
“He’s going very good,” Mandella said. “This race has been in my mind all summer. Last race, he was jumping around five or six days out and took some stitches in his ankle. Because of that I had to keep him in his stall for two days and cut his grain back. It took the edge off him. For some horses, it may have worked the opposite, but it took the edge off him. In the race he was just kind of quiet. He did finish real nice. I wouldn’t say it was his best race. I do think there’s more there to come. An extra quarter of a mile and going into the race without hiccup, he might rise to the occasion.”
Zulu Alpha – Michael Hui’s Zulu Alpha galloped 1 1/4m at Santa Anita Thursday morning in preparation for a start in Saturday’s Turf.
Trainer Michael Maker opted to run the 6yo son of Street Cry in the Turf after excusing a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park in his most recent start.
“The U.S.-based horses are the same horses taking turns beating each other. They’ve been doing that for a lot less money,” Maker said. “Cross out his last race and he definitely deserves the chance.”
Zulu Alpha saved ground from his inside post before swinging wide off the turn into the homestretch but was unable to mount a serious challenge while finishing sixth.
“At Belmont he had the one hole. There was a very slow pace. He kind of got boxed in there and he never rally had a chance to run,” Maker said. “He didn’t run true to form, so we’re just crossing it out.”
Zulu Alpha previously won the 1 1/2m Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs by 3 ¼ lengths.