Flightline in his Oct. 29 work. Coady Photography
Breeders’ Cup World Championships Monday Notes
LEXINGTON, Ky.—The post postions are drawn and all of the contenders are busy with their final preparations for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Catch up with each and their connections.
Flightline – Hronis Racing, Summer Wind Equine, West Point Thoroughbreds, Siena Farm and Woodford Racing’s undefeated Flightline jogged once around a sealed, sloppy track shortly after 6 a.m. with assistant trainer Juan Leyva in the saddle.
It was the first day back on track for Flightline, who worked 5f in 1:00 3/5 here Saturday morning.
Trained by John Sadler, the expected favorite for the Longine Breeders’ Classic is scheduled to have one gate schooling session Wednesday or Thursday.
Happy Saver/Life Is Good – Trainer Todd Pletcher reported that Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders Happy Saver and Life Is Good had “straightforward uneventful gallops this morning.” Life Is Good went before the 7:30 a.m. renovation break on a track that was wetter than Happy Saver’s surface after the break.
“We were anticipating a wet track this morning,” Pletcher said. “It was sealed overnight, and I thought it was about the same condition before and after the break.”
The Pletcher runners relocated to the Rice Road section Sunday from the main barn area where Pletcher has been based all month. They vanned the circuitous distance of about a mile by commercial van.
“Everyone transitioned well to the new barn and settled in well overnight,” he said. “They left around 11:30 a.m. and got settled in. That way we could keep our normal routine. They ate their breakfast before they came over here and settled in before dinner over here.”
Olympiad – Grandview Equine, Cheyenne Stables and LNJ Foxwoods’ Olympiad had an easy morning, leaving Barn 60 at 7 a.m. and trotting and jogging 1m clockwise on Keeneland’s dirt track.
Trainer Bill Mott took the time to size up the pace scenario of Saturday’s $6 million test.
“I see Life Is Good jumping out there in front and Flightline getting his legs together after about a sixteenth of a mile and probably laying right on him, right on his hip, if he can,” he said. “It should be really interesting. I’m anxious to see what is going to happen. Our horse will hopefully be up in the running and hopefully we finish up good.”
Olympiad last breezed on Friday, Oct. 28, on Saratoga’s Oklahoma training track, going 5f in 1:02.12. The son of Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Speightstown enters off a win in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Saratoga on Sept. 3, his fifth graded stakes victory of 2022.
Rich Strike – RED TR Racing’s Rich Strike galloped a little more than 2m shortly after 6 o’clock with exercise rider Dallas King aboard for trainer Eric Reed.
The Kentucky Derby winner is scheduled to have one gate schooling session this week, most likely Thursday according to Reed who added Rich Strike would not have another paddock schooling session.
“He’s really doing great,” said Reed, who will be saddling his third Breeders’ Cup starter and first since 2011 when Satans Quick Chick ran eighth in the Distaff.
King was aboard this morning instead of Gabriel Lagunes, who had been aboard Rich Strike the past few mornings.
“Dallas gallops for me at Mercury Equine,” Reed said referring to his farm in Lexington. “I had to send Gabe up the road to ride a few for me the next few days (at Mountaineer).”
Hot Rod Charlie – Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing, Gainesway Stable and Strauss Bros Racing’s Hot Rod Charlie turned in an easy jog this morning at Keeneland under exercise rider Connor Murray two days after breezing 6f in 1:12 4/5 for trainer Doug O’Neill. The 4yo son of Oxbow has made one previous start in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2021 at Del Mar and was fourth.
“I would love to draw outside of Life is Good and Flightline,” O’Neill said of his hopes for this afternoon’s post-position draw. “They look like the logical speed horses so it would be great to have those two inside of us. If we could let them run away and sit off the pace that would be anideal situation.”
Tyler Gaffalione, who was aboard Hot Rod Charlie for his most recent start in the Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs Oct. 1, will retain the mount.
Taiba – Zedan Racing Stables Inc.’s Taiba and his four Bob Baffert stablemates made their first visit to the track at Keeneland Monday morning. The Baffert quintet shipped from California Sunday with assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes.
Before Taiba tries to give Baffert his fifth win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Cave Rock and National Treasure will run in the Juvenile, Speed Boat Beach will compete in the Juvenile Turf Sprint and Laurel River with go in the Dirt Mile.
“They all traveled really good, excellent,” Barnes said. “Everybody jogged today. We’ll probably start galloping tomorrow.”
Taiba, a son of the young sire Gun Runner, followed his maiden victory with a victory in the Santa Anita Derby. He was 12th in the Kentucky Derby and returned to finish second in the Haskell Invitational and win the Pennsylvania Derby.
Malathaat/Nest – Malathaat and Nest both had uneventful gallops over a track labeled “good” after overnight rain in preparation for Saturday’s Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Trainer Todd Pletcher said the track condition was irrelevant and that he had anticipated that the track would not be fast. Both fillies had their final timed tune-ups Saturday.
Pletcher noted that 4yo Malathaat, a $1.05 million purchase at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, always was surrounded by high hopes, but that 3yo Nest was a bit of a surprise.
“She is impeccably bred, but not necessarily to run in the summer of her 2-year-old year,” Pletcher said. “So, we took that approach, and our target was the Belmont fall meet. She trained really well and ran really well in her first three races. Around January and February, we started to see her really develop and improve in her breezes. That is when we started thinking ‘wow, we have a legitimate Kentucky Oaks filly here.’ ”
Clairiere, Jackie’s Warrior, Gunite and Wicked Halo – Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen worked his final four of nine Breeders’ Cup starters Monday following the break at 8 a.m. Leading the group was champion sprinter Jackie’s Warrior, who covered 3f in 37 3/5 over a track labeled good in preparation for the Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Next was Clairiere, one of two Distaff runners for the trainer, who went 4f in 50 flat. After their stablemates returned, Gunite and Wicked Halo went out and breezed 4f in 51 3/5 and 52 3/5, respectively.
“Jackie’s Warrior has just been training so pretty here,” Asmussen said. “The work was lovely.
We’re excited. We’re very pleased with how he and everyone are doing.
“Clairiere is just an unbelievable mare. She really is. Love how she’s doing here. It’s a tremendous field, but she’s a tremendous horse.”
Unlike Clairiere and Jackie’s Warrior, who haven’t started since Aug. 27, Gunite and Wicked Halo are coming off victories at Keeneland two weeks ago.
“They went just as easy as we could get them to go,” Asmussen said. “With them both running the fastest races by numbers of their careers just two weeks ago, we just wanted them to go nice and easy. It’s typically what we do the first work back, so we just followed that plan.”
Search Results – Klaravich Stables’ Search Results left Barn 64 at just past 8:30 a.m. and jogged about 1m around the Keeneland dirt track with trainer Chad Brown observing trackside. She promptly returned back to the Rice Road barn area.
The Grade 1-winning earner of more than $1.4 million will look to win on her fifth track in Saturday’s Longines Distaff. The daughter of Flatter has become acquainted with the Keeneland dirt over the past month, working weekly, including Saturday’s 5f breeze in 1:01.20.
“She worked superb, looks great and has been working along really nicely here at Keeneland,” Brown said. “She did a little bit more. She hasn’t run since Saratoga, so I was very happy with her. I think nine furlongs seems to be about 50 yards too long for her. At Keeneland, your hope is that this mile and an eighth wouldn’t be as challenging as a Saratoga or a Churchill mile and an eighth. The track can carry a little farther here.”
Secret Oath – Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas opted not to breeze Briland Farm’s homebred Secret Oath Monday morning for her final Distaff work because he did not like the condition of the wet track at Churchill Downs.
“It was rough. I didn’t think it was smooth,” Lukas said. “I had six works scheduled today and I canceled all of them. We’re close to the race, and I probably won’t work her. It’s not going to make a lot of difference. It was just going to be a half-mile maintenance work anyhow.”
Lukas said he expects to send Secret Oath out for a routine gallop Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs before shipping her to Keeneland.
Secret Oath, a daughter of Arrogate, emerged as a top stakes runner at Oaklawn Park last winner. She rolled to three decisive victories against females before finishing third against males in the Arkansas Derby. She won the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 6, was fourth in Preakness Stakes then ran second to Nest at Saratoga in the Coaching Club American Oaks and the Alabama. In her most recent start, the Cotillion at Parx on Sept. 24, she was third.
Lukas, 87, is the Breeders’ Cup leader in starts, 167 and victories, 20. He is third in purse money won. Secret Oath will be his 28th starter in the Distaff, a race he has won four times.
Blue Stripe – Pozo De Luna’s Blue Stripe jogged once around a sealed race track early Monday morning with exercise rider Efrain Lopez aboard for trainer Marcelo Polanco.
Seventh in last year’s Distaff at Del Mar in her U.S. debut, Blue Stripe tuned up for this year’s renewal with a 5f work in 1:00 here last Wednesday.
Polanco said Blue Stripe may have a couple of paddock schooling sessions this week but would not make a trip to the gate.
Awake At Midnyte – Reddam Racing’s Awake At Midnyte jogged over a track labeled as good this morning with exercise rider Connor Murray aboard after working 5f in 1:01 1/5 Saturday. The Doug O’Neill trainee is pre-entered in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff and Filly & Mare Sprint, which was the first preference for the 3yo daughter of Nyquist.
“I think just having the knowledge that we were for sure going to get in (factored into the decision to pre-enter in the Distaff),” O’Neill said. “We wanted to give her a chance to compete so, Distaff here we come.”
The filly’s most recent start was a second-place finish in the Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita Oct. 2.
Aloha West – Aloha West, winner of last year’s Sprint at Del Mar, breezed 4f in 47 2/5 with exercise rider Antonio Dominguez aboard. The work was the fastest of seven at the distance on a track labeled good.
“I see him striding out perfectly,” Catalano said while watching cell phone video. “He worked great.”
The 5yo son of Hard Spun has not raced since winning the Kelly’s Landing on July 2 at Churchill Downs. Catalano has seen steady improvement as he makes his return.
“We just went day by day,” Catalano said. “He is coming off a layoff and he is doing good. So we said, ‘let’s just take him work by work and see how he takes it.’ Every work has been great and every time he came back good. When he went (5f in 58 3/5 at Keeneland on Oct. 25), I said ‘I think we are good.’ I am happy with him.”
Aloha West made his first two starts for Gary and Mary West, who purchased him for $160,000 at the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He then was sold privately to Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.
“I was training him for the Wests, and he was for sale,” Catalano said. “The Wests are very good about letting people buy one and keep it in house. We had done that with a few horses, and it worked out very well.”
Catalano indicated that Luis Saez will have the mount Saturday. Aloha West is scheduled to begin his stud career in 2023 at Mill Ridge Farm in Lexington.
War Like Goddess – George Krikorian’s Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf hopeful and arguably America’s top runner in the race, War Like Goddess, left Barn 60 at just past 9 a.m. Monday and ponied riderless with trainer Bill Mott observing.
A bargain $1,200 purchase at Keeneland’s November 2017 Breeding Stock Sale as a weanling, the daughter of 2007 Turf winner English Channel was subsequently an RNA at Keeneland’s September 2018 sale for $1,000 and then sold as a 2-year-old for $30,000 at OBS in 2019.
“A wonderful filly – she’s the reason you should go to the sales and buy every yearling for a thousand dollars,” Mott said. “It just proves that point. What a great story to keep the business going, that somebody can find out that you can go to the sale and get a good horse at any level, and they develop into really great horses. That’s what she is – she’s a really good horse.”
Thirty-four European horses arrived at Keeneland on Saturday.
The Godolphin shipment arrived at 4:15 p.m. with the rest of the Europeans, including Aidan O’Brien’s seven horses arriving at 9:30 p.m.
Reports from the quarantine barn are very positive with the horses shipping very well. UK trainers Alice Haynes and Amy Murphy were in quarantine this morning to see their horses. The rest of the European connections will arrive from today onward.
Quarantine ends this evening so all horses will commence their training Tuesday morning.