Express Train Scratched from the Classic, Future Stars Friday Recap

November 6, 2021

DEL MAR, Calif.—Trainer John Shirreffs reported this morning that his star 4yo Express Train had been withdrawn from the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic because of swelling in his right hock.

“He was schooling in the paddock three days ago and he got a little playful, jumping around and kicked himself,” Shirreffs said.

“He’ll be fine with a little more time and we plan on running him next year,” Shirreffs said.

Future Stars Friday Recap

Corniche – Speedway Stables’ Corniche, whose $1.5 million sale price looks every bit the bargain following his wire-to-wire victory in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance on Friday, came out of the race no worse for the wear.

Trainer Bob Baffert reported: “All my horses came out of the race well (including Pinehurst and Barossa). I thought his (Corniche) race was very impressive. He’s a really, really fast horse and this performance shows what a brilliant horse he is.”

Baffert joked, “He was marching around the track like he was American Pharaoh.”

As for any future plans, Baffert said, “He won’t race again this year. We don’t have any specific plans for him.”

Corniche, when officially voted the champion 2yo, will become the conditioner’s sixth Eclipse Award-winning juvenile colt.

Pappacap/Grafton Street – Juvenile runner-up Pappacap and Juvenile Turf third-place finisher Grafton Street left California for Kentucky at 1 a.m. and will be given some time off in Florida before beginning preparations for their 3-year-old campaigns.

“They both came out of their races well,” assistant trainer Allen Hardy-Zukowski said. “We were very happy with how they ran.”

Echo Zulu – It was all smiles around the Steve Asmussen barn Saturday morning as they completed preparations for today’s races and basked in the victory by L and N Racing LLC and Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Echo Zulu in the NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). The daughter of 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Gun Runner, also trained by Asmussen, went to the lead early and never looked back, drawing off to win by 5 ¼ lenghs.

“I think it’s as simple as she’s faster than they are,” Asmussen said. “And I think that’s what she’s been all year. She continues to be just extremely satisfying. When you look at a four-race year, three Grade 1s and the style in which she’s done it. All of her races are fast, her numbers are good. And, against the best company, that’s as good as it gets. You catch the Alcibiades winner and the Pocahontas winner. They made it here. And she was better on the day. We’re very proud of that.

“It was a very comfortable race to watch, with what’s on the line and you want everything to go well. It was immediately a pretty easy race to watch. It looked like she was handling it. She was traveling well. She looked like she was getting a little separation around the three-eighths pole. And I think that that was the separation that Gun Runner developed into, where you would see early in a race they were doing enough, but somewhere in the middle, he was doing it easier than they were and you would see the separation.

“His time, his 4-year-old year, the races that he put up and the times that he was throwing down are going to be hard to match for anybody ever. When you have Gun Runner and everything that he did for us and how anxious we all were to get to run his babies and then for her to be what she is. It’s extremely gratifying and special.”

Asmussen said that Echo Zulu has earned a vacation after completing an undefeated 2-year-old campaign.

“She needs a bit of a break now. So that she can fill in, she needs to grow. She’s not a big filly in stature, but as a Gun Runner, I mean, he was extremely talented, but he developed into the best in the world.”

Juju’s Map – Trainer Brad Cox, who has another busy day with the two favorites – Knicks Go and Essential Quality – in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Shedaresthedevil in the Distaff, reported that Juvenile Fillies runner-up Juju’s Map came out of the race well.

“She’s doing good,” Cox said. “She ran hard. She was just second best yesterday.”

Pizza Bianca – Bobby Flay’s homebred filly Pizza Bianca headed back to the East Coast several hours after her dramatic victory in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

A spectacular ride by jockey Jose Ortiz, who replaced Joel Rosario, delivered to veteran trainer Christophe Clement his first victory in a Breeders’ Cup race. Ortiz was last approaching the stretch but managed to save ground on the inside and make his way through the field ahead.

Clement said he was very pleased with the performance, which capped a strong 2yo season by the only horse he currently has in training for Flay.

“She ran very well. She got a great ride,” he said. “A good filly. Three starts, two wins and one second in a Grade 1 in Canada. For me the biggest accomplishment of the whole deal – of course it’s great to win the Breeders Cup – is that owner-breeder Bobby Flay chose us with a filly that is very well bred, and we were able to do this. It is very meaningful for me.”

Though she is a Kentucky-bred based in the U.S., Pizza Bianca has a strong international grass pedigree. She is out of Flay’s White Hot, a daughter of Galileo and her sire, the Australian-bred Fastnet Rock is by Danehill. White Hot never made it to the races, but she has proven to be a valuable broodmare.

“It just shows it works.” Clement said. “I guess you just have to have an open mind because it works. He’s done it.”

After Pizza Bianca finished second in the Natalma at Woodbine on Sept. 19, Clement was considering having her make her next start at Belmont Park in the Chelsey Flower. Following a work at Belmont Park in late October, Flay encouraged Clement to take her to the Breeders’ Cup. If they pursued that option, it meant they would have to find a replacement for Rosario, who had ridden in her in both of her starts.

“We had the question mark with the jock, Rosario, the question mark about the ground being too firm,” Clement said. “I had no question about the filly being good enough because we knew that she was a good filly, but there was the question mark about the ground. She has been training very, very well. Great ride. It all worked it. It was wonderful.”

Pizza Bianca will return to competition in the spring, Clement said. He said New York’s turf triple crown is a likely target.

“That would be the goal of the moment, but we have time to think about it,” he said.

Clement is one of the most accomplished trainers in American, and is especially tough on turf, but he was winless in 40 starts in the Breeders’ Cup entering this year’s event at Del Mar. He said Saturday morning that it was a satisfying win to have on his resume, but not one he had to have.

“I never woke up in the morning thinking I’ve got to win the Breeders’ Cup to change my life. That’s not the way I am,” he said. “I wake up in the morning thinking I’ve got to win my next race with my next runner. But I’m very happy that we’ve won the Breeders’ Cup.”

Tiz the Bomb – Phoenix Thoroughbred’s Tiz the Bomb, who rallied from 12th in a field of 13 to grab the runner-up spot behind Modern Games (IRE) in the Juvenile Turf left Del Mar at 1 a.m. Saturday to return to Kentucky for trainer Kenny McPeek.

Arrest Me Red – Lael Stables’ lightly raced Pioneerof the Nile colt Arrest Me Red will remain such, for now, as he was withdrawn from the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) on Saturday morning. Ward’s other two in the race, Golden Pal and Kimari, will run.

“We had a little foot issue and changed the horse’s shoes,” trainer Wesley Ward said. “It kept getting better, but we erred on the side of caution.”

Ward won his third consecutive Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) and fifth Breeders’ Cup race with Stonestreet Farms’ Twilight Gleaming (IRE) on Friday.

“She was perfect this morning,” he said. “She jogged up perfect and is with (third-place finisher Kaufymaker and fifth-place finisher and post-time favorite Averly Jane) on a plane. She should be landing soon and in her stall at Keeneland in a couple hours.”

Breeders Cup Press Release
Photo: Express Train in a morning work at Del Mar. (Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders’ Cup)

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