Point of Entry settling in; Wise Dan gallops at Keeneland
Point of Entry, the 3-1 Breeders' Cup Turf morning-line favorite, took his first tour of Santa Anita on Tuesday morning, galloping a mile over the main track. The four-year-old colt arrived from New York on Monday.
"He was really good, very relaxed, but in the bridle taking everything in," said Jennifer Patterson, exercise rider and an assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, who is scheduled to fly from New York to Southern California on Wednesday. "I couldn't be happier with how he's been since he got here."
The four-year-old will bring a five-race win streak into the 1 1/2-mile Turf, recording Grade 1 scores in the Man 'o War, Sword Dancer Invitational and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic in the last three.
"He's always been a big, powerful horse, but he's really matured this summer. Every time he runs he gets stronger. He's really grown up mentally," Patterson said. "He's been a bit of a late bloomer. We knew that was going to happen, anyway, but between mentally and physically, everything has come together."
Mile favorite Wise Dan, who had his travel plans delayed a day due to the storm on the East Coast, jogged one turn and galloped a turn and a half on the Keeneland training track Tuesday before his scheduled departure on Wednesday.
"He is going to tack-walk in the morning and is being picked up at 8 (a.m. [EDT]) to leave," said Amy Lopresti, wife of trainer Charles Lopresti who caught an early morning flight out of Lexington for Southern California. "It was a little breezy and cool here this morning and we got everything done before a little rain started."
John Velazquez, fifth all time in Breeders' Cup victories with 11, has the mount on Wise Dan, the 9-5 choice on the Mile morning line. The five-year-old gelding will attempt to win his fourth straight on Saturday, posting easy Grade 1 victories in the Woodbine Mile and Shadwell Turf Mile in his last two outings.
Team Valor International's Animal Kingdom, who will return from a nine-month hiatus in the Mile, galloped 1 1/2 miles over Santa Anita's main track Tuesday morning before walking through the paddock on the way back to Barn 4. Exercise rider David Nava was aboard the morning exercise for the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner, who is slated to make his first start since February in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile.
"He handled everything well," said Alice Clapham, assistant to trainer Graham Motion. "He knows he's going to run. He's pretty happy with himself."
Motion, who is scheduled to fly to Southern California Wednesday morning, waited out Hurricane Sandy at Fair Hill Training Center.
"We really dodged a bullet. We missed the brunt of it," Motion said by phone from the Northern Maryland training center.
Animal Kingdom's long layoff was caused by an injury to his pelvis discovered following an allowance turf win at Gulfstream Park on February 18. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the son of Leroidesanimaux will make his return in the Mile.
"To be honest, it was something I thought about even before I started him back training this summer. It was something that I thought was within his grasp," Motion said. "Of course, everything had to go perfectly to get there, but it wasn't like it was a last-minute decision."
Trainer Dale Romans watched his Turf hopefuls, Dullahan and Little Mike, gallop over the main track Tuesday.
Dullahan, with trainer Dale Romans' significant other Tammy Fox aboard, went to the track following the 8:30 (PDT) renovation, stood in the gate and then galloped 1 1/2 miles. Little Mike followed a similar routine in the last set before the break.
"I couldn't be happier with both of them," Romans said.
The last time Santa Anita hosted the Breeders' Cup, Romans won his first Breeders' Cup race when Tapitsfly pulled a mild upset in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. Despite that win, Romans felt like the West Coast horses had a distinct advantage that Breeders' Cup and decided to send his horses from Kentucky to California nearly three weeks ago. That decision looks like a good one in light of the weather that has delayed one Kentucky flight until Wednesday.
"I don't know if it will give us an advantage, but I wanted to take shipping out of the equation," Romans said. "I felt like the West Coast horses had an edge last time and I wanted to give our horses plenty of time."
Trailblazer, who will represent Japan's hopes in the Turf, worked five furlongs Tuesday in a bullet 1:00 1/5 on Hollywood Park's Cushion Track. Jockey Yutaka Take was up for the move, which was accomplished in thick fog. It was the fastest of 40 horses clocked at that distance.
"It was a nice work, according to plan," trainer Yasutoshi Ikee said through interpreter Mikki Tsuge.
Trailblazer worked in tandem with a maiden from the Gary Mandella barn, whom he passed on the turn and drew off from in the stretch.
Several Japanese journalists and photographers followed the Japanese-bred horse, who has won six of 21 starts and prepped for the Turf with a second-place finish in the recent Grade 2 Arroyo Seco Mile at Santa Anita October 6, the five-year-old's U.S. debut.
Ikee explained that he was persuaded to test the Breeders' Cup after a visit to Japan in June by Craig Fravel, president and CEO of Breeders' Cup Ltd., and that he stabled at Betfair Hollywood Park -- arriving on September 14 -- because of familiarity with the facility.
"I worked for Neil Drysdale here twice for six months each, 16 years ago and again 10 years ago," said Ikee, 43, who went on his own nine years ago and currently trains 60 horses in Japan.
"He's acclimated well," Ikee said. "He acts a bit immature on the grounds but once on the track, he's all business."
Trailblazer is scheduled to be shipped to the quarantine barn at Santa Anita early Wednesday morning and will return to Japan after the Breeders' Cup. Japanese owner Koji Maeda is scheduled to arrive Wednesday.
Aron Wellman, president of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, was on hand Tuesday morning to watch his talented and versatile three-year-old filly In Lingerie gallop over the main track at Santa Anita as she prepared for her first try on grass in Friday's Filly & Mare Turf. Wellman and his partners opted for the Filly & Mare Turf over the Ladies' Classic.
"Any way you slice it, it was going to be tough," said Wellman, a Southern California native who branched out onto his own syndicate after spending several years with Team Valor International. "We looked at the two options and thought that the turf was probably the lesser of two evils."
The well-bred daughter of Empire Maker hasn't been off the board in seven career starts with four wins, including the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan on dirt at Pimlico. Her last start was a victory over older females in the Spinster on Keeneland's Polytrack.
"With the affinity she's shown for the synthetic (three-for-three) we're hoping it transfers over to the turf," said Wellman, who was in the Team Valor partnership that included 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. "She's worked twice well here over the turf in the last two weeks, which sort of convinced us it was the right opportunity."
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