With a little under two weeks left until the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Del Mar November 3-4, hopefuls were once again out in force Sunday around the country to ready for the big event.
SANTA ANITA PARK
Dual Grade 1 star West Coast clocked a bullet three-quarters on Sunday in 1:12.40 over the fast main track at Santa Anita Park ahead of the November 4 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Del Mar.
The Flatter sophomore worked in company with multiple Grade 1 hero Hoppertunity, who is expected to return off a sixth-place run in the March 25 Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) in Saturday’s Comma to the Top Stakes at Santa Anita.
Drayden Van Dyke piloted West Coast in the drill while Martin Garcia was aboard Hoppertunity.
“West Coast went nice. He just sat behind Hoppertunity (on the outside) and they finished up together, so the plan worked. It was a good work for him,” trainer Bob Baffert said.
“The mile (of the Comma to the Top) is a little too short for (Hoppertunity), but I’ve got to do something with him,” he added.
Baffert also sent out Kentucky Oaks (G1) queen and Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) prospect Abel Tasman to cover seven furlongs from the gate in 1:25.60 over the main track. The Quality Road filly, second in the Cotillion Stakes (G1) last out on September 23, had Mike Smith in the saddle for the in-company breeze.
“For some reason, in her last two races, she was a little bit confused but we got her in a nice gate drill today,” Baffert explaind. “She just sat back there like she has done before. She was getting in a bad habit of getting in the bit and running up, but she broke like a shot today.
“She went really well. I’m really happy.”
Undefeated Bolt d’Oro worked five furlongs over Santa Anita Park’s fast dirt in 1:01.40 on Sunday around 7:45 a.m. (PT) with regular rider Corey Nakatani in the saddle.
“I thought it was great,” said trainer Mick Ruis, who co-owns the Medaglia d’Oro colt with his wife, Wendy. “Corey knows the horse, and like everyone says, you don’t win the race in the morning. It looked like he got something out of it, but not much.
“He’s not even breathing (hard). He turned around like he was just on a gallop, so I’m happy; real happy.”
Bolt d’Oro earned an all-fees paid trip to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) on November 4 at Del Mar when romping home a 7 3/4-length winner of the FrontRunner Stakes (G1) last out on September 30. The bay juvenile also boasts a three-quarter length score in the Del Mar Futurity (G1).
Ruis said he would send Bolt d’Oro out for a five-furlong breeze at Santa Anita next Sunday, walk him the next day, and then “take him down there” to Del Mar for the Juvenile.
Trainer Phil D’Amato had a trio of Breeders’ Cup workers on track Sunday at Santa Anita.
Grade 1 winners Midnight Storm and Ransom the Moon both logged five-furlong moves that D’Amato called “great” in 1:00.20 over the main track. Midnight Storm is reading for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) on November 3 off a nice second in the September 30 Awesome Again Stakes (G1). Ransom the Moon will enter the November 4 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) following a fourth-placing in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) on October 7.
Dual Grade 2 victor Hunt prepared for the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) on November 4 with a six-furlong work in 1:13.40 over Santa Anita’s firm turf course for D’Amato. The Irish-bred gelded son of Dark Angel ran seventh last out in the John Henry Turf Championship (G2)
Grade 2 vixen Goodyearforroses, a candidate for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), was originally scheduled to work on the turf Sunday, but ended up logging a half-mile in :47.20 over Santa Anita’s main track for trainer Richard Baltas. The Azamour mare ran eighth in the Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1) most recently on September 30.
Multiple Grade 1 hero Oscar Performance breezed four furlongs in :51.40 over Keeneland’s firm turf on Sunday with regular rider Jose Ortiz aboard. Hero of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and targeting the November 4 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Del Mar, the Kitten’s Joy sophomore galloped out five furlongs in 1:03.80.
“I thought he went great,” trainer Brian Lynch said. “He built into it, picked it up nicely and had a nice gallop out.”
Oscar Performance captured both the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) and Secretariat Stakes (G1) over the summer, and enters the Turf off a third-place effort while facing older runners for the first time in the September 30 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1).
Canadian champion and multiple Grade 2 winner Heart to Heart clocked a half-mile on the turf in :49.20 in his first move since missing by a half-length in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) on October 7. Jockey Julien Leparoux was holding the reins as the English Channel six-year-old galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.20 in readiness for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1).
“Heart to Heart looked very comfortable,” Lynch said. “We put up the $160,000 (to make Heart to Heart Breeders’ Cup-eligible) and I can give you two million reasons why. Since his last race, he has been doing well and checked all the boxes. I think he will like the course out there with the tight turns and short stretch.”
Heart to Heart sandwiched a win in the Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2) between close placings in a trio of Grade 1 contests – the Shadwell Turf Mile, Shoemaker Mile and Maker’s 46 Mile.
“I’d probably rip the top off the grandstand,” Lynch laughed about the possibility of Heart to Heart getting a first Grade 1 win in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Oscar Performance and Heart to Heart Both are both scheduled to fly to Del Mar on Friday and have half-mile works next Sunday over that track’s turf course.
Last-out Surfer Girl Stakes runner-up Moon Dash breezed a half-mile on Keeneland’s firm turf Sunday in :51.20 for trainer Michael Stidham. The Malibu Moon two-year-old miss just missed by a nose in that one-mile grass contest after breaking her maiden a month earlier at Delaware Park.
Moon Dash is headed to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).
On Saturday, stablemate Zipessa covered a half-mile over Keeneland’s all-weather training track in :48.60, recording her first move since earning an all-fees paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) by taking the First Lady Stakes (G1) on October 7.
“She can get wound up and for her first work back I wanted to use the training track because it is nice and quiet,” Stidham said. “For her final work here next week, it will be on the turf.”
The City Zip mare ran fifth, beaten 3 1/4 lengths, in last year’s edition of the Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita Park off a close runner-up effort in the Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1).
GULFSTREAM PARK WEST
Multiple Grade 2 hero Gunnevera breezed a bullet five furlongs over the fast dirt at Gulfstream Park West on Sunday in 1:00 in his penultimate work before the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
The Antonio Sano-trained sophomore will go in the Classic off a runner-up effort behind West Coast in the Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on August 26.
Sano Racing Stables tweeted: “He’s ready, Gunnevera is one of the happiest horses that I ever been around. Also, he knows what’s coming”
War Flag returned to the track on Sunday for the first time since capturing the Flower Bowl Stakes (G1) on October 8 to earn an all-fees paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) at Del Mar.
The four-year-old daughter of War Front breezed four furlongs over Belmont Park’s firm inner turf in :48.89 with exercise rider Lena Lorieul aboard. War Flag breezed in company with Grade 3-placed Snap Decision.
“She’s come out of the Flower Bowl in very good condition,” said Robbie Medina, assistant to trainer Shug McGaughey. “She went a half in :48 4/5 and did it easily with no complaints. She’ll leave for Del Mar on Thursday, so it’s possible she’ll get another breeze at Del Mar before the race.”
War Flag has gone 2-1-1 from four starts this year and since shipping stateside, including a pair of placings in the Matchmaker Stakes (G3) and Glens Falls Stakes (G3) prior to the Flower Bowl.
Undefeated Grade 1 winner Lady Ivanka breezed five furlongs in 1:01.06 over Aqueduct’s fast main track on Sunday in readiness for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Del Mar.
The Oklahoma-bred daughter of Tiz Wonderful took her maiden debut by eight lengths on August 9 at Saratoga and remained at the Spa to win the Spinaway Stakes (G1) by three parts of a length on September 2.
“So far, everything looks good. I’ll talk to the bosses today and we’ll find out for sure what we’re doing. We’re planning to ship out on October 26,” said trainer Rudy Rodriguez, who was aboard for Sunday’s move. “She’s doing everything we ask her. We just have to keep her happy and healthy and go from there.”
Lady Ivanka will stretch out past seven furlongs for the first time in the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile Fillies.
“We have to see how she handles it over there, it’s a different surface and different weather,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not an easy decision to make to go. It’ll be a tough race. They’re babies and some of them have (run) long already, but that’s the question we have to answer. It’s tough because she hasn’t gone the distance yet. She looks like she can handle it and go the distance, but she has to go and do it.”