BEHOLDER (No. 1) - Santa Anita Oaks (GI) heroine Beholder went
trackside at Churchill Downs Sunday morning at 7 o’clock following her
flight from her California headquarters on Saturday.
On her back was former jockey and current exercise rider David Neusch and at her side was her Hall of Fame conditioner, Richard Mandella, who like his 2-year-old filly champion has set up shop in Kentucky
for the week with Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (GI) squarely in their sights.
“We galloped her a mile and
one eighth,” Mandella said afterward, which just happens to be the same
distance she’ll be asked to run in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks. “We
might let her pick up her gallop a little bit
later in the week, but I’m pretty happy with where we are right now. I
worked her seven-eighths at Santa Anita (last Thursday in 1:27.80) and
that’s about all we had left to do.”
Beholder, owned by the Spendthrift Farm of B. Wayne Hughes and a half-sister to the farm’s successful young stallion Into Mischief, has banked more than $1.5 million in her brief career thus far, including
five wins (three of them Grade I stakes) in eight starts. She’ll once again be handled Friday by Garrett Gomez, the only rider she’s ever known.
CLOSE HATCHES (No. 5) / FLASHY GRAY (No. 6) – Juddmonte Farms LLC’s undefeated Close Hatches completed her serious Kentucky Oaks conditioning Sunday morning with a half-mile breeze in :47.40, timed
from the half-mile pole to the wire, under exercise rider Joanna Trout.
Over a “fast”
track that was drying out during the Oaks and Derby session, Churchill
Downs clockers recorded splits of :11.40 and :23.20, as well as a
five-eighths gallop-out time of 1:00.40. The speed-laden
First Defence filly broke off sharply at the 4 ½-furlong marker and,
combining that with her strong gallop-out into the first turn,
effectively worked an effortless 5 ½ furlongs.
“What you saw is what I expected given her work last week,” trainer Bill Mott said.
just let her go by herself. She’s aggressive and full of herself so I
thought she didn’t need company to breeze with; she’d do enough on her
own. I just told Jo to let her go off smooth, keep it as smooth as
possible and to let her have a normal gallop
Even coming into nine-furlong
races such as the Oaks or her previous start, the Gazelle (GII), Close
Hatches does not work longer distances.
“She’s on the aggressive side but that’s her game,” said Garrett O’Rourke,
Juddmonte’s Kentucky farm manager. “That’s why we’re only going a half
with her, because she gets a lot out of her gallops
every day. When you break her off she’s immediately into her work and
she gallops out well, too, so she gets a lot out of her daily routine
and her workouts.”
regimen does not suggest that Close Hatches will amend her recent
front-running style despite a predominance of speed in the Oaks. Her
class, though, should help her to carry that speed regardless
of who else is on the lead or how fast they go.
“It’s one of the
greatest pedigrees in the stud book if you go back to, when we got
involved in it, (third dam) Monroe. She was all speed. Then we’ve got
Xaar, who was a champion 2-year-old, but more of
a miler. Then you look at the whole family and you’ve got Blush With
Pride, from the same family, and she won the Kentucky Oaks (in 1982). If
you look at the whole family, there have been Grade I winners
sprinting, milers, middle-distance horses, and there’s
even a two-mile Group I winner in there, Chief Contender. This is a
family that’s just good. With any speed horse there’s a distance concern
but she’s already won the Gazelle and there’s no reason she can’t do it
Meanwhile, West Point Thoroughbreds and Tom Keithley’s Flashy Gray went back to the track one day after posting a five-furlong move in 1:01.
came out good,” Mott said. “We gave her a mile jog just to get her a
little light exercise and get her out of the barn. She seemed
to be feeling good and we were pleased with her work yesterday. She
worked in company – she’s a little more laid-back than the other filly –
so we put her in company and gave her a little bit of a target. When
asked, she drew away from her target the last eighth
of a mile and galloped out nicely.”
DREAMING OF JULIA (No. 4) / PRINCESS OF SYLMAR (No. 7) / SILSITA (No. 9) / UNLIMITED BUDGET (No. 3) – The Todd Pletcher Oaks contingent all came out of their Saturday works well and went back to the racetrack
Sunday morning when fears of an “off” track and unsavory weather conditions proved not true.
Gulfstream Oaks (GII) winner Dreaming of Julia, Bourbonette Oaks (GIII) heroine Silsita and Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) star Unlimited Budget jogged a mile on the Churchill Downs strip, which
was termed “good” for their pre-break exercise. Stablemate Princess of Sylmar, second in the Gazelle Stakes (GII) last out, galloped a mile.
"Everyone is doing well,” Pletcher said.
Riding assignments on the trainer’s Oaks runners are locked in: John Velazquez for Dreaming of Julia, Gary Stevens for Silsita, Javier Castellano for Unlimited Budget and Mike Smith
for Princess of Sylmar.
Pletcher will be seeking his third Kentucky Oaks (GI) victory. He won with two champions previously – Ashado
in 2004 and Rags to Riches in 2007.
MIDNIGHT LUCKY (No. 8) – Trainer Bob Baffert had good things to say about Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman’s Midnight Lucky Sunday after she breezed five furlongs in :59.60
with exercise rider Dana Barnes in the irons.
Undefeated after two career
starts, the gray filly prepped for Friday’s Oaks with the fourth fastest
of 42 works at the distance. Starting about three lengths behind
stablemate and Derby prospect Code West,
she turned in split times of :12.40, :24.40; :36.60 and : 48. She
finished about a half-length in front of Code West. The six-furlong
gallop out time was 1:11.80.
“She’s always worked well and
we’ve always been high on her,” Baffert said. “She’s an exceptional
filly. She went really well today. She worked with Code West and sat off
him coming down the lane. She worked really
well and I really liked what I saw. She had to work well like that for
me to throw her in with the wolves. She looks like she’s doing well, so
she’s going the right way.”
Baffert said he had the filly work with Code West to keep her focused.
And Baffert said the Oaks will be a real test for his Sunland Park Oaks winner.
“It’s probably the toughest Oaks field I’ve seen,” he said. “You could just give the Eclipse Award that day.”
PURE FUN (No. 11) – Magdalena Racing’s Pure Fun walked the shedrow at Barn 6, which is standard protocol for trainer Ken McPeek on Sundays.
“We give them an easy day, for the help and the horses,” assistant trainer Phil Bauer said.
Pure Fun will not
post an official breeze coming into the Oaks. The Pure Prize filly raced
in the Coolmore Lexington (GIII) on April 20 and does not require much
in the way of additional conditioning to
run back 13 days later.
“She might do an
aggressive gallop here or there this week but there are no works planned
at this point,” Bauer said. “She seems to be hitting the ground good
Pure Fun, winner
of the Hollywood Starlet (GI) in December, will be back on the track
Monday at 8:30 a.m. during the Derby and Oaks training session.
ROSE TO GOLD (No. 2) – Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centrofanti’s Rose to Gold walked the shedrow at Barn 43 on Sunday morning.
A three-time Grade III
winner, Rose to Gold is scheduled to return to the track Monday after
walking two days following a half-mile work in :47.80 under jockey Calvin Borel. That move was the second fastest
of 51 that day at the distance.
Trainer Sal Santoro is scheduled to arrive in Louisville Monday night and be at the barn Tuesday.
SEANEEN GIRL (No. 10) – Jockey Rosie Napravnik, who picked up the mount on Seaneen Girl for the Oaks, will be working her shortly after the track opens for training Monday morning, trainer Bernie Flint
“I’m going to use the jockey this time as we get close to the race,’’ Flint said.
Martin Garcia rode Seaneen Girl when she finished third in the Fair Grounds Oaks in her most recent start.
“I’m probably going to gallop a mile and work her a half a mile, said Flint, who trains Seaneen Girl for Naveed Chowhan.
small,’’ Flint said of Seaneen Girl, a chestnut daughter of Spring At
Last. “She’s not big. She’s an average-sized horse. If you’re looking
for a middle-of-the-road horse, that’s what you’re looking
Flint said that
Seaneen Girl stands 15 hands, 2 to 3 inches. “But she’s only 2,’’ he
said. “She won’t turn 3 until after the race. She was born in the latter
part of May, like the 18th
of May. She’s just a baby. I keep trying to tell that to people. You can’t keep on hammering on (her). …
“But then again,
there’s an advantage to that. They stay sound, hopefully. She’s an
athlete, and she loves the track. She loves the place. I know she’s
going to love Rosie. As far as I’m concerned, she will.
She’s a great rider. She’s on a good horse. You can’t ask for no more.’’
Under exercise rider Edward “Rocky’’ Seely,
Seaneen Girl galloped Sunday during the training time reserved for
Derby/Oaks runners. Flint said he does look at the competition.
“I just shake my head and walk back; that’s all,’’ he said. “I feel like Mine That Bird
against all those Derby horses, you know. It makes me feel that way. He
was just an average-sized, little horse.
He wasn’t an average-sized horse. He was a little horse. Now, she’s an
average-sized filly … but I look at them. I see them go around there. …
Everybody’s out there at the same time. They’re all going around there.
You look. ‘Look at this one. Look at this
one.’ But my mare floats along the ground. She loves the place. Horses
for courses I’ve said, and I’m going to say it again. It’s got to be
beneficial to us. I’m just sure it’s going to be that way. I’ve got that
In Seaneen Girl’s
only start at Churchill, where she has been based since being purchased
privately last fall, she won the Golden Rod (G2) on Nov. 24 in her last
race as a 2-year-old.