Three of the most accomplished 2-year-olds on the grounds turned in major training moves at Churchill Downs
on Sunday in preparation for what their connections hope
will be a trip to Southern California and success in the $2 million
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Grade I) at Santa Anita on Saturday, Nov. 2.
The headliner was Robert Baker and William Mack
’s Strong Mandate
, the winner of Saratoga’s Hopeful (GI) who breezed five furlongs for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas
in 1:01. The work by the
son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner Tiznow ranked as the
fourth-fastest on 45 at distance on the busy Sunday beneath the Twin
Strong Mandate worked in company with 2-year-old stablemate Tall Boy, a
2-year-old maiden, and finished well clear of his workmate. Internal
fractions for the work over a fast track were :12:60, :24.40 and :36.20
and Lukas was especially pleased by Strong Mandate’s strong finish.
“I let him run a
little bit through the stretch,” Lukas said. “The first part was pretty
easy and he actually went 5 ½ (furlongs). I let him gallop out a little
bit. It was very nice – very impressive. He’s
a very talented colt and I’m very excited about him – I’m really excited
Tall Boy completed his five furlong breeze in 1:02.60.
Lukas has set one
objective for Strong Mandate prior to his trip to Santa Anita: the
Foxwoods Champagne (GI) at Belmont Park on Oct. 5.
“He’ll have one more little breeze here and will ship either Sunday or Monday of next week,” Lukas said.
He has saddled
four winners of the Kentucky Derby (GI) and the Kentucky Oaks, a record
14 winners of Triple Crown races, a record 19 winners of Breeders’ Cup
races and 24 champion Thoroughbreds during his
career, so Lukas clearly knows a good horse when he sees one. And the
78-year-old racing legend believes Strong Mandate is s special talent.
how efficient he is at getting over the ground,” he said. “You don’t
think he’s going anywhere and he’s just waltzing away from horses. It’s
very deceiving how light he is for a big horse.”
victory came in Strong Mandate’s third start, all during the Saratoga
meet. After a fifth-place finish in his debut, he won his next outing
and then romped by 9 ¾ lengths in the Hopeful.
’s 1-2 finishers in Churchill Downs’ Iroquois (GIII) on Sept. 7 – Cleburne
and Smart Cover
– also were out Sunday morning and each worked a half-mile for trainer Dale
Unbeaten Iroquois winner
the distance in :47.80, which ranked fourth among 89 training moves at
the distance. Cleburne’s work included internal fractions of :11.60 and
and the son of Dixie Union galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.
Smart Cover, a son
of Any Given Saturday who finished a neck behind his stablemate in the
Iroquois, covered his four furlongs in :48.60. Churchill Downs clockers
recorded his internal fractions at :11:40
and :35.60 with a five-furlong gallop-out of 1:02.
doing great,” Romans said. “There have been no problems (since the
Iroquois). They’ve just been galloping and doing good.”
Cleburne earned a
guaranteed spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile starting gate with his win
in the Iroquois, which is part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In”
Challenge series. Smart Cover is being pointed
toward Keeneland’s $400,000-added Breeders’ Futurity (GI) over synthetic
Polytrack on Oct. 5. The winner of that race also will secure a “Win
and You’re In” berth in the Juvenile.