Saturday’s work tab at Churchill Downs was filled with star power with many of the nation’s top contenders logging their penultimate workouts before the Nov. 6-7 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland. Among the stars to work Saturday included champion Monomoy Girl (six furlongs, 1:12), Preakness winner Swiss Skydiver (four furlongs, :47.80) and Grade 1 winner Tom’s d’Etat (six furlongs, 1:12.80).
On Saturday, trainer Brad Cox’s barn worked five of their nine probable runners in this year’s Breeders’ Cup. Most notably taking to the track was superstar mare Monomoy Girl. The likely favorite in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff worked with her regular pilot Florent Geroux aboard and started about one length behind stablemate Owendale.|
Owned by Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, The Elkstone Group, and Bethlehem Stables, Monomoy Girl swiftly worked through eighth-mile splits of :12, :24.40, :36.20, :47.80 and 1:00. Monomoy Girl galloped out in front of Owendale through seven furlongs in 1:26.40, according to Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols. Owendale completed his six-furlong move one second slower than Monomoy Girl in 1:13.
“Anyone you put with Monomoy, she seems to always out work them,” Geroux said. “She’s worked with a lot of really good horses in the past and Owendale is a really good horse. She just always gets the better of them.”
“There’s not much really to say about her other than she’s just really, really, really good right now,” Cox added. “We’ll see what the future holds for her but as a 5-year-old she’s showing how mature she’s become.”
Monomoy Girl took to the track this morning and worked 6F in 1:12 outside of stablemate Owendale (1:13) #BC20
Splits: 12, 24.2, 36.1, 1:00. pic.twitter.com/x5d5PxFVKz— Churchill Downs (@ChurchillDowns) October 24, 2020
Cox’s morning started at 5:30 a.m. when Donegal Racing, Joseph Bulger and Peter Coneway’s $2.4 million earner Arklow worked outside of stablemate Plainsman through splits of :12.60, :24.80 and :47.80. Plainsman completed five furlongs in :59.80. Arklow, who was ridden by Geroux, continued to gallop out around the clubhouse turn in front with a six-furlong gallop out in 1:11.80. The $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf will mark Arklow’s 30th career start but only the second with the addition of blinkers.
“I wish I would’ve added the blinkers in start 19 instead of 29,” Cox joked. “He’s really turned the corner since we put them on for the Kentucky Turf Cup Classic (G3) last out. This year has been interesting with this horse. He ran a good race in June (in the $100,000 Louisville) and we ran him back in the Elkhorn where he didn’t run bad but I had the not-so-great idea of sticking him on a plane and running six days later at Monmouth (in the $315,000 United Nations (G1)).
"After he finished fourth that day, I said we have to make a change and add blinkers," Cox added. "It really worked out in the Kentucky Turf Cup, which in and of itself turned out to be a really interesting race when there was a torrential downpour before the running of the race.”
Immediately following Arklow’s move, Cox worked Korea Racing Authority’s four-time winner Knicks Go, who recently cruised to a 10 ¼-length score at Keeneland in a conditioned allowance event. The gray son of Paynter worked solo through early fractions of :24.40 and :48 with a six-furlong gallop out of 1:12.80.
“This horse has really come around,” Cox said. “I hope we can get into the Dirt Mile because I think he will really like two-turns and have a pace advantage with his stamina.”
Also in the first set of Cox horses was Slam Dunk Racing and Medallion Racing’s recent $350,000 First Lady (G1) runner-up Beau Recall (IRE), who is likely to face the males in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile. She worked by herself through fractions of :13.20 and :25.60 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:03.80.
In Cox’s next set he worked Gaining Ground Racing’s 12-time winner Factor This, who easily breezed through splits of :13, :25.40 and :49.20. The recent winner of the Dinner Party (G2) worked outside of stablemate Gold Standard.
The fastest recorded five-furlong move of the morning came from Allied Racing Stable’s $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic contender By My Standards when he whipped through fractions of :12, :23.40 and :34.80 with jockey Gabriel Saez aboard. The duo galloped out six furlongs in 1:11 and completed seven furlongs in 1:24.80.
“Last week was the first work we did a little bit something serious with him (since he won the Alysheba),” Calhoun said. “He was full of energy and bounced around great after it. It’s been a different year for sure losing a few races here or there. We were fortunate to have (the Alysheba) on the undercard of the rescheduled Derby.
"We probably could’ve shipped somewhere around the country but our goal was how to get him to the Breeders’ Cup Classic. We decided to stay here run in the Alysheba and point to the Breeders’ Cup from there.
“Some really good horses look like they’re coming together (for the Classic) and horses that have beaten us. Tom’s d’Etat beat us (at Churchill in the Stephen Foster)," Calhoun continued. "I have a ton of respect for him. Maximum Security hasn’t done anything wrong in his career. It’s a top group of horses that we’ll have to turn the tables on them. … I think By My Standards has been very consistent this year and has gotten better as the months have gone on.”
The aforementioned Tom’s d’Etat, who has been off since his troubled third-place effort in the $750,000 Whitney (G1) in early August, continued his serious preparation for the Classic with a solid six-furlong move under jockey Miguel Mena. The duo worked with stablemate Oak Hill. Tom’s d’Etat, owned by G M B Racing, worked through splits of :12.20, :23.80, :47.20 and 1:00. Oak Hill completed five furlongs in 1:01.
“The schedule with the pandemic got a little awkward with everyone,” Stall said. “The races didn’t quite work out in the calendar quite right for him. My gut feeling said to go into the Classic fresh anyway and when the last round of stakes races came out I didn’t like the way they were placed so we stuck with the plan to train up to the race.”
Just before Tom’s d’Etat worked, a trio of horses from the Kenny McPeek barn worked solo for the Breeders’ Cup. Among them was recent $1 million Preakness Stakes heroine Swiss Skydiver. With Robby Albarado in the saddle, the classy 3-year-old filly breezed through fractions of :12.40 and :24.40.
“She was pulling today and feeling really good with the cool weather,” Albarado said. “No complaints, she feels amazing. … I’m going to gallop her the last five days before the race as I did at Pimlico. We’re going to see how she’s doing and make a decision (about the Classic or Distaff) from there.”
McPeek also worked $1 million Juvenile Fillies probables Simply Ravishing and Crazy Beautiful. The one-two finishers, respectively, in the $350,000 Alcibiades (GI) had eerily similar workouts. Crazy Beautiful worked through fractions of :12.20 and :24.20, while Simply Ravishing went :12.20 and :24.40.
The Saturday morning action completed around 9:20 a.m. with CJ Thoroughbreds, Left Turn Racing and Casner Racing’s $500,000 Derby City Distaff (G1) third-place runner Sally’s Curlin who breezed through opening splits of :12.40, :24, :36.40 and :48.40. She galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.40.
Starting on Friday at Churchill Downs, there will be a special training period for Breeders’ Cup contenders from 7:30-7:45 a.m. The special training session is scheduled to run through Wednesday, Nov. 4.