Bernardini – The likely favorite in Saturday’s $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic galloped over Belmont Park’s fast main track Monday morning. On Tuesday, Bernardini will work five furlongs after the track’s renovation break, at approximately 8:30 a.m. Exercise rider Simon Harris will be aboard the colt.
Bernardini, a 3yo son of the 1992 Breeders’ Cup Classic champion and Horse of the Year A.P. Indy, enters this year’s Classic in search of his seventh straight victory. So far, he’s collected trophies in the Withers, Preakness, Jim Dandy, Travers and historic Jockey Club Gold Cup, leading many to believe he is one of the better Thoroughbreds to have raced during the last two decades. Trainer Tom Albertrani isn’t one to argue that notion.
“With every race he gets better and stronger,” Albertrani said. “He’s an amazing horse. Right now, he’s doing as good as he’s ever done. This is going to be his most difficult task, but he’s up to it.”
Jockey Javier Castellano has the mount aboard Bernardini in the Classic. Albertrani says he is hoping to draw a middle-of-the-pack post for the race.
“That would be ideal,” he said. “If I had to choose a number, I’d hope for seven or eight. He’s so versatile that as long as we get a good run into the first turn, I don’t think it’s going to make a lot of difference with him anyway.”
Brother Derek – Cecil Peacock’s Brother Derek walked at Santa Anita Monday, a day after a 5f work in 59 1/5 – fourth-fastest of 35 at that distance on the Southern California track’s tab. Assistant trainer Francisco Alvarado was in the saddle.
“He worked great,” trainer Dan Hendricks said Monday. “He was on the bit, but he was not over-aggressive. Francisco said he felt as good as he did at Derby time so all systems go.”
Brother Derek dead-heated with Jazil for fourth in the Kentucky Derby. He also was fourth in the Preakness.
“It was an easy work for him; he’s just a fast horse on a fast track,” Hendricks said.
The horse will ship to Louisville early Tuesday morning; Hendricks is flying in Tuesday night. Brother Derek will get his first trip over the Churchill Downs strip on Wednesday.
His jockey Saturday will be Alex Solis.
David Junior – The 4yo son of Pleasant Tap, who has won two of his three starts this year, arrived at Churchill Downs on Sunday evening after a flight bringing in eight Breeders’ Cup starters from France and England. Those horses will not clear quarantine until Tuesday morning, at which time they’ll be able to go to the track for exercise.
Brian Meehan trains David Junior, who has won the Dubai Duty Free and the Eclipse Stakes this season. Jamie Spencer, who has been aboard in all his starts this year, has the mount again Saturday.
Discreet Cat – Plans pending.
Flower Alley/Lawyer Ron – Flower Alley walked the shedrow at Churchill Downs Monday morning. Sunday, the 4yo Distorted Humor colt worked six furlongs in 1:15 – just one week after going the same distance in a bullet 1:13 2/5. Second by a length to Horse of the Year Saint Liam in last year’s Classic at Belmont Park, Flower Alley is trying to rebound off a two-race losing streak. Flower Alley, however, will need a defection from the Classic in order to get in. Jockey John Velazquez has the mount.
After working five furlongs in 1:02 3/5 on Belmont Park’s fast training track on Sunday, Lawyer Ron walked the shed at trainer Todd Pletcher’s barn Monday. Previously trained by Robert Holthus, the 3yo Langfuhr colt has won five of seven starts this year. He will ship to Churchill Downs on Wednesday.
“Obviously, he is a horse with a lot of talent,” Pletcher said. “He has been training very well. We have been working on trying to get him to relax and settle. We don’t want him to be too keen early. Our goal is to get him to rate and sit behind horses.”
Pletcher said a jockey has yet to be confirmed on Lawyer Ron.
George Washington – Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner George Washington is due to arrive Tuesday afternoon on a flight from Ireland as part of trainer Aidan O’Brien’s five-pronged attack on the 23rd Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Blood will be drawn for testing at the airport here and dispatched to the USDA testing lab in Ames, Iowa.
All being well, the 3yo son of Danehill will spend some 24 hours in quarantine and could go to the track Thursday morning. Michael Kinane, who has partnered George Washington in his two most recent starts, has the mount on Saturday.
Giacomo – The 2005 Kentucky Derby winner jogged one mile under his regular exercise rider Steve Willard Monday morning at Hollywood Park on the “Cushion Track” synthetic surface after having gone through his final major prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on the same oval Sunday.
The Hollywood clockers caught him in 1:15 2/5 -- the 11th best time of 21 workers at the distance – and trainer John Shireffs termed the move “very good.
“I’m happy with it,” he said. “And I’m happy with the way he’s coming up to the race.”
Shireffs indicated that Mike Smith, the only one to ride the Holy Bull colt in his previous 15 starts, will be there again for his 16th – and likely final – outing.
Giacomo, who was a 50-1 longshot when he won the Derby at Churchill Downs a year and a half ago, will ship from Ontario airport outside Los Angeles with a contingent of other California runners at 5 a.m. Tuesday. The trainer will follow him to Kentucky with a flight on Wednesday.
Invasor – Shadwell Stable’s Invasor walked the shedrow Monday for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Sunday, Invasor breezed five furlongs over Belmont’s training track in 1:01 3/5, his final pre-Classic workout. He has not raced since his game win in Saratoga’s Whitney on Aug. 5.
Bred in Argentina, Invasor has won eight of nine career starts, including the Uruguay Triple Crown. Over the summer, he rose to the top of the American handicap ranks with three straight Grade I scores in the Pimlico Special, Suburban and Whitney handicaps.
Invasor was scheduled to meet Bernardini in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Oct. 7, but was withdrawn from the race after coming down with an untimely fever. Having skipped the Gold Cup, Invasor now enters the Classic off a 90-day layoff. Somewhat surprisingly, McLaughlin views the time off as a positive.
“The 90 days might have been a blessing considering he went to Dubai and traveled back over here with some hard races over the summer,” McLaughlin said. “I’m not Bobby Frankel or Bill Mott or a guy that tends to do this often, giving a horse 90 days between starts, but since we are doing it he has really done well, physically, mentally, everything.”
McLaughlin said Invasor would walk again Tuesday. He plans on jogging the horse early Wednesday morning before putting him on a Kentucky-bound plane that afternoon.
Jockey Fernando Jara, who teamed up with McLaughlin to win the Belmont Stakes with Jazil, has the mount aboard Invasor for the Classic. -more-
Lava Man – The 5yo multiple stakes winner jogged a mile and galloped 1 1/2m Monday morning over the Churchill Downs main track, putting smiles on the faces of assistant trainer Leandro Mora and exercise rider Antonio Romero.
Romero was particularly effusive, saying, “He really liked the track. He handled it beautifully. Usually when I get on him in the morning, I jog him a mile to get him warmed up good, and then I can feel how he wants to go.
“Today, he told me he wanted to go for a good gallop.”
Trainer Doug O’Neill is expected to arrive from his Hollywood Park base either Tuesday or Wednesday, according to Mora.
Lava Man, undefeated in seven starts this year, put in his final work on Friday at Keeneland, traveling 6f in 1:15 2/5 over the Polytrack surface. Corey Nakatani, who has been aboard for all of the gelding’s wins this year, retains the mount.
Perfect Drift – The veteran warrior, preparing for a record fifth Classic start, returned to the track for the first since having his final work-out on Saturday at Trackside training center and galloped under regular rider Joe Deegan.
“He was bucking and playing,” said trainer Murray Johnson. “He’s starting the week off in a good way. He came out of the work great and was fresh as a daisy this morning.
“This is such a thrill to be back in the Breeders’ Cup. He’s a horse that seems to thrive on what he’s doing and he enjoys what he’s doing.”
Premium Tap – The upset winner of Saratoga’s Woodward Stakes in September, breezed a half-mile over Belmont Park’s ‘fast’ main track Monday in 47 2/5 under jockey Edgar Prado, who rides Premium Tap Saturday. It was the third fastest of 24 moves at the distance. New York Racing Association clockers said the colt went his first quarter in 23 3/5 before he galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.
“He went real good today,” said trainer John Kimmel. “He was well within himself and I don’t think he could have blown a match out after the breeze.”
Added Prado: “He went super. I was very pleased with him. The thing I loved was he wasn’t even blowing when he came back.”
Suave – Jay Em Ess Stable’s Suave completed his major preparation for a second appearance in the Breeders’ Cup Classic by working 5f in 1:01 1/5 after the renovation break at Churchill Downs. Regular exercise rider Raul Vizcarrando was aboard for the move and Kent Desormeaux will have the mount Saturday,
“I thought he breezed exceptionally well,” trainer Paul McGee said. “I asked Raul to go in about 48 and I had the horse in 47 3/5. I had the first eighth in 12 a fifth, then 35 and change, just like I asked. I thought he did a great job on the horse. The horse galloped out strong and he wouldn’t have blown out a match out there getting his bath. I thought everything was great.”
Suave finished fifth in last year’s Classic at Belmont Park behind Saint Liam and McGee was asked what his confidence level was this year as compared with 2005.
“Similar, very similar,” McGee said. “I felt like he was doing really good going into the Cup last year and the same thing this year. I might even say maybe a little better. I really like the way the horse is doing now. He had an excellent one-mile breeze here (1:39 1/5) here nine days ago, and he is not a real good work horse.
“He never has been by himself. The fact he went out there and did what he did this morning I thought was very good for him. When he doesn’t have company to run at, he generally doesn’t work that fast. I think he might have tipped his hand a little at how good he is doing.”
Churchill Downs is the home base for Suave, who has won three of six starts at the track. McGee relishes a bit of a home-court advantage.
“It’s got to be a factor; I can’t say that it’s not,” McGee said of training here. “The other horses are shipping in from other surfaces, not to mention the shipping itself. If anything, it has to be a bit of a home-field advantage.”
Sun King – Sun King, who worked 5f in 1:00 4/5 at Churchill Downs on Sunday, was given the day off by trainer Nick Zito on Monday. Rafael Bejarano, who was aboard for the work, will ride Sun King in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Super Frolic – The chestnut 6yo, who has raced 38 times from coast to coast, had a simple walk around the shedrow at Santa Anita Monday morning following his final Breeders’ Cup work the previous morning at the Arcadia oval. The Pine Bluff offspring had covered 6f on the main track there Sunday in 1:12 4/5 under regular exercise rider Jesse Marquez, the third-fastest of eight drills at that distance.
“It was a nice, easy work and he came out of it in good shape,” said trainer Vladimir Cerin. “I’m happy with his training coming up to Saturday.”
Super Frolic will join a crew of fellow California shippers Tuesday morning for a 5 a.m. takeoff from Ontario airport en route to Louisville. His trainer will follow him with a flight on Wednesday.
“He’s been training very well, he looks good and he’s carrying lots of good flesh,” Cerin added. “I couldn’t want for more than that.”
The Kentucky-bred is pre-entered in two of the Breeders’ Cup events – the Classic and the NetJets Mile. His first preference has been indicated as the Classic, but Cerin said a final decision has yet to be made.
“That will be decided tomorrow,” the trainer said. “We’ll make that call then.”
Victor Espinoza rides Super Frolic.