Better Talk Now – Better Talk Now walked the shedrow Monday morning after breezing 6f in 1:12 3/5 over Keeneland’s Polytrack surface the day before. The 7yo gelding will be making his third straight appearance in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, which he won in 2004 at Lone Star and in which he finished seventh last year at Belmont Park.
“I’m very comfortable with him,” said trainer Graham Motion by phone from his barn at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland. “What he’s got going for him is that the Turf will be his first race at a mile and a half this year, and that’s his favorite distance.”
Better Talk Now was scheduled to be shipped from Keeneland to Churchill Downs Monday, along with stablemate Film Maker, who will make her third straight appearance in the Filly & Mare Turf.
Regular rider Ramon Dominguez will be aboard Better Talk Now for the Turf.
Cacique – The Irish-bred horse walked the shedrow on Barn 23 at Churchill Downs Monday morning after turning in a smart drill Sunday on the Polytrack at Keeneland. He was timed in 1:13 for 6f.
“I’m a big believer in the Polytrack,” Hall of Fame trainer Robert Frankel said. “I took my Breeders’ Cup horses there three weeks ago to train because I think it’s better for them. The horses seem to be happier on it; the footing is steadier and they give more because of it. Cacique, for instance, isn’t a good work horse. He’s lazy in the mornings. But at Keeneland yesterday he worked really well. And he worked alone; I didn’t have to push him with something else.
“All the results aren’t in yet, but for starters I think it (Polytrack) is a winner. I wish all the tracks would install the same thing, but there are different deals going on with different outfits. And the handicappers are going to have to make adjustments, but they will. They’ll learn. And trainer will have to train differently and riders ride differently. But if it’s good for the horse, all the rest will fall in behind.”
Cacique, who’ll be one of the favorites for the $3 million Turf, will be handled by Edgar Prado, his rider in his last four starts. In those four runs – all Grade I turf races – the son of Danehill scored two wins and two seconds.
English Channel – One of the favorites for the John Deere Turf, English Channel walked the shedrow Monday after working five furlongs in 1:03 3/5 on the “soft” inner turf course on Sunday. Trainer Todd Pletcher worked English Channel and 11 other Breeders’ Cup-bound horses on Sunday. They will ship to Louisville on Wednesday afternoon.
“English Channel has been maturing both physically and mentally and is getting better with each race,” Pletcher said of the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic winner.
“He’s handled soft turf before. He is training well, and I believe, he is peaking at the right time.”
Jockey John Velazquez will ride.
Go Deputy – The 6yo Deputy Minister horse became a Grade I winner at Saratoga when he won the Sword Dancer Invitational on Aug. 12. Trainer Todd Pletcher has given the mount to jockey Olivier Peslier, whose lone Breeders’ Cup victory in 13 tries came aboard Banks Hill in the Filly & Mare Turf in 2001 at Belmont Park.
Icy Atlantic – Walked the shedrow Monday after working 4f on the “soft” inner turf course at Belmont Park on Sunday. Jockey Mike Luzzi will be aboard for the Turf, and the 5yo Stormy Atlantic horse has a clear-cut mission.
“Icy Atlantic is in there to make sure that English Channel has a target to run at,” said trainer Todd Pletcher, who will ship Icy Atlantic and his other Breeders’ Cup horses to Churchill Downs on Wednesday. The horses are scheduled to leave at 12:30 p.m. and will arrive two hours later. “We feel English Channel is much better when he can go after one horse, and Icy Atlantic will guarantee that.”
The combination worked perfectly in Belmont Park’s Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, as Icy Atlantic set the pace to set up his stablemate to win the race by 4 ½ lengths over Freedonia.
Honey Ryder – See Filly & Mare Turf
Hurricane Run – The well-traveled 4yo arrived at Churchill Downs on Sunday evening after a flight from Europe that brought in eight Breeders’ Cup runners from France and England. Those horses clear quarantine Monday night and will be out on the track for exercise Tuesday morning.
Andre Fabre trains the son of Montjeu, who has raced in Ireland, England and France this year. Hurricane Run, winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last year, will be ridden Saturday by Christophe Soumillon, who was aboard in the colt’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July.
Red Rocks – The Irish-bred colt arrived at Churchill Downs Sunday evening after a flight from Europe bringing eight Breeders’ Cup runners from France and England. The horses will clear quarantine Monday night and will be allowed to go to the track for exercise Tuesday morning.
Brian Meehan trains the 3yo, who will be looking for his first graded stakes victory in the Turf Saturday. Frankie Dettori, who was aboard in his maiden score in April, has the mount.
Rush Bay – The 4 yo colt tuned up for the Turf with an easy workout on the turf Monday morning. Under jockey Rafael Bejerano, Rush Bay breezed 5f in 1:03 2/5.
“It was a good work,” said trainer Tom Amoss. “It wasn’t as spirited as his last work, but that was by design. He’s coming into the race well, but he’s going to have to step up his game against this field.”
To his advantage, Rush Bay has never run a bad race over the Churchill Downs’ turf course, winning three of four starts with one second-place finish.
“I think another advantage is his style,” said Amoss, who is doubling as a TVG racing analyst this week. “We’ll be close to the pace and that should play well on this course.”
Scorpion – Mrs. John Magnier’s Scorpion, second in the listed Finale Stakes in his only start this year, will arrive in Louisville Tuesday afternoon on a flight from Ireland along with four other Breeders’ Cup-bound horses from trainer Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle yard.
The 4yo could go to the track Thursday subject to his blood tests returning negative from the USDA lab in Ames, Iowa.
Michael Kinane will ride on Saturday.
Silverfoot – One statistic jumps off the 6yo gelding’s past performance chart: he’s unbeaten in four of his turf starts at Churchill Downs. Three of those wins have come in the Louisville Handicap.
Silverfoot had his final breeze for the Turf over the grass course at Churchill Downs on Oct. 25. Trainer Dallas Stewart said Silverfoot galloped 1 ½ miles Monday and will gallop up to the race.
The gray son of With Approval is following the same path he traveled to the 2005 Breeders’ Cup at Belmont Park, where he finished sixth in the field of 13: the Louisville, the United Nations, the Sword Dancer and the Kentucky Cup Turf.
Last year, he won the Kentucky Cup Turf at Kentucky Downs as the prep for the Turf. He was fifth on Sept. 26, beaten three lengths.
“This year the track was real wet,” Stewart said. “He kind of wrenched his foot, had a little swelling and just didn’t run his race. I’m thinking that’s what happened. He came out of the race with some swelling, but it looks good now and he’s had two good works since then.”
T. H. Approval – Trainer Eduardo Inda had his gray on the Churchill Downs strip
right after the renovation break Monday morning with exercise rider Edmundo Cedeno in the irons. The 5yo With Approval horse had shipped from California Sunday, as had the conditioner – though on separate planes.
“He shipped great,” Inda noted. “This is the first time we’ve flown him and the boy said he handled it just fine. No problems.”
All 26 of T.H. Approval’s starts have come in California, where he’s managed to amass a bankroll of more than $800,000, including four Graded stakes wins.
“He’s gotten better with age,” Inda said. “When he was a young horse, even a 3-year-old, he would get all wound up; he’d be hard on himself. But he’s learned what it’s all about and he handles himself and his races so much better.
“I remember when I worked with (champion) Bayakoa (as an assistant for trainer Ron McAnally). She was nearly crazy as a young horse. I remember one time she won a race under (Laffit) Pincay (Jr.) and she tied up so badly afterwards we were afraid for her. But she got better as she got older and she became a star. This horse (T.H. Approval) has matured just like she did.”
Inda indicated that his rider, Alex Solis, would be at Churchill in time to blow out his horse Friday.
“I like to put him on the grass the day before and blow him out down the lane,” the trainer said. “Nothing serious; maybe 37 (seconds for 3 furlongs). Just enough to open up his lungs.”