Bernardini – Darley’s Bernardini, the favorite in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge, had his final pre-Classic workout Tuesday morning at Belmont Park. Under exercise rider Simon Harris, Bernardini worked a very easy five furlongs over the ‘fast’ track in 1:02 4/5. The time ranked 25 of 37 works at the distance.
Bernardini entered the track shortly after the renovation break alongside trainer Tom Albertrani, who was aboard his pony. After walking about three furlongs clockwise along the outer rail, Bernardini and Harris broke away from Albertrani and galloped around the clubhouse turn at an easy clip.
Bernardini slowly picked up speed down the backstretch and after passing the five-eighths pole, the colt simply galloped through his workout. New York Racing Association clockers caught the colt in fractions of 26, 38 1/5 and his 6f in 1:15 1/5. Bernardini leaves for Kentucky tomorrow.
“The horse worked well again,” Albertrani said. “We couldn’t be happier with him at the moment. It’s always good to see him come back healthy, we got the last work done and he couldn’t be doing any better.”
Added Harris: “Once he gets into his rhythm he just starts clicking off. He’s always done that. He’s never been doing better than he is now. He’s ready.”
Brother Derek – Cecil Peacock’s 3yo Brother Derek was part of a large contingent of Southern California horses who boarded a Tex Sutton charter in Los Angeles early Tuesday for a flight to Louisville.
Hendricks, who was to fly in from L.A. Tuesday night, said the colt would get his first trip over the Churchill Downs strip since the Kentucky Derby on Wednesday morning. Brother Derek dead-heated for fourth with Jazil in the Derby.
Alex Solis, who has ridden Brother Derek in all 12 of his career starts, has the mount again for the Classic Saturday.
David Junior – The 4yo son of Pleasant Tap cleared quarantine Monday night and was out on the track Tuesday morning for a trot around the main track.
Jane Allison, assistant to trainer Brian Meehan, was on hand to supervise the exercise. David Junior, who has won two of three starts this year, was out in company with Red Rocks, Meehan’s starter in the Turf.
The trainer, who maintains a yard in Manton, England, is scheduled to arrive in Louisville Tuesday evening.
“David Junior trotted faster and farther than Red Rocks,” Allison said. “He always needs more work.”
The Classic will be David Junior’s first start on the dirt, but Allison said the stable is not worried about the change of surface.
“Brian feels he should handle the ground here,” Allison said. “He trains on the all-weather track at home, and he handles that very well.”
The Classic will be David Junior’s 13th lifetime start and the final race of his career. He’ll be retired after Saturday’s race and will be shipped to Japan to start his stud career. He 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. Stabled at Belmont Park.
Flower Alley/Lawyer Ron – The Todd Pletcher-trained Flower Alley, first and only on the Preferred list for the Classic, galloped at Churchill Downs Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile the Pletcher-trained and Classic-bound Lawyer Ron galloped at Belmont Park Tuesday. Lawyer Ron will fly to Kentucky Wednesday.
George Washington – The Queen Elizabeth II stakes winner was due to depart Shannon Airport on the West Coast of Ireland about 9 a.m. Tuesday, Kentucky time, on a non-stop flight to Louisville International Airport. According to Alastair Donald of the International Racing Bureau, the flight, also transporting trainer Aidan O’Brien’s four other Breeders’ Cup runners, was due to land around 5 p.m.
Blood will be drawn by the USDA at the airport and dispatched to the lab at Ames, Iowa, for testing. All being well, George Washington could go to the track Thursday morning. O’Brien is expected in Louisville Wednesday evening.
Michael Kinane will resume his partnership with the son of Danehill on Saturday.
Giacomo – The 2005 Kentucky Derby winner boarded a 5 a.m. Tex Sutton charter at Ontario Airport in California and flew to Louisville International Airport and the subsequent short ship to Churchill Downs.
The gray 4yo was scheduled to join stablemate Hollywood Story, who is on the grounds at Churchill and readying for her Saturday run in the Distaff. Trainer John Shirreffs is scheduled to fly from Los Angeles and join his pair on Wednesday.
Mike Smith – who has ridden Giacomo in all 15 of his previous starts – will be aboard the stretch runner for his final start in the Classic.
Invasor – Shadwell’s Invasor, a three-time Grade I winner this season for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, walked the shedrow for the second consecutive morning. Last Sunday, Invasor had his final pre-Breeders’ Cup workout at Belmont Park when he went 5f over the training track in 1:01 3/5. Plans call for Invasor to jog early Wednesday before the colt boards a Kentucky-bound flight.
Lava Man – The Doug O’Neill trainee schooled in the paddock and then galloped 1 1/2m over the Churchill Downs track Tuesday morning to take another step toward the Classic.
Leandro Mora, assistant to O’Neill, said of the multiple stakes winner, “He was exceptional this morning. He went to the paddock and walked around and looked around at his surroundings. He did exactly what we were hoping he’d do.”
Regular exercise rider Antonio Romero said of Lava Man: “He felt great out there. We like to start him slow and finish pretty strong. That’s the way he likes to train and that’s the way he likes to run.
“He did that today, just like always does.”
O’Neill is expected to arrive from his Hollywood Park headquarters on Wednesday.
Perfect Drift – The hardknocking gelding, preparing for a record fifth start in the Classic, galloped 1 ½ m at Trackside on Tuesday morning under regular rider Joe Deegan.
“He went well this morning,” reported trainer Murray Johnson. “He’s training very happily.”
Unlike his previous four starts in the Classic, Perfect Drift has the advantage this time of staying in his regular environment and running at his home track. In nine starts at Churchill, he has never finished worse than third, including a win in the 2003 Stephen Foster Handicap and a third in the 2002 Kentucky Derby.
“It definitely shouldn’t hurt him,” said Johnson. “He’s been able to keep his routine exactly the same. He’s his usual self and feeling good. He’s particularly good right now.”
Premium Tap – Premium Tap, winner of Saratoga’s Woodward Stakes last month, walked the shedrow Tuesday for trainer John Kimmel. Monday, Premium Tap breezed a half mile over Belmont’s main track in :47 2/5. Jockey Edgar Prado has the mount in the Classic.
Premium Tap enters the Classic off a bad-luck fifth in Turfway’s Kentucky Cup Classic. On the far turn, Premium Tap stumbled badly and nearly fell after clipping the heels of a rival horse.
“I’m just happy the horse didn’t get injured,” Kimmel said. “When a horse has that kind of trouble you don’t know what to expect. He had a little shoulder soreness that we worked on for a couple of weeks, but he seemed to come out of it pretty quickly. Basically he didn’t miss a breeze and he’s as ready as I can have him.”
Premium Tap is scheduled to jog at Belmont Park Wednesday before leaving for Kentucky.
Suave – Jay Em Ess Stable’s Suave walked the shedrow at Barn 39 Tuesday morning, a day after working 5f in 1:01 2/5 at Churchill Downs.
“He’s just fine,” trainer Paul McGee said. “I thought he breezed real good yesterday. He ate his dinner, he ate his breakfast, and his legs are cold as ice. I feel like we are in good shape.”
Hall of Fame rider Kent Desormeaux, who has two Breeders’ Cup winners on his resume, will be aboard Suave for the first time in the Classic.
“Kent is a top rider,” McGee said. “He has ridden winners for me in the past and he has ridden winners for the Siegels in the past, and I thought like it was a good fit. We have talked and I asked him to look at some races of the horse on video and I have told him a little about the horse.”
Sun King – Sun King returned to the racetrack at Churchill Downs Tuesday morning after a day off on Monday. The 4yo son of Charismatic galloped 1 1/2m under Carlos Correa in preparation for Saturday’s Classic.
Sun King’s only racing experience over the Churchill Downs track was a
15th-place finish behind Giacomo in the 2005 Kentucky Derby.
“The Classic is like the Derby. It’s a mile-and-quarter and, even though there aren’t 20 horses, there are 14 horses and a big field,” trainer Nick Zito said. “It won’t be easier on them, but it will be easier on them mentally.”
Sun King survived the rigors of last year’s Kentucky Derby to establish himself as one of the country’s top handicap horses this year. Although he has won only one race, the Commonwealth Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland last spring, in seven starts this year, he has been a head and a nose, respectively, from winning the Met Mile at Belmont and the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga.
“He’s a special horse. He’s overcome a lot,” Zito said. “I hate to make excuses, but he’s been an unlucky horse.”
Sun King, who has yet to win a Grade I race, has had some bad luck in the Breeders’ Cup, in which he will be making his third start. In the 2004 Juvenile at Lone Star, he finished third after being bumped into the inside railing.
“He came back with while paint on his side, and he only got beat this much,” said Zito, raising his hands a foot apart to illustrate the one length that separated Sun King from winner Wilko.
Sun King, who also finished ninth in last year’s Classic at Belmont Park, will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano in the Classiic.
Super Frolic – The 6yo chestnut boarded a 5 a.m. Tex Sutton charter from Ontario Airport Tuesday and flew to Kentucky. Trainer Vladimir Cerin was scheduled to follow him Wednesday with a flight out of Los Angeles.
Super Frolic has been cross-entered in both the Classic and the Mile. Last year in New York he finished fourth to eventual Horse of the Year Saint Liam in the Classic, beaten just under three lengths.