California Flag – The gray gelding stretched his legs on the main track Thursday just after 9 a.m. in what trainer Brian Koriner called a “good gallop.”
The conditioner, a California guy who got his start working with Quarter Horses, reverted to that breed when he described his thoughts about his veteran runner coming up to his fourth straight start in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on Saturday.
“That good gallop is all we need now,” he said. “He might not see light of day again until he races. Just like a Quarter Horse. We’re only going five-eighths; I don’t need to take the edge off.”
The 7yo by Avenue of Flags owns a victory in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, a race run on the unique downhill turf course at Santa Anita at 6-1/2f. Joe Talamo rode him that day, but Patrick Valenzuela has the call this time around.
Caracortado – The Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint has proven a most popular event in its three previous editions, drawing a full-gate lineup of 14 runners in each case. There are 14 named once more for Saturday’s renewal and one of them is the California-bred gelding Caracortado, listed as one of the favorites for the race at 4-1 in Mike Battaglia’s morning line.
Thursday morning the chestnut son of Cat Dreams had an easy gallop on the main track at Churchill Downs with trainer and part owner Mike Machowsky looking on.
“He’ll go easy (Friday), too,” the conditioner said. “He schooled (Wednesday) in the paddock during the afternoon and did it fine. We’re hoping for a clean trip.”
Caracortado will start his journey from post 13 under regular rider Joe Talamo.
Great Attack/Holiday for Kitten – Trainer Wesley Ward says that both his Turf Sprint contenders are doing very well despite not having the opportunity to train over the turf course Thursday morning.
Even though he and owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey considered running Holiday for Kitten in the Filly & Mare Sprint, they are confident they made the right choice by going in the Turf Sprint.
“She’s a fantastic sprinter and being by Kitten’s Joy, we know she loves the grass,” said Ward. “She’s a 3-year-old, but getting older and catching up with these horses fast.”
Hoofit – The New Zealand gelding jogged 1m and galloped 1m at Churchill Downs Thursday morning.
Hoofit has won both of his races since being imported from his native country, was two of 16 starts on turf in New Zealand. Both of his victories stateside have come on synthetic surfaces at Presque Isle Downs and Keeneland. Trainer Graham Motion doesn’t think his successes in the U.S. are a result of the surface change.
“Ninety-nine percent of my horses that handle one handle the other,” Motion said. “He’s bred for turf. I don’t think the fact that his form has changed dramatically is (due to) the Polytrack. Maybe after the fact, I’ll say it was, but I don’t think that it was. I don’t think it’s the case. I think it’s more him, physically, than anything.”
Regally Ready – Vinery Stables’ 4yo gelded son of More Than Ready has been installed as the lukewarm 3-1 morning-line favorite for the Turf Sprint. Intermittent rain fell in Louisville on Thursday, but conditions are expected to improve considerably in advance of Saturday’s race. The condition of the turf course isn’t a concern for trainer Steve Asmussen.
“When he won here (at Churchill) last fall, it was very soft turf, and a couple of his victories at Santa Anita were on very firm going,” Asmussen explained.