Three of the most accomplished 2-year-olds on the grounds turned in major training moves at Churchill Downs Sunday Sept. 22 in preparation for what their connections hope will be a trip to Southern California and success in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park Saturday, Nov. 2.
The headliner was Robert Baker and William Mack's Strong Mandate , winner of the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course who breezed five furlongs for Racing Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas in 1:01. The work by the son of two-time Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Tiznow ranked as the fourth-fastest of 45 at distance on the busy Sunday beneath the Twin Spires.
Strong Mandate worked in company with 2-year-old stablemate Tall Boy, a 2-year-old maiden, and finished well clear of his workmate. Internal fractions for the work over a fast track were :12:60, :24.40, and :36.20 and Lukas was especially pleased by Strong Mandate's fast finish.
"I let him run a little bit through the stretch," Lukas said. "The first part was pretty easy and he actually went 51/2 (furlongs). I let him gallop out a little bit. It was very nice; very impressive. He's a very talented colt and I'm very excited about him. I'm really excited about him.
"It's deceiving how efficient he is at getting over the ground. You don't think he's going anywhere and he's just waltzing away from horses. It's very deceiving how light he is for a big horse."
Tall Boy completed his five-furlong breeze in 1:02.60.
Lukas has set one objective for Strong Mandate prior to his trip to Santa Anita: the Foxwoods Champagne Stakes (gr. I) Oct. 5 at Belmont Park.
"He'll have one more little breeze here and will ship either Sunday or Monday of next week," Lukas said.
The Hopeful victory came in Strong Mandate's third start, all during the Saratoga meet. After a fifth-place finish in his debut, he won his next outing and then romped by 9 3/4 lengths in the Hopeful.
Unbeaten Iroquois winner Cleburne covered the distance in :47.80, which ranked fourth among 89 training moves at the distance. Cleburne's work included internal fractions of :11.60 and :35 and the son of Dixie Union galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.
Smart Cover, a son of Any Given Saturday who finished a neck behind his stablemate in the Iroquois, covered his four furlongs in :48.60. Churchill Downs clockers recorded his internal fractions at :11:40 and :35.60 with a five-furlong gallop-out of 1:02.
"They're both doing great," Romans said. "There have been no problems (since the Iroquois). They've just been galloping and doing good."
Cleburne earned a guaranteed spot in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile starting gate with his win in the Iroquois, which is part of the Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" Challenge series. Smart Cover is being pointed toward Keeneland's $400,000-added Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) on Polytrack on Oct. 5. The winner of that race also will secure a "Win and You're In" berth in the Juvenile.
In other works of note Sunday:
• 2013 Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. I) winner Little Mike breezed five furlongs for trainer Dale Romans in 1:02.
• Neck 'n Neck, winner of the 2012 Indiana Derby (gr. II), breezed five furlongs in 1:01.20.
• Bourbon Courage , third in the 2012 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (gr. I), breezed a half-mile in :50.80.
• Gentlemen's Bet, third in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (GI), breezed four furlongs in :47.80 for trainer Ron Moquett. ...
• The work tab at the six-furlong Trackside Training Center oval included five furlongs moves by Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Secretariat Stakes (gr. I) winner Admiral Kitten in 1:00.60 and grade III winner Kitten's Dumplings, who covered the distance in 1:00.40.