Two contenders for races in Saturday's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Arlington Park completed their serious preparation for their races with workouts on Monday at Churchill Downs in Kentucky.
Robert and Beverly Lewis' Orientate, who brings a streak of four consecutive stakes victories into Saturday's $1-million Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I), and Steven Miles' Westerly Breeze, an improving 2-year-old filly bound for the $1-million Juvenile Fillies (GI), turned in training efforts over a "fast" track that were the fastest of the day at their respective distances.
Orientate, a 4-year-old son of Mt. Livermore trained by D. Wayne Lukas, covered four furlongs in :48.20 under exercise rider Stacy Maker. The work tied with two others as the fastest of 57 moves at the distance.
"We're pleased," said Lukas. "At this point all we're trying to do is fine-tune him and keep him happy. We're real close up now and we're going to ship this week. We should know a little bit about these horses at this point and should know, if we're doing the job, what they need. I thought that was just about right today. Of course, you're not going to talk to any trainers that say it isn't just right - they all tell you the same thing. But we really feel comfortable that we've got him where we want him."
Orientate launched his winning streak with a victory in the Aristides Handicap (gr. III) at Churchill Downs and went on to win the Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder Race Course, the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (gr. II) at Saratoga, and the Forego (GI) at Belmont Park. Lukas said he knows it will be a challenge for his colt to extend that streak to five.
"We've got guarded optimism," he said. "We know that whenever you put that many good horses on the racetrack from that many different regions, it's tough. You go over there and you feel comfortable that you've got the best horse, but you've still got to go prove it. We're going to go in there feeling good about it, but we know that these are tough races to win."
Orientate has a career record of 9-3-0 in 18 races and has earned $1,124,150 - including a 5-1-0 slate in nine races this year. The Sprint will be his first race since his Forego victory on Sept. 1 and his first outing over the racing surface at Arlington Park.
"We know he runs well fresh," said Lukas. "We've never been on that surface, so you just don't know. Certain horses have an affinity for the course. Bonapaw obviously likes it and he concerns me because he's run his best races there and I think he's one of the contending horses. In fact, I fear him a great deal. It'll just be whether we adapt to it. There's no way of telling, because we're not going to work over it. We'll have some leisurely gallops over it, but we'll just have to put him in the gate and see. That is a variable that is in the unknown area.
Lukas' other Sprint contender, Overbrook Farm's Day Trader, is scheduled to work on Tuesday. Both horses will ship by van to Arlington Park on Wednesday.
Westerly Breeze, the Carl Nafzger-trained winner of the Walmac International Alcibiades (gr. II) at Keeneland in her most recent outing, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.80 with exercise rider Tracy Wilkes in the saddle. The work by Westerly Breeze was the fastest of 46 at the distance.
"It was a good, solid work," said Ian Wilkes, Nafzger's assistant
trainer. "We were wanting a solid work - a nice, good maintenance workout this morning and we got that. She finished up strong down the lane. We got her in 23-and-four down the lane and she galloped out strong. When she came back she had a nice blow out of the work and we're ready to go."
The 2-year-old daughter of Gone West brings a record of 2-0-0 in four races into the Juvenile Fillies and has earned $302,804. She has raced twice at Arlington Park - including a seven-furlong maiden victory on Aug.16 and Wilkes figures that jockey Robby Albarado will have to contend with a strong pace in Saturday's 1 1/8-mile race.
"It looks like there's a lot of speed in there," Wilkes said. "Robby's a good rider and it's going to be his race when the gates open. He'll just ride his race from there."
Westerly Breeze is scheduled to travel by van to Arlington Park on Thursday.
Final Breeders' Cup works are scheduled for three contenders at
Churchill Downs on Tuesday. They include:
Perfect Drift--The Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) contender is scheduled to work at Churchill Downs' Trackside Louisville training center. The work was originally set for Saturday, but was delayed because of a minor foot infection.
Lone Star Sky--The winner of Churchill Downs' Bashford Manor (gr. III) and contender for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) will breeze for trainer Tom Amoss.
Turtle Bow - The French-based runner-up in Belmont Park's Flower Bowl (gr. I), who is headed to the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. I), is scheduled to work for trainer Francois Rohaut.