Trainer Mark Casse had planned to work his two juvenile fillies pointing to the Breeders' Cup on Friday and the boys would work Saturday. The threat of rainy conditions Friday and Saturday caused Casse to call an audible and all five of his Breeders' Cup hopefuls breezed over the fast main track at Churchill Downs on Friday morning.
Grade 1 victor Pool Play logged five-eighths in 1:02 4/5 in advance of the Breeders' Cup Classic. The Silver Deputy seven-year-old worked in company with Grade 3 Ontario Derby winner Stealcase, who recorded the same time for the Grade 3 Ack Ack Handicap at Churchill Downs on November 2.
Pool Play, winner of last year's Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at odds of more than 36-1, had his 2011 campaign end early with a tendon injury. He returned to racing in July after more than a year-long layoff and, in his most recent start, captured the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup to improve his record on dirt to a perfect two-for-two.
"I was just hoping to get him back," Casse said. "We kind of had a plan and a strategy and it wasn't necessarily to get him to the Classic, but to get him back on dirt. We did it just the way we wanted to and once we felt like he was at his peak fitness level we knew we were ready for the dirt."
Jockey Miguel Mena was aboard for the work and will have the mount in the Classic.
Another Casse horse with an interesting workmate was Spring in the Air, who worked with Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf probable Lockout. Spring in the Air is being pointed to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies off her win in the Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland and breezed five furlongs in 1:03 under exercise rider Jason Hoyte. Grade 3 runner-up Lockout, a head winner of the Remington Green in late September, logged five panels in 1:01 3/5.
"I thought she handled the dirt quite nicely," Casse said. "She was our first one to work. They went away a little slow and she finished just in a gallop. She looked good."
Spring in the Air will be ridden by Patrick Husbands in the Juvenile Fillies.
Casse's other Breeders' Cup filly Spring Venture was clocked in 1:01 1/5 for her five-furlong drill under Hoyte while working in company. The Spring at Last lass is undefeated in three starts and will enter the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf off wins in the Grade 2 Natalma and Grade 3 Mazarine.
"Spring Venture got away from the pole a little quick," Casse said. "She just wants to go. That will be (jockey) Patrick (Husbands') biggest challenge: getting her to relax. She worked the fastest, but that's just her. She doesn't really know what slow is, but she looked great."
A $320,000 two-year-old in training purchase, Spring Venture is owned by Gary Barber and Stoneway Farm LLC.
Barber also owns Delegation, who is being pointed to the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile off his win in the Grade 3 Durham Cup at Woodbine. With Hoyte in the irons, the Speightstown sophomore breezed five furlongs in 1:02 3/5 while working in company.
"Delegation worked really well," Casse said. "He broke off and there were two horses in front of him going a half mile and he about ran over the top of them. He went around them and then came up on another horse and Jason (Hoyte) had him out in the middle of the track. He went in 1:02 and change, but probably could have gone in :59."
Casse's Breeders' Cup Juvenile hopeful Dynamic Sky was also guided in his work by Hoyte, breezing in 1:02 1/5 in company. The Sky Mesa two-year-old will enter the Juvenile off a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland.
"He ran 72 feet farther than the winner (in the Breeders' Futurity)," Casse noted. "I told (jockey) Luis (Contreras) to make an earlier run and he made a run in the middle of the turn. When he came out of the turn, he started laying in and it cost him his momentum. I think he was the best horse in the race. I don't think there's any question."
Casse, who is seeking his first Breeders' Cup victory, said the horses will ship to California on Sunday.