With the clock inexorably ticking ever closer to the 29th Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita nine days hence, event participants went through their daily regimen without a hitch on a clear, crisp, sun-filled Thursday morning with the scenic San Gabriel Mountains providing their ever-present picturesque background.
Among the horses working on Santa Anita's fast main track Thursday were trainer Doug O'Neill's Classic contenders Richard's Kid and Handsome Mike.
Richard's Kid worked six furlongs in company with the two-year-old Cinco de Mario, a maiden who has yet to hit the board. The multiple Grade 1 star completed the drill in 1:15 2/5, while his workmate finished up in 1:17.
"There was not a lot of deep thought going on" as to why O'Neill worked Richard's Kid in company, the Kentucky Derby-winning trainer said.
"I wanted to see a good three-quarters and let him finish up good, which he did. I got him in 1:14 with him finishing up faster than he started off. He galloped out great, so we're very pleased."
Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby winner Handsome Mike covered his six furlongs in 1:15 1/5, while Grade 2-winning juvenile Know More was caught in 1:15 2/5.
"Know More and Handsome Mike both worked great," O'Neill said. "Today was a day for maintenance works and an excuse to give them an easy day tomorrow and then we'll get right back into our normal good gallops right into the race."
O'Neill later confirmed to Daily Racing Form that Handsome Mike was definite for the Classic. He had been cross-entered to the Dirt Mile as his second preference during the pre-entry stage.
Know More listed the Juvenile Turf as his first preference, with the Juvenile as his second choice.
O'Neill's first preference for the Juvenile, He's Had Enough, zipped six furlongs from the gate in a bullet 1:12 2/5.
Rounding out the barn's Breeders' Cup workers, all at six furlongs, were Cogito (Turf), 1:14 3/5; South Floyd (Juvenile Sprint), 1:15 2/5; Quail Hill, who needs one defection to draw into the Marathon, 1:14 4/5; and Boxeur de Rues, on the also eligible list for the Turf Sprint and Sprint, 1:13 4/5.
In other Breeders' Cup news:
Bill Spawr plans to work defending Sprint champion Amazombie Friday morning before sun-up as usual.
"He schooled in the gate and galloped, then schooled in the paddock," said Spawr, who owns the six-year-old California-bred son of Northern Afleet with Tom Sanford.
"He'll work a long five (furlongs) and (go) out three-quarters," Spawr said. "Depending on how he works tomorrow, I'll come back on Thursday (November 1) and do something. I'm not sure about two-minute clipping or actually working three-eighths. That's pretty much been standard for him and it's been pretty successful."
Spawr was asked his feelings about running at his home track as opposed to Churchill Downs, where he won the Sprint last year.
"I'd feel real good if it rained a couple days before (next Saturday), but it's not good for us: clear skies. But Amazombie tries anyway."
Tammy Fox, assistant to trainer Dale Romans, said all their Breeders' Cup prospects at Santa Anita -- Shackleford (Dirt Mile), Dullahan (Turf or Classic), Little Mike (Mile or Turf), Moonwalk and Sustained (Juvenile Fillies Turf) are scheduled to have their final workouts on Saturday. Romans is expected to arrive in California late Friday night.
Grade 1 Pacific Classic winner Dullahan will work on the main track Saturday, after which a decision will be made on whether he runs in the Classic or the Turf.
Bob Baffert said that Classic favorite Game On Dude would have his final breeze on Sunday, while unbeaten Juvenile Fillies contender Executiveprivilege would work Saturday.
Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, said their Breeders' Cup candidates will have their final major breezes at Santa Anita "Sunday or Monday."
This summer, the Breeders' Cup and HRTV announced a multi-year media rights agreement that makes HRTV the official simulcast partner of the Breeders' Cup World Championships and the preferred Horse Racing Network provider of the event.
HRTV will accordingly present comprehensive live coverage leading into, and continuing through, the 29th running of the Breeders' Cup, next Friday and Saturday at Santa Anita. On both days, the network will televise all of the Breeders' Cup races live (which will also be available via www.hrtv.com), with the exception of the Classic, to racing fans as the only domestic horse racing cable channel of the event.
HRTV's coverage will mirror its in-depth production of major races, including paddock updates, full post parades, up-to-date key information, and expert race-by-race analysis. It will mobilize its well-respected stable of hosts/analysts, as well as additional correspondents, to handle all angles of racing's two-day extravaganza.
HRTV will produce and simulcast the Breeders' Cup Players' Show (formerly the simulcast show) and air all Breeders' Cup races to off-track wagering sites around the globe, and streamed live on www.hrtv.com and breederscup.com.
The network will offer the live telecast of the Breeders' Cup Post Position draw on Monday (1 p.m. PDT), and its Pursuit of the Cup show, which has chronicled the road to the Cup and is currently on a twice-weekly basis, will expand to a daily show this Saturday, offering the latest, up-to-date information on Cup entrants.
During Breeders' Cup week, HRTV will televise the Westrock Coffee First Call program daily from Clockers' Corner and will provide special Cup-related presentations of the network's weekly staples -- The Edge, Against The Odds, and Across The Board. Additionally, its daily Race Day America show will air prominently during the week.
Also, in tribute to Zenyatta, HRTV will present a special half-hour documentary on her brilliant career on November 2 at 7 p.m. (PDT).