The blitz towards the Breeders' Cup continued at mach speed Sunday morning at Santa Anita as several major players worked for their engagements in the World Championship events at The Great Race Place on November 2-3, headed by Breeders' Cup Classic favorite Game on Dude.
The five-year-old Awesome Again gelding worked six furlongs in company with stablemate Midnight Interlude and was clocked in 1:12 1/5 with regular rider Rafael Bejarano in the saddle. Last year's Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby winner Midnight Interlude went in 1:14.60.
"He went really nice," Bob Baffert said about Game on Dude. "I really liked it. Everything went smooth."
Asked if Game on Dude was in optimum form for the 1 1/4-mile Classic, in which he was second to Drosselmeyer last year after leading into deep stretch at Churchill Downs, Baffert said, "He's been like this all year long. He's been really good ever since he came back from Dubai."
Baffert also sent unbeaten dual Grade 1 heroine Executiveprivilege six furlongs in company with Super Ninety Nine. With Bejarano aboard, the Juvenile Fillies-bound daughter of First Samurai was timed in 1:12, fastest of 21 drills at the distance.
"Her work didn't go as smooth as I wanted it to because she was too far back," Baffert said of Executiveprivilege. "(Bejarano) grabbed a hold of her and then she lost interest, but she worked good."
Super Ninety Nine, who is under consideration for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint, was clocked in 1:12 4/5. The chestnut son of Pulpit captured his maiden debut at Santa Anita on October 7 by 1 1/4 lengths.
Coil and Capital Account, separated by just a head when one-two in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (formerly Ancient Title) on October 6, also worked in tandem for Baffert, going four furlongs in :46 3/5 and :46 4/5, respectively, for the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Coil's time was the fastest of 45 recorded at the distance.
Fast Bullet, unbeaten in two starts but idle since last November, also worked for Baffert, going a solo five-eighths in a bullet :58 3/5, after which the Hall of Fame trainer said the Speightstown four-year-old would be pre-entered for the Sprint, giving him three possible starters in the six-furlong race. Baffert said Santa Anita jockey leader Joe Talamo rides Fast Bullet in the Sprint.
Also working Sunday at Santa Anita for the Breeders' Cup were Ladies' Classic contender My Miss Aurelia and Filly & Mare Sprint hopeful Dust and Diamonds. Champion My Miss Aurelia, an unbeaten daughter of Smart Strike last seen taking the Grade 1 Cotillion at Parx, was caught in 1:12 2/5 for six furlongs while Dust and Diamonds, a Vindication four-year-old who is exiting a nice win in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Handicap, recorded five furlongs in :59 4/5.
"I thought both traveled really well," trainer Steve Asmussen said. "Both fillies are doing good."
Elsewhere on Santa Anita's main track Sunday, Grade 2 victor Nates Mineshaft readied for the Dirt Mile with a seven-furlong move in 1:24 3/5 for trainer Richard Mandella.
"The horse worked very well," Mandella said of the Mineshaft five-year-old who hasn't competed since a third-place run in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap in mid-June. Mandella added that he planned to pre-enter Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante nose runner-up Beholder in both the Juvenile Sprint and Juvenile Fillies.
Trainer Troy Taylor's recent Grade 3 British Columbia Premier's Handicap winner Commander geared up for the Marathon with a half-mile exercise in :48 3/5.
Grade 2 John Henry Turf Championship (formerly Clement Hirsch) victor Slim Shadey went five furlongs in 1:00 for Simon Callaghan ahead of the Turf.
Pre-entries for the Breeders' Cup will be taken Monday and released on Wednesday.
In other Breeders' Cup news:
Multiple Grade 1 star Switch, runner-up in the past two editions of the Filly & Mare Sprint, and dual Grade 1 victress Lady of Shamrock, headed to the Filly & Mare Turf, each worked a bullet on the main track Saturday at Santa Anita for trainer John Sadler, going five furlongs in :58 4/5 and seven in 1:26 1/5, respectively.
"Both went real well," the trainer said Sunday morning. "Both had bullets. They're essentially ready to run."
According to trainer Dale Romans, Shackleford, runner-up in last year's Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs, will breeze Saturday for the final time in preparation for a start in this year's edition of that contest.
A winner of the Preakness Stakes last year, and both the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes and Grade 1 Metropolitan Mile Handicap this year, the chestnut son of Forestry has developed an extensive following via social media, according to Laura Herman, a representative of daleromansracing.com.
"We've had thousands of requests from people who would like to meet 'Shack'," Herman explained. "So we've decided to do a Meet and Greet this Saturday after he works. He's supposed to work at about 8 a.m. (PDT), and we want to invite his fans to come out to Clockers' Corner and see him on the track. Dale will be making an in-person appearance on HRTV after the work, and at that time he'll let everyone know what plans lie ahead for Shackleford."
Santa Anita Park and the Romans stable will then oversee a tour for all those wishing to make the trek to Barn 76 at 11 a.m. Romans will make Shackleford available for photos and will be on hand to answer questions and sign memorabilia until noon. The Shackleford Tour will assemble at Clockers' Corner prior to 11 a.m.
Juvenile filly Summer of Fun, who finished just short neck back in third in the Grade 3 Jessamine on October 11 at Keeneland, is scheduled to work on the grass at that Kentucky track this week and then ship to California on Saturday for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. The Include miss broke her maiden at Saratoga in late August in her second career try.
"It did not make any sense to ship back to Saratoga and then go to California," said Kim Brooking, assistant to trainer George Weaver.