On a frosty morning at Keeneland, undefeated Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IIT) contender State of Play worked six furlongs in 1:13 4/5 in company on the Polytrack Oct. 29.
Breaking four lengths behind Sweet Seventeen (his workmate in his last work Oct. 21), the son of War Front clicked off fractions of :12 3/5, :25 1/5, :37 1/5, :49 1/5 before completing five furlongs in 1:01 4/5, according to track clockers. State of Play finished the six-furlong work two lengths ahead of Sweet Seventeen and a galloped out in 1:28.
“It was a big work,” said Barry Irwin, president of Team Valor International, who manages the partnership that owns State of Play. “The turf, because of the rain, is heavy. At Churchill, where we were going to work originally, (trainer) Graham (Motion) walked the course yesterday and it’s too soft.”
State of Play is playing catch-up with his work schedule, according to Irwin and Motion. The horse had a fever for about four days. Motion typically works a horse harder during its second to last work before a race and then works it easier in the work immediately prior to a race. This time, however, State of Play needed his tougher work a week out. Irwin said it is a “bit of a tight rope act” getting enough into the horse during the work without taking too much out of him.
“We thought the (soft) turf might have been too much,” Irwin said.
Motion said he thought the Oct. 29th work went very well.
“Although not perfectly smooth, he’s had two solid works,” he said. “You know, as far as the race goes, he really hasn’t done anything wrong.”
State of Play, bred in Kentucky by Stone Farm and Dell Hancock, broke his maiden by two and half lengths first time out July 27 at Saratoga. He won a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight on the grass in 1:02.99. On Sept 1, we wired the field in the 1 1/16-mile With Anticipation Stakes (gr. II).
Irwin bought the colt privately from bloodstock agent Joe Brocklebank and syndicated him quicker than any other horse Team Valor has offered.
“He is gorgeous and fast,” Irwin said. “We send out notices to all our people 24 hours before we are going to make a horse available. At noon on the day we offered him, we sent out all the stuff on the horse and within an hour and 50 minutes he was syndicated. Usually it takes a day or two.” The syndicate includes about 16 partners.
Team Valor is also racing Lucky Chappy in the Juvenile Turf. The son of High Chaparral worked Oct. 28 at Keeneland in 1:01 2/5. Irwin said Lucky Chappy broke 4 1/2 lengths behind his workmate, caught him between the three-sixteenth and quarter poles, and was four lengths ahead after five furlongs.
“He is going to surprise a lot of people,” said Irwin. “He is a tough son of a gun.”
Team Valor won the Juvenile Turf last year with Pluck.