Barn Notes from Churchill Downs
Her reputation has been tarnished a bit after surprising back-to-back losses in the Personal Ensign (gr. I) at Saratoga and the Three Chimneys Spinster (gr. I) at Keeneland, but a workout on the Churchill Downs turf Wednesday by Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) contender Heritage of Gold showed trainer Tom Amoss that she can still be a major force on Breeders' Cup Day.
Heritage of Gold breezed four furlongs around the dogs in :53 with jockey Shane Sellers in the irons. Although she will be competing on the main track in the Distaff, Amoss decided to work Jack Garey's 5-year-old daughter of Gold Legend on the turf in an effort to improve his mare's mental outlook after her inexplicably poor efforts in her two losses.
"She actually likes the grass. I've won races on her on the grass and on the dirt, but she's been working a little quick on the dirt -- she's been a little aggressive," said Sellers. "I think it was just a change of pace Tom wanted for her and I think it was a great idea. She went around there and went nice and easy. We wanted an easy work and just shake her up there a little at the eighth pole and stretch her legs and that's what she did. When I shook her up that last eighth of a mile she came home good and aggressive, galloped out good and came off the track good. So she's happy again."
Sellers was aboard Heritage of Gold for her wins this spring in the Louisville Breeders' Cup (gr. II) and the Fleur de Lis (gr. III) at Churchill Downs -- and he believes her success over the Breeders' Cup host track will be an advantage.
"The thing that makes me the most confident is that her best races she's ever run have been at Churchill Downs," he said. "If we can get her happy and have her put forth her best effort, then they better have their running shoes on."
Heritage of Gold underwent an extensive medical examination following her fourth-place finish in the Spinster and those tests failed to provide any evidence of a physical cause for her sub-par efforts. So he looked to the turf as a way to freshen the mental aspect of her game.
"I've got a mile oval that I can get creative with, so what do you do?" Amoss said. "We know she likes the grass, so we decided to give her a couple of light works on the grass and see if that doesn't pique her attitude a little bit."
Amoss said the turf breeze was what he wanted. Now he just hopes his plan works.
"She's the kind of horse that's very push-button to train, so it's very hard to say she's doing better or not doing as well," he said. "She looks good. She's never lost her look -- she doesn't look like the kind of horse that has tailed off."
Like Sellers, Amoss looks to the wins by Heritage of Gold over the Churchill Downs track in the Spring.
"She has run the kind of race that, in my opinion, can win the Breeders' Cup Distaff and the Fleur De Lis is an example of that kind of race," he said. "It's not like she needs to step to the next level to face those horses. We just need to get back to that level -- which is a big step, I realize that. So I think that's an advantage to our confidence."
Amoss' Turf contender Williams News breezed four furlongs in :49 2/5 under jockey James Lopez.