Preakness (gr. I) winner Point Given had his final major workout before Saturday's mile and a half Belmont Stakes (gr. I), going five furlongs on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs in company with another 3-year-old from trainer Bob Baffert's stable. The son of Thunder Gulch covered the distance in :59 3/5, according to Baffert.
"It was wet but soft, a very safe track," Baffert said after the work. "I was leery because the rain just poured down at 6:30 in the morning." Point Given worked about two hours after the downpour.
Dana Barnes flew in from California to work Point Given. She also exercised Flame Thrower, who will accompany Point Given to New York on Wednesday and go in the seven-furlong Riva Ridge Stakes (gr. II) on the Belmont undercard. Baffert clocked Flame Thrower in 1:01 for five furlongs. Barnes also handled Captain Steven in a seven-furlong drill, clocked by the trainer in 1:25 1/5, as the son of Fly So Free prepares for his first start, the June 16 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. II), since winning the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) in March.
Baffert said Point Given went about his work in a professional manner, switching leads smoothly at the top of the stretch and wanting to do more down the stretch. "Everything went well," said Baffert, who has won two Kentucky Derbies and three Preaknesses but has yet to capture the Belmont. "He's ready."
In an unorthodox work for trainer D. Wayne Lukas, Michael Tabor's Buckle Down Ben was credited with a half-mile breeze in :50 under exercise rider Stacy Maker on a "fast" track before the rains hit.
"All I did was just let him warm-up and galloped him what turned out to be a mile and an eighth, but I let him go the last half in :50," Lukas said. "For him that's like an open gallop, so it was a mile and an eighth with an open gallop the last half. He just came skipping down through there."
Of the challenge facing the son of Devil His Due Saturday, Lukas said, "It will be a serious test of class for him. It will be a big hurdle for him. It's not going to be easy and we don't have any grandiose ideas that we're going to go over there and pull another Commendable either. Whatever it is, it is. I think I've got him in position where he's not going to embarrass anybody and that's the main thing."