El Areeb Sharp in Return to Worktab
Photo: Coglianese Photos/Chelsea Durand
El Areeb turned in his first move since winning the Withers Stakes (G3).

M M G Stables' multiple grade 3 winner El Areeb returned to the work tab with a sharp half-mile breeze over Laurel Park's main track Feb. 18.

With trainer Cal Lynch's son, Charlie, in the irons, the 3-year-old Exchange Rate colt was clocked in :47 4/5, which was the second-fastest time of 35 drills at the distance. It was his first timed work since his 4 1/4-length victory in the Feb. 4 Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct Racetrack.

NOVAK: El Areeb Too Good in Withers

"Everything went really well," Lynch said. "He galloped out (to five furlongs) in a minute and 1:13 for three-quarters, but that was very easy under a hand ride. It was effortless for him."

Lynch decided to give his son, who doubles as his assistant and exercise rider, a leg up rather than jockey Trevor McCarthy, El Areeb's regular rider and frequent breeze partner in the mornings, in an effort to have a more relaxed work.

"Charlie was on him today, because I wanted him to go a little slower. When Trevor gets on there, he knows he's up for a work and he'll try to go a little quicker. He did it all by himself today," he said. "It was a little quicker than he probably needed to, but it's not unusual for him."

El Areeb is one of the top sophomores on the Triple Crown trail, with four consecutive wins, including the James F. Lewis III Nov. 19 at Laurel to cap his juvenile season and both the Jerome Stakes (G3) and Withers to open his 3-year-old campaign.

Lynch said El Areeb continues to thrive following the Withers. He is considering a return to the New York for the Gotham Stakes (G3) March 4 at Aqueduct, as well as the Wood Memorial (G2) April 8. The Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) April 8 at Keeneland is another consideration.

"Right now I'm kind of in between the Gotham and the Wood, or just the Wood or the Blue Grass in Kentucky. Those are the three," Lynch said. "The next choice I have to make is whether we're going to go ahead and run in the Gotham. I was planning to give him some time between the races. If he insists he doesn't need any more time and we want to run, then he'll go in the Gotham. That's something that's not based on today's work. It'll be another work or two before we make a final decision.

"The only thing about going to Kentucky is that we would go there and maybe fly or drive there. I'm not sure—maybe get him used to some different things and throw some other stuff at him. He's handled everything we've thrown at him so far really well. He's still a young horse and we have to test him every time we do something different. So far he's passed with flying colors. He's a 4.0 student."

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