Lava Man, Other O'Neill Horses, Work at Keeneland

Lava Man, Other O'Neill Horses, Work at Keeneland
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Lava Man worked at Keeneland on Oct. 27 in preparation for the Breeders' Cup.
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STD Racing and Jason Wood's Lava Man, gearing up for a showdown with Bernardini in the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4, worked six furlongs in 1:15 over Keeneland's Polytrack on Friday, Oct. 27.

Under exercise rider Tony Romero, the 5-year-old son of Slew City Slew went the final three-eighths in :35 as the last of a five-horse string of contenders pre-entered by trainer Doug O'Neill in five of eight Breeders' Cup races.

"We had a great morning," O'Neill said. "Lava Man looked great, Tony did his job perfectly – we just wanted a maintenance work for each of these horses, and that's exactly what we got."

Romero said he was thrilled with the way Lava Man is training off his seventh consecutive win for the year, the Oct. 7 Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) during the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting.

"He's put on some good weight here and he's stronger than ever," the exercise rider said. "I'm very happy with the way he's pulling; he feels better than he did before the Pacific Classic, even. Bernardini is a tough horse to beat, but he should watch out with the way our horse is training."

"I play the Classic out in my mind a lot," O'Neill said. "The post position draw will tell us more. We'd like to see Brother Derek and Bernardini start on his inside so we can tell what they're going to do, but our jockey [Corey Nakatani] knows him well, he knows he can be a little aggressive early and still have something left in the tank."

Leading O'Neill's morning work tab was the 4-year-old Dixieland Band filly Sharp Lisa, fourth in her last start, the Oct. 8 Spinster (gr. I) at Keeneland. Owned by J. Paul Reddam and partners and entered in the Emirates Airline Distaff, the filly got the distance in 1:17.

O'Neill's two TVG Sprint contenders -- Thor's Echo (Swiss Yodeler) and 4-year-old Areyoutalkintome (Smokester) -- worked back-to-back with respective times of 1:14 and 1:16 2/5. Thor's Echo, owned by Suarez Racing Stable and partners, ran the quarter in :26 1/5 and finished with a strong :47 4/5 for the remaining half, while Areyoutalkintome worked a steady 1:16 2/5 for owners Ron Manzani and Russell Sarno.

"Thor's Echo kind of surprised me, he really picked it up at the end, and he's usually a lazy worker," O'Neill said. "But I'd have to say Areyoutalkintome is training equal to, if not better than Thor's Echo right now. They're both training well, but we brought Areyoutalkintome in a little early for the Phoenix and he's just a really a happy horse right now that would love to get a chance to run."

Thor's Echo is coming off a second-place finish to Proud Tower Too in the Mar. 25 Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse. Areyoutalkintome finished second by a length to Kelly's Landing in the Oct. 8 Phoenix Breeders Cup (gr. III) at Keeneland.

Coming off his win in the Oct. 7 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland, J. Paul Reddam's 2-year-old Great Hunter (Aptitude) turned in a steady 1:14, working a quarter in :26 3/5 and the remaining half in 47 4/5 in preparation for the Bessemer Trust Juvenile.

"He brings it every time you ask him," said O'Neill, who won the 2005 Juvenile with Stevie Wonderboy. "He's an extremely special horse, very classy, and he covers a lot of ground. He's got the pedigree to do well and we're very excited about him. He's our miniature Lava Man; they train a lot alike."

O'Neill's horses will ship to Churchill on Sunday, and according to the trainer's brother, Dennis O'Neill, the hardest part is over. "It was a great morning," he said. "Now we just have to get them all to Chuchill in one piece."

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