Bernardini had his final workout at Belmont Park Oct. 31 and is ready for his start in the biggest race of the year.
The son of A.P. Indy
will be the favorite Nov. 4 in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
Under regular rider Simon Harris, Bernardini worked on the main track just after the morning renovation break. Prior to the breeze, trainer Tom Albertrani said he was looking for the colt to go five furlongs in 1:02 to 1:03.
The rider and horse hit right where Albertrani wanted them to go, covering the distance in 1:02 4/5.
Harris broke Bernardini off slowly as the pair went the first quarter in :26 and three furlongs in :38 1/5. After the five furlong work, they galloped out in 1:15 1/5.
Down the stretch, Harris was sitting still on Bernardini, high on the saddle and never moving his hands. Bernardini did everything on his own. His final quarter was :24 3/5.
"I'll never get on another like him again," Harris said. "He's the complete package. He does everything you want him to. He was tough today. He gave me a hard time. I had to break my reins. I looked around to see if there was something coming, I didn't know what was going on. He's just full of himself. He's just that sharp right now.
"Once he got to the half-mile pole, he just settled in and it was easy sailing from then on," the exercise rider said. "He galloped out really strong. The farther he goes the stronger he gets. He has never been doing better than he is now. He's ready."
Albertrani was also pleased with Bernardini, who has won six straight, all very easily, for Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stable.
"Everything went as planned," the trainer said. "He couldn't be doing any better. This was a typical work for him; pretty much what we have seen all year. He was aggressive, which is something you like to see. I think we are going to see him at his best. He's a little stronger and sharper going into this race."
That last comment might strike fear in the other Classic participants.
Right after Bernardini, Harris got up on Balletto, who Albertrani will saddle for the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I). She is also a Darley homebred and while it would be huge for the operation to win the Classic, it also would be a significant moment for Sheikh Mohammed should Balletto win on racing's biggest stage because she was bred in Dubai.
The 4-year-old Timber Country filly went in :25 3/5, :38, 1:02 1/5, and galloped out in 1:14 4/5.
"She is on top of her game. This was a very good move for her," Harris said.
Balleto has not won this year in six starts but lost the Go for Wand Handicap (gr. I) by a nose and the Beldame (gr. I) by a head in her last outing.
One other horse worked at Belmont, War Front, who legendary trainer Allen Jerkens will send out in the TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I). The son of Danzig worked a half in :45 after a quarter in :21 4/5. He galloped out in :59 3/5 after being asked for speed down the stretch.
War Front, a Joe Allen homebred, has a win and five seconds this year, his last outing a second-place finish to Sprint favorite Henny Hughes in the Vosburgh (gr. I).
"I didn't think he would go quite that fast but the fact he wanted to was a good sign," Jerkens said. "We will get him there and school him out of the gate. He generally works well before a race. I thought he got a little heavier so this should pout him back right where he needs to be."
Two Tex Sutton planes will depart JFK Airport in New York Wednesday morning with Breeders' Cup horses. The first, to leave in the morning, will carry the horses trained by Albertrani, Jerkens, Shug McGaughey, Kiaran McLaughlin, and Rich Schosberg.
The second, slated to depart in early afternoon, will transport the Todd Pletcher-trained horses.