The one and only horse in Cleveland Wheeler's consignment turned in the fastest eighth of a mile work Friday during the one and only under tack show for the Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training. The dark bay or brown colt by Sky Mesa glided over the Calder Race Course surface while posting a blazing time of :9 4/5. Instead of breezing along the inside rail, he followed a path that took him out just beyond the middle of the track.
"I told the rider, 'Wherever you think he should be, put him there because he'll go wherever you want him to go,' " said Wheeler, a Florida-based pinhooker. "I guess he (the rider) picked the best part of the track."
The colt is the second foal out of the 9-year-old Honor Grades mare Secondary School, who captured the 2003 Sun Handicap at Hastings Park in Canada. Her other efforts included a runner-up finish in the 2003 Ballerina Breeders' Cup Stakes (Can-III) at Hastings. Secondary School is a half-sister to Canadian grade III winner Summer Symphony (by Summer Squall).
Wheeler purchased the colt for $100,000 at the 2007 Keeneland September yearling auction.
"I was kind of like Barney Fife; I only had one bullet," Wheeler said. "I've got a bunch of horses to sell later, but he was the only horse I bought last year to come here with. I knew he was fast at the farm. He's never done anything wrong. I just shipped him to Calder Feb. 18 and he was on the track only two days before the breeze show because I felt good about what I had; he's been, mentally, a super good colt to work with."
The quickest juvenile at a quarter mile was a dark bay or brown son of Pulpit that covered the distance in :21. Consigned by Hoby and Layna Kight, the colt is a half-brother to the winner Mrs. Debbie M (by War Chant), who finished third in both the Audubon Oaks at Ellis Park and the Double Delta Stakes at Arlington Park in 2005. Their dam, the 11-year-old winning Noactor mare Actceptional, finished second in the 2000 Lady Sonata Stakes and third in the 1999 Irish Sonnet Stakes, which were both run at Calder.
"He's always thought he was a superstar," said Layna Kight, who rode the colt during his work. "He just thinks he's hot stuff."
The Kights bought the Pulpit colt for $100,000 last year at Keeneland in in September.
In another noteworthy development, consignor Don Graham sent out five horses that each worked an eighth in :10. They were a Speightstown -- Daisies and Nites colt, a Giant's Causeway -- Tomorrows Sunshine colt, a Seeking the Gold-- Angel Puss filly, a Sky Mesa -- Growth Stock colt; and a Gone West -- Black Escort colt.
"Yes, I'm surprised at five :10 flats, but I knew we had, from top to bottom, a good group of horses," Graham said. "They all had pretty good gallop out times, too. I've never had five :10 flats in one day or even two in one day. That was really gratifying, but it's something where everything has to fall into place. It takes everybody working together well to do that, believe me."
The high temperature Friday was in the 80s under a partly cloudy sky. There was a light wind for much of the day.
"The conditions were superb," said Terence Collier, Fasig-Tipton's director of marketing. "The track was extremely even throughout the entire day. I thought the Calder track management did a wonderful job. We had a break roughly every 36 head, and that proved to be an ideal interval. The weather was very cooperative. There wasn't a strong wind that dried the track out. We often get a very drying wind here and no matter how much water you put in the track, it's hard to keep that moisture in the surface."
Fasig-Tipton officials reduced the number of under tack shows from two to one for this year, but the change might not be permanent.
"We will have to evaluate the overall effect on the sale before we say what we'll do in the future," Collier said. "We had a large crowd of potential buyers who actually saw the under tack show (instead of watching video replays), which we haven't had in past years. We hope that proves to be a positive for the sale."
Horsemen watching the workouts included Elliott Walden and Doug Cauthen of WinStar Farm, New Jersey bloodstock agent Buzz Chace, Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock manager John Ferguson, American trainers Tood Pletcher and Neil Drysdale, Kentucky bloodstock agent John Moynihan, Coolmore Stud buying team member Demi O'Byrne, owner Ahmed Zayat, and England-based trainer Brian Meehan.
Also on hand, attending the the Fasig-Tipton Calder sale for the first time, were Saleh Al Homeizi of Kuwait and his adviser, Tony Nerses. Homeizi and Imad Al Sagar raced last year's Vodafone Epsom Derby (Eng-I) winner Authorized before selling him privately to Sheikh Mohammed as a stallion prospect. After Dubai's ruler leased the colt back to Homeizi and Sagar, Authorized scored in the Juddmonte International Stakes (Eng-I) and was honored as a European champion.
"I like one show because all the buyers will be here until the sale; they won't fly in and fly out," said WinStar's Walden. "There are a couple of horses that might would have liked to come back (and work again), but overall, there's going to be more energy for the sale because everybody' staying here. It's easier on the horses, too."
Chace also is a fan of the one show format.
"It's better for the horses," he said. "It's tough on a baby this time of year to come back and have to breeze again. I think today has gone very well. The track has been very consistent. You can't hear them going over it, so it's not too hard. It's a very fair track."
The Fasig-Tipton Florida auction is scheduled for Tuesday, with selling beginning at 11 a.m. (EST).