The pre-entries are in, and things should start hopping over the next few days. Tiznow is scheduled to work at Santa Anita on Thursday, and Godolphin's dynamic duo of Fantastic Light and Sakhee will have important works on Friday, as will Macho Uno, with jockey Gary Stevens aboard. Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Aptitude is scheduled to work Saturday, depending on the weather.
With 16 horses pre-entered, at least two of whom likely will go elsewhere, a field of 13 or 14 is shaping up for the $4 million race.
The majority of the horses are already on the grounds, with Tiznow
due in on Saturday, and Include
and Guided Tour
shipping in on Wednesday. Aidan O'Brien's pair of Galileo
and Black Minnaloushe
are scheduled to arrive on Tuesday, and should be on the track Thursday morning after clearing quarantine.
In a surprise move, Sakhee
was named first-preference for the Classic, indicating we could see a two-pronged attack from Godolphin, who captured the Turf two years ago with Daylami, but were deprived a Classic victory in 1998 when Swain lost all chance after drifting to the outside rail.
"I don't think Sakhee is going to have any problem handling the dirt, if that's where they decide to go," assistant trainer Tom Albertrani said. "He worked on the dirt a few times in Dubai and looked good going over it. But you really don't know until they race over it."
Nick Zito has been taking it easy with Albert the Great
, and is just hoping the colt's last race, a well-beaten fourth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, was a fluke. On Tuesday, the son of Go for Gin had an easy half-mile breeze in :50 1/5.
"All his blood came back good, and other than Gary (Stevens) taking too much hold of him, I really don't know what to say about the Gold Cup," Zito said. "It's either that or he's feeling the effects of a long year, and I hope it's not that. He's been bouncing around and feeling good, so we'll give him one more chance."
D. Wayne Lukas saw three of his five pre-entered horses put on the also-eligible list, included Classic hopeful Orientate
. However, with two horses ahead of him – Brahms and Numerous Times likely headed for the Mile, there still is a very good chance Lukas will be represented. Orientate captured the Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park in his last start.
"This horse has a lot of ability," Lukas said, "and this is a chance to see what he can do. He had a blood disorder in the latter part of his 2-year-old campaign, and it took some gal from UCLA to figure it out. He's doing awfully well right now, and I'm not so sure the Indiana Derby field wasn't a better field than the Jockey Club gold Cup, with the exception of Aptitude."
Tiznow, who has had his problems with lead ponies recently, has been galloping strongly with blinkers on. He'll have a solid work on Thursday.