Steve Haskin's Classic Report -- Oct. 22

Steve Haskin's Classic Report -- Oct. 22
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Tiznow was on his best behavior as he worked over the Belmont track Monday morning in preparation for the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Jay Robbins didn't have to say a word following Tiznow's gallop Monday morning. He looked up at Pam York, aboard Andy the pony, and gave her a double thumbs up. This sure wasn't the same obstinate, cantankerous Tiznow we saw on Sunday. Another happy camper was John Terranova, who was thrilled with Gander's five-furlong work in :59 1/5. Not quite as ecstatic was Nick Zito, who was looking for something a little quicker from Albert the Great than the 5 furlongs in 1:02 4/5 the colt put in with jockey Jorge Chavez up. But Zito did come to terms with the work, feeling Albert didn't need to do any more.

That was the major activity on the Classic front Monday, along with an impressive gallop by Sakhee, who seems to be handling the dirt fine, despite the slow time of his work on Friday. The son of Bahri was really into the bit, with his head down and neck arched beautifully. This grand-looking colt seems to do everything effortlessly, with his ears cocked. The grin on assistant trainer Tom Albertrani's face as rode back to the barn on the pony, said it all. More on Sakhee later.

Tiznow came out about a half an hour before the break, unlike yesterday when he was out with all the activity after the break. And also unlike yesterday, he was well behaved and went about his business like, well, a normal horse. Robbins was a bit apprehensive following Tiznow's antics on Sunday, and he told York and exercise rider Ramon Arciga to let the colt spend as much time on the track as he wanted. He also had Tiznow jog the right way this time, and he was more settled. He did stop in the middle of the track for about 5 minutes and didn't move a muscle the entire time. York and Arciga patiently waited until he was ready to go.

He eventually broke off into a gallop at the three-eighths pole was moving very smoothly down the stretch, dropping in on the rail approaching the clubhouse turn. He couldn't have done that yesterday when there were workers on the track. As he walked calmly back down the backstretch, Robbins, standing on the trainer's stand, crossed his fingers, as if hoping the colt's problems are behind him.

"He is good today," Robbins said. "This is the best morning he's had in months. I'm tickled. It's unnerving to watch him every day. We've tried to throw him curves and do different things, but nothing's been successful. Physically, he's where he was last year. I just wish his antics weren't part of the package. I was really happy with him this morning. He didn't show any tendencies to balk. He also seems to be better going the right way."

Gander went out after the break and turned in a sensational work, blazing a bullet 5 furlongs in :59 1/5, on cruise control the whole way. The big gray galloped out six furlongs in 1:11 3/5. Exercise rider Simon Harris never moved his hands, as Gander did everything on his own and was striding out beautifully.

"He's a good work horse, but right now, he's in a zone," Terranvoa said. "He's really ben doing awesome. We're just trying to keep him nice and steady. Coming off the win in the Meadowlands Cup, he's feeling good about himself. Even after the race, he was very poised and sure of himself, and that's how he's trained ever since."

Albert the Great was the first to work, shortly before 7 o'clock, as a thick mist settled over the infield. Zito said he didn't mind if the colt went a little fast, to keep him sharp following his dull effort in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. "I told Georgie, 'He went nice and easy last time, just to get him over the race. This time you can work him a little quicker if you want,'" Zito said.

After breaking off from the 5-furlong pole, Albert the Great went along slow and steady. "He took a hold of him," Zito said. "He's not lettin' him run; he's just sittin' on him. Albert the Great completed the work in 1:02 4/5, but was really reaching out nearing the finish, and galloped out another eighth in a strong :12 4/5. "I told him to go a little faster if he wanted. Maybe he knows better," Zito said of Chavez following the work.

Later in the morning, after talking with Chavez, Zito was feeling better about the work, especially since the horse ran a little over two weeks ago.

As Bobby Frankel spoke to a group of reporters on the apron, outside the Trackside Café, Aptitude came cantering by, and was really bouncing along on his toes. This little colt is really feeling good, and it's obvious he came out of Saturday's work in excellent shape. "He's really doing super," Frankel said. "Of all the horses I worked over the weekend, I think he worked the best. It was just what I wanted, and I don't have to do anything with him. Flute and You worked a little fast and I'll have to make adjustments with them. Aptitude is as sound and as happy as he can be."

In other Classic news, Galileo and Black Minnaloushe are scheduled to arrive at JFK Airport at around 4 p.m. Tuesday, along with Aidan O'Brien's other Breeders' Cup horses.

Include and Guided Tour are scheduled to work Tuesday at Laurel and Churchill Downs, respectively, then will ship to Belmont Wednesday. Trainer Bud Delp said Include will gallop Thursday and Friday, and he may "do something with him" on Saturday morning. John Velazquez has the mount, replacing Jerry Bailey, who will ride Aptitude. A Fleets Dancer, winner of the Durham Cup at Woodbine in his last start, will ship to Belmont Tuesday. "What's important is that he's a happy, healthy horse," trainer Roger Attfield said.

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