Creative Cause, one of two Triple Crown prospects for trainer Mike Harrington, worked a quick six furlongs Feb. 28 on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track.
Third by a length in the seven-furlong San Vicente (gr. III) in his season debut Feb. 19, Creative Cause was clocked in 1:11 4/5 while working solo. Harrington said it was just what he wanted from the Giant's Causeway colt, who undoubtedly is built for longer distances. The two-time juvenile graded stakes winner is pointing toward the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe (gr. II) at Santa Anita for his next start on March 10. The race is expected to include many of the top West Coast contenders, including the Bob Baffert-trained duo Fed Biz and Liaison, and Sham (gr. III) winner Out of Bounds.
“It’s exactly what I wanted,” Harrington said of the work. “The San Vicente, as I said before the race, was just a starting point. He didn’t need to win it, but he ran a good race and got a lot out of it. He was closing well and came out of it well. I thought it was the perfect race.”
“He ran a 4 (Ragozin number) last time going seven-eighths. He doesn’t have to improve. If he runs a 4 in the San Felipe he will probably win it. I think the added distance will make for an improved effort.
“(The San Felipe) is going to come up very tough. It’s a prep for the Santa Anita Derby and every good horse out here will be there and be back for the that race—except maybe for a couple Baffert horses that might ship because he has so many. But most of the legitimate horses on the West Coast are going to be in these next two.”
Harrington’s other Derby contender, Empire Way, is pointing to either the San Felipe or Rebel (gr. II) on March 17 at Oaklawn Park. A closing second in the Feb. 4 Robert B. Lewis (gr. II), he worked most recently Feb. 25 at Hollywood, clocking six furlongs in 1:14. Harrington is leaving his options open with the son of Empire Maker, more so because of his running style.
“Even though (Santa Anita) is supposedly a dirt track, I don’t think either one of my horses are particularly in love with it, especially Empire Way. He’s a deep closer and I don’t think deep closers do as well at Santa Anita. That’s why I was especially impressed with his last race because he was the only closer running at the end. The rest of them stopped.
“He’s doing good. He came back with two nice works since then. We’re not going to change tactics a lot; you can’t make a speed horse out of a closer. If you do then they don’t close. He obviously has to run well in at least one of these next two. But I have some back up plans, so we’ll see what happens.”