Whitney Winner Moreno Sharp in Woodward Drill

Whitney Winner Moreno Sharp in Woodward Drill
Photo: Coglianese Photos

Southern Equine Stable's Moreno, front-running winner of the Whitney Stakes (gr. I), tuned up Aug. 24 for a run in the upcoming $600,000 Woodward Stakes (gr. I) with a speedy five-furlong breeze over the main track at Saratoga Race Course.

Jockey Junior Alvarado, outfitted with a Go Pro camera on his helmet, worked Moreno five furlongs in :59.28, fastest of 41 workers at the distance. It was the first drill for Moreno since his 1 1/4-length Whitney win Aug. 2. The Woodward is Aug. 30.

"Same like always, meaning he's just in cruise control," trainer Eric Guillot said afterward. "Easy."

Before giving him a leg up, Guillot told Alvarado to work five furlong in :59, and the jockey hit his mark perfectly.

Guillot calls Moreno, a 4-year-old son of Ghostzapper  , a "looky-loo" because he takes note of everything as he goes around the track. Even wearing blinkers and ear plugs for the work, Moreno kept moving his right ear around during the workout, as if trying to hear if other horses were nearby.

"The more people out there, the more activity, the less he tries," Guillot said. "He likes to pay attention to everything else going on, but it was exactly what I wanted."

Alvarado liked what he felt under him.

"He worked pretty nice the first part," Alvarado said. "He's kind of like looking around at the end. That's how he is, his personality, but I'm pretty happy with the way that he went. I know he's feeling good. All I've got to do is wait for the race."

Moreno has won just three of 20 starts but been a top competitor in the sport for the past two years while earning more than $1.7 million. After winning the Dwyer (gr. II) last year, he finished third in the Jim Dandy (gr. II), second by a nose to champion Will Take Charge   in the Travers (gr. I), and second in the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II).

This year had been more of the same, with a third in the Charles Town Classic (gr. II) and a second-place finish in the Suburban Handicap (gr. II) following out-of-the-money performances in the Pimlico Special (gr. III) and Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I). He finally broke through, beating the likes of Will Take Charge and Palace Malice in the Whitney, the richest race of the Saratoga meet with a $1.5 million purse.

Also Sunday, trainer Chad Brown worked a pair of Woodward contenders, with Zivo breezing five furlongs in 1:01.24 and Last Gunfighter covering four furlongs in :49.70.

Zivo, a 5-year-old New York-bred owned by Thomas Coleman, has won six straight, including the Suburban by three lengths over Moreno July 5 at Belmont Park.

"It was just a maintenance breeze," said Brown "I thought he breezed well and galloped out well, and he's on target for the Woodward."

John Gunther's Last Gunfighter, a 5-year-old who has won four graded stakes, was fifth in the Whitney.

"I thought he went well, and he's most likely going to run in the Woodward as well," said Brown.

Working for a possible start in the Woodward as well was Dogwood Stable's Palace Malice, who in company with Capo Bastone, covered four furlongs on :48.67 on the main track under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.

"I thought it was a kind of standard :48 and change work for him," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "Mr. (Cot) Campbell is going to call me later today and we'll have a discussion about future plans."

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