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Hopeful Hero Strong Mandate Zips at Churchill

Bullet move comes 11 days after Saratoga romp for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) winner Strong Mandate  bounced of his most recent win 11 days ago with a bullet half-mile breeze Sept. 13 at Churchill Downs, leaving his Hall of Fame trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, to marvel afterward.

The 2-year-old son of Tiznow  was clocked in :47 2/5 for the move, which tied for the fastest among 44 at the distance on a gorgeous Louisville morning Friday. Strong Mandate recorded the fast time despite an easy first quarter of :24 1/5. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.20.

"I don't time them, but when he went by me I thought it looked like a good little maintenance work and it was just about what we wanted," the 78-year-old Lukas said. "Then when I rode by the clocker on my saddle horse and was told he went seven-and-two, I was really surprised."

It was the first serious work for Strong Mandate since his dazzling 9 3/4-length romp in the seven-furlong Hopeful, which was contested Sept. 2 over a muddy and sealed main track at Saratoga Race Course. Robert Baker and William Mack's bay colt is being pointed to the $500,000 Foxwoods Champagne Stakes (gr. I) Oct. 2 at Belmont Park.

Lukas said he wasn't looking for anything special in the workout. But the move was yet another indication that Strong Mandate could be a very special horse. The gallop-out time was nearly a second faster than that the five-furlong bullet work of 1:01 by Grand Giant, which was the best of 27 moves at that distance.
Strong Mandate, who scored at 7-1 odds in the Hopeful, has had three startsall at the Saratoga meetand has a two-race win streak after a fifth-place run in his debut. He won a maiden race on Aug. 17 by 4 1/2 lengths prior to his tour de force effort in the Hopeful.
"That horse has the ability to do that so easy," he said. "I don't know if I've had one like him for a long time. It's the same thing when he runs. You think he's just in a high lope, like he was in the Hopeful. Next thing you know he's up in :47-and-two."
Lukas said Strong Mandate would probably have "a couple more" works at Churchill Downs before departing for the Champagne.