Grade 1 winner Pool Play, eighth in the Breeders' Cup Classic in his last start, continued his preparations for next Friday's Grade 1 $400,000 Clark Handicap with a five-furlong breeze in 1:01 3/5 over the fast main track at Churchill Downs on Friday morning.
Pool Play worked in company with Grade 3 scorer Stealcase, who is under consideration for the Clark Handicap and Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on November 24.
"They went off (the first eighth of a mile) in 13 seconds and then did 12s the rest of the way around," said assistant trainer Norman Casse, who oversaw the work for his father, Mark. "It was perfect. I asked them to go 1:02 and they went 1:01 and change. We like working our good horses with each other and both of these horses appreciate working in company. They're two professional horses and it was nice to let them go out and do it together.
"As long as Pool Play comes out of the work fine, he is for sure going in the Clark. We're still debating on whether to go to the Clark or Cigar Mile with Stealcase."
Pool Play will be returning to the same track over which he captured last year's Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap. In four starts this season, the Silver Deputy seven-year-old has won the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap and placed in the Grade 3 Washington Park Handicap.
Stealcase added the Grade 3 Ontario Derby to his record in mid-September and most recently ran third in the Grade 3 Ack Ack Handicap on November 2 under the Twin Spires.
Stablemate and Breeders' Cup Mile third Delegation was previously under consideration for the Clark and Cigar Mile, but is no longer being pointed to either race.
"We decided he needed more time in between races," Casse explained.
Churchill Racing Secretary Ben Huffman announced the weights for the Clark on Friday, making multiple Grade 1 winner Game on Dude the 125-pound highweight by for the 1 1/8-mile contest. The Awesome Again five-year-old, who most recently finished seventh as the 6-5 favorite in the Breeders' Cup Classic, is not expected to run in the Clark, which means the starting highweight could be classic victor Shackleford, who was assigned 120 pounds.
Trainer Dale Romans said Shackleford will make his final career start in the Clark or Cigar Mile one day later at Aqueduct. The chestnut son of Forestry is scheduled to breeze at Churchill Downs on Saturday morning following the renovation break and a decision on his next start could be made following the workout.
Other horses believed by Churchill Downs officials to be pointing to the Clark, with weight assignments, include Neck 'n Neck (119), Bourbon Courage (117), Cease (117), Take Charge Indy (117), Lunar Victory (116), Eye of the Leopard (115), Mission Impazible (115) and Fast Falcon (113). Middie (115) is a possible starters.
Huffman also released the weights for Thursday's Grade 2, $150,000 Falls City Handicap. Brushed by a Star, winner of the Grade 2 Chilukki last out, was assigned the top weight of 122 pounds for the nine-furlong affair.
The Eddington four-year-old miss won the Chilukki at Churchill Downs by a head and then was sold to Volt Inc. for $400,000 at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale. Now in the barn of trainer Eddie Kenneally, Brushed by a Star is scheduled to make her sixth start at the Louisville, Kentucky, track in the Falls City on Thanksgiving Day.
Other fillies and mares believed to be pointing to the Falls City include Afleeting Lady (119), Chilukki runner-up Joyful Victory (119), Arena Elvira (118), Maristar (114) and Aint She a Saint (113).