Midday stretches her legs at Churchill Downs on Wednesday.
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Midday stretches her legs at Churchill Downs on Wednesday.
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Anne M. Eberhardt

Midday Gets Feel of Churchill

Midday prepares for defense of her title in the Filly &amp;amp;amp; Mare Turf.

Edited Breeders' Cup Notes

Midday, the shortest-priced morning-line favorite for the six Breeders’ Cup races at Churchill Downs Friday, Nov. 5, stretched her legs at the Louisville track Nov. 3 preparing for the Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT).

Trainer Henry Cecil watched as the defending champion and 6-5 favorite visited the main track Wednesday morning.

“I just had her canter on the dirt,” Cecil said.

Cecil said the 4-year-old Juddmonte Farms homebred, who brings a three-race win streak in group I races into the Filly & Mare Turf, is in better form than she was at this time last year.

“She’s improved, yes, and is in very good order,” he said about the English-bred daughter of Oasis Dream. “So I’ve got no excuses. I wouldn’t swap her. I’m happy with her.”

Several others also underwent preparation for the race.

Eclair de Lune – The German-bred filly followed her usual routine Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs and galloped 1 1/2 miles under exercise rider Archie Cross. Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally, who will saddle her in the Filly & Mare Turf, looked on as she went through her exercise.

McAnally has said all systems are go for the 4-year-old Marchand de Sable filly, who has four stateside starts under her girth, including a last-out victory in the Beverly D. (gr. IT) at Arlington Park Aug. 21.

Well-traveled veteran Junior Alvarado, who rode her in her Beverly D. triumph Aug. 21, will be back aboard for her Friday run.

Forever Together – After walking the previous day, Forever Together returned to the track at Churchill Downs Wednesday morning.

“We went out and did what we call ‘a jog and gallop,’ ” said Barry Wiseman, assistant to trainer Jonathan Sheppard. “She warmed up in the chute, jogged down to the 4-1/2 furlong pole, backed up to the wire, and then galloped about a half-mile. It’s what we do after they walk a day.”

Forever Together, who captured the 2008 Filly & Mare Turf and finished third in the race last year, both times at Santa Anita, is winless in five starts this year, but has finished second twice and third twice.

“She seems to drop back farther than she used to, probably because she’s more relaxed,” Wiseman said. “She does like things her own way, but she’s worked well for the race. She worked with Fantasia before coming here and Fantasia went to Woodbine and won a stake (River Memories Stakes).”

Anna Napravnik will be aboard the 6-year-old daughter of Belong to Me for the first time.

Harmonious – The Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. IT) winner, better known as Zenyatta's stablemate, galloped 1 1/2 miles Wednesday. Although the daughter of Dynaformer didn't get the same fanfare, trainer John Shirreffs was equally pleased with her.

“She's doing great,” said Shirreffs. “She really looks good.”

Hibaayeb – Godolphin’s Yellow Ribbon (gr. IT) winner galloped on the main track Wednesday morning under exercise rider and assistant trainer Jo Hunnam.

Hunnam is handling the 3-year-old Singspiel filly for trainer Saeed bin Suroor, who is expected to be at the track Thursday morning after saddling two horses in the Melbourne Cup (Aust-I) Tuesday.

Hot Cha Cha – Nelson McMakin’s Filly & Mare Turf contender shipped to Churchill Downs from Keeneland Tuesday morning and made her first appearance on the Louisville track for an easy gallop on Wednesday.

Jockey James Graham was in the saddle and has been aboard the 4-year-old daughter of Cactus Ridge for her pre-race preparations in Lexington as well.

“I’ve been galloping her the past couple days and she feels good,” he said. “This is her first time across dirt in quite a while and she actually enjoyed herself this morning. She feels happy, she’s comfortable, enjoying herself, I guess. I can see in her ears that she is.”

Graham has been aboard in the filly’s last nine starts, including a win in the 2009 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.

Keertana – As trainer Tom Proctor makes the walk over with Keertana for the Filly & Mare Turf Friday, thoughts of another special filly may cross his mind. It was at Churchill Downs in 1994 that he won his only Breeders’ Cup race when One Dreamer upset the Distaff (gr. I, now the Ladies’ Classic) at odds of 47-1. Nonetheless, the veteran horseman is hardly sentimental.

“That was not a life-changing experience,” said Proctor. “It was a nice day. To put it in perspective, it was a good day.”

Proctor trains Keertana (by Johar) for Barbara Hunter.

“I’ve known her since I was a little boy,” said Proctor, 54. “It would be nice to win one for her.”

Miss Keller – The Irish-bred filly by Montjeu was out on the track early Wednesday to jog a mile and gallop 1 1/2 miles with Sue Lorimer aboard.

Lorimer, assistant to trainer Roger Attfield, said Miss Keller might blow out on the grass Thursday morning. Attfield, who is en route to Churchill Downs from his Woodbine headquarters, will be on hand Thursday to supervise the filly’s training.

Miss Keller, a 4-year-old filly owned by Three Chimneys Racing, finished second in the E.P. Taylor Stakes (Can-IT) at Woodbine Oct. 16. She has won three times in seven starts this year, most recently taking the Canadian Stakes (Can-IT) Sept. 19.

Javier Castellano, who has been aboard her in all her wins this year, gets the riding call again.

Plumania – The 4-year-old filly cantered on the main track after the break Wednesday morning, with assistant trainer Richard Lambert supervising the training.

Elizabeth Fabre, wife of trainer Andre Fabre, is expected to be on hand Thursday to oversee Plumania’s final preparations.

In her most recent start, the daughter of Anabaa finished 17th  behind winner Workforce in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I). In the Qatar Prix Vermeille (Fr-I) in September, Plumania was second, less than a length behind Midday.

Olivier Peslier, who has been aboard in all of the filly’s 15 lifetime starts, has the mount again. Plumania, like Goldikova, races as a homebred for the Wertheimer Family.

Red Desire--The 4-year-old Japanese-bred filly, who won a 1 1/4 miles stakes on the Tapeta track in Dubai earlier this year for her only victory in four starts, was out on the main track at Churchill Wednesday morning for an easy jog.

The daughter of Manhattan Café, owned by Tokyo Horse Racing Co., was sent to the United States in late September and finished third in the Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT) at Belmont Oct. 2. That was her first start in more than four months, and her trainer, Mikio Matsunaga, said she needed the race and expects her to run well here on Friday.

“She was supposed to run in June,” Matsunaga said through interpreter Nobutaka Tada, the racing manager for the owners, “but just before the race she bled in the morning while training. We gave her a break, and then sent her to the U.S. because she could run on Lasix there.

“She ran well in the Flower Bowl, but she really needed the race. She changed after the race, and she is doing well here.

“Each day,” Matsunaga continued, “she comes off the track wanting to do more. She is doing very well.

Shared Account – The 4-year-old daughter of Pleasantly Perfect galloped 1 3/4 miles over the Churchill Downs turf course Wednesday morning.

Shared Account is coming off a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Flower Bowl over a yielding turf course at Belmont Park.

“It was beyond yielding. It was bottomless; Irish-soft ground,” trainer Graham Motion said. “She seemed to me not to handle it. She’s handled soft ground, but not when it’s bottomless like that. Last year, when she ran at Keeneland (on a soft turf course in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup), she hurt herself. Because it was so soft, I think she strained herself.”

Motion pointed out that her Flower Bowl performance was the only disappointing showing since he put the Sagamore Farm’s filly on turf in July 2009.

“The race before she got beat a head by Proviso, who I think is the best turf mare in the country,” said Motion, whose filly closed strongly to just fall short in the Diana Stakes (gr. IT) at Saratoga. “She’s in great form. Her whole year has been pointed to the Breeders’ Cup.”