A pair of horses trained by Brian Koriner topped the Breeders’ Cup work tab at Churchill Downs Oct. 26.
Defending Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint champion California Flag worked five furlongs over a firm Matt Winn Turf Course in 1:00 4/5 on a warm and windy Tuesday morning in Louisville. With exercise rider Colleen Hartford aboard, California Flag posted fractions of :11 1/5, :23 1/5, :36 2/5, and :48. 3/5.
“That was fine,” said Koriner, who never has started a horse at Churchill Downs. “We will train him light this week and maybe blow him out three-eighths next Monday.”
California Flag won last year’s race at Santa Anita, coming down that track’s unique 6 1/2-furlong downhill course.
“We don’t have our home-court advantage here this time,” Koriner said. “The five furlongs (of this year’s race because of the track configuration at Churchill Downs) is not a concern, because he likes to be near the front anyway. If he fires his race, he’ll be OK.”
Owned and bred by the Hi Card Ranch, the 6-year-old California bred did not run his race the last time out, finishing last in a field of 11 in the 5 1/2-furlong Woodford (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland on Oct. 9.
“It was depressing to watch,” Koriner said. “He ran to the top of the lane and then slowed down. But I have had assistants to Bobby Frankel and Neil Drysdale tell me their horses would get on that sandy turf at Keeneland and not try, but they would come over here and return to form.”
Victor Espinoza will have the mount on California Flag in the Breeders’ Cup.
Koriner has one other Breeders’ Cup candidate in Legacy Ranch and Shirley MacPherson’s Sweet August Moon for the seven-furlong Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I).
With Hartford up and working immediately after the morning renovation break over a fast track, Sweet August Moon worked five furlongs in 1:00 4/5. The move was the fourth fastest of 34 at the distance.
Fractions for the work were :12 1/5, :24 2/5 and :35 4/5 with a six-furlong gallop-out time of 1:15.
“She got a little tired, but this was the first time she has worked on dirt,” Koriner said. “It was fine and I will probably come back with her next Monday for three-eighths.”
Sweet August Moon came off a seven-week layoff on Oct. 9 to run fifth in the Thoroughbred Club of America (gr. II) at Keeneland. Koriner left both her and California Flag at Keeneland after the race instead of shipping back to California.
Also on the work tab was The Martin Racing Stable and Dan Morgan’s Dubai Majesty, who earned a spot in the BC Filly & Mare Sprint with a victory on Polytrack in the Thoroughbred Club of America. The filly worked a half-mile on the turf in :49 3/5 under jockey Jamie Theriot.
“I am not sure if Bret (trainer Bret Calhoun) has done this in the past before a dirt race,” said Dennis “Peaches” Geier, Calhoun’s assistant at Churchill. “But the turf is a lot easier on her.”
A two-time winner of the Winning Colors (gr. III) at Churchill, 5-year-old Dubai Majesty also is a two-time stakes winner on grass.
Also working on the turf was Glen Hill Farm’s Banned, who covered a half-mile in :51 with a first quarter-mile in :26 2/5. Banned, an allowance winner at Keeneland who is pointing for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IIT), had company in the work by accident as he hooked up with Expansion, who was working seven furlongs.
A. Stevens Miles Jr.’s Warrior's Reward (Breeders’ Cup Sprint) trained by Ian Wilkes, worked five furlongs in 1:01 with jockey Julien Leparoux up. Fractions for the move, seventh fastest of 34 at the distance, were :13, :25, :36 4/5, :48 3/5, and out six furlongs in 1:15 1/5.