Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Pyro, winner of the Risen Star Stakes (gr. III) and Louisiana Derby (gr. II) in his two starts this year, continued his preparations for the April 12 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) by working six furlongs in 1:14.60 March 31 at Keeneland (VIDEO, courtesy of Keeneland).
Exercise rider Dominic Terry was aboard Pyro, who worked in company with stablemate Sonoma Cat. Pyro’s jockey, Shaun Bridgmohan, was aboard Sonoma Cat. The duo raced as a team, hitting the wire together, with Pyro on the inside.
“I got him galloping out in 1:27 3/5 and the last five-eighths in 1:00 4/5,” said assistant trainer Scott Blasi, who supervised the move for trainer Steve Asmussen, who was in Dallas.
Keeneland clockers caught the pair in :23 for the final quarter, and :11.20 for the last eighth.
It was Pyro’s second work at Keeneland since his arrival from Louisiana. Pyro worked five furlongs on his own in 1:02.40 March 24.
Pyro, who has compiled a record of 6-3-2-1 for earnings of $1,056,718, never has raced at Keeneland, but the Pulpitcolt trained at Keeneland last fall prior to his second-place finish in the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Monmouth Park.
“He looked great to me,” Blasi said. “I hadn’t seen him in six weeks.”
Also working for the Asmussen barn March 31 was Vinery Stables and Fox Hill Farm’s Kodiak Kowboy, who worked a half-mile in :49.20 in preparation for the April 6 Lafayette Stakes at Keeneland.
Visionaire headed to Toyota Blue Grass Stakes
Trainer Michael Matz said March 31 that Team Valor and Vision Racing’s Visionaire, who won the Gotham Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct in his last race, will make his next start at Keeneland in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. Matz also had considered running the Grand Slamcolt in the Illinois Derby (gr. II) at Hawthorne Race Course a week before the Toyota Blue Grass.
“Obviously, I didn’t want to face Pyro and Cool Coal Man,” Matz said about Visionaire’s expected competition in the Toyota Blue Grass. “My big worry was having an extra week before the Derby, and I won’t get that now with going in the Blue Grass, but he won’t have to ship up (to Hawthorne) and back again. He’s going to stay here now until he is shipped up to Churchill.”
Matz said Visionaire would work the week of March 30. Jockey Jose Lezcano will again be aboard Visionaire in the Toyota Blue Grass.
Visionaire faced Pyro for the first time Feb. 9 when the two met in the Risen Star at Fair Grounds. Pyro won the race, with Visionaire third.
Matz currently has 24 horses at Keeneland, marking his largest string at the track to date.
Proud Spell works for Ashland Stakes
Brereton Jones’ Proud Spell, late nominee to the Triple Crown, walked the shedrow at Barn 12 at Keeneland March 31, a day after working five furlongs in 1:00.60.
“She ate up everything last night and was real feisty this morning,” said Cindy Jones, wife of trainer Larry Jones, who is overseeing Proud Spell’s preparation for the April 5 Ashland Stakes (gr. I). Larry Jones is at Oaklawn Park, where Eight Belles is slated to run in the April 6 Fantasy Stakes (gr. II).
Proud Spell is scheduled to resume galloping April 1.
A field of nine is shaping up for the 1 1/16-mile Ashland, the first of three grade 1 events at the 16-day spring meet. In addition to Proud Spell, others expected to be entered April 2 include Keith Kinmon’s Absolutely Cindy, J. Mack Robinson’s African Violet, Cloverleaf Farm’s Bsharpsonata, Stonerside Stable’s Country Star, Gold Mark Farm’s Elusive Lady, Bobby Flay’s Grace and Power, Mr. and Mrs. Marty Wygod’s Life Is Sweet, and Darley Stable’s Little Belle.
In other workouts ...
New Farm’s Wild Gams, winner of last fall’s Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (gr. III), worked six furlongs in 1:13.80 March 31. Trainer Ben Perkins is pointing Wild Gams to the $200,000 Vinery Madison Stakes (gr. II) at seven furlongs April 9.
Will Farish, E.J. Hudson, and James Elkins’ Grasshopper worked a half-mile in :49.40 for trainer Neil Howard. Howard said Grasshopper, runner-up in the New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) in his most recent start March 8 at Fair Grounds, was scheduled to run next in the Westchester Handicap (gr. III) at a mile on Belmont Park’s opening day of April 30.