Classic hopeful Sun King led Saturday work slate for Nick Zito.

Classic hopeful Sun King led Saturday work slate for Nick Zito.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Sun King Leads Zito's Clan to Work Saturday

(from Churchill Downs track notes)
Tracy Farmer's Sun King, runner-up in the Whitney Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga, breezed a strong five furlongs Saturday at Churchill Downs in preparation for the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I), which will be run at the Louisville track on Nov. 4.

Sun King led a group of five Nick Zito-trained Breeders' Cup candidates to work Saturday.

The son of 1999 Kentucky Derby winner Charismatic covered the distance over a "fast" track in 1:01 3/5 under exercise rider Carlos Correa. The move ranked as the 10th fastest of 32 works at the distance.

"He belongs in the Classic, for sure," said Zito. "He's one of the best horses (in the Classic division) this year."

Sun King has won only once in seven starts on the year, but suffered a narrow loss in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) and was third in the Woodward (gr, I) in his most recent outing. He has earned $613,328 this year and his career bankroll stands at $1,992,978 with six wins in 21 career races.

He finished ninth in last year's Classic at Belmont Park.

Also working for Zito was Robert LaPenta's C P West, runner-up to King of the Roxy in the Belmont Futurity (gr. II) and a candidate for the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). He breezed five furlongs under Correa in 1:01, which ranked as the fifth-fastest work of the morning at the distance.

Two Zito veterans also worked over the Churchill Downs strip. Arthur Hancock's Wanderin Boy and LaPenta's Andromeda's Hero, the 2-3 finishers behind Classic favorite Bernardini in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), each worked five furlongs. Wanderin Boy covered the distance in 1:02, while Andromeda's Hero was timed in 1:03.

Zito has yet to determine the next start for either horse.

Farmer's TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) contender Commentator worked for Zito at Keeneland on Saturday. He covered four furlongs over the Polytrack surface in a scorching :45 3/5 under Maxine Correa.

The top local hopes for the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic powered by Dodge (GI) – Stonecrest Farm's Perfect Drift and Jay-Em-Ess Stable's Suave – tuned-up for Racing's Championship Day with Saturday works.

The 7-year-old Perfect Drift, third in last year's Classic, breezed five furlongs over a "fast" surface in 1:02 2/5 at Churchill Downs' Trackside Louisville training center. Suave, fifth in the 2005 Classic, worked a mile over a "fast" track at Churchill Downs in 1:39.20.

The Murray Johnson-trained Dynaformer gelding is preparing for a record fifth consecutive bid for the Classic and was ridden in Saturday's breeze by jockey Joe Deegan, his regular work partner. The move ranked fourth among 10 at the distance over the six-furlong Trackside oval.

"He finished up great in the last quarter, which was all we were looking for," Johnson said.

Perfect Drift has yet to win in six races in 2006 but he has four runner-up finishes. Garrett Gomez would ride Perfect Drift for the first time in the Classic.

Trainer Paul J. McGee was pleased with Saturday's work by Suave, who is being considered for a run in the Classic. Jockey Calvin Borel was aboard for the one-mile work by the 5-year-old son of A.P. Indy, who is coming off a disappointing 10th place finish in the Woodward at Saratoga on Sept. 2.