Saint Liam, working at Aqueduct Monday morning.

Saint Liam, working at Aqueduct Monday morning.

Rick Samuels

Countdown to the Cup: Cavalcade of Stars

It was a chaotic Monday morning on the Belmont work tab, with 21 Breeders' Cup horses having their final tune-ups for the World Thoroughbred Championships. And over at Aqueduct, Rick Dutrow worked his two Breeders' Cup horses, Saint Liam and Silver Train.

Saint Liam, who likely will be the morning line favorite for the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) made a fine physical appearance as he walked the shed prior to his five-furlong drill. He is the consummate professional and never turned a hair. With exercise rider Rudy Rodriguez aboard, the son of Saint Ballado stood on the track with the pony for several minutes, and seemed content to just take in the scenery.

He broke off slowly and was in no hurry as he coasted through opening fractions of :13 2/5, :26 2/5, and :38. With Rodriguez still sitting virtually motionless, Saint Liam began to pour it on with his ears still cocked. He was still going so smoothly and easily, it was hard to believe he was coming home his final quarter in :23 3/5 and last eighth in :11 3/5. He was going so strongly at the wire, he galloped out another eighth in :12 3/5.

He barely took a deep breath coming off the track and cooled out beautifully in what proved to be a perfect work for this colt, who has a ton of natural speed.

Another top Classic contender, Borrego, also turned in an excellent work, and would have gone faster than his five furlongs in 1:02 2/5 had another horse not been working a half-mile down on the rail, forcing exercise rider Any Durnin to keep the big chestnut wide throughout. Even when he cleared the other horse, Durnin elected to keep him wide to make sure he didn't drop in and impede the horse. Visually, this was a big work, because it showed off Borrego's enormous stride.

This is a totally different horse physically from the one who competed in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). He has filled out in the girth, and the once-lanky colt is now a picture, especially when under tack. He is more aggressive on the track, and during gallop the previous day, he wheeled at the exact same spot and was bucking coming off the track, as if he were not content with a mere gallop.

As for some of the other workers who impressed this morning, Wonder Again looked sensational breezing a half in :48 3/5 over the yielding turf course. The daughter of Silver Hawk appeared to love the going and was striding out beautifully over the wet turf, over which several others were bobbing their heads and not reaching out with the same kind of authority. She has always acted well on soft going and appreciates give in the ground, so she should be ready for a big effort on Saturday, considering the condition of the turf and the forecast for heavy rains tonight. Speaking of the turf course, it looks fantastic, as if you're looking at a European course.

Also looking good over the turf was likely NetJets Mile (gr. IT) favorite Leroidesanimaux, who worked in company and seemed to be handling the course well.

Back on the dirt, Flower Alley turned in a quick five-furlong work in :58 4/5 in company, but was pulling hard early, and exercise rider Angel Cordero had to restrain him to keep him from going off too fast. Considering how rank the colt was in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), in which he went early with his own rabbit, one has to wonder how ratable he will be in the Classic. There is a good chance if no one wants the lead, which is quite possible, he could inherit it.

Although he will be a longshot in the Bessemer Trust Juvenile (gr. I), one had to be impressed with Superfly's five-furlong work in :59 4/5. Going in company, the son of Fusaichi Pegasus  was doing everything on his own and was striding out smoothly down the stretch. Another Nick Zito-trained colt, Sun King, also looked good, working five furlongs in 1:00 in company.

Working for the first time at Belmont, Stevie Wonderboy served notice that he should have no trouble handling the surface, as he made light work of a half-mile in :46. The son of Stephen Got Even is a light-framed, long-bodied colt who still has a lot of room for improvement, especially in his hind end. It will be interesting to see how he matures physically from two to three.