The Paul McGee-trained Honor in War turned in a sharp four-furlong work around the dogs Tuesday at Churchill Downs in preparation for Sunday's River City Handicap (gr. IIIT). The son of Lord at War covered the distance over "good" footing in :48.80 under jockey Bill Troilo.
Honor in War, owned by 3rd Turn Stables, most recently turned in a dull last-place effort in a Nov. 5 allowance race. He finished in the runner-up position in the Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland.
The move tied with a work by the swift turf sprinter Battle Won as the fastest of 10 efforts at that distance.
McGee had been leaning toward training Honor In War up to the 1 1/8-mile River City without a work, but changed his mind when the weather and track conditions turned up good on an overcast, cool morning.
"We had conditions today and we just wanted him to get out there and stretch his legs," said McGee in a release from Churchill Downs. "This one was to ease my mind and make sure he went around there all right and come up with another clunker. I feel like he breezed really good."
Honor In War was found to be suffering from a small lung infection following a seventh-place finish to River City contender Quest Star in the 1 1/8-mile allowance prep, but McGee is not convinced that ailment was the sole reason for his flat effort.
"It's still a mystery," he said. "I don't know why he threw in such a clunker the other day, but he's done good since and doing good going into this race."
Pat Day, the all-time leading rider at Churchill Downs, will ride Honor in War, who brings a record of 7-3-5 in 23 races and earnings of $886,328 into the River City. He has failed to win in six 2004 starts.
Other River City contenders on the Tuesday work tab included: Warleigh
- the Steve Asmussen-trained runner-up to
Hard Buck in the 2003 River City breezed five furlongs in 1:00.80 under
Austin Kobiskie. Another son of Lord At War, the 5-year-old Warleigh won the Louisiana Downs Breeders' Cup two starts back.Dumaani Star
and Battle Won
- Trainer Chuck Simon breezed his pair of River City nominees separately, with the quick half-mile by Battle Won being the most visually impressive move. Dumaani Star, a 6-year-old Canadian import, breezed five furlongs in 1:04.20.
Other prospective members of the River City field also include Quest Star, Ay Caramba, False Promises, G P Fleet, Deputy Strike and French Lieutenant.
Horses considered "possible" include two-time winner Dr. Kashnikow, Rochester, Gretchen's Star, Mogador, Sir Cherokee and Prince Prado. French Lieutenant arrived from Canada's Woodbine on Monday.