Brazilian import Hard Buck, unbeaten in two races since he arrived in the barn of trainer Ken McPeek, tuned up for his graded stakes debut as he prepped for Sunday's River City Handicap (gr. III) with a four-furlong work on Tuesday at Churchill Downs.Team Victory II's 4-year-old son of the late 1985 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Spend A Buck covered the distance around the "dogs" over a "firm" course in 1:01.40. The move under jockey Brice Blanc was the third fastest of seven at the distance."He worked really nice," said Blanc. "It was a very nice work and very professional. He's a very nice horse and we're very confident. We'll see how he goes on race day, but he's been working good and so far everything is in good shape."Hard Buck won the Kentucky Cup Mile at Turfway Park in his most recent start. Blanc was aboard for that victory and will ride McPeek's colt again in the River City. He also won the Tristate Handicap at Ellis Park.His two U.S. wins improved Hard Buck's career record to 7-2-0 in 12 races. He has earned $126,012. Ro Parra's Warleigh, unbeaten in two stakes races since he was claimed for $100,000 by trainer Steve Asmussen at Saratoga, breezed an easy four furlongs Tuesday in preparation for the River City. Jockey Corey Lanerie was in the irons as the 5-year-old son of Lord At War covered the distance around the "dogs" in :50.60.Warleigh has won five consecutive races -- including romps in the Louisiana Downs and Alliance Handicaps at Louisiana Downs since he was claimed from owners Eugene and Laura Melnyk and trainer Todd Pletcher.
Belmont Breeders' Cup (gr. II) winner Della Francesca, considered "possible" for the River City, breezed five furlongs in 1:03.20. Others expected for the River City include two-time defending winner Dr. Kashnikow, Sharbayan, Freefourinternet, Act Of War, False Promises, Foster's Landing and Halo's Stride. Possible starters include Ask The Lord, Gretchen's Star, and Rowans Park.