Final Breeders' Cup Preps for Five Kentucky-Based Horses

(Edited from Churchill Downs reports)
Five contenders for Saturday's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, including a powerful trio trained by Steve Asmussen, were on the track at Churchill Downs and its Trackside Louisville training center Monday.

The formidable Asmussen trained trio of Cuvee (Bessemer Trust Juvenile, gr. I), Lady Tak (Distaff, gr. I) and Posse (Sprint) were all out before daylight at Churchill Downs and Sprint hopeful Great Notion was also out before sunrise for his breeze at Trackside. Cajun Beat, another contender for the Sprint, breezed in the bright autumn sunlight at Churchill Downs after the break for track maintenance.

CUVEE, LADY TAK, POSSE -- With their final training moves behind his trio of major contenders, Asmussen allowed himself to look ahead to what could be a very big weekend for his stable.

"You're just trying to temper the emotions, stay at an even keel, get on a plane and go there," he said. "With their major works in them and them going over there in the physical condition they're in, I'm extremely excited."

Ron Winchell's Cuvee, the likely favorite for the Juvenile, sparkled in his final prep for the 1 1/16-mile race as he breezed five furlongs in the company of a stablemate in :59.20 under jockey Corey Lanerie. The move over a "fast" surface by the son of Carson City tied as the fastest of 34 works at the distance.

Distaff (gr. I) hopeful Lady Tak, winner of the Test (gr. I) at Saratoga breezed five furlongs in :59.60. Lanerie was also aboard for that move, which ranked as the third fastest at the distance. The filly will be ridden on Breeders' Cup day by Pat Day.

Lady Tak worked in the company of a pair of stablemates and finished behind one of them, but Lanerie was under orders not to pass those workmates.

"She's fast," said Asmussen. "We just want her to be turned off and be as manageable as she possibly will be for Pat.

Heiligbrodt Racing and Vinery's Posse, who will ridden in the Sprint by Day, breezed an easy four furlongs in :49.60. Lanerie was up for Posse's move, which ranked 20th among 40 works at the distance.

"We need a lot left in him - he's going to fly home," Asmussen said. "We've got Pat on our side and, if we get the trip, he'll fly home."

All three horses underwent endoscopic examinations following their works and all were clean, which gave Asmussen another reason to smile about his strong hand heading into Breeders' Cup Day. Wins by Lady Tak and Cuvee could earn Eclipse Awards for each of those horses.

"I feel like that we have two horses that are talented enough to be champions and they need to prove themselves to be champions."

CAJUN BEAT -- Padua Stable and John and Joseph Iracane's Cajun Beat, winner of the Kentucky Cup Sprint (gr. III) for trainer Steve Margolis, breezed an easy half-mile over a "fast" track in :49.40. The work under exercise rider Loren Diego ranked 16th among 40 at the distance.

"That was fine," said Margolis. "I told Loren just to give him a maintenance work. Last week he had his real good work and we just needed something just to stretch his legs, and that's what we got."

Cajun Beat will board a flight to California on Wednesday and Margolis said the 3-year-old son of Grand Slam will have a little bit of work left to do before the Sprint.

He said Cajun Beat would probably gallop at Santa Anita on Thursday and jog on Friday. He expects to school the colt in the paddock during the races on either Thursday or Friday afternoon -- and then hope for the best against a tough Sprint field on Saturday.

"It's a very competitive race," he said. "The post is going to be a key factor, if he gets the right post. The horse is training good and doing good. We need some luck, of course. We know it's a tough race, but we'll give it our best shot."

Cajun Beat has a career record of 4-2-0 in 10 races and has earned

GREAT NOTION -- Silverton Hill Farm's Great Notion is known for his blistering early speed, but trainer Darrin Miller wanted the son of Elusive Quality to take the "less is more" approach in his final work for Saturday's Breeders' Cup Sprint. Miller was in the saddle and kept Great Notion under tight restraint as the 3-year-old colt breezed four furlongs in :51.40 over a "fast" surface at Trackside Louisville training center.

The colt was timed in fractions of :13.80, :26.20 and :39.40 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:06.80. The move by Great Notion was faster than only one of 16 moves at the distance, but Miller said it was what he was looking for.

"It was good," he said. "I thought 'less was more' with him. I just wanted to kind of let him get a taste of it and pull him out of it. He worked a half in :51 and he was well, well in hand. He knows what speed is about, so it was pretty much just letting him cover the track."

Great Notion, who is Miller's first Breeders' Cup starter, will ship to Santa Anita on Thursday.

"The hopes are that we get the job done," he said. "I guess the main thing is that he puts in a good showing, we get out of the gate and he comes back sound."

The colt is coming off a troubled sixth-place finish in Keeneland's Phoenix Breeders' Cup (gr. III) on Oct. 3, but was narrowly beaten by Valid Video in his previous outing in the King's Bishop (gr. I) at Saratoga. He has a career record of 3-4-0 in nine races and has earned $193,860.