Trainer Steve Asmussen's powerful trio of contenders for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships --Cuvee, Lady Tak, and Posse -- were all busy with pre-dawn works on Monday at Churchill Downs in preparation for their runs Oct. 25."We're extremely fortunate to be in this position," Asmussen said after the works. "They're all happy and doing well. They've got plenty on their plate, so they'd better be doing well."
Each horse worked in the company of a pair of stablemates and was ridden by jockey Corey Lanerie. Asmussen said Cuvee and Lady Tak each worked seven furlongs, but were credited with five furlongs breezes by Churchill Downs clockers. In her preparations for the Breeders' Cup Distaff-Presented by Nextel (gr. I), Lady Tak's official five-eighths clocking was 1:01, which was seventh fastest of 51 at the distance.Cuvee, likely favorite for the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), was timed in 1:01.60, which was the day's 13th fastest move. Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) contender Posse covered five furlongs in 1:00, the fastest move of 51 at the distance."We're in great physical shape today," Asmussen said. "With the timing of the works we've got to come out of them in good shape because, with the substantial entry fees due tomorrow, you don't want to be guessing."
Asmussen said the horses are scheduled to ship to Santa Anita on Wednesday, Oct. 22 and he is optimistic about the chances of all three.
"We feel great," he said. "We've got great preparation in them. For them, all three of them, to have had the year that they've had and to be in as good a physical shape as we feel like we're in today, is extremely fortunate. I say that now, but tomorrow morning we'll be extremely critical of how they've come out of these works because they have no small task ahead of them."
Lady Tak, owned by the Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, won the Test (gr. I) at Saratoga and the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) and has a 4-3-0 record in eight 2003 races. She has fashioned a career record of 6-3-0 in 10 races and has earned $716,270.Posse, owned by Heiligbrodt Racing and Vinery, has a record of 4-1-1 in eight races this year that includes wins in the Riva Ridge (gr. II) at Belmont, the Lafayette (gr. III) at Keeneland, and the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs. His career record stands at 6-2-2 in 15 races and he has earned $559,581.Ron Winchell's Cuvee has a 4-0-1 record in five races with victories in the Belmont Futurity (gr. I), Saratoga Special (gr. II) and Churchill Downs' Kentucky Breeders' Cup (gr. III). The only loss by the son of Carson City came in a troubled third-place finish in the Bashford Manor (gr. III) at Churchill Downs.Also working at Churchill on Monday was Satish Sanan and John and Joseph
Iracane's Cajun Beat, winner of the Kentucky Cup Sprint (gr. III), who breezed a sharp four furlongs in preparation for a planned run in the Sprint.The 3-year-old son of Grand Slam zipped the distance in :46.80 for trainer Steve Margolis. Exercise rider Loren Diego was in the saddle for the move that was the fastest of 46 at the distance.
"Loren just sat on him and kind of 'smooched' to him a little bit and he picked up the bridle and kept going," said Margolis. "Since the Kentucky Cup Sprint he's really gotten stronger and more full of himself and is just a real happy horse. He's progressing in his daily gallops and getting better, I think."Cornelio Velasquez, the leading jockey in Churchill Downs' spring meet, will ride Cajun Beat in the Sprint.Cajun Beat has a career record of 4-2-0 in 10 races and has earned $218,700.