Solid Turf Work Earns Pass Rush a Start in Firecracker

Edited Release from Churchill Downs

Pass Rush will make his turf debut in Saturday's Firecracker Breeders' Cup (gr. II) at Churchill Downs following a solid work over the grass on Tuesday.

The Indiana-bred son of Crown Ambassador, a close third to Mountain General in the 6 1/2-furlong Aristides (gr. III) on June 21, breezed four furlongs around the "dogs" on "firm" turf in :49.40. Jockey Larry Melancon was in the saddle for the breeze, a move that was easily the best of five works at the distance.

Trainer Patrick Byrne said the move, the 4-year-old's first-ever work over the turf, was strong enough to convince him that Pass Rush deserved a shot in the one-mile Firecracker Breeders' Cup.

"It's a good opportunity to try the grass," said Byrne. "All we needed to do was get a decent half (mile) in him. We didn't need to do anything from a fitness standpoint. I just told Larry to not worry about time and just see if he likes it. He said he switched leads good and handled it good and said he was real happy with him, so there's no reason not to take a chance with him."

Byrne said the fact that the work by Pass Rush was the best of the day is notable.

"He's never been a good work horse," said Byrne. "All of his dirt works are like 1:01 or 1:02. He's kind of a lazy work horse, so for him to go a 'bullet' around the dogs is encouraging."

In other Firecracker news, possible favorite Rock Slide breezed an easy four furlongs on the turf course on Tuesday in :52.60. Annie Finney was aboard the Neil Howard-trained son of A.P. Indy and brother to Pimlico Special (gr. I) winner Mineshaft.

Rock Slide, who is owned by William S. Farish, Temple Webber, Jr. and Elkins, won the Sea O' Erin Breeders' Cup at Arlington Park on June 15 to remain unbeaten in three races on the turf.

Other horses considered "possible" or "likely" for Saturday's race include Package Store, Political Attack, Freefourinternet, and Entitlement.