Sunday Break, winner of his last three starts, worked a sharp six furlongs in 1:15 3/5 at Aqueduct Monday, in preparation for Saturday's $750,000 Wood Memorial, while Saarland breezed a half in :48 at Belmont.
The Japanese-bred son of Forty Niner, who worked in company with Groovy Pad, was clocked in fractions of of :13 1/5, :26, and :38 3/5. He then came home his two eighths in :12 2/5 and :12 1/5 before galloping out seven furlongs in 1:29 2/5. After racing head and head with his workmate, he asserted himself in the stretch, hitting the wire seven lengths in front. "This was exactly what I wanted today," Drysdale said. "Now, he's all set."
Sunday Break, who is coming off an erratic victory in a nine-furlong Aqueduct allowance allowance race, is expected to face Saarland, Medaglia d'Oro, Blue Burner, Buddha, Iwin, Nokoma, and Laissezaller.
"His last race was a good one for him, and gave him a win on this track and at this distance," Drysdale said. "But the big positive from the race was that he came back late when the other horses came to him. Gary (Stevens, jockey) said that he might have been too easy on this horse in that race, and that late in the stretch the horse started to lose his concentration. But as soon as that other horse came at him, he got back to business. Like I said, that is a big positive
"That being said, he has a lot of room for improvement. I am very encouraged by what he's done so far, but he is going to have to earn his way to the Kentucky Derby. He will have to run a good race in the Wood Memorial. He is a late-developing colt, and we gave him what we thought were easy races to get him to this point. Now, he is going to be taking on a different caliber of horse and we will see if he is up to it."
The Wood is scheduled to go off at 4:15 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN, beginning at 3:30. It will be the first leg of the Big 3, Pick 3 that also features the Toyota Blue Grass from Keeneland (5:15 p.m. Eastern, NBC) and the Arkansas Derby from Oaklawn Park (6:45 p.m. Eastern, TVG).
Owned by Koji Maeda of Osaka, Japan, Sunday Break is a half-brother to Maeda's Phalaenopsis, former juvenile filly champion and champion older mare in Japan.
Saarland had his final workout for the Wood Memorial, breezing four furlongs in :48 at Belmont Park. After an opening eighth in :12 1/5 and a quarter in :23 1/5, he closed his final quarter in :24 4/5
"That was what I was looking for,"said trainer Shug McGaughey. "He'll just gallop into the Wood."
As for his race in the Gotham, in which he finished second, McGaughey said, "I was real happy he showed more early speed. I'm hoping he can make a forward move off of it. It looked like the type of race he will be able to. Two turns looks like it's his game."
Also working for the Wood was Michael Tabor's Nokoma, who went a half over the Belmont training track in :48 1/5. Nokoma was beaten 28 1/2 lengths in the Florida Derby.
"I've got no explanation for the Florida Derby," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "He's a better horse than what he showed. He's shipped in here well and I was happy with what I saw this morning. He's proven in the past he can run with these horses. He ran his biggest race on that track last November. He deserves another shot."