Juveniles Work Toward Breeders' Cup

Barn Notes from Churchill Downs

Arlington-Washington Lassie (gr. III) winner Thunder Bertie, a Churchill Downs-based contender for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, worked a sharp five furlongs Saturday to complete her serious training for the race. A homebred owned by Louisville natives Richard, Elaine and Bert Klein, the daughter of 1995 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Thunder Gulch worked five furlongs handily in :59 2/5 under jockey Jeremy Beasley. Assistant trainer Steve Flint, the son of trainer Bernie Flint, said Thunder Bertie picked up a lot of experience in the move.

"We got lucky as we had a couple of horses break off in front of us and gave us a little target," he said. "It seemed to work out well. She got a little dirt in her face and come around horses. Jeremy said he had a lot of horse left. She's getting good at the right time."

Thunder Bertie is 2-1-0 in four starts -- with the losses coming in her first two starts at Churchill Downs. But Flint said it would be a mistake to interpret those losses as an indication that she does not care for the Churchill track.

"She didn't win here, but she had a lot of adversity in both races," he said. "She's gotten blinkers and a shadow roll since and it seems to have straightened her out."

Another factor in her development may be a minor round of throat surgery performed after her Churchill Downs setbacks. Flint said she had been displacing her soft palate before the surgery by Dr. Bob Hunt at Lexington's Hagyard-Davidson-McGee clinic. She is unbeaten since the surgery.

"I was tickled to death with the work and couldn't have asked for anything better," Flint said. "I know the track's fast and the times are going to reflect that, but I like the way she did it."

And Klein hopes she runs to her sharp work next week in the Juvenile Fillies. "We're home, we're comfortable here and that's the main thing," he said. "Like I told Bert (Klein), we've just got to catch lightning in the bottle one time, that's all we're looking for. You might not have to be the best horse as long as you're the best horse next Saturday."

Juvenile Hopeful Macho Uno Breezes - Stronach Stable's Macho Uno worked five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 after the renovation break with exercise rider Keith Ricks up.

"I got his last quarter in :23 2/5 and he had a lot left," trainer Joe Orseno said. "He's got a deceptive stride, but it looks like he was striding out well over this track."

Holiday Thunder Drills - John Oxley's Holiday Thunder, who is the first horse on the preference list for the oversubscribed Breeders' Cup Juvenile, worked five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 after the renovation break under Robert McKnight.

"I was very happy. I had him out the three-quarters in 1:13 3/5 and up in 1:27 4/5 for seven-eighths," trainer John Ward said. "All I wanted to do was just keep him in hand, just finish the last eighth and gallop out relaxed. There were two horses in front of him, and he just clocked them and waited for the last eighth and finished in :11 1/5."

Ward said if Holiday Thunder does not make the Juvenile field, he would also bypass that day's Iroquois Stakes and instead run stablemate Hero's Tribute.

Juvenile Fillies Hopeful Xtra Heat Zips 5F In 1:00 - Kenneth Taylor's undefeated Xtra Heat worked five furlongs in 1:00 before the renovation break under exercise rider Trish Jones.

"She went a little faster than I thought she would," trainer John Salzman said of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) candidate who is 6 for 6 lifetime. "She will walk tomorrow and then gallop up to the race if she cools out OK."

This will be Xtra Heat's first race around two turns, and that is Salzman's lone concern.

"Her breeding indicates she will (handle two turns)," Salzman said. "If not, we'll go back to sprinting."