Churchill Downs Notes: Lemon Drop Kid Works Five Furlongs

Barn Notes from Churchill Downs

For some fans and members of the racing media, a disappointing fifth-place finish by Horse of the Year contender Lemon Drop Kid was all they needed to jump off his bandwagon.

The criticism of his colt has annoyed trainer Scotty Schulhofer, who continues to have strong belief in the colt that he calls the best horse he has ever trained. And Schulhofer was no less enthusiastic following Lemon Drop Kid's first work over the Churchill Downs surface in preparation for the $4 million Classic on Nov. 4. Lemon Drop Kid breezed five furlongs in 1:02 over a "fast" track under George Martens, his regular workout partner.

"He looked good," said Schulhofer. "He doesn't like the racetrack."

Schulhofer's last comment was aimed toward critics who have dismissed Lemon Drop Kid on the basis of his fifth-place finish in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI) and his off-the-board finishes in two previous races at Churchill Downs in the 1998 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (GI) and the 1999 Kentucky Derby (GI). While bristling over comments about his horse, Schulhofer is moving ahead as Lemon Drop Kid prepares for the final start of his career. And the Hall of Fame trainer was happy with Friday's effort over the track.

"It was just maintenance, that's all," said Schulhofer. "I told him (Martens) I wanted him to go between 1:01 and 1:02 and gallop out. He did just what I asked him...So he did good, came back great and is looking good."

Schulhofer caught Lemon Drop Kid galloping out in a little over 1:14.

"He finished real well," he said. "He went his last quarter, it's tough catching the poles, but I had him shading :24 for the last quarter -- :23 4/5."

Despite his Gold Cup setback, Schulhofer likes where he stands a week out from the Classic. "He's doing great and couldn't be doing better," said Schulhofer. "He's just an exceptionally good horse. He's got a lot of talent and he's a big stout, strong, sound horse. He's got a lot of ability."

Godolphin's Fantastic Light Breezes On Turf -- Breeders' Cup Turf contender Fantastic Light, Godolphin's winner of the Man O'War (GI) at Belmont Park and the Dubai Sheema Classic (GIII) at Nad Al Sheba, now has a feel for the seven furlong turf course at Churchill Downs. The 4-year-old son of Rahy breezed seven furlongs on firm turf (dogs up) in 1:30. The Saeed bin Suroor-trained colt breezed in company with his 3-year-old stablemate Dubai Two Thousand, who broke off some two lengths in front of his workmate. Fantastic Light moved alongside on the turn and finished about a length in front of his workmate, who was timed in 1:30 1/5.

"He worked nice," said bin Suroor. "I'm quite happy with him."

Godolphin will be shooting for it's second straight victory in the Turf, having won the race last year with Daylami. Bin Suroor said Daylami remains his favorite horse at 1 1/2 miles, but he believes Fantastic Light has an opportunity to atone for a disappointing fourth-place finish behind Turf rival John's Call in the Turf Classic, Oct. 7.

"When he ran the last time in New York, the pace was very, very slow," he said. "That is what I worried about. I think a race that has a very good pace suits him a lot."

Fantastic Light has a record of 7-3-2 in 16 starts with career earnings of $2,206,178.

Lukas Says Unbridled Time Likely For Iroquois -- With Robert and Beverly Lewis' Unbridled Time on the outside looking in at the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, trainer D. Wayne Lukas is making plans to run colt in the $100,000-added Iroquois on the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup undercard. The Ohio-bred son of Unbridled's Song breezed five furlongs Friday over a fast track in 1:00 3/5. The colt is listed 17th on the preference list for the 14-horse Juvenile field, but Lukas would love to get a chance to run the colt in the big event despite poor efforts in his last two starts, the Belmont Futurity and the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland.

"He's doing really super," Lukas said. "I'd really like to run him in the main one (the Juvenile). Numbers-wise and from where you're standing on that side of the fence, you'd say 'Well, why? But from where I'm looking, he's just training through the bridle here. He loves the racetrack, too."

Unbridled Time showed a liking for the Churchill Downs footing when he won the WHAS-11 Stakes on Kentucky Derby Day. He was then third in the Kentucky Breeders' Cup before a case of bucked shins put him on the sidelines until his return in the Futurity. But, unless there are significant developments in the Juvenile picture over the next few days, Lukas will start only Yonaguska and Scorpion in the 1 1/16-mile race. Unbridled Time has a record of 2-0-1 in five starts with earnings of $117,799.

"I'd like to try him -- it wouldn't be so far-fetched," Lukas said. "I guess what I'm saying is that if you like any of the other two of mine, you'd have to like him. I think he's right there with them."

Waiting For Montjeu -- It will apparently be another day before we learn whether European star Montjeu will come travel to the United States to run in the Breeders' Cup Turf on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs. A decision on the status of the colt was to have been made following a workout Friday morning for trainer John Hammond at France's Chantilly.

Alastair Donald of the International Racing Bureau reports that Montjeu worked 10 furlongs with two galloping companions and that Montjeu broke smartly, worked well and finished five lengths clear of his workmates.

Hammond said he would talk to the colt's owners and a final decision on shipping to the Breeders' Cup will be made on Saturday.

Montjeu is a three-time Group I winner this year, including a victory in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes. But he has lost his last two starts, including a setback to Turf rival Kalanisi in the Dubai Champion at Newmarket. He has a career record of 11-2-0 in 15 starts with earnings of $3,180,974.

It appears that another European star, Fruits of Love, will board a plane to Louisville on Sunday for a date in the Turf. The Racing Post reports that trainer Mark Johnston was pleased with a seven-furlong work by British-based Fruits of Love on an all-weather course at Middleham.

The IRB's Donald said Johnston would assess how Fruits of Love recovered from the work before making the final decision on shipping. Fruits of Love has a career record of 5-3-5 in 21 starts with earnings of $1,089,543.