Barn Notes from Churchill Downs
Richard Mulhall, general manager of Prince Ahmed bin Salman's The Thoroughbred Corp., is optimistic about the stable's chances for a repeat victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.
Anees rallied from last place to pull off a 30-1 shocker under Gary Stevens in the Juvenile last year at Gulfstream Park. This year, a much more highly-regarded entry of Arabian Light and Point Given will carry the white and green-striped colors of The Thoroughbred Corp. for trainer Bob Baffert.
"It's a tough race, but they're coming up to it well," said Mulhall this week from the prince's Bradbury Thoroughbred Farm office five miles northeast of Santa Anita. "Arabian Light worked a real good three-quarters at Santa Anita Tuesday, and Point Given worked a good half there the same morning."
Arabian Light, winner of the Lane's End Farm Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland in his last start Oct. 8, will again be ridden by Shane Sellers. Stevens has the call on Point Given, winner of the Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway Park and runner-up in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont.
"Last year, we caught a field with a lot of pace, and Anees just ran by them in the stretch," said Mulhall. "I think these are better horses than Anees. They are training more forwardly than Anees did. "I think if there is some pace, these two will run right by them too," added Mulhall. "I think their running styles are perfect. They can stalk. They have the speed to stay close if necessary but can lay back and come from out of it too."
Arabian Light, a California-bred, cost $700,000 at the Barretts March sale in Pomona, Calif. Point Given is a homebred.
Anees, winless since the Juvenile, was plagued by injuries during the winter and went to the sidelines after the Kentucky Derby. "He had a couple of chips taken out of an ankle," explained Mulhall. "He has been galloping here at the farm for about 30 days. Realistically, he's about three months from a return to the races."
The Thoroughbred Corp. will also be represented by Spain in the Distaff.Speaking Of Time
, a four-year-old filly, hopes to spring an upset in the Distaff. "She likes the mud, and she's the only closer in the race," explained trainer Barry Abrams from Santa Anita. "Maybe she'll get lucky, and we'll get a piece of it."
Speaking Of Time, a Kentucky-bred daughter of 1992 Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Gilded Time, has won six of 26 starts and earned $390,456. She finished second in the Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap in her last start here Oct. 9 and was second to Distaff favorite Riboletta in the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park June 25.
"She just worked five furlongs in :59 3/5 here," said Abrams. "She will work again here Sunday and fly out Monday. Gary Stevens will ride."Lexicon
, second alternate in the Sprint, will remain at Santa Anita unless he gets in through attrition, trainer Richard Mandella said from Santa Anita. "If we hear by the 30th that we're in, we'll go (on the last Southern California flights that day or the next)," said Mandella. "If not, we'll stay here and run in the Morvich (Handicap) that weekend, I guess."Beautiful Pleasure, Lemon Drop Kid To Work Friday
-- Defending Breeders' Cup Distaff champion Beautiful Pleasure is one of many Breeders' Cup hopefuls scheduled to work Friday morning at Churchill Downs. The John Oxley-owned mare had been tentatively scheduled to work Thursday, but Beautiful Pleasure just galloped instead toward the end of training hours on the main track.
"We are getting good gallops in her and it is more important now to get her footing over the track than speed,'' said assistant trainer and exercise rider Donna Ward. Beautiful Pleasure would work after the renovation break.
Also scheduled to work after the break is Jeanne Vance's Classic contender Lemon Drop Kid. Trainer Scotty Schulhofer plans to work Lemon Drop Kid five furlongs, and then come back with another work Wednesday.
In addition to Beautiful Pleasure, two other Distaff hopefuls are scheduled to work Friday. They are Jostle and Surfside.
Two Juvenile Fillies candidates are scheduled to work. Alcibiades winner She's a Devil Due is slated to work at 6 o'clock with regular rider Mark Guidry up, and Platinum Tiara, the beaten Alcibiades favorite, is scheduled to work six furlongs out of the gate with new rider Shane Sellers up.
Scheduled to work on the turf is Godolphin's Fantastic Light (Turf). Saturday's tentative work list includes Dallas Stewart's duo of Dollar Bill (Juvenile) and Nasty Storm (Juvenile Fillies). Three possible Breeders' Cup favorites are scheduled for Sunday works. Riboletta (Distaff) for trainer Eduardo Inda, Raging Fever (Juvenile Fillies) for trainer Mark Hennig and trainer Todd Pletcher's two Sprint hopefuls, More Than Ready and Trippi, are slated for Sunday along with Pletcher's Filly and Mare Turf hopeful Pico Teneriffe.Classic Hopeful Jadada Breezes, Shirota Hopes
-- Former claiming horse Jadada, last on the preference list for the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), turned in a solid five furlong work Thursday at Churchill Downs in preparation for the 1 1/4-mile race. Jockey Joe Deegan was in the saddle as the Mitch Shirota-trained son of Jade Hunter worked five furlongs handily in :59 1/5 over a "fast" track. The winner of Keeneland's Fayette (gr. III) worked shortly after the mid-morning break for track maintenance.
Although he rarely attracts media coverage to what is currently his three-horse stable, Shirota sounded like an old pro when he met the media.
"Perfect!" said the jovial Shirota. "Couldn't be any better."
Shirota, who was a jockey on the Kentucky circuit before making the move into the training ranks, was genuinely pleased with Jadada's move and said the 5-year-old will continue to train toward the Classic. If he doesn't make it in to the 14-horse field, he will run on the turf the following day in the $150,000 River City Handicap (gr. III).
"He's fit," said Shirota. "He doesn't need much more."
That Jadada is being considered for the Classic is a remarkable story in itself. He ran for a $40,000 claiming tag late last year in California, but has turned his career around since Sterling Stud's Paul and Andrena Van Doren sent him to Shirota this year.
The Fayette win improved Jadada's record under Shirota to 4-0-2 in seven starts and the trainer said that failure to make the Classic field would do nothing to tarnish his accomplishments. "He was running for $40,000 and didn't win a race last year," said Shirota. "I won't be disappointed if he doesn't get in because he's done everything I've asked him to -- and maybe more." Shirota said Mike Smith will ride Jadada if he gets into the Classic.