Irish War Cry will soon get a change of scenery, departing the state where he blossomed as a top 3-year-old prospect and then left even trainer Graham Motion perplexed with a poor finish.
A chance at redemption could be on the horizon for the Lambholm South Holy Bull Stakes (G2) winner, who is now under consideration for the April 8 Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Isabelle de Tomaso's homebred Curlin colt returned to the work tab March 25 after running seventh in the Xpressbet Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2). He put in five furlongs in 1:01.10 at Palm Meadows Training Center and is set to ship March 26 to Motion's base at Fair Hill Training Center outside Elkton, Md.
Irish War Cry worked in company with Chadds Ford Stable's Darley Alcibiades (G1) winner Dancing Rags, who was given the same time for her move. The Union Rags filly is headed to the April 9 Adena Springs Beaumont Stakes (G3) at Keeneland for her season debut, off an eighth in the Nov. 5 14 Hands Winery Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).
"They had a good work together. I was happy with that," Motion said. "I'm anxious to get him back home to Fair Hill."
Irish War Cry pressed the pace but tired badly turning for home in the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park, after winning the Holy Bull there at the same distance by 3 3/4 lengths.
"I think I'm leaning towards going to the Wood," Motion said. "I really wanted to give him an extra week (between races). I was worried about coming back in four weeks again (April 1 for the grade 1 Xpressbet.com Florida Derby) off a bad race. We could go to Keeneland (for the grade 2 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes), but I kind of like the idea of training at Fair Hill and running closer to home."
Most horsemen uncover an issue following a lackluster performance, but Motion remains without a glaring excuse for the Fountain of Youth run.
"The whole thing has been kind of head-scratcher for me," the trainer said. "I was prepared to see him bounce after the Holy Bull, but that was kind of beyond a bounce. But coming out of the race, I really haven't seen any reason to be concerned. The only thing I can say is, maybe it was the combination perhaps of bouncing off the big number he ran in the Holy Bull and running a little too close to the pace on a drying out, cuppy racetrack. It was really windy that day and there was a long time between races."
New Jersey-bred Irish War Cry won three in a row to start his career. The Feb. 4 Holy Bull was his season debut and first step into graded company after he broke his maiden Nov. 11 at Laurel Park and followed up Dec. 31 with a victory in the Marylander Stakes.