Harlan's Holiday, Sunday Break Work For April 13 Stakes

Harlan's Holiday, Sunday Break  Work For April 13 Stakes
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Harlan's Holiday, working at Churchill Downs on April 3.
Harlan's Holiday, winner of the Florida Derby, and Sunday Break, winner of his last three starts, worked Wednesday for their respective engagements in the April 13 Blue Grass Stakes and Wood Memorial. Also working on Wednesday was Louisiana Derby runner-up Easyfromthegitgo.

Harlan's Holiday turned in a sharp 5-furlong drill in a bullet :59 4/5 at Churchill Downs. The son of Harlan is expected to go off a solid favorite in the Blue Grass Stakes. Easyfromthegitgo, who could go in the Blue Grass or the Lexington Stakes, breezed five furlongs in 1:02 at Churchill Downs for trainer Steve Asmussen. Among the others expected to compete in the Blue Grass are Booklet, Request for Parole, Azillion, and Gold Dollar.

Sunday Break, who is coming off an eventful allowance victory at Aqueduct on March 27, in which he ducked in severely on two occasions, breezed an easy half-mile in :50 1/5 over Aqueduct's main track, with exercise rider Marcelino Olguin aboard

"It was just an easy breeze to let him stretch his legs," trainer Neil Drysdale said. As for his erratic stretch run, in which he changed leads six times, Drysdale said, "We wanted him to relax and he may have relaxed too much. Gary Stevens really wasn't riding him. He didn't start riding him until the other horse came up the inside. I was very impressed by the way he galloped out. He was eight lengths ahead of the field in the blink of an eye. That confirmed he should have no problems with distance."

Drysdale said Sunday Break will have one more work before the Wood Memorial. One of his main foes is expected to be another up-and-coming allowance winner, Buddha, who is coming off a brilliant 9 1/2-length victory at Gulfstream. The son of 1996 Wood Memorial winner Unbridled's Song, owned by Gary West and trained by Jim Bond, breezed six furlongs at Payson Park in Florida Monday morning in 1:15 3/5, which is an excellent time for the deep Payson Park.

Buddha made one start as a 2-year-old, finishing 10th in a maiden race, in which he was discovered to have entrapped his epiglottis. The colt was transferred from trainer Bill Mott's barn to Bond in December.

"He's a model student," Bond said. "He had a good work on Monday. It was a very good time for that track. He's got loads of talent and his mindset is great for a young horse." Buddha will have one more work in Florida, probably Sunday, before shipping to New York in the middle of next week. With his rider, Edgar Prado, having a commitment on Harlan's Holiday, Pat Day has been named to ride the colt in the Wood.

Todd Pletcher said he will give Nokoma one more chance in the Wood, following a horrendous effort in the Florida Derby, in which the son of Pulpit was beaten 28 lengths.

"He trained very well in Florida, so I'd hate to use the track as an excuse," Pletcher said. "The first time he ran, the track was deep and slow. There was some moisture in it when he won the allowance and the track was fine for the Florida Derby. He came out of it well and we'll give him another chance. Either he runs better in the Wood or he's off the Derby trail."

Nokoma breezed four furlongs in :49 4/5 Sunday at Belmont Park. "If anything, he was working too quick in Florida," Pletcher said. "We were looking to slow him down in his last work and we'll try the same in his next work."

Mike Smith, who rode Wood Memorial winners Thirty Six Red (1990), Devil His Due (1992) and Unbridled's Song (1996), will ride Nokoma in the Wood Memorial.

Shipping in for the Wood is San Felipe winner Medaglia d'Oro, who worked five furlongs at Hollywood Park Sunday in 1:00 3/5, handily. "Everything's fine," trainer Bobby Frankel said. "I could have run him in the Santa Anita Derby, but it closed so early and we would have had to put up extra money." Frankel finished second in the 2000 Wood with Aptitude. Frankel said Medaglia d'Oro would work in California again before shipping to New York a week from today.

Cynthia Phipps' Saarland came of Tuesday's six-furlong work in 1:13 in excellent shape, according to trainer Shug McGaughey. "He came back fine," said McGaughey, a two-time winner of the Wood. "He's more focused now than he was in Florida over the winter. The Gotham helped him a lot. I wish Mayakovsky was coming. That's more speed to help us." John Velazquez once again will have the mount on Saarland in the Wood.

After breezing a half in :50 2/5 at Calder Monday, Mountain Forum, winner of the OBS Championship, was named a starter in Saturday's Aventura Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Trainer Ron Spatz said, regardless of how he runs, Mountain Forum will not be pointed for the Kentucky Derby.

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