- There’s been a lot of angst amongst the Highland Cat partners over his last workout, five furlongs in 1:03.82, which followed a slow half mile workout which caused him to be withdrawn from consideration for the maiden race on Oct 1. Castle Village managing partner Steve Zorn tried to pass the colt’s workout tab as having “not much pattern,” but one partner shot back “I disagree about there not being a pattern….the four workouts between 8/18 and 9/21 were progressively better, and the last 2 have been significantly slower.” Partners clamored for some feedback from Billy Turner, and today we learned:
Bill was not the slightest bit concerned with the slow workout. He said that HC is training fine and wants to get him a race. He will most likely enter him into the 5 furlong race on October 12 or the 6 furlong race on October 15. He probably won't have him cranked for the race, but is ready to give HC a racing experience. He will be looking for improvement in his second start.I fully expect that he’ll run on the 12th, since not only will I be out of town, but totally incommunicado. But the notion of not having him cranked for the race is more typical for Turner than the heady optimism of a couple of weeks ago.
- Well, Afleet Alex had his much anticipated workout this morning, and wow, a half mile in :46 flat! Two private clockers recorded the work in :45 4/5.
"My personal opinion is that he's as fit and strong as I've ever seen him," [Jeremy] Rose said. "He's an amazing animal. You may never see a horse who has done the things he's done." [Bloodhorse]Ritchey is looking at possible preps at either Keeneland or Delaware next weekend, and could we actually see him in the Classic?
It’s quite possible, so it seems. So I might as well get this out in the open right now, and I imagine I’ll be hearing from my friend in Philly on this: Afleet Alex is not winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge, NetJets, Halliburton, or by anyone else for that matter. No way. Not against quality older horses off a single prep two weeks before the race. In fact, I’m not so sure he would win the race even under more optimal conditions. It takes an extraordinary three year-old to beat top older horses, and while Alex may very well fit that description, I think the cards will be stacked against him. I think it’s almost a lock that at least one of the older horses, Saint Liam, will be set to run a huge race. He loves the track and loves the time off between races; the only thing we don’t know is if he loves the mile and a quarter distance, but we really don’t know that he doesn't either. Rock Hard Ten looked as if he was set to take over the division when he won the Big Cap earlier this year, and if his Goodwood served as enough of a prep, he will be quite formidable too. And it’s entirely possible that Borrego is simply a case of a good horse that has developed into a great one; his obvious affinity for a Belmont surface that not every horse takes to is an obvious asset.
So I really do hope that Alex makes the race; not only because it will be fantastic for the sport and add much-needed sizzle to the entire day, but because of the obvious effect it will have on the odds board for those of us who will take the stand that he can’t possibly be ready to tackle these guys. It’s kind of a no-lose (other than a little cash) position to take, because if he does win, it would be a great story….beyond great, really. But in my opinion, it’s a bit much to ask.
- Brad Free in the Form is of the opinion that Rock Hard Ten may very well have not gotten enough out of the Goodwood to win the Classic.
Gotaghostofachance could have raced gate to wire last Saturday in the Goodwood Handicap. His front-running upset over Rock Hard Ten would have triggered a juicy win payoff (8-1 morning line) and provided greater benefit to Rock Hard Ten than the paid workout in which he coasted past the helpless Roman Ruler.
But when Gotaghostofachance came up listless days before the Goodwood, trainer Roger Stein had no choice but to scratch Gotaghostofachance, whose runner-up comeback in the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien Handicap on Aug. 21 established him as a horse with graded-stakes class.
The scratch carried wide implications. First, it undermined the Goodwood pace scenario - the fractions (48.62 seconds and 1:12.12) were slower than $10,000 claimers typically run. The slow fractions allowed Rock Hard Ten to press the pace without overextending in his first start in nearly seven months. But does a slow-pace "workout" provide necessary foundation for a horse whose next start is the Breeders' Cup Classic?
Rock Hard Ten may be good enough to win the BC Classic despite the soft prep. After all, he has defeated the two horses who will be his main opponents - front-runner Saint Liam and closer Borrego. The scratch of Gotaghostofachance from the Goodwood, however, means Rock Hard Ten enters the BC Classic without having run in a competitive race since spring. [Daily Racing Form, sub. Only]