- The weather is bleak here; it poured overnight and the rain is supposed to pick up again as the day goes on. If you like someone in one of the turf races who you don’t think likes a soft turf, it looks like you’ll have a decision to make. It was reported on The Works yesterday that the jockeys said that the course was pretty soft and wet. John Velasquez, who breezed Leroidesanimaux on Monday, told the NY Post: "[The turf] hasn't dried out…..It won't take much more water. They shouldn't run another race over it until the Breeders' Cup. Otherwise we're in trouble." That was before last night’s rains. The Post’s Ed Fountaine speculates that it could be the most yielding turf in Cup history, probably even softer ground than in 1995 at Belmont, when it took Ridgewood Pearl 1:43.3 to win the Mile and Northern Spur 2:42 to run a mile-and-a-half in the Turf.
The good news is that today is expected to be followed a day of some sun and a lot of drying wind, as well as sunny days for Thursday, Friday, and the first part of Saturday anyway. (Yes, the ugly spectre of showers in now popping up in the forecast for Saturday afternoon.) Hopefully, the three days will allow the course to dry a bit, but there’s no doubt that the course will be soft.
With some of the turf contenders having worked on the yielding course on Monday, it may be worth reading some comments by the Form’s clocker Mike Welsch:
Shakespeare - Turned in the best final furlong clocking, 12.10, of the morning's five turf workers.Frankel told the Form that the bar shoes were merely for protection and that the horse will be reshod for the Mile.
Wend - Does not appear as comfortable over soft ground, especially in comparison to Wonder Again, finishing in 25.01 after an opening three-eighths in 38.90.
Wonder Again - Loves the soft going and showed that affinity with an efficient work during which she went a very slow opening half in 26.66 before finishing full of run, getting her final quarter in less than 24.
Leroidesanimaux – [finished] up in a rousing 12.58 over the soft going. Lone caveat was that Leroidesanimaux worked with bar shoes in front.
- I noted last night that Lyons and Amoss on TVG dissed Adieu’s workout, and Welsch wrote that it perhaps showed a hint of vulnerability to anyone looking for a reason to bet against the likely favorite. (Who WILL be the favorite anyway, she or Folklore?) But there’s at least one person who disagrees.
"I thought Adieu worked really well, because she's not a real strong work horse," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "I thought she was up in the bridle the whole way." [Daily Racing Form]
- This rain can’t be good for the European horses, many of whom have arrived in the last day or two to do their quarantine stint. Besides the ones that are reported not to love boggy going, you gotta wonder just when and if the turf course will be open for any of them to get some exercise and experience over the course. Nevertheless, optimism reigns in Europe, and the UK’s The Guardian says:
Never in the 21 years of the Breeders' Cup have European challengers had such prospects. The Belmont climate is a close match for a Newmarket autumn, and the track itself, while hardly a grand sweep to equal York or Newbury, is as generous as American courses get. Two winners for the visitors could feel like a disappointment come Saturday night.Let’s say Ouija Board takes the F&M Turf, and an import wins the Turf; there’s your two winners. I think that any wins by a European horse beyond those would definitely feel like a big disappointment on this side of the ocean come Saturday night, and would surely be reflected in the win prices.
- Trainer Kelly Breen will send out Keeneland Kat in the Juvenile Fillies Saturday, and he warmed up on Sunday by taking the off-the-turf Pilgrim Stakes for two year olds with Fagan’s Legacy ($13.40). Like his stablemate, he’s a lightly raced horse who has excelled at Monmouth and shown a nice closing kick; he took over on the turn and won by 3 1/4 in hand.
While the switch to dirt may have helped Fagan’s Legacy in that it would have been his turf debut, his inbreeding to Roberto (3x4) and Buckpasser (4x5) suggests that he’ll take to the lawn. He’s the second stakes winner for his sire Monarchos (Fifth Avenue, absent from the Breeders Cup, is the other), and he’s one of four winners in just 12 starters from the first crop of 59 foals from the 2001 Derby winner.