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Dirt Workers

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 10/25/2010 10:09:26 AM

Like my good friend, golf partner and two-time NBA Coach of the Year Cotton Fitzsimmons used to say, ‘you gotta have dirt workers’.

For Cotton, this meant that you have to be able to mix it and get offensive rebounds but for our purpose, we’ll look at some of recent workers over the dirt track at Churchill Downs that are prepping for the Breeders’ Cup.

It’s important to monitor these drills coming to the race not only for how fast they may or may not be but also how did the runner seem to handle the surface.

Some thrive at this place, and others can struggle.

A trio aiming for the BC Filly and Mare Sprint were out in force last weekend led by Champagne d’Oro. She cut out splits of :11.40, :22.80, :34.60, :46.80 and them galloped out in 1:14.20.

That’s moving and if this speedball can improve on her effort when she won the Grade 1 Test this summer, she will be a handful.

Of the other two working that are pointing for the F and M Sprint, Gallant Bloom winner My Jen was much more impressive when timed at :47.40 for 4 furlongs. She has only lost twice in her career and was 2nd in one of those beats.

Connections of Paddy O’Prado are taking a shot with this turf specialist and are going for the big money in Classic instead of taking the safe route and trying the BC Turf. The Dale Romans charge has lost twice on dirt at Churchill but was getting to the winner late in the sloppy Kentucky Derby so he has a right to roll on the surface.

His work was maintenance like as he went the first three furlongs in :36.20 was clocked in 1:01 for 5 furlongs and galloped out in 1:15.40.

Another Romans trainee was out for exercise too as the speedy First Dude, 2nd in this year’s Preakness, was clocked two ticks faster than Paddy to get his 6 furlongs in 1:15 flat.

Hurricane Ike didn’t exactly blow them away with his morning work but he got a respected 1:12.40 time for his 6-furlong jaunt. He handled the mud and the local course taking the Derby Trial in the spring, and has had two preps for his Dirt Mile appearance since. Tactical speed will give this John Sadler trainee a puncher’s chance.

Chamberlain Bridge is repeatedly proven on the Churchill grass and he will be a player in the Turf Sprint. Very clever trainer Bert Calhoun calls the shots for this guy who was left with too much to do late in his race but he came from 11th to run 4th beaten a length and a half.

The reformed claimer went a comfortable :49.40

Tell a Kelly was a powerful mover in her work. Also conditioned by Sadler, the Juvenile Fillies prospect went her 5 furlongs in 1:00.80.

She had a valid excuse when off poorly in her debut, cashed back to back winning the G1 Darley Deb at Del Mar, then rallied to be a half length too late in the Oak Leaf October 3 in her first route attempt.

The fields are solidifying quickly for all of the Cup races, so try to pay special attention to not only those that seem to be thriving in the mornings at Churchill but also the runners that appear not to like the surface.

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