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Final Touches

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 10/27/2010 2:17:33 PM

Let’s take a look at how a few of the key Breeders’ Cup candidates honed their form with just a few more days to the Big Show.

Quality Road, who will be one of the more preferred choices in the Classic, capped off his serious training last Sunday with a 5-furlong work on the Belmont training track. He was clocked in 1:01 62, galloped out 6 furlongs in 1:14.48 and continued to wind down to the mile time of 1:42.76.

He has had 5 works since winning the Woodward in early September and appears to be coming to the payday race great.

His trainer, Todd Pletcher, had this to say about the drill, Pletcher: “Based on the way he’s been finishing his breezes and galloping out, I think we’ve got him just where we need to be for that type of race.”

The horse is due for a bit of luck.

If you remember he was scratched in the Classic last year at the gate after being difficult to load. Pletcher said in his blog that what went wrong most was when they put the blindfold on him and then buggy-whipped him.

This goes to point out one of the hidden heroes of the racing game and they are the starting crews, who are in a very dangerous profession and must work in high-pressure situations.

Another Pletcher student that could be a juicy price in the Mile is Aikenite. He’s coming off a big effort at Keeneland and showed an affinity for Churchill in the Derby Trial in the spring.

If speed kills, nobody bothered to tell Winter Memories about it. The likely chalk in the Juvenile Fillies Turf put in a sizzler Monday at Belmont when she recorded a :58.57 5-furlong turf spin. Unbeaten in 2 starts, she has already proven she can handle firm or yielding grass and that is a nice option to have with Mother Nature calling the shots.

Her trainer James Toner has been around and he mentioned on the BC site that the fast work reminded him of a drill Winter Memories’ dam put in 3 days before winning the Lake George Stakes at Saratoga in 1996.

Toner is hoping the déjà vu feeling pays dividends.

The differences in the drills between these two horses brings up an interesting point in that horses and trainers have their own set of rules and ways of doing things. Both styles can succeed as long as the trainer is doing the right thing by the individual horse.

Bob Baffert generally trains his horses fast and his final tune up for Lookin at Lucky was no exception. Lucky will be the top sophomore trying to dethrone Zenyatta in the Classic and Baffert made sure that the runner had to focus in his Monday drill at Hollywood Park.

Spectacular Slew was the guinea pig in the exercise. That one for 3 runner graduated at first asking in a maiden $25,000 claimer and is owned by Baffert’s wife.

Spectacular was allowed to open up a 12-length lead on Lucky in the drill but Lucky mowed him down in the stretch to finish ahead of him at the end of the 6-furlong work.

He was timed in 1:10.80, the fastest of 11 at the distance that morning and Lucky was about 5 lengths in front of his stablemate when it was over.

I love this kind of work. It tells the horse that the day is coming soon as Baffert has the screws tightened securely on his star.

Look for him in the Classic to track in mid-pack and try to get the initial run on Zenyatta and hold her off.

Next week we’ll go over some basic wagering strategies for the Cup and also preview how the Classic will unfold.

Stay tuned and good luck.

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