By Geoffrey Riddle
Bob Baffert’s Breeders’ Cup Classic team looks in fine shape:Arrogate is now 11-4 favourite in the Classic after Monday's draw with Gun Runner (Penelope Miller)
Bob Baffert is 33-1 with Paddy Power to train the first three home in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on Saturday and his quartet warmed up on the seaside track on Monday as if they meant business.
Arrogate showed he is more ready than he has been all summer to post back-to-back wins in the Classic when he fired off a bullet workout over five furlongs in a dead minute at Santa Anita. The roan colt posted the fastest gallop of the 19 at the distance.
Arrogate worked with a lead horse, Hot Sean, which kept him interested, and he clicked through split times of 12 1/5s; 24 3/5s; 36 1/5s and 48s.
Arrogate broke off about a length behind Hot Sean, easily caught up to his workmate and went on by under jockey Rafael Bejarano. He completed the work a furlong past the winning post.
Baffert suggested the key to Arrogate’s new-found zeal was having a target to aim at, something that is less than ideal given jockey Mike Smith is going to have to be aggressive from his inside stall in one.
“He looked great for him,” Baffert said. “I've been happy with all of his works. I don't see why he wouldn't run a big race.”
In early September BetVictor were as big as 4-1 about Arrogate becoming just the second horse after Tiznow in 2001 to post successive wins. After Monday’s post position draw you can still get 11-4.
Stable companion Mubtaahij had a different type of workout because he had run more recently, winning the Awesome Again Stakes a month ago. In his breeze he covered the first quarter mile in 25 1/5s and galloped out to five furlongs in 1:02 2/5s.
Collected and West Coast, completed their works Saturday and Sunday, respectively. All four horses are scheduled to arrive at Del Mar Tuesday.
Gun Runner sparkles in final gallop:Gun Runner working at Del Mar on Monday. (Eclipse Sportswire)
Gun Runner worked under exercise rider Angel Garcia under the watchful eye of assistant trainer Scott Blasi, who led the Breeders’ Cup Classic favourite on a pony before the workout.
Gun Runner, trained by Steve Asmussen, who struck with Curlin in 2007, drilled four furlongs in 49 2/5s.
“He just looks fast and that’s what you want to see in a work like this and going into a race like this,” Blasi said.
“I was just talking to Steve (Asmussen) and told him he just looked fast. He’s just getting over the ground so nicely. All Angel said is he just never moved. He just sat there on him and let him cover some ground. We were happy with it. I got him (in a text from the clockers) in 49 2/5, out in 1:02 2/5.
“Compared to last year, he’s just stronger,” Blasi continued. “He’s a bigger, stronger physical horse. I think that’s been the (significant) change. I think it’s a maturity thing.
“I think it says so much about his constitution and what he can handle mentally that he’s gotten better (since Dubai). The horse ships around and goes to the paddock and he’s always the same horse he was at the last racetrack.”
Gun Runner drew gate five, while Aidan O'Brien runners Churchill and War Dcree will break rspectively from seven and two.
Hard to see past Drefong in the Sprint, despite ‘excitement’ of Chad Summers in Mind Your Biscuits:
Bob Baffert has a gilt-edged chance of going back-to-back in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, too, with Drefong.
Baffert saddled Midnight Lute to successive Breeders’ Cup wins in 2007 and 2008 and Drefong is no better than 6-4 with Paddy Power to emulate his former stable companion from stall two.
Drefong, who is drawn in two, cruised under Martin Garcia to cover five furlongs in 1.01 3/5.
“He couldn't look any better,” Baffert said. “He's doing the best he's ever done.”
Mind Your Biscuits, who Racing UK viewers will know as the Dubai Golden Shaheen winner, is in rude form also and has acclimatised well to the Del Mar surface.
Trainer Chad Summers came with Mind Your Biscuits to Del Mar last Tuesday, and the four-year-old has worked well there. He will break from stall six.
New York-based Summers dispatched Mind Your Biscuits to Santa Anita early 12 months ago before the four-year-old failed to reel in Drefong in the Sprint. Following on from Mind Your Biscuit’s crushing defeat to the favourite last time in the Forego Stakes at Saratoga he looks unlikely to trouble the champion-elect on Saturday, despite Summers’ bullish words.
“My rider is telling me that it’s very similar to the way Santa Anita is set up,” the trainer said.
“All the horses that have shipped in seem like they’re handling the track. Horses who are breezing are breezing fast times. Everyone is raving about this track. But my horse brings his track with him everywhere he goes. We’re excited.”
Mind Your Biscuits purred through three furlongs in 36.40s on Monday and is a general 8-1. After the post position draw, Summers was once again sounding confident.
"We are watching the world series and that is the best of seven," he said of anoth clash with Drefong.
"He has shown us he s back to himself. We have been really happy with what we have seen from him. We’re looking forward to Biscuits being buiscuits."
Appleby confident as Godolphin’s first wave clears quarantine:Charlie Appleby has won at the Breeders' Cup previously. (PA)
Wuheida is another who has acclimatised well to Del Mar, following an extended stint. Last year’s Prix Marcel Boussac winner transferred early to the Californian track after an aborted mission to Keeneland a fortnight ago.
Wuheida has yet to post a win in four starts this year, but as a result is fresher than most and, according to her trainer, will relish the new-look distance of 9f from her draw in stall five.
“Wuheida got a corn when she was in Keeneland and unfortunately had to miss the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, but the team has done a great job with her,” Charlie Appleby said, having flown in on Sunday.
“She has rock solid form since the summer and I can’t give her a negative right at this moment. We stepped her up in trip in Germany and she didn’t get home, so we dropped her down to a mile in the Matron. She has plenty of pace and the trip here at Del Mar is absolutely no concern, and if she can reproduce her best form she should be bang there.”
Wuheida will work on Tuesday morning.
Appleby also runs Masar in the Juvenile Turf, who was given a sighter of Del Mar alongside fellow Godolphin runners (Home of The Brave (Mile) and Talismanic (Turf).
The Solario winner was third to Aidan O’Brien’s Happily in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagadere on soft ground a month ago and the trainer is looking forward to running the son of Derby winner New Approach on a better surface.
“I’m very pleased with his preparation,” Appleby said, after Masar was handed a middle draw in stall six. “I’m delighted with the draw. He ticks a lot of of boxes.
“He has similar credentials to (2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner) Outstrip. He finished third in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere in bottomless ground, but he should be at home here on this faster surface.
"When I first started at Godolphin it was my ambition just to have International runners but it has slightly changed now because I want to have International runners with live chances”
Masar is a best-priced 6-1 with BetVictor for the mile contest, and will break in the middle of Irish challenger Beckford, who will be ridden by Joel Rosario from gate in five, and George Scott’s James Garfield in seven.
The remaining English and French runners were expected to clear quarantine on Monday night and should be out on the Del Mar track Tuesday morning.
Aidan O’Brien’s team of 13 Breeders’ Cup challengers were expected to get to Del Mar overnight.
The rematch between Lady Aurelia and Marsha in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint appears to be on course after both horses were perfectly drawn for their styles of running on Monday night.
Lady Aurelia was drawn in stall two, and is likely to be ridden prominently by John Velazquez, while Marsha and Luke Morris will try to hunt down their rival from stall six.
The short run-in of just 817 feet means Lady Aurelia is going to be hard to catch, and following the draw the King’s Stand Stakes winner was clipped in to 10-11 with Betway and as short as 5-6 with bet 365 and is a best-priced 6-5 with Paddy Power.
Lady Aurelia worked over four furlongs in 48 3/5 on Monday and trainer Wesley Ward is dreaming of a first win in the race, which this year is staged over five furlongs.
“She’s doing very well,” Ward said. “She’ll probably go with the pony the next day or two. She’s doing everything right down to the letter the way you want her to. I haven’t won this one yet — only second.”
In ten attempts, Ward has finished fifth or better seven times, but it is fair to say he has nvr had a challenger as good as Lady Aurelia.
U S Navy Flag still flutters despite dirt test:
If you read our Aidan O'Brien Breeders' Cup stable tour you would have known that the Ballydoyle maestro was thinking of pitching Dewhurst and Middle Park winner U S Navy Flag on to the dirt in the Juvenile, even if it was the second preference.
The thinking behind the move is that U S Navy Flag, who will be having his 11th start on Saturday, has more experience than stablmate Mendlessohn, who goes in the Juvenile Turf.
U S Navy Flag is as big as 10-1 with Paddy Power after beubg drawn on the rail in stall one, and there were many crabbing his chance after Monday's post position draw.
The son of US sire War Front may not have true American gate speed, but he is a confirmed front runner and is Dewhurst win owed a lot to being able to ping the gates and cross over to the supposed faster strip of ground by the rail at Newmarket.
As such, the rail is not the worst place to be for his first foray on dirt - Ryan Moore will have to be positive and the colt will not be deterred by any kick back.
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