Monday's Breeders' Cup news: Honor Code works, Artemis Agrotera to return - plus Songbird update
File photo of Honor Code working back on May 31, courtesy of NYRA/Coglianese Photography/Susie Raisher.
Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey was delighted with Honor Code's five-furlong work at Belmont Park on Monday. The Met Mile (G1) and Whitney (G1) hero covered five furlongs on the main track in 1:00.56 in preparation for the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1).
"That's the best he's worked all summer," McGaughey said of Honor Code, who posted splits of :25 and :48 3/5 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13 1/5 and seven in 1:26. "He galloped out very, very good, and I'm very pleased."
Also training sharply on Belmont's main oval Monday was Artemis Agrotera. Unraced since her seventh in last year's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), the Mike Hushion trainee breezed five-eighths in a bullet :59.11 from the gate, prompting thoughts of an ambitious reappearance in the renewal at Keeneland.
"It is an ambitious leap but I think she deserves it," Hushion said of attempting the Filly & Mare Sprint off a year-long layoff. "Talent-wise, she's one of the best in the country. From the moment she came back she's been working brilliantly, and had me scratching my head, wondering what I was going to do with her. Every time she's gone out, she's been better.
"I think I can have her fit enough to run seven furlongs. As far as definite plans, we'll have to see how she is tomorrow morning, what's available transportation-wise, and so on. But she's very, very good."
Lea will make his career finale in either the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) on turf or the Dirt Mile (G1), and will subsequently retire to stud at Claiborne Farm.
“Lea has a great disposition," Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott said, "and he’s one of the coolest horses we’ve ever had in the barn. He’s very effective on both surfaces. He’s fast enough to be top class at a mile, and he’s shown he can run with the best at 9 to 10 furlongs. He’s an exciting horse to be around.”
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has outlined his Breeders' Cup plans: already confirmed for their respective races are Frosted (Classic), Wedding Toast (Distaff [G1]) and Cavorting (Filly & Mare Sprint), while still listed as possible are Sentiero Italia (Filly & Mare Turf [G1]) and Tamarkuz (Dirt Mile).
Trainer Christophe Clement could dispatch more than just Classic contender Tonalist to Keeneland. Stablemates Hard Not to Like (Filly & Mare Turf), Pure Sensation (Turf Sprint [G1]) and Red Vine (Dirt Mile) are also under Breeders' Cup consideration.
Salama, winner of the Peruvian "Win and You're In" for the Distaff, is on course for the Breeders' Cup after a rallying second in her U.S. debut at Keeneland Saturday.
“That was always the plan: to get a race in her rather than breeze up to a race of that caliber,” new trainer Charlie LoPresti said. “It is tough enough as it is.
“The chart said she was getting to the winner. I wish she could have won by three-quarters of a length. She came out of the race well and was full of energy after the race.
“She’s a (Kentucky-bred) 3-year-old and she’s done nothing wrong. The owners are realistic. She won a ‘Win and You’re In’ race, so it is all paid for, so why not take a chance?
Julien Leparoux is expected to have the return call for the Distaff.
“That’s the plan for him to ride her back,” LoPresti said. “He liked her when he breezed her the first time (October 1) and he liked her in the race.”
“I imagine we will be 20-1 in there. But without Beholder in there, it could be anybody’s race.”
As far as the international scene goes, The Grey Gatsby has been ruled out of the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1). Aidan O'Brien's high-class Found, already among the Turf possibles, has emerged as a potential contender in the Filly & Mare Turf. She's expected to contest Saturday's Champion (G1) at Ascot.
Monday's entry stage for the October 17 Champions Day card brought further news. With Time Test's withdrawal from both the Champion and Queen Elizabeth II (G1), speculation is mounting that the Juddmonte star may be focusing on the Breeders' Cup Mile.
Andre Fabre left two of his Mile candidates, Esoterique and Territories, in the QEII. But Daily Racing Form's Marcus Hersh reported that Esoterique will swerve Ascot in favor of the Breeders' Cup.
International racing fans are once again playing "will he or won't he" with Gleneagles, who remains in the QEII, depending on whether the ground dries out sufficiently. O'Brien still intends to pitch him into the Breeders' Cup Classic regardless of his participation at Ascot.
"Whether he runs or doesn't at Ascot, the Breeders' Cup Classic remains the end-of-season target for Gleneagles. He could run in both races - we'll wait and see," O'Brien told Racing Post.
Late update from Santa Anita: Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith has commented on Songbird's five-furlong work in 1:00.20.
"She worked brilliant this morning -- really excited about her," Smith told @SAPublicity. "I try not to let it show too much. I'm old fashioned.
"If all goes well and she gets opportunity to run the race that's she's training up to...who knows? Maybe we see something pretty special."
That race in question is the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, the budding star will bring a three-for-three record to Keeneland, featuring romps in both the Del Mar Debutante (G1) and Chandelier (G1).
Hollendorfer's assistant, Dan Ward, described the Monday work as "perfect."