Now for some BC notes from yesterday followed by some CBY news:
Derby winner Nyquist out of Classic; Runhappy (Dirt Mile) heads workouts
By Jennie Rees
ARCADIA, Calif. (Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016) — Reigning Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist has been declared out of next Saturday’s $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park after coming out of his last workout with what trainer Doug O’Neill described as a “puffy ankle.”
The defection prevents a rare matchup of Kentucky Derby winners running against each other in the Breeders’ Cup, for which 2014 Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome is the big favorite. Derby winners last met in America’s richest race in 1991 when 1990 Derby winner Unbridled finished third and ’91 winner Strike the Gold fifth. The quintessential Derby winner showdown was 1987, when the 4-year-old Ferdinand nosed out the 3-year-old Alysheba.
“It’s with heavy hearts that we regrettably have to report that Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist came out of his most recent work (seven furlongs in 1:27.40 on Thursday) with a puffy ankle,” O’Neill announced on his Facebook page. “Though Nyquist is 100 percent sound and X-rays are clean, the timing unfortunately precludes us from the dream of having him run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in our own backyard.”
O’Neill said further plans for the Derby champ will be announced later.
Sprint champ Runhappy works 5 furlongs in 58 2/5
Runhappy, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner and Eclipse champion sprinter, worked five-eighths in 58 2/5 seconds under regular exercise rider Marcus O’Donnell shortly after Santa Anita’s main track opened at 5 a.m.
Going in Friday’s Dirt Mile, Runhappy will attempt to be the fourth horse to win two Breeders’ Cup events, joining the great Zenyatta (Distaff, Classic), Beholder (Juvenile Fillies, Distaff) and Stephanie’s Kitten (Juvenile Fillies Turf, Filly & Mare Turf). He has raced once this year, finishing fourth in Churchill Downs’ mile Ack Ack (G3) won by fellow Dirt Mile contender Tom’s Ready.
As has become his habit, Runhappy stopped and started in spurts after coming on the track but flew once he got into gear. The time was the second-fastest of 87 moves at the distance Saturday. The fastest time was Seattle Boom’s 58 1/5.
“I thought he looked good down the stretch, and Marcus wasn’t having to ask him or anything,” said Laura Wohlers, who trains Runhappy out of Lexington’s The Thoroughbred Center for brother-in-law James McIngvale. “He was in the bridle. That’s a nice strong work. That’s all we wanted out of him. He’s been galloping very strong in the morning. Those probably will set him up as well as a breeze.”
Runhappy will be ridden by three-time Kentucky Derby winner Gary Stevens. The Hall of Famer rode Runhappy in a race once before, winning Santa Anita’s Grade 1 Malibu last Dec. 26.
Wohlers said Runhappy has gotten used to having his way, adding, “If he was like a child, he might be getting grounded quite often. But he’s a 4-year-old colt. All colts want to get their way. We pretty much have spoiled him to death, and that probably hasn’t helped. I think he’s just gotten to where he’s like, ‘Well, I’m going to do what I want to do when I want to.’ We’ll hopefully break him out of his habit one day, but I doubt it. We’ll just deal with it for another 14 months.”
Also at Santa Anita: Albaugh Family Stable’s Not This Time, winner by 10 of an Ellis Park maiden race and Churchill Downs’ Grade 3 Iroquois by 8 3/4, went five-eighths of a mile in 1:01 3/5, starting off leisurely under exercise rider Faustino Aguillar.
“It was a good work,” said Churchill Downs-based trainer Dale Romans. “He started off slow and he got faster as they went. I got him galloping out in 1:13 and change. He had a fast day galloping (Friday), and this sets him up well for a nice easy next seven days… He got the heavy lifting over with.”
Not This Time is ridden by Robby Albarado, leading rider at Churchill Downs’ September meet.
Normandy Farm’s Daddys Lil Darling, winner of Churchill Downs’ Grade 3 Pocahontas and second in Keeneland’s Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades, went an easy half-mile in 51 2/5 for trainer Kenny McPeek.
Spinster winner I’m a Chatterbox heads Keeneland’s works
I’m a Chatterbox, winner of Keeneland’s Grade 1 Juddmonte Spinster in her last start, worked five-eights of a mile in 59 seconds flat, the fastest time of 22 at the distance Saturday. Florent Geroux, who will ride Carolyn and Fletcher Gray’s 4-year-old chestnut filly in Friday’s Distaff, was aboard for the work. I’m a Chatterbox went her last quarter-mile in 23 2/5 seconds and was timed galloping out three-quarters of a mile in 1:12 3/5.
“She went good,” Kentucky-born trainer Larry Jones told Keeneland’s publicity department. “And with it being the only work between the Spinster and (Distaff), we needed to make sure it was a decent work. We’re going into it the way I like to. As I told Flo when we started, ‘Give her one of those Oaks works and let her go ahead and do something.’ We’re shooting for the Breeders’ Cup. We’re where we want to be. If we get beat, we get beat.”
I’m a Chatterbox was eighth in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Keeneland. She is three for five this year, including taking the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap in July at Delaware Park. She flies to California Monday.
The Graham Motion-trained Breeders’ Cup Mile contender Ring Weekend worked five furlongs on dirt in 1:02 4/5. Ring Weekend won Santa Anita’s Frank Kilroe (G1) last year, then was off more than 14 months. This year he captured Saratoga’s Bernard Baruch (G2) before finishing seventh in Keeneland’s $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), though losing by a total of only 2 1/4 lengths behind victorious stablemate Miss Temple City.
“There are probably nine or 10 horses on paper that could jump up and win and you wouldn’t be surprised,” said Terry Finley, president of co-owner West Point Thoroughbreds, on hand for the work. Baruch rider John Velazquez has the Breeders’ Cup mount.
Undrafted, who was a late-running and narrowly-beaten third in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita, worked five-eighths of a mile on the Keeneland turf in 1:01. The historic Group 1 winner last year at Royal Ascot is seeking his first victory since Keeneland’s Shakertown (G2) in the spring. He was sixth in Keeneland’s Woodford (G3) and fourth in the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint in his last two starts, beaten less than three lengths both times.
“It was a nice little cruiser, all by himself,” Wesley Ward, who trains Undrafted for former NFL star Wes Welker and Sol Kumin, told Keeneland. “He did everything right. This is his home, so he feels very, very comfortable here. We’re getting him on the last plane out on Nov. 1 to keep him right here at home until he’s gotta go. We’re all set…. I think he’s going to run a big, big race.”
Velazquez has the mount.
Jennie Rees is a racing communications specialist from Louisville. Her Breeders’ Cup coverage is being provided free to media as a service by Kentucky Downs, Ellis Park, the Kentucky HBPA and JockeyTalk360.com.
- AJs High, a stakes winner at Canterbury this summer, won the Grade 1 $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship Saturday at Los Alamitos. He was ridden by Stormy Smith and trained by Charlton Hunt.
- Saurday’s Hawthorne Challenge Qualifying Satellite Contest was won by Bruce Holden. He will travel to Hawthorne in Chicago next month and compete for an entry to the $2m National Handicapping Championship. Also heading to Chicago via second and third-place finishes are Bruce Meyer and Dave Handeland. Ray Davis was fourth in the contest and received a $600 cash prize.