It was hard to find a consignor in the barns that wasn't constantly refreshing the long-term weather forecast in the days prior to Monday's Keeneland April 2-Year-Olds In Training And Horses Of Racing Age Sale under-tack show, with a looming storm front threatening to put a damper on the proceedings.
The worst of the downpour had cleared out by the time the juveniles hit the track Monday morning, but its work in affecting the track's condition was already done. The horses breezed over a main track labeled as muddy and a soft turf surface during the under-tack show, which meant some buyers had to tweak their criteria for their assessment of the workouts.
“I think you've just got to come into it with an open mind and have that in the back of your brain, that this is less than ideal,” said bloodstock agent Jacob West. “I'm a firm believer that good horses are going to get across it, but if you see a horse that has a little different action, if you trust the guys that are selling it, you've got to ask them what they thought about it, too. If you see an athlete and they get across it well, you think it might translate over to if they're on a dry surface.”
The Keeneland track crew received praise from many in attendance for its efforts keeping the surface in order as well as possible for the breeze show. Among those impressed by the footings given the conditions was bloodstock agent Mike Ryan, who noted it's important to give the horses a degree of margin when they're breezing over non-fast goings.
“Those are tough conditions and they're going right through it,” Ryan said. “It's pretty heavy. Obviously, some horses will skip over it and they'll enjoy it, and other horses are going to struggle and labor over it. It seems pretty safe, but there's a lot of water on it.”
A part of that flexibility in analysis is focusing more on how the horse travels over the surface and less on the time of the breeze. Ryan noted that the muddy track tends to be more tiring for the juveniles, and that can come into play when the horses are being asked to run at full speed.
Trainer Eddie Kenneally took a similar stance, but approached it from a different angle. Kenneally, who saddled eight winners at Keeneland last year, agreed the way of going over a muddy track was more important than how the stopwatch read, but he speculated the times of the works were not dramatically affected by the conditions.
“I think the time would be about the same if the track was wet or dry,” he said. “I think the ones that were going to go quick went quick, and the ones that were a little slower went slower. Even thought the track's muddy, I think the final times for these breezes are about the same as they would be had it been dry.”
Three horses tied for the fastest furlong on the main track during Monday's breeze show, each covering the distance in :10 seconds flat.
– Hip 126, a first-crop Liam's Map colt out of the Grade 3-winning Greatness mare Jenny's So Great. From the family of Grade 1 winner Supah Gem, the colt is consigned by Wavertree Stables, agent.
– Hip 130, a Tapit filly out of the Grade 1-winning Artie Schiller mare My Conquestadory, making her a full-sister to Grade 2-placed Kentucky Derby hopeful Bourbon War. Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds consigns the filly, as agent.
The draft of horses that breezed a quarter-mile was led by Hip 129, a first-crop Competitive Edge colt named Le Competition who covered the distance in :21 1/5 seconds. Consigned by Kirkwood Stables, agent, the Pennsylvania-bred's extended family includes Grade 2 winners Living Vicariously and Sightseeing, as well as Grade 3 winner With Distinction. He is out of the unraced Bellamy Road mare Lefreakcestchic.
Six horses breezed on Keeneland's turf course to close out the under-tack show.
Leading the way among the workers at an eighth of a mile was Hip 103, a Fed Biz filly who stopped the clock in :10 3/5 seconds. The bay filly is out of the winning Kafwain mare Cheer For Foxes, from the family of Canadian champion grass horse Riding the River. Shamrock Stables consigns the filly, as agent.
The lone worker at a quarter-mile was Hip 114, a Declaration of War colt who covered the distance in :23 2/5 seconds. Out of the unraced Empire Maker mare Geographic, the colt is a half-brother to Hong Kong Group 3 winner Market Town, and he hails from the family of champion Slew O'Gold and Grade 1 winners Aptitude, Sleep Easy, and Slumber. Kirkwood Stables consigns the colt, as agent.
The Keeneland April sale will take place Tuesday, April 9, beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern.
To view the sale catalog and full results of Monday's under-tack show, click here.
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