Trainer Steve Asmussen, who won the 2007 Grade I Breeders' Cup Classic with two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, has eight candidates for this year's Breeders' Cup Championship races and six of those horses worked on Monday over the main track at Churchill Downs.
Asmussen's roster of potential Breeders' Cup stars includes Stonestreet Stables and George Bolton's unbeaten My Miss Aurelia (Juvenile Fillies); Ron Winchell's Tapizar (Dirt Mile); Stonestreet Stable's Wilburn (Dirt Mile); Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC's Sabercat (Juvenile), Cathy and Bob Zollars' Daddy Nose Best (Juvenile Turf); Vinery Stable's Regally Ready (Turf Sprint); Kirk and Judy Robison's She Digs Me (Juvenile Sprint) and Ron Winchell's Seeker (Juvenile Sprint).
Seven of the eight Asmussen trainees are on the grounds at Churchill Downs and Regally Ready is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday after winning the GI $500,000 Nearctic at Woodbine on Sunday. Vinery Stable's 4-year-old More Than Ready gelding is perfect in two starts over the Churchill Downs turf course, with his most recent run here being a victory over Bridgetown and defending Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner Chamberlain Bridge in the GIII Churchill Downs Turf Sprint on Kentucky Derby Day.
My Miss Aurelia, winner of the GI Frizette at Belmont Park and Saratoga's GII Adirondack, headlined Monday's Asmussen workers with a five-furlong move over “fast” footing in 1:02. The work by My Miss Aurelia was the fifth fastest of 35 at the distance.
The homebred daughter of Smart Strike covered the distance in fractional times of :12.60, :24.80, :37 and :49.60, and galloped out six furlongs in 1:16.
“I'm very pleased with her breeze,” Asmussen said. “We're obviously extremely impressed with her talent and how she's going. We have a pretty good comfort level with the Breeders' Cup running here. She didn't start here, but she spent a lot of time here in the spring. She's comfortable with the surroundings.”
Tapizar and Wilburn, coming off wins in their most recent outings, worked five furlongs on Monday.
Working in company with the 2-year-old Seeker, Tapizar breezed five furlongs as the workmates competed the distance in 1:02.80. Internal fractions for Tapizar were :13.60, :25.80, :38.20, and he galloped out six furlongs in 1:17.20.
Tapizar was considered a major contender for Kentucky Derby 137 following a 10 ½-length victory in a Churchill Downs maiden race in November and a 4 ¼-length romp in the GIII Sham at Santa Anita in his stakes debut in January. But the homebred son of Tapit went to the sidelines with injury following a fifth-place run in the GII Robert Lewis at Santa Anita. He returned to competition on Oct. 8 with a 2 ¼-length victory in a Belmont Park allowance race.
Wilburn, who notched his third consecutive victory in a 4 ¾-length win over GI Preakness winner Shackleford in the GII Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.40. His internal fractions were :12.60, :25.20, :37.60 and :49.80, and he galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.80.
Sabercat, a Bluegrass Cat colt who won the $75,000 Garden State at Monmouth Park last time out, worked five furlongs in 1:02.40 in preparation for his Juvenile bid.
She Digs Me, winner of the GIII Sapling at Monmouth Park, breezed five furlongs on Tuesday in 1:02.60.
Daddy Nose Best, third in the GIII Summer Stakes on turf at Woodbine, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.60 over a fast main track on Sunday at Churchill Downs.
If all eight horses start in their Breeders' Cup races on Nov. 4 and 5, it will be the largest contingent of Asmussen trainees to compete in the year-end Championships. Asmussen, who is closing in on 6,000 career victories and ranks fifth in all-time wins by U.S. trainers, started four horses in the 2008 Breeders' Cup and saddled a trio of starters in three other years (2003, 2007 and 2010).
“We're very pleased with the physical condition that we're in right now,” Asmussen said. “We surely want a couple of more weeks of that.”
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