Bloom Racing's 2-year-old colt Snapper Sinclair hadn't even cooled out after capturing Kentucky Downs' $350,000 Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Juvenile when the plans were made to send him to Friday's $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar.
Trainer Steve Asmussen said at Kentucky Downs that Snapper Sinclair would not have another race in between, having three weeks earlier impressively won a turf maiden race at Saratoga after finishing sixth in his debut on dirt.
Instead, Snapper Sinclair and stablemate Gun Runner, America's top-ranked horse heading into Saturday's $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic, were the first Eastern horses to arrive in California, shipping five weeks ago to Santa Anita to begin acclimation even though unable to get into Del Mar until a week ago. When Snapper Sinclair worked the race-week standard “Asmussen easy half-mile” earning Sunday morning in :49 4/5 seconds, it marked his fifth timed workout in California.
What Asmussen and Jeff Bloom, head of the Bloom Racing partnership, didn't expect in their meticulous planning is that Snapper Sinclair would need two defections from the Juvenile Turf pre-entrants in order to make the body of the field when entries are taken Monday. At worst, he will be on the also-eligible list, able to compete if there are the necessary defections before 8 a.m. PT Friday.
“We felt like trying to squeeze another race in between the Breeders' Cup and ship out to the West Coast would be asking too much of him,” said chief assistant Scott Blasi, who accompanied the Asmussen horses to California. “We thought we did the right thing. He's come out here and worked brilliantly. His work on the grass last week at Santa Anita was so pretty, and we're just hoping to get in. It's just one of those things. We don't have any control over it. But we thought breaking his maiden at Saratoga and winning a $350,000 would get you in the body.”
“It's kind of frustrating that he didn't make it into the body of the race. Surprising,” Bloom said. “But from what we're hearing it sounds like we have a really good chance to make it in. So Steve Asmussen, Scott Blasi, the whole team, we're preparing as if we are and that it's all 'go' time for the race.”
The Asmussen-trained Tap Daddy, also pre-entered in the Juvenile Turf, needs at least one horse to come out to even make the two-horse also-eligible list. Tap Daddy, who easily won a Kentucky Downs maiden race in his first race on grass and second start overall, finished third by a total of a head in Keeneland's Grade 3 Bourbon but was moved up to second on the disqualification of runner-up Tigers Rule for interference in the stakes, which was taken off the turf after heavy rain. Tap Daddy also worked a half-mile in 49 4/5 seconds under Angel Garcia.
Bloom, who lives not far from Del Mar, had never been to Kentucky Downs when he came for the Fasig-Tipton Juvenile. He didn't try to hide his excitement after the victory, saying later that he was thinking, “I think I'm going to get a fine from the stewards for whipping myself too many times before he hit the wire.”
“Kentucky Downs is such a really cool place,” he said Sunday. “It's fun. The purses are so big. It's such a unique track configuration. And that was such a big race to win. It's a big deal. Also, Snapper was so impressive breaking his maiden at Saratoga, so to come to that race at Kentucky Downs and perform as well as he did with the added distance, and to dominate the way he did, solidified what we always felt: That this is a very talented horse, and at that time stamped his ticket to the Breeders' Cup, as far as we were concerned.”
Asmussen's Dirt Mile contender Iron Fist worked in :49 3/5 Sunday. Gun Runner will get his own easy half-mile work Monday morning.
Bloom wears multiple hats this week at Del Mar. He's head of the syndicate that not only has Snapper Sinclair, but the Bill Spawr-trained Skye Diamonds in the Filly & Mare Sprint. Bloom, a former jockey, also is an analyst for the Lexington-based Horse Racing Radio Network.
Bloom and partners Chuck and Lori Allen were out dark and early to watch Snappy Sinclair's work, the colt only visible for a brief time in the stretch.
“If you think about it, you go to the barn and they get him tacked up,” Bloom said. “You stand around and you wait. You walk for a half-mile to come over and watch the horse take like three steps in front of you going down the stretch. But those brief moments, watching the horse in the final stages of his workout in their final prep, tell you everything. So I can tell you this: He could not look any better. I loved the way he got over the track. He worked over the dirt, even though he's running on the turf. But he's training so well. The horse really is an old pro. He takes to any situation or setting that he has.”
Bloom will be helping Horse Racing Radio Network with its Breeders' Cup Countdown show (streamed live at horseracingradio.net Tuesday through Thursday, 11a-1p Eastern).
“There might be some preferential treatment for Snapper Sinclair and Skye Diamonds,” he joked.
Note: Chuck Allen named Snapper Sinclair after a Mickey Rooney character in the old movie Down the Stretch.
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