Unsung Smooth Roller, who earned a fees-paid berth to the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Keeneland on Oct. 31 by virtue of his impressive 5 ¼-length victory at 5-1 in the Grade I Awesome Again Stakes Sept. 26, worked five furlongs on Santa Anita's fast main track Saturday in 1:01 under Tyler Baze, who rides the 4-year-old Hard Spun gelding in the mile-and-a-quarter Classic.
“His win might have surprised some people, but not me,” said trainer Victor Garcia, who has Smooth Roller set to leave for Kentucky on Monday. “It didn't surprise me at all. When Tyler started working the horse, he thought he could really run. He was really happy with him.”
Garcia is undaunted by the prospect of facing Triple Crown king American Pharoah and two-time Eclipse Award champion Beholder in the Classic.
“Two superstars,” is how he assessed their status. “But you never know. Keeneland is a different surface than here, but my horse can handle that, too.”
Said private clocker Toby Turrell of The Yellow Sheet: “Smooth Roller worked well over a real deep track. He's dead fit, real sound, and thriving.”
With 173 recorded workouts Saturday on the main track, clockers and horsemen had their stopwatches churning virtually all morning.
In addition to Smooth Roller, among the Breeders' Cup candidates on the track were Sprint contenders Wild Dude (five furlongs in 1:02.40 for Jerry Hollendorfer); Big Macher (six furlongs in company with Little Jerry, the former getting 1:14.60 and the latter 1:15.40 for Richard Baltas, who won three races Friday); Kobe's Back (also Sprint, four furlongs in 47.80 for Peter Eurton).
Also, Gold Cup at Santa Anita winner Hard Aces (Classic, five furlongs in 1:00.40 for John Sadler); FrontRunner runner-up Swipe (Juvenile, five furlongs in 1:01.20 for Keith Desormeaux); and Santa Anita Oaks winner Stellar Wind (Distaff, seven furlongs in 1:27.20, also for Sadler).
“She went excellent,” said Victor Espinoza, who was aboard Stellar Wind after the 7:30 renovation break. “She went seven-eighths following another horse. She's pretty much ready.”
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