With rain in the forecast on Saturday, trainers attempted to beat the weather with 169 horses donning the Churchill Downs work tab Friday morning and among them were nine Breeders' Cup contenders who put in their final major preparation prior to the season-ending championship event on Nov. 1-2 at Santa Anita.
For the second-straight week, LNJ Foxwoods' speedy Covfefe (Filly and Mare Sprint) logged a bullet workout with a five-furlong move in :59.80 just after the track opened at 5:30 a.m. (all times Eastern). As Covfefe walked back to trainer Brad Cox's Barn 23, she caught a glimpse of her early season rival, Joe Politti's Serengeti Empress (Distaff) who returned to the work tab with a solid half-mile move in :47.60.
Other Breeders' Cup workers Friday (with distance, time and Breeders' Cup race): Andesite (five furlongs, 1:00.60, Juvenile Turf); British Idiom (four furlongs, :48.40, Juvenile Fillies); Got Stormy (four furlongs, :47.40, Mile); Peace Achieved (four furlongs, :50.40, Juvenile Turf); Perfect Alibi (four furlongs, :50, Juvenile Fillies); Scabbard (four furlongs, :49.40, Juvenile); and Whitmore (four furlongs, :49.80, Dirt Mile or Sprint).
Covfefe was the first of 18 workers from the Cox barn. With her regular rider Fernando Espinoza aboard, the Grade I-winning filly began her five-furlong workout at the half-mile pole and clipped through opening fractions of :12.20, :23.80 and :47.40. The 3-year-old continued her work around the clubhouse turn with a six-furlong gallop out of 1:12.60. Her workout was the fastest of 55 at the distance.
Immediately following Covfefe's move, her stablemate, Kent Spellman and Madaket Stable's $200,000 Pilgrim Stakes (GIII) runner-up Andesite worked in company with Great Ulysses with a similar setup to Covfefe by beginning their work at the half-mile pole. The duo worked together through opening fractions of :12.80, :25 and :48.20 before Andesite began to draw clear of Great Ulysses past the wire and continued to work in front through a six-furlong gallop out of 1:13.80. Great Ulysses' official workout was 1:01.80.
At 7:30 a.m., Cox breezed his final Breeders' Cup contender of the morning: Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group, Madaket Stables and Bethlehem Stables' $400,000 Alcibiades (GI) winner British Idiom, who worked in company with Don Alberto Stable's regally-bred maiden Reach the Moon. The duo worked in tandem and continued together galloping out five furlongs in 1:01.
“All three horses worked really well this morning,” Cox said. “They're all ready to go and it was just getting their last tightener before heading west. I don't sleep well to begin with but as we get closer to next weekend I get more excited.”
Cox's Breeders' Cup contingent will fly to Santa Anita on Sunday. The remaining two Cox Breeders' Cup hopefuls – Arklow (Turf) and Owendale (Classic) – are slated to work Saturday.
Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner Serengeti Empress returned to the work tab Friday morning after her originally scheduled workout last week was pushed back due to trainer Tom Amoss undergoing surgery on a ruptured appendix. The 3-year-old filly jogged one mile by herself and one mile accompanied by Monnie Goetz on the pony prior to breaking off for her half-mile drill. Under the watchful eye of Amoss' barn crew, Serengeti Empress swiftly worked through opening fractions of :12.20 and :24. Serengeti Empress galloped out strongly passed the wire through five furlongs in :59.80 and completed her move through six furlongs in 1:13.40.
Amoss, who is recovering at home from his procedure, reported via Twitter that Serengeti Empress would run in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. The filly was pre-entered in both the Distaff and Filly and Mare Sprint.
Also working Friday was trainer Mark Casse's trio of locally-based Breeders' Cup contenders – Got Stormy, Peace Achieved and Perfect Alibi. JSM Equine's Peace Achieved, who's known around the barn as “Piece of Cheese,” worked with jockey Miguel Mena aboard outside of 2-year-old maiden Lynn's Map through fractions of :12.60 and :25.60. The duo galloped out together through five furlongs in 1:03.80.
Gary Barber's $1.2 million Woodbine Mile (GI) runner-up Got Stormy was the next to work with exercise rider Kim Carroll aboard. Got Stormy began her work swiftly through opening clips of :11.80 and :23.40. The seven-time winner completed her work after crossing the wire.
“I told Kim she doesn't need to gallop out very much,” Casse's assistant David Carroll said. “I thought she got over the track much better this morning when we worked her early. She's a super nice filly and has run some incredible efforts this year.”
“It was fun working her,” Kim Carroll said. “I didn't move my hand at all and she was just cruising.”
The final Casse horse to work was Perfect Alibi who breezed in company with Lucky Polly through fractions of :12.60 and :24.60. Perfect Alibi galloped out five furlongs in 1:04.
Joseph Sutton's $200,000 Iroquois Stakes (GIII) runner-up Scabbard completed his major work prior to the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile with his work in company with Sweet Rebellion. The son of More Than Ready will ship to California on Sunday with trainer Eddie Kenneally arriving on Tuesday.
“It should be a fun weekend,” Kenneally said. “I have a few other horses I'm thinking about running out there, too. Our first test with Scabbard was seeing how he would like stretching out in distance, and with his effort in the Iroquois he definitely showed us that's something he has interest in at this stage of his career.”
Robert LaPenta, Southern Springs Stables and Head of Plains Partners $2.6 million-earner Whitmore completed his work prior to the Breeders' Cup with a maintenance half-mile move in company with two-time winner Lighthawk.
Along with the scheduled workouts from Arkow and Owendale on Saturday, Allied Racing Stable's multiple Grade III winner Mr. Money is scheduled to work at 5:45 a.m. in preparation for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.
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