Trainer Michael McCarthy brought five Breeders' Cup hopefuls to Churchill Downs Tuesday from his Southern California base and Saturday morning produced the first works.
Working in company over a track labeled muddy, Axelrod (Classic-GI) and Vibrance (Tito's Handmade Vodka Juvenile Fillies-GI) covered a half-mile in :48.40. Fractions on the work were :12.20, 24.20, :36.20 and :48.40 with both going out five furlongs and Axelrod six furlongs in 1:14.60; Vibrance in 1:14.80, according to Churchill Downs Clocker John Nichols.
“I just wanted them to stretch their legs,” McCarthy said. “Conditions were not ideal weather wise but I knew they would do a good job with the track. I was more than pleased with the works.”
Slam Dunk Racing's Axelrod comes into the Classic off a runner-up finish to Classic rival McKinzie in the Pennsylvania Derby (GI). Jose Ortiz was aboard for the work Saturday with Joe Bravo having the call for the Classic.
Axelrod has produced a record of 4-2-2-0 since venturing into graded-stakes company.
“The Indiana Derby (GIII) was his breakthrough,” McCarthy said, tracing the colt's improvement to maturity. “He has a lot of confidence now and thinks he can do anything. It was no disgrace losing to McKinzie, who is probably the best 3-year-old still running.”
Tyler Gaffalione was aboard Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Mr. and Mrs. Jim Daniell's Vibrance, who finished second to Bellafina in the Chandelier (GI) in her most recent start. John Velazquez will have the Breeders' Cup mount.
McCarthy's three other Breeders' Cup runners are Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr.'s City of Light (Dirt Mile-GI), Madaket Stables' Liam the Charmer (Turf-GI) and Ciaglia Racing and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Paved (Filly & Mare Turf-GI).
City of Light also was pre-entered in the Classic but McCarthy said, “Barring anything crazy happening this week, he will go in the Dirt Mile. I will be very excited to lead him over there.”
McCarthy, whose barn at Santa Anita numbers 30, plans to work his three other runners Sunday, weather permitting.
City of Light would go at 7:30 during the special training period for Breeders' Cup horses if conditions permit with Paved and Liam the Charmer going on the turf at 9:45. “That's the plan now,” McCarthy said. “We'll see what it looks like in the morning.”
Tommie Lewis, David Bernsen and Magdalena Racing's Breeders' Futurity (GI) runner-up Signalman completed his last major step prior to the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (GI) with a four-furlong move in :47.60 Saturday morning at Churchill Downs.
Breezing with jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. in the saddle, Signalman began his work one length behind stablemate Math Major (four furlongs in :48) through opening splits of :11.60 and :23, before finishing one length in front on the five-furlong gallop out in 1:01 and completing six furlongs in 1:15.
The massive son of General Quarters, who stands at least 17 hands tall, according to trainer Kenny McPeek, broke his maiden Sept. 1 at Saratoga prior to his runner-up effort behind fellow Juvenile contender Knicks Go in the Breeders' Futurity.
Impact Thoroughbreds and Madaket Stables' Reflect worked five furlongs in 1:00 over a track rated as sloppy after the first renovation break Saturday morning.
With jockey Jose Ortiz aboard, Reflect carved out fractions of :12.40, 23.40, 35.40, :47.60 and 1:00 with gallop-out times of 1:13.60 and 1:27.80 for six and seven furlongs.
“I liked it; she did it pretty easy,” said Julie Clark, assistant to trainer Keith Desormeaux. “Jose liked her last week too (a half-mile in :48.40). He said she does it so easy and feels like there is another gear there.”
Ortiz will have the mount for the $2 million Tito's Handmade Vodka Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) on Friday on Reflect who was second to Restless Rider in the Oct. 5 Alcibiades (GI) at Keeneland.
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