Amerman Racing's Oscar Performance continues to look well heading into the Breeders' Cup Mile on November 3 at Churchill Downs, trainer Brian Lynch said by phone Sunday morning.
The four-time Grade 1 winner has breezed twice at Keeneland this month, including a five-furlong work in 1:01.00 on the main track on Wednesday. The 4-year-old Kitten's Joy colt had previously worked five furlongs in 1:03.23 on Belmont's inner turf on October 1 before shipping to Kentucky, where he worked four furlongs in 52.20 seconds on the turf.
“He looked really good coming out of it and it seems like there's no hiccups,” Lynch said. “I'll bring him to Churchill soon and hopefully everything continues to be fine between now and the Breeders' Cup.”
Oscar Performance tied a personal best with a 104 Beyer Speed Figure with a gate-to-wire win in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile on September 15. Lynch said the effort was encouraging after having to be vanned off before completing the Grade 1 Arlington Million on August 11 at Arlington Park.
“It got him back on track and he's doing really well now,” said Lynch, who added Oscar Performance will have one more breeze before the Breeders' Cup.
Lynch said he's hoping for cooperative weather at Churchill, where Oscar Performance ran 10th in his only previous start in the 2017 Grade 2 American Turf on softer turf. The Kentucky homebred has won two of his last three starts, both on firm turf, in the Grade 3 Poker on June 17 at Belmont before his victory at Woodbine.
“We're hoping that Mother Nature is kind to us and everything will suit us like it did at the Woodbine Mile,” Lynch said.
Michael and Jules Iavarone, Jerry McClanahan, Christopher Dunn, William Marasa, Ritchie Robershaw and Mark Taylor's Next Shares worked 5 furlongs over Keeneland's turf course, rated good, on Sunday morning in 1:04.20. It was his first work since winning the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) on Oct. 6.
Ridden by Tyler Gaffalione for trainer Richard Baltas, Next Shares produced fractions of :12.80, :25.80, :40.20, :52.20 and 1:04.20.
“He really gets over the ground well, especially with moisture in it,” said Gaffalione, who rode Next Shares for the first time in the Shadwell Turf Mile victory. “The plan is to work him again next Saturday or Sunday (before going to Churchill Downs for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile-G1 on Nov. 3).”
Gaffalione has had one mount in each of the past two Breeders' Cup World Championships, but the 24-year-old Florida native expects to have five or six this time around. They include Mind Your Biscuits, who has the $6 million Classic (G1) as one of his three possible options, and Liam the Charmer, a candidate for the $4 million Turf (G1).
Baltas, who has recorded both of his Keeneland stakes victories in 2018, has had eight previous Breeders' Cup starters.
Shadwell Stable's Qurbaan, who captured a dramatic nose score in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch while making his North American debut, is taking dead aim at the Breeders' Cup Mile.
The 5-year-old Speightstown chestnut campaigned mainly in France for trainer Francois Rohaut before arriving to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin's care this summer. Sent to post at 13-1 odds under Irad Ortiz, Qurbaan overcame gate trouble before launching a determined bid to nail Forge at the wire of the 1 1/16-mile turf event.
Last out, Qurbaan rallied from near the back of a field of 13 in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile on October 6 to finish a strong third, defeated just 4 ¾-lengths by the victorious Next Shares.
Qurbaan worked four furlongs in 48.82 seconds on Friday morning over the Belmont Park main.
“He worked very well in 48 and change, galloped out well, and we'll try to work next Friday and hope he gets in the Mile. It might overfill. He doesn't have to get in, but we hope he gets in,” said McLaughlin. “He does everything right in a race, he was a little wide at the Shadwell Mile and it was a little soft that day, so he might be better on firmer turf. But, he's a neat horse, tries hard, and has done very well for us. He fits in the race if we get in.”
Godolphin Stable homebred Endorsed earned a lofty 89 Beyer Speed Figure for his August 18 debut at Saratoga when a neck the best in a six-furlong maiden allowance event. The Medaglia d'Oro bay returned to action on October 6 at Belmont in the Grade 1 Champagne but failed to menace when sixth in a race won by the convincing Complexity. McLaughlin said he will look for local options for Endorsed.
“We'll look maybe at the Remsen [December 1, Aqueduct]. He's very talented but he didn't run that well [in the Champagne], so we'll, not back off, but just not go to the Breeders' Cup,” said McLaughlin.
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