Working for the first time since finishing second in the $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (G1), Juddmonte Farms' Hofburg cruised a half-mile Sunday morning at Payson Park in 49.02.
Mike Welsch, clocker and writer for the Daily Racing Form, had Hofburg galloping out five furlongs in 1:01.37 and six furlongs in 1:15.30 while working outside Jim Dandy (G2) and New Orleans Handicap (G2) winner Good Samaritan. Welsch said the work was “terrific.”
Hofburg was making only his third start in the Florida Derby after finishing fourth at Saratoga last summer in his debut and breaking his maiden at Gulfstream Park March 3.
Trainer Bill Mott, who missed a connecting flight Saturday night from Charlotte due to mechanical problems leaving Louisville, said he was pleased with the work after talking to assistant trainer and Eclipse and Sovereign Award-winning jockey Neil Poznansky and fellow trainer Christophe Clement, who is also stabled at Payson.
“This is his first work back, he hadn't breezed since the Florida Derby,” said Mott by phone. “We gave him plenty of time to recover from that race and we had been picking it up, picking it up and today was his first breeze and it sounded like it was good. It sounds like he went very well.”
Mott said, depending on weather, he would ship Hofburg to Churchill Downs before his next breeze. “That's my initial thinking, not to say I couldn't work him down here again one more time before I go,” he added. “I just want to wait and see. We'll look at the entire situation and make what I think is the best decision.”
Hofburg, a homebred son of Tapit who finished two lengths behind Florida Derby winner Audible and a half-length in front of third-place finisher Mississippi, is light on experience but “pretty professional acting,” according to Mott.
“I understand he's short on seasoning in comparison to any horse who's had six or eight starts, but it looks like a few of them are not as hardened or seasoned as they would have been in the 70s or 80s,” he said. “But this horse was very professional down at Gulfstream Park, he's done everything right, and he takes the dirt well, and that's a good thing, particularly when you're not a so-called speed horse. You have to be able to take the kick back and stay in the race, so he seems to be able to do that. He did it well at Gulfstream, which I know is probably half the size of the [Kentucky] Derby, but he still handled it well.”
Although he missed the breeze, Mott, who had the work recorded, said he had no concerns working Hofburg Sunday morning.
“I have complete confidence in my staff,” said the Hall of Fame horseman. “They all pulled together very well and that's why it went well this morning.”
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