Monday, October 22, 2012

BELMONT PARK NOTES - Sunday, October 21, 2012

• Awesome Feather, Corporate Jungle work for Breeders’ Cup; Brown prepares for Monday turf works
• Sciacca proud of Empire Classic runner-up Saratoga Snacks
• Hudson winner Mine Over Matter has found his niche sprinting; The Lumber Guy preps for Breeders’ Cup
• Pletcher foursome breezes for Breeders’ Cup

ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Chad Brown sent out undefeated Awesome Feather this morning for her penultimate work prior to an expected start in the 1 1/8-mile Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic on November 2 at Santa Anita Park. The 4-year-old Awesome of Course filly was caught by NYRA clockers in 1:12.34 for six furlongs over the main track, the only work at the distance.

“I was very pleased with her work,” Brown said. “She went in 1:12 and I got her out in 1:24 and change for seven-eighths, all by herself, nice and easy. I’m very, very happy with the way she was moving. She galloped out super, and came back to the barn good.”

A perfect 10-for-10 with earnings of $1,912,746, Awesome Feather has two Grade 1 victories to her credit – the 2010 Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies and the 2011 Gazelle at Aqueduct Racetrack. Tendon issues over the past two years have restricted the filly to a light racing schedule, and she exits a victory in the Nasty Storm overnight stakes on September 20 at Belmont Park, her second start of 2012.

“Fingers crossed, if we can keep her happy and healthy, we’re in good shape,” Brown said of the Stronach Stables’ representative. “I’m going to come back and hopefully work her next Sunday, on the 28th, and if she checks out good on Monday morning we’ll put her on the plane and bring her to Santa Anita.”

In addition to Awesome Feather, Brown also plans to send a sextet of turf horses to Santa Anita for various Breeders’ Cup events. Sunday morning, the trainer worked turf miler Corporate Jungle a half-mile over the main track (47.45, handily) as he prepares for a start in the 6 ½-furlong Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

Tomorrow, Brown has turf works planned for 2011’s Grade 1 Diana winner Zagora (Filly & Mare Turf), Watsdachances, Flashy Gal (both Juvenile Fillies Turf), Balance the Books and Noble Tune (both Juvenile Turf).

“I worked Corporate Jungle today [on dirt] because it didn’t really benefit me to wait until tomorrow,” Brown said. “He doesn’t really appreciate soft turf, and he works well enough on the dirt, that’s why I chose to do it that way. He started off a little strong - the first eighth of his works, he’s a very headstrong horse - and I thought my rider did a good job to get him to settle. He’ll come back and work next Sunday also, another easy half, and then we’ll run him down the hill in the turf sprint. I think he’s doing great, and he’s right on schedule.”

All four of Corporate Jungle’s victories have come at a mile, including a Grade 3 score in the Appleton Stakes on March 31 at Gulfstream Park, but Brown feels he’ll be able to manage the cut back in distance and the downhill course in the turf sprint.

“With the hill configuration and crossing the dirt and things like that, it’s a tricky race,” Brown said. “But I worked out in California for awhile for Bobby [Frankel] and we ran a lot of milers on the cutback down the hill. Bobby did it successfully a lot. Hopefully Corporate Jungle is one of those horses that can cut back from a mile to the 6 ½ and do it effectively. To me, he fits the profile of a horse that would be OK at the trip, if he can handle it mentally.”

Brown, who won the inaugural edition of the Juvenile Fillies Turf in 2008 at Santa Anita with Maram, said he was looking forward to running both Corporate Jungle and Zagora over what will most likely be a firm course, but added that it was difficult to tell how his juveniles would react.

“The two older horses, they’ve shown a tendency to appreciate firm, so I feel good about running them out there,” Brown said. “With 2-year-olds, you just don’t know. Corporate Jungle threw in a clunker at Keeneland [seventh in the October 6 Shadwell Turf Mile] and apparently he just didn’t like the turf course because he’s never done that. All his other races have been good, particularly on firm courses. I can’t train them to like a turf course, I don’t think. I can prepare them to run that distance of ground on that day, but whether they care for the footing or not is out of my hands.”

Noble Tune captured Belmont’s Grade 3 Pilgrim over yielding turf on October 8, and Watsdachances handled the same conditions that day with aplomb in winning the Grade 3 Miss Grillo. Balance the Books annexed Saratoga’s Grade 2 With Anticipation and Keeneland’s Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes over firm going, while Flashy Gal broke her maiden over a yielding course at Saratoga.

“If I’m certain that a horse won’t [like a certain type of ground], then I avoid those kind of races, especially with a young horses,” Brown said. “But of the six turf horses that I’d be running out there, four of them are 2-year-olds, and it’s too early in their career to make a firm opinion about that. So, we’re just going to roll the dice and see what happens.”

* * *

Trainer Gary Sciacca expressed excitement Sunday morning about what the future might have in store for Saratoga Snacks, a 3-year-old who on Saturday finished second, beaten 1 ¼ lengths by 5-year-old Lunar Victory, in the Empire Classic.

“He’s a rookie, and we got beat by a veteran,” said Sciacca. “An old war horse beat him. It was the first time he’s gone a mile and an eighth, and he gave a hell of a performance. It wasn’t like anybody was coming to get him for second. With that under his belt, he’s going to be really, really tough, wherever we go with him.”

Sciacca said Saratoga Snacks emerged from the grueling effort in excellent shape and that he and owner Bill Parcells will talk before they determine the sophomore’s next objective.

“[Jockey Ramon] Dominguez said he ran super,” said Sciacca. “He ran hard. He loves his job. He’ll come back from training now and he’ll be easy, no problem. When the race comes up and we start tightening the screws on him, we have a pony to bring him back, somebody walking him back. He knows when it’s getting to be time for him to run. He enjoys it.”

While Sciacca was proud of Saratoga Snacks, he also expressed disappointment over the loss and said he thinks the outcome of the race might have been different if the ridgling hadn’t been pressed early by Haldane and Saxophone Len.

“He did all of the dirty work,” said Sciacca. “The horses than ran with him, [Saxophone Len] was eased up and [Haldane] finished second to last. When the challenge [from Lunar Victory] came, he was there. If he didn’t have to do the dirty work, it probably would have been a little easier for him. It was amazing, he dug in so hard when [Lunar Victory] came to him. They just took off from the rest of the field like they weren’t even in the race.”

* * *

When Mike Hushion first got Mine Over Matter late last year, the son of Mineshaft had spent much of 2011 competing in races 1 1/16 miles or longer. Shortened up by Hushion, the 5-year-old showed a new dimension as a come-from-behind sprinter, and on Saturday, Mine Over Matter notched his second stakes win of the year when he rallied from mid-pack to win the six-furlong Hudson.

“The first couple of races I had him, as a come-from-behind sprinter, he showed that might be just what he could do,” said Hushion of Chester and Mary Broman’s homebred, who earned a career-best 97 Beyer Speed Figure for the victory. “His only bad race was when the rider decided to send him. Now, I see no reason to change him.”

With that in mind, the trainer said that Mine Over Matter, now 2-1-2 from seven starts this year, will continue to do what he’s been doing when racing moves to Aqueduct Racetrack next month.

“He’ll run in the New York-bred races,” he said. “Hopefully, Saginaw will be somewhere else.”

Sunday morning, Hushion sent out Grade 1 Vosburgh winner The Lumber Guy for his second of three scheduled works for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on November 3 at Santa Anita. The 3-year-old New York-bred son of Grand Slam breezed four furlongs in 48.50 seconds, the 19th-fastest of 106 works at the distance on Belmont’s training track.

“Since he ran so hard last time, these three works are just maintenance works,” said Hushion of Barry K. Schwartz’s homebred, who will be flown to California next Monday. “We’re not really trying to get anything accomplished except to keep him from going backwards. We worked pretty heavy – heavy for me anyway – going into the last race.

“He doesn’t need any 59s or 58s to get out there,” he added. “We know he’s capable, he doesn’t have to prove anything. Just keep him happy and keep him in his hayrack and feed tub.”

The Lumber Guy will be the third Breeders’ Cup starter for Hushion, who saddled Noteasybeingreen to finish 10th in the 1998 Juvenile and Nothing But Fun to finish seventh in the 2005 Distaff.

“There are so many nerves involved, I don’t think you ever get a chance to sit back and enjoy it,” he confessed.

* * *

Trainer Todd Pletcher sent out a quartet of Breeders’ Cup hopefuls Sunday morning, including undefeated juvenile stars Shanghai Bobby, Dreaming of Julia, and Kauai Katie.

Shanghai Bobby, whose victory in the Grade 1 Foxwoods Champagne ran his record to 4-for-4, breezed a half-mile in 47.48 over the Belmont training track as he prepares for his role as the likely favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Grade 1 Frizette winner Dreaming of Julia covered the same distance in 48.02 for the Juvenile Fillies, while Kauai Katie, under consideration for the Juvenile Fillies or the Juvenile Sprint, worked five furlongs in company with Filly and Mare Sprint-bound Turbulent Descent.

NYRA clockers caught Turbulent Descent in 1:00.85 and Kauai Katie in 1:00.87.

The quartet is scheduled to depart for California on October 30 to join the rest of Pletcher’s Breeders’ Cup contingent including Love and Pride, Turbo Compressor, Tara From the Cape, Bridgetown, In Lingerie, and Doubles Partner.

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