• SYCAMORE RUNNERS MOVE ON TO NEXT ASSIGNMENTS
• WEAVER HOPES TO DOUBLE HIS PLEASURE IN WEEKEND STAKES
• JEWEL OF A CAT BRINGS PERKINS BACK TO KEENELAND
• GALLOPING OUT
• FALL MEET LEADERS
Morton Fink’s reigning Horse of the Year, Wise Dan, worked a half-mile in :47.40 over Keeneland’s main track Friday morning with regular morning partner Damien Rock aboard.
Working on his own at 7 o’clock, Wise Dan clocked his first quarter-mile in :23.60 and galloped five furlongs in 1:00.
“Pretty awesome – :11s and :12s all the way,” trainer Charlie LoPresti said of the eight-mile splits. “He is just as good as last year.”
In his final work at Keeneland last fall before going to Santa Anita and winning the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), Wise Dan worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 on the main track.
LoPresti had considered working Wise Dan on the turf, but opted for the main track.
“I was a little concerned the turf might be a little soft,” LoPresti said. “The Polytrack is consistent and a little better when it has some moisture in it. He doesn’t have to train on the turf. He didn’t last year. I knew I had a good track on the Polytrack.”
Wise Dan, who has won a Keeneland-record five stakes, is coming off a second-place finish in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) that was rained off the turf on Oct. 5. He is scheduled to ship to Santa Anita on Oct. 29.
“I might jog him in the morning on the training track to see how he came out of the work,” LoPresti said. “Sunday will be his off day.”
SYCAMORE RUNNERS MOVE ON TO NEXT ASSIGNMENTS
Najjaar’s victory in Thursday’s off-the-turf Sycamore was the first Keeneland stakes triumph for trainer Dan Peitz. Najjaar returned to the Trackside Training Center in Louisville last night.
Trainer Graham Motion said runner-up Eagle Poise came out of the race fine and will be pointed to the 1¾-mile Valedictory Stakes (G3), a race he won in 2011, which will be run at Woodbine on Dec. 15. Motion also trains Nutello, the morning-line favorite for the Sycamore who was scratched from the race.
“We brought him over here to run on firm turf,” Motion said. “I am not sure what’s next for him, maybe the Red Smith (a Grade 3 race at 1 3/8 miles on Nov. 16) in New York.”
Robbie Medina, assistant to trainer Shug McGaughey, said third-place finisher Tricky Hat (CHI) and sixth-place finisher Reflecting, exited the race well.
“Tricky Hat is already heading back to New York and Reflecting will go either to New York or straight to Florida,” Medina said.
Plans for fourth-place finisher Suntracer were undetermined, according to Drew Coontz, assistant to trainer Chris Block.
“He came out of the race good,” Coontz said. “He may be going back home (to Block’s main base in Chicago).”
WEAVER HOPES TO DOUBLE HIS PLEASURE IN WEEKEND STAKES
As the lone Grade 1 winner in a field of 14, Richlyn Farm’s Lighthouse Bay appears to own a huge class edge going into Saturday’s 15th running of the $250,000 Lexus Raven Run (G2) for 3-year-old fillies going seven furlongs on Keeneland’s Polytrack surface.
The Polytrack is the unknown variable for Lighthouse Bay, who has never raced on the all-weather surface.
“(Thursday) morning was the first time she has set foot on an all-weather surface,” trainer George Weaver said. “I hope she adapts to it. I’ve found that they either like it or they don’t. I like to come in right on top of the race. A lot of times, they will do well the first couple of days on the all-weather and then go through an adjustment period. This way they can run before they adjust.”
Winner of the Prioress (G1) at Saratoga in July, Lighthouse Bay finished fifth in the seven-furlong Test (G1) in her most recent start on Aug. 24 at Saratoga.
“We had her in a race at Belmont three weeks ago, but there was an incident at the starting gate and she had to be scratched,” Weaver said. “But she is doing well and had a nice work at Saratoga Monday before coming here.”
A Kentucky native, Weaver has another filly with a class edge in this afternoon’s 23rd running of the $150,000 Pin Oak Valley View (G3) in Bona Venture Stables’ Summer of Fun.
Third in the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G3) here last fall, Summer of Fun followed that effort with a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) at Santa Anita to conclude her 2012 campaign. This year, Summer of Fun has run only four times with two victories, a second and a fifth-place finish in the Garden City (G1) in her most recent start in which she was beaten less than two lengths.
“We planned to give her some time after the Breeders’ Cup,” Weaver said. “But there was a lot of small stuff – a bruise, a fever – that we did not get her back to the races until March. We had a race for her at Calder that got rained off the turf so then we pointed for the race at Pimlico.”
That race was the Hilltop, in which Summer of Fun was beaten by a nose by Emotional Kitten.
“Our filly ran well that day and the filly that beat her was no slouch,” Weaver said of Emotional Kitten, who placed in two Grade 1 races in California after the Hilltop.
JEWEL OF A CAT BRINGS PERKINS BACK TO KEENELAND
In his career as a trainer, Ben Perkins Jr. has made occasional forays into Central Kentucky from his East Coast bases. He is back at Keeneland this week to saddle Jewel of a Cat in Saturday’s $250,000 Lexus Raven Run (G2) at seven furlongs.
“I was taking her to the track and went past the test barn and could not believe it had been five years since I was last here,” said Perkins, who that year sent out Wild Gams to a runner-up finish in the Thoroughbred Club of America (G2).
In Jewel of a Cat, Perkins has a filly in a similar mold to Wild Gams, who earned nearly $1.2 million in her career that included a victory in the 2007 TCA over Keeneland’s all-weather surface.
Wild Gams raced once on an all-weather surface before her TCA victory. Jewel of a Cat will have her Polytrack debut Saturday.
“She has run well on dirt and turf,” Perkins said. “We bought her at Ocala and she breezed a fast time at the sale and looked good on Polytrack. That was one of the considerations in buying her, but not the final consideration.”
Jewel of a Cat won the Coronation Cup at 5½ furlongs on the turf in her most recent start at Saratoga on Aug. 12.
“We looked at a couple of turf races at Belmont that didn’t go, so we had nowhere to go,” Perkins said. “We looked at the Buffalo Trace (Franklin County last Friday), but that was a tough field of older horses for half the money, so we thought we’d try this.”
Wild Gams closed her career here in the 2008 TCA, and Perkins remembers her well.
“We sold her right after that,” Perkins said. “Her second foal by Unbridled’s Song, Almost Famous, won his first start last month at Churchill Downs for Pat Byrne.”
Jockey Alan Garcia won three consecutive races on Thursday. He won the fifth with Robert S. Evans’ Jerry Love, trained by Michael Trombetta; the sixth with Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Frac Daddy, trained by Ken McPeek; and the seventh with Live Oak Plantation’s Autobahn Legend, trained by H. Graham Motion. Garcia has five winners for the meet.
Frac Daddy completed a trifecta of sorts when he won an off-the-turf allowance race. The 3-year-old Scat Daddy colt has won three times: once on dirt, once on turf and once on Polytrack. “He’s done them all. When he’s good, he’s good,” trainer Ken McPeek said of Thursday’s geared-down, 3½-length victory. “We are looking at probably coming back in the ($100,000-added) Commonwealth Turf (G3) on Nov. 16 at Churchill Downs.” …
Maria Bowersock trained her first Keeneland winner when 36-1 longshot Snow Fair captured Thursday’s ninth race. With Natalie Garoufalis, Bowersock owns the 6-year-old Snow Ridge mare, who won the 6½-furlong claiming race by three-quarters of a length in 1:15.24. Ronald Allen Jr. rode the winner. …
Regis Racing’s Zinzay, runner-up in the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G3) on Oct. 9, will not go to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). “She’s on a farm in Ocala (Fla.),” trainer Rusty Arnold said. “She will spend all of November and December there and join our barn at Palm Meadows Jan. 1 to gear up for her 3-year-old campaign.”
FALL MEET LEADERS
Through Oct. 17
Jockey Starts Wins 2nd 3rd Purses
Rosie Napravnik 55 8 6 11 $318,631
John Velazquez 28 7 8 5 $1,015,731
Miguel Mena 34 6 6 7 $272,612
Joe Rocco Jr. 45 6 5 8 $334,309
Shaun Bridgmohan 48 5 4 5 $316,870
Robby Albarado 42 5 4 1 $634,159
James Graham 51 5 3 8 $407,227
Alan Garcia 30 5 2 4 $273,827
Trainer Starts Wins 2nd 3rd Purses
Michael J. Maker 43 7 4 7 $387,410
Wesley A. Ward 21 4 5 2 $257,952
Todd A. Pletcher 7 4 1 0 $359,071
H. Graham Motion 19 3 5 1 $164,568
Mark E. Casse 17 3 2 1 $404,260
Wayne Catalano 20 3 1 2 $218,091
Tom Proctor 18 3 1 2 $115,435
Bill Mott 8 3 0 1 $379,624