Belmont, Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Summer Bird, the leading candidate for an Eclipse Award in the male 3-year-old division, reunites with regular rider Kent Desormeaux Sunday for a workout between Oak Tree’s third and fourth races in preparation for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 7. Desormeaux is coming in from his current base at Keeneland for the assignment.
Desormeaux, Oak Tree’s leading rider from 1990 through 1992, has ridden Summer Bird in his last four races, including the three aforementioned victories. Their lone setback came when they finished second in the Grade I Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Aug. 2, six lengths behind super filly Rachel Alexandra.
In other Breeders’ Cup news:
Zenyatta worked six furlongs in company on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track Friday in a bullet 1:11.20 under regular rider Mike Smith. “She went very well,” trainer John Shirreffs said. “It was a little faster than she normally works. She usually goes in (one) :13.” Zenyatta worked with Sabina Fay (four furlongs in :47.40) and Green Cat (five furlongs in 1:00.40).
Zenyatta, unbeaten in 13 races, will be pre-entered in both the $2 million Ladies’ Classic at 1 1/8 miles on Pro-Ride Nov. 6 and the Classic at 1 1/4 miles on Nov. 7. Zenyatta stablemate Life Is Sweet (Ladies’ Classic) worked six furlongs at Hollywood in 1:12.20 for Shirreffs.
Bickersons ($2 million Grey Goose Juvenile Fillies at 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 6), third in the Oak Leaf, worked six furlongs at Santa Anita on Pro-Ride Friday in :59.40 for trainer Kelly Breen, going the final eighth in :11 1/5.
Godolphin’s Sara Louise and Seventh Street ($1 million Sentient Jet Filly & Mare Sprint at seven furlongs on Nov. 6) worked four furlongs at Santa Anita in :47.80 and five furlongs in 1:01.60, respectively.
Barry Abrams still plans to run the 4-year-old filly Lethal Heat in both the Ladies’ Classic and right back against males in the $1 million Turf Sprint at about 6 1 /2 furlongs on Nov. 7.
“So far, she’s still ready for a doubleheader,” Abrams said. “This is not for PR. At this point, she’s probably only going to run in one race, but you never know. I’ll leave my options open. We’ll see how the draw comes up, and see if I can even get into the Turf Sprint.”
West Point Thoroughbreds’ Hawthorne Gold Cup winner Awesome Gem (Classic) worked five furlongs at Hollywood in 1:01.60 for trainer Craig Dollase.
Defending Turf Sprint winner Desert Code is scheduled to work six furlongs on turf at Santa Anita on Wednesday under Richard Migliore, who was aboard last year in their 36-1 upset victory. “The horse might have a little blowout after that,” trainer David Hofmans said.
ESPN’S RICK REILLY TO CALL FIRST RACE ON SATURDAY
Longtime Sports Illustrated columnist and current ESPN contributor Rick Reilly will call Saturday’s first race at Oak Tree. “This could be the beginning and the end of my track announcing career in one race,” joked Reilly on Thursday, as he sought advice from Oak Tree’s legendary caller, Trevor Denman.
An ESPN video crew will document Reilly’s call, and it will air the feature during Breeders’ Cup week in November.
“My hero was always (longtime Los Angeles Times columnist) Jim Murray and this was his favorite place,” said Reilly. “I’m so glad to finally be here—the mountains, the setting, this place is so majestic. It’s so beautiful, it’s going to be hard to focus.”
Reilly will pinch-hit for Denman with the live call of Saturday’s first, which is for 3-year-olds and up at 6 1/2 furlongs. The $20,000 claiming race drew a field of six.
FINISH LINES: Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Chip Woolley further experienced the fruits of victory Friday morning as a group of eight “A” list models surrounded him at Barn 24 for a photo shoot promoting the Breeders’ Cup’s newly formed association with Twitter . . . Oak Tree offers Carnival Days presented by K-Earth 101 FM Radio in Santa Anita’s infield Saturday and Sunday. Fun-filled activities for families will include carnival rides, games and fast food . . .
All THOROUGHBREDS members who scan their cards at Santa Anita on Saturday will receive free a high-quality set of binoculars, featuring an 8x21 adjustable zoom, while supplies last. First post time Saturday and Sunday is 12:30 p.m. Gates open at 10:30 a.m. . . . Sunland Derby winner Kelly Leak came out of his sixth-place finish in the Oklahoma Derby on Oct. 11 with a temperature and will be given some time off. “I hope to have him ready for the Sir Beaufort or the Malibu on opening day at Santa Anita,” trainer Mike Machowsky said . . . There were 141 participants alive in Oak Tree’s online handicapping contest ShowVivor prior to Friday’s races.