TWO ‘BIRDS’ IN HAND FOR BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC

Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird deviated from his standard two-mile gallop Wednesday, jogging one mile, as the countdown began in earnest for his engagement in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Oak Tree on Nov. 7, a week from Saturday.

The 3-year-old son of Birdstone worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride Monday in a bullet :58.20, fastest of 32 at the distance. “He went pretty quick, so we felt one mile today was sufficient,” trainer Chip Woolley Jr. explained. “But he’s doing fine.”

Woolley expects a faster pace in the mile and a quarter Classic than Mine That Bird encountered on Oct. 10 in the nine-furlong Goodwood Stakes, in which he closed ground but finished sixth, beaten 3 3/4 lengths. There were 16 horses pre-entered Monday for the Classic, but Woolley had yet to fully absorb the past performances as of Wednesday morning.

“I haven’t had a chance to look at them yet,” he said. “But there always seems to be pace in that race. That plus the extra distance will help my horse.”

Summer Bird, another son of the 2004 Belmont Stakes winner, Birdstone, came out of Sunday’s five-furlong drill on Pro-Ride in 1:00.45 in good order and galloped a mile and a half Wednesday.

“He’ll have one more breeze before the Classic, five furlongs on Saturday,” said trainer Tim Ice, who did have an opportunity to scan the Classic pre-entries. “It doesn’t look like there are any surprises,” he said. He also entered Summer Bird in the $3 million Emirates Airlines Turf at 1 1/2 miles.

In other Breeders’ Cup news:

Defending Turf Sprint champion Desert Code worked six furlongs Wednesday on Santa Anita’s firm turf course in 1:15.20 under Richard Migliore.

On Tuesday, Bob Baffert’s Fearsome Foursome of Zensational ($2 million Sentient Jet Sprint at six furlongs), Lookin At Lucky ($2 million Grey Goose Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles), Always a Princess ($2 million Grey Goose Juvenile Fillies at 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 6) and Richard’s Kid (Classic) all worked on Pro-Ride.

Zensational went four furlongs in his usual bullet, this time in :46.40; Norfolk Stakes winner Lookin At Lucky went six furlongs in 1:12.40; Always a Princess went five furlongs in 1:01.20; and Pacific Classic winner Richard’s Kid went six furlongs in 1:12.80.

According to Oak Tree clocker John Malone, Zensational’s fractional times were :12 3/5, :24 2/5, :35 2/5 and :46 2/5, with a five-furlong gallop out of :58 2/5. Lookin At Lucky’s splits were :36 3/5, :48 3/5 and 1:00, while Richard’s Kid, who broke seven lengths back of Toro Bonito (five furlongs in 1:02.40), went in :12 3/5, :25, :37 2/5, :49 2/5 and 1:00 4/5.

“All four looked fantastic this morning,” Baffert said Wednesday.

Also Tuesday, Santa Anita Derby and Travers Stakes winner Colonel John (Classic or Dirt Mile) went five furlongs in 1:02, breezing, for trainer Eoin Harty. His splits were :13, :25 2/5, :38 and :50 1/5, with a 1:15 2/5 gallop out.

Careless Jewel ($2 million Ladies’ Classic at 1 1/8 miles on Nov. 6) worked six furlongs on Pro-Ride Tuesday in a bullet 1:11.20 for trainer Josie Carroll. Fractional times for Careless Jewel were :12, :23, :34 2/5, :46 4/5 and :59.

On Monday, Crown of Thorns ($1 million Dirt Mile or Sprint) worked six furlongs on Pro-Ride in 1:13.40 for Richard Mandella.


HORSEMEN ON OPPOSITE SIDES AS WORLD SERIES BEGINS

Richard Migliore and Mark Molina, understandably, have opposite views of the World Series, which starts tonight (weather permitting) matching the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Migliore, winner of Santa Anita’s George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award last year, is a New Yorker through and through, while former trainer Molina, now a bloodstock agent, is a native Philadelphian.

“What can I say? Let’s go Yankees,” said Migliore, prior to working defending Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint champion Desert Code Wednesday morning. “I grew up a Yankee fan. If the Series was between the Yankees and Dodgers, and I’m out here, then I’ve got to be a little more neutral, but this way, it’s a no-brainer.”

“The Phillies match up well against the Yankees,” Molina said. “We have better hitting, more speed, and are better defensively. The Yankees have better pitching.”

Molina had the last laugh on trainer Brian Koriner, a staunch Dodgers’ fan, after the Phillies gained a three-games-to-one advantage with a miraculous two-out, ninth-inning rally to defeat the Dodgers, 5-4, in the crucial fourth game of their National League Division Championship.

“We were texting each other throughout the game,” Molina said, “and he thought it was real funny when the Phillies were losing, 4-3. But he got quiet in the ninth inning after (Jimmy) Rollins got the game-winning double.”

FINISH LINES: Miss Heather Lee seeks her third straight victory in Sunday’s $58,000 Anoakia Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs. Garrett Gomez rides the Arnold Zetcher-owned daughter of Trippi for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert . . . Friday marks the fifth and final “Free Friday” at Oak Tree this meet. Free General Admission, free box seats, and $1 hot dogs, beer, soda, popcorn and coffee will be available. Special first post time is 2 p.m. . . . On Halloween, this Saturday, Oct. 31, Oak Tree will host the inaugural 93.1 FM Jackoberfest in Santa Anita’s infield. Activities will feature three live sets by Terri Nunn and Berlin starting after the sixth race. In addition, Jack FM will host a sticker event in the Colorado parking lot beginning at 9 a.m. Limited to the first 1,000 cars, the sticker provides free parking, two free event passes and a Jack FM T-shirt . . . Trainer Barry Abrams will be Jerry Antonucci’s guest at the Today’s Racing Digest seminar on Saturday, 11 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Participants alive in Oak Tree’s online handicapping contest ShowVivor were down to 30 prior to Wednesday’s races . . . Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday. Set your clocks back one hour Saturday night.