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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


By Alicia Hughes for NTRALEXINGTON, Ky — If the objective heading into his final pre-Breeders’ Cup workout was to fill Maxfield’s mind with as much confidence as possible in advance of his expected run in the $2 million Juvenile, keeping his ego in check might be the new challenge in the wake of his sizzling half-mile move at Keeneland on Friday.

The Godolphin homebred did his part to make sure Dale Romans-trainee Dennis’ Moment doesn’t corner the market on buzz heading into the Juvenile, working four furlongs in a wicked 47.80 seconds under exercise rider Paul Madden in his last bit of serious fine tuning before shipping to Santa Anita Park this weekend.

Technically, Maxfield worked in company with stablemate Corkman. After breaking off a couple lengths back of his barnmate, however, the winner of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity turned the exercise into a solo showcase as he clocked splits of :12.60, :24.80, and :36.40 before blowing by his partner in the lane under mild hand urging and galloping out well in front in :59.

“That was great. He looked like he picked up really well, which is what we wanted,” trainer Brendan Walsh said of the colt who provided him his first career Grade 1 triumph. “We wanted him to finish up the last quarter nice and sharp and he did. He came back and he just looks like he was out galloping. He’s fit and he’s ready go to.

“I just wanted to get a lead for him (by working him in company), just have something to take him there early on and have him go by something and pump him with as much confidence as we can. That’s as good a work as I’ve seen the horse do.”

Though favoritism for the Juvenile appears as if it will run through Dennis’ Moment and Grade 1 winner Eight Rings, Maxfield has looked a man among boys in both his appearances on the racetrack and how he handles the lessons being thrown at him. 

Physically, the bay colt has the same presence as his sire Street Sense, who himself won the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile en route to taking divisional honors. Maxfield was given time to grow into his frame while training at Ellis Park in the summer and after breaking his maiden first time out at Churchill Downs on September 14, he flaunted a tremendous kick when he circled rivals and drew off to a 5 ½ length victory in the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland on Oct. 5.

“He’s just done everything so right and today, I think Brendan wanted that last little quarter to just kind of get his game face on,” said Godolphin USA president Jimmy Bell. “We’re getting ready to go to town, if you will. As you can tell from his racing, he’s very easy to place. He’s not a horse who has to have things a certain way. This colt would really give you a sense of a physical replication of his daddy…and I just hope he can somewhat follow the same trail his dad did.”

Joining Maxfield on the worktab at Keeneland Friday morning was stablemate Vitalogy (GB), who went four furlongs in 51.20 seconds on the turf in preparation for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on Nov. 1. Previously trained by Joseph O’Brien, Vitalogy joined Walsh’s shedrow after his third-place finish in the Grade 1 Summer Stakes at Woodbine on Sept. 15 and was beaten just a neck for the win in the Grade 3 Dixiana Bourbon Stakes after enduring a challenging trip from post 14. 

Both Maxfield and Vitalogy are set to ship to California on Saturday.“Everything has gone according to plan so far, so hopefully we get out there in good shape and have a good week,” Walsh said. 

Blinkered War of Will headlines works by Casse crew

Prior to Friday, the best Mark Casse had seen War of Will get over a surface had come when the son of War Front was in the comfort of his homebase at Churchill Downs. In his second workout at Santa Anita Park since arriving at the host site of this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships, the Preakness Stakes winner looked every bit at ease over the track where he will attempt to pull off a triumph that would add yet another wrinkle to the complex sophomore male picture.

His time on the West Coast appears to be paying dividends for Gary Barber’s Grade 1-winning colt as War of Will had his connections beaming following his four-furlong breeze in 47.40 seconds over the Santa Anita main track on Friday. With jockey Joe Talamo subbing for regular rider Tyler Gaffalione in the saddle, War of Will turned in the second fastest of 51 works at the distance and had Casse confident that his first career classic winner is in his peak form coming into the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 2.

“I thought he struggled a little bit the other day with the Santa Anita surface. Today, he got over it like he gets over Churchill Downs,” Casse said. “Even Joe Talamo, who was on him, he called me and I’ve never heard a rider so excited that’s not riding him. He said ‘He’s a Ferrari’. He said he went great last week but he was even better today.”

It’s been a roller coaster of a season for War of Will, one that has seen him rack up three graded-stakes victories – including his Preakness triumph – but one that also has him coming into the Breeders’ Cup off three consecutive defeats. Following the colt’s third-place finish in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby, Casse observed that his charge seemed to be losing focus in the lane and has since equipped him with blinkers in his training, an equipment change he plans to carry over into his start in the Classic.

“We were watching the replays and…it looked like when he got to the top of the lane his ears would go up,” Casse said. “He’s done that on a couple occasions. So I said to Gary (Barber) ‘I think he’s losing focus’ and I said that we were going to train him in blinkers. I didn’t want it to make him too racy. I wanted it to more get him to relax, but to pay attention when you ask him to do something.”

War of Will was among a handful of Casse trainees that had their final major pieces of work Friday in advance of the Breeders’ Cup. Under the watch of assistant trainer David Carroll, Grade 1 winner Got Stormy, who will likely vie for favoritism in the $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile, worked four furlongs in :47.40 – second fastest of 103 moves at the distance.
“She was very impressive,” Casse said.

Got Stormy bested males in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 10 and was beaten just a half-length last time out in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile on Sept. 14.

Stablemates Peace Achieved (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf), and Perfect Alibi (Juvenile Fillies) also worked for Team Casse at Churchill. Peace Achieved, winner of his last three starts including the $500,000 Gainesway Farm Juvenile Stakes at Kentucky Downs and Grade 3 Dixiana Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland, went four furlongs in :50.40 while Grade 1 winner Perfect Alibi, second last time out in the Alcibiades at Keeneland, went four furlongs in :50 flat.

Arnold duo Totally Boss, Leinster work for Turf Sprint

With rain in the forecast this weekend, trainer Rusty Arnold opted to move up the final works for his Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint duo, sending both Totally Boss and Leinster out for breezes at Keeneland on Friday. 

Totally Boss was first to hit the track as he emerged at 5:45 a.m. and worked a half-mile on a fast dirt track in :49.40, clocking splits of :13.80, :25.60, and :37.60, with a gallop out to five furlongs in 1:01.80. The gelded son of Street Boss has won four of his last five starts and earned himself a fees-paid berth in the Turf Sprint when he captured the $700,000 Grade 3 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 7. Before that, he captured the $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint at Ellis Park for his first stakes victory.

Leinster – third in the RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint behind his stablemate – had the turf course to himself later in the morning as he covered a half-mile in :50.80 over firm going. The 4-year-old Majestic Warrior colt was second in Keeneland’s Grade 2 Woodford Stakes on Oct. 5.

“Totally Boss went super,” Arnold said. “He relaxed a little bit. I thought he would do too much and he didn’t. He galloped out strong, cooled out great and he’s ready to go. Leinster, he likes working on the turf better. He did it easy. We were way wide on the good part of the turf and it looks like he’s cooling out good. We’ll check them out tomorrow but it looks like everything is good to go.”
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