By Keeneland Press Staff — RED TR-Racing’s Kentucky Derby (G1) Presented by Woodford Reserve winner Rich Strike worked a half-mile on his own in :47.60 under Gabriel Lagunes at 5:35 a.m. Saturday over a fast track at Keeneland. The colt went out 5 furlongs in 1:00.
“I didn’t think that I’d get nervous for only a maintenance work,” trainer Eric Reed said of Rich Strike, who left his home base at Reed’s Mercury Equine Center in northeast Lexington for the work. “I was hoping for :48 or :49, but he was doing it so easy and as long as he wasn’t fighting him, I was good with that. He handled the track well and whatever decision we make, he’ll be ready to run.”
The decision that looms is whether to pre-enter in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) to be run here Nov. 5 or wait for the Clark (G1) Presented by Norton Healthcare at Churchill Downs on Nov. 25.
“The decision would be easier if the Breeders’ Cup was at Churchill Downs and there wasn’t a Flightline,” said Reed, who watched the work from the Grandstand alongside jockey Sonny Leon. “And it is not only Flightline, but there is Life Is Good and Olympiad and Epicenter.”
Epicenter was the horse Rich Strike ran down in the final sixteenth of a mile in the Kentucky Derby and a horse he likely would have to beat again to possibly claim the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old male.
“I know Rich Strike is a better horse than he was at the Derby, and he (Epicenter) is, too,” Reed said. “And I would have to beat him again and not just by a nose (to earn the championship). We’ve got 10 days to make a decision.”
The pre-entry deadline for the Breeders’ Cup is noon ET on Monday, Oct. 24.
“I think we will pre-enter,” Reed said. “I will probably bring him over (to Keeneland) the 23rd or 24th, let him gallop one day and then work the 25th or 26th. He will stay here (instead of returning to Mercury).”
At 9 a.m. today, Rich Strike left Keeneland to return home.
GAFFALIONE BEAMING AFTER WORK BY HOT ROD CHARLIE
Keeneland-based Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) candidate Hot Rod Charlie worked a half-mile in :49.40 Saturday morning over a fast track for trainer Doug O’Neill in his first work since his victory in the Lukas Classic (G2) at Churchill Downs Oct. 1. (Click here for a video of the work.)
“It was a good, relaxed work,” Tyler Gaffalione, who was aboard the 4-year-old by Oxbow, said. “He went well within himself. I’m very happy right now. He’s in a great mindset.”
Owned by Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing, Strauss Bros Racing and Gainesway Thoroughbreds, Hot Rod Charlie has made two previous Breeders’ Cup starts. At Keeneland in 2020, he was second in the Juvenile (G1) at odds of 94-1 and last year at Del Mar was fourth in the Classic (G1).
“He’s grown up a lot (since the Juvenile),” Gaffalione said. “He’s much bigger, much more powerful and much more mature. Right now, it seems like he’s the complete package.”
In the Lukas Classic, Hot Rod Charlie finished a head in front of Kentucky Derby (G1) Presented by Woodford Reserve winner Rich Strike after an intense stretch battle.
“He loves competition,” Gaffalione said. “In the mornings when he works by himself, he can be a little bit lackadaisical and kind of lazy getting into stride, but once he finds a stride he gets going. In the race (the Lukas Classic), he made the lead and his ears came forward and he was kind of just waiting on the other horses. When Rich Strike came to his outside he re-engaged. He’s very tenacious. He won’t back down from a fight.”
Also on the work tab for O’Neill on Saturday were Breeders’ Cup possibles Awake At Midnyte (Distaff or Filly and Mare Sprint; half-mile in :49.80), Slow Down Andy (Classic or Dirt Mile; half-mile in :48.60) and Vegas Magic (Juvenile Fillies; 5 furlongs in 1:01.80).
Another O’Neill runner, B Dawk, worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.20 for the Oct. 22 Perryville (L) at Keeneland.
JACK CHRISTOPHER, SEARCH RESULTS, GOODNIGHT OLIVE
HIGHLIGHT WORKERS FOR BROWN
Three-time Grade 1 winner Jack Christopher highlighted a busy work morning for the barn of trainer Chad Brown, who has gathered the bulk of his Breeders’ Cup hopefuls at Keeneland three weeks before the World Championships Nov. 4-5.
Working in company with Curlin (L) winner Artorius, Jack Christopher worked a best-of-67 5 furlongs in 1:00 for his second local work. (Click here for a video of the work.) Jack Christopher worked a half-mile in :48.40 last Saturday as he began local preparations for the $2 million Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) or the $1 million Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).
Also coming back for their second Keeneland works were Distaff (G1) hopeful Search Results, who covered 5 furlongs in 1:00.60, and Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) candidate Goodnight Olive, who posted the same time over 5 furlongs.
“Everything was smooth this morning,” Brown said. “All of the horses have settled in nicely.”
Getting their first works over the track were Champagne (G1) winner Blazing Sevens and Pilgrim (G2) runner-up I’m Very Busy, who worked a half-mile together in :48.60.
Brown, who plans to go back and forth from here and New York in the coming weeks, said E.P. Taylor (G1) winner Rougir (FR) is scheduled to arrive at Keeneland next week for the Maker’s Mark Filly and Mare Turf (G1), and Highly Motivated, who worked 5 furlongs in 1:00.85 at Belmont Park this morning, might come for the Dirt Mile.
Completing Brown’s morning training activity was a 5-furlong turf breeze by Flower Bowl (G2) winner Virginia Joy (GER) in 1:01 in company with three-time Grade 1 winner Domestic Spending (GB).
Virginia Joy is nominated to the Oct. 23 Rood & Riddle Dowager (G3) at Keeneland.
TYLER’S TRIBE HAS INTRODUCTION TO KEENELAND TURF COURSE
Tom Lepic and trainer Tim Martin’s undefeated Tyler’s Tribe was introduced to the Keeneland turf course Saturday morning, working 3 furlongs in :39.80 with jockey Kylee Jordan aboard. (Click here for a video of the work.)
“I’d say we stick with the plan,” Martin said after the work.
And the plan is?
“The 5½ on the turf,” Martin said of the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1), his choice for Tyler’s Tribe instead of the $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) going 1 1/16 miles on the dirt. Both races are Nov. 4.
“Kylee was comfortable with him out there,” Martin continued. “I was a little concerned when he bobbled a bit, but he was trying to jump the cones (on the course that were set up near the outer rail). Maybe he has a future as a jumper.”
The time of the work did not concern Martin.
“He always works in :38 or :39,” Martin said. “If he gets with another horse, he’ll work a bullet. I know he is a fast horse and I know he can run.”
Tyler’s Tribe, who has won his five starts by a combined 59¾ lengths, will do the majority of his training up to the Breeders’ Cup on the main track with another 3-furlong breeze on the turf scheduled for Oct. 29.
BREEDERS’ CUP WORK TAB
Two Breeders’ Cup hopefuls from the barn of trainer Jorge Delgado turned in half-mile works. Undefeated Awesome Strong (Juvenile) covered the distance in :49.80, while Sprint candidate Willy Boi was clocked in :49.
Iowa Derby (L) winner Ain’t Life Grand, prepping for the $350,000 Hagyard Fayette (G3) on Oct. 29, was timed in 1:02.80 for 5 furlongs for trainer Kelly Von Hemel.
DIXIANA PRESENTS TODAY’S BEST TURNED-OUT AWARDS
Dixiana, which is presenting today’s Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1), also is sponsoring Best Turned-Out Awards to recognize the grooms of racehorses determined to have the best overall appearance. The awards will be presented for three races today.
Judges like to see horses with shiny hair, flowing tails and tidy manes and grooms wearing neat clothing. Dixiana representatives will judge the horses in the Saddling Paddock prior to each race and present a $500 cash prize to the winning groom.
Best Turned-Out Awards will continue on selected days throughout the Fall Meet.
UPCOMING STAKES PROBABLES
$350,000 Lexus Raven Run (G2), 3-year-old fillies, 7 furlongs (entries taken Wednesday, Oct. 19; race Saturday, Oct. 22) – ColorfulMischief (trainer Todd Pletcher), Fingal’s Cave (David Donk), Last Leaf (Eddie Kenneally), Midnight Stroll (John Terranova), Republique (Saffie Joseph Jr.), Smash Ticket (Rob Atras), Union Lake (Terranova), Wicked Halo (Steve Asmussen). Possible: Desert Dawn (Phil D’Amato).
$250,000 Perryville (L), 3-year-olds, 7 furlongs (entries taken Wednesday, Oct. 19; race Saturday, Oct. 22) – Artorius (Chad Brown), BDawk (Doug O’Neill), Gunite (Steve Asmussen), Hoist the Gold (Dallas Stewart), Nabokov (Brown), Of a Revolution (Saffie Joseph Jr.), Pinehurst (Brendan Walsh), Provocateur (Todd Pletcher).
$300,000 Rood & Riddle Dowager (G3), fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, 1½ miles on the turf (entries taken Thursday, Oct. 20; race Sunday, Oct. 23) – Core Values (Vicki Oliver), Luck Money (Arnaud Delacour), Mia Martina (Graham Motion), Sister Otoole (Motion), Stand Tall (Rusty Arnold), Temple City Terror (Brendan Walsh). Possible: Virginia Joy (GER) (Chad Brown).