Edited Keeneland Staff Release — Godolphin’s homebred Grade 1 winner Proxy had his final serious drill on Sunday for an expected start in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) to be held Nov. 4 at Santa Anita. The 5-year-old son of Tapit breezed 5 furlongs in 1:02 on the fast track with regular jockey Joel Rosario in the saddle. (Click here for a video of the work.)
The plan was to go in company with Godolphin’s unraced 2-year-old colt Surveyor, but the duo was unexpectedly joined by workers from other trainers. Despite the surprise, trainer Mike Stidham, Godolphin Chief Operating Officer Dan Pride and Director of Bloodstock Michael Banahan were all smiles watching from the Grandstand.
“The main thing we were looking for today was that we would let him break off a little bit behind,” Stidham said. “The other horses getting in there was not planned. That just happened. It turned out to be four horses working together. And when Joel took him out – and got him out in the clear – that’s what we wanted to see. He needed that type of work; that was the most important work.”
Stidham said Proxy will have a lesser workout on Saturday, Oct. 28 or Sunday, Oct. 29 before shipping to Santa Anita on Oct. 30. Pre-entries for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be announced Wednesday, Oct. 25, and post positions will be drawn Monday, Oct. 30.
“Next week will be less of a blowout for the Breeders’ Cup,” Stidham said about Proxy’s next assignment. “Today’s work was exactly what we were looking for. He handled it well and galloped out great and did everything right. We couldn’t be happier.”
Proxy was outfitted with his usual brown cheekpieces that he wears in his races. The equipment, which is more popular in Europe than the U.S., have a similar effect as blinkers.
“When he was a 3-year-old, we had experimented with the blinkers, but we didn’t think that they made a huge difference,” Stidham said. “We’ve used the cheekpieces on a few horses over the years, and they’re just a bit more of a subtle change than actual blinker cups. They just take away the rear view, and they allow the horse to still have the peripheral view. We tried them in the morning; we thought that maybe they could help him to focus a little bit. And then we used them in the race and obviously, he’s been running well with them, so we’re not going to try anything new.”
Today’s breeze was Proxy’s third at Keeneland. He went 5 furlongs in 1:01 Oct. 7 and 6 furlongs in 1:15.20 six days later.
Winner of the 2022 Clark (G1) Presented by Norton Healthcare, Proxy has two wins in six starts this year. He took the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) in April and the Monmouth Cup (G3) in July. Proxy most recently finished a nose behind Classic candidate Bright Future in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) on Sept. 2 at Saratoga. An earner of $2.2 million with his 19-6-7-2 record, Proxy is scheduled to begin his stallion career in 2024 at Godolphin’s Darley America at Jonabell Farm in Lexington.
BREEDERS’ CUP WORK TAB
Peter Brant’s Gina Romantica, winner of the Oct. 7 First Lady (G1) Presented by UK HealthCare on turf, worked a half-mile in :50 in company with Lady De Berry over the fast main track for trainer Chad Brown. (Click here for a video of the work.)
“She worked good,” said Baldo Hernandez, assistant to Brown who noted that Gina Romantica has had most of her workouts on dirt during her career. “She’ll work again next weekend and may work on the grass with In Italian (GB). That’s to be determined.”
Both Gina Romantica and In Italian are scheduled to ship to Santa Anita on Oct. 30 for the Breeders’ Cup. Pre-entries for the Nov. 3-4 World Championships close Monday at 3 p.m. ET. …
Also working toward a possible Breeders’ Cup start in the $2 million Qatar Racing Sprint (G1) was Nakatomi for trainer Wesley Ward. Runner-up in the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2) on Oct. 6, Nakatomi breezed 5 furlongs in 1:00.60, the fastest of 32 at the distance for the morning.
LEXUS RAVEN RUN WINNER VAHVA MIGHT HAVE ONE MORE RUN IN 2023
Trainer Cherie DeVaux had little time to rest of her laurels Sunday as she sent out a multitude of horses for works the morning after Vahva provided her with her first Keeneland stakes victory, a gritty, half-length win over Alva Starr in the 7-furlong Lexus Raven Run (G2).
“She’s good this morning,” DeVaux said of Vahva. “Right now the goal is the La Brea.”
That would be the $300,000 Grade 1 test going 7 furlongs at Santa Anita on Dec. 26.
Meanwhile, trainer Brett Brinkman said Alva Starr would be headed to Fair Grounds next weekend after the close of the 17-day Fall Meet here.
“I was not disappointed with her effort yesterday,” Brinkman said of Alva Starr, who battled Vahva the length of the stretch in her first race beyond 6 furlongs. “We will go to New Orleans with her and then get her cranked up at Oaklawn Park.”
Brinkman said he would have no qualms about trying Alva Starr 7 furlongs again and one such race that could fit the bill next spring is the Madison (G1) here.
“We’d like to make this (coming to Keeneland) part of our regular routine,” Brinkman said.
RAISE CAIN CONCLUDES 2023 IN STYLE WITH PERRYVILLE VICTORY
Andrew and Rania Warren’s Raise Cain, who began 2023 on a trail that led to the Kentucky Derby (G1) Presented by Woodford Reserve, returned to sprinting Saturday and delivered a thrilling head victory in the Perryville (L) over favored Dr. Venkman.
Raise Cain made seven of his nine starts this year in graded stakes company with the highlight being a 7½-length win in the one-turn, 1-mile Gotham (G3) in March. Prior to the Perryville, he finished fourth in the 1 1/8-mile Oklahoma Derby (G3) on Sept. 24, beaten only a length.
“I think that was the icing on the cake for this year,” trainer Ben Colebrook said about the Perryville. “He has had a long year and deserves a break.”
Dr. Venkman, trained by Mark Glatt, is scheduled to return to Santa Anita with the $300,000 Malibu (G1) at 7 furlongs on Dec. 26 slated as a possible target.
Alexander Bendezu made his first Keeneland ride a winning one Saturday afternoon when he guided Antonio Donato’s Comiskey Park to a neck victory in the first race, a 6-furlong claiming test for 3-year-olds and up.
FALL 2023 MEET LEADERS
Through Oct. 22 (12 days of 17-day season)
Steve Asmussen, Chad Brown, Chris Hartman all have five wins apiece.
|Godolphin (Mohammed Al Maktoum et al)||3|
|Rigney Racing (Richard Rigney)||3|
|Wertheimer and Frere (Alain and Gerard Wertheimer)||3|