One clue as to how a horse will run in a big race is how it trains before the race.
Here is a closer look at some of the top contenders that appear to be coming up to the Breeders’ Cup in solid shape.
Grade 1 winner SAINT LIAM, an earner of more than $2 million, breezed six furlongs over Aqueduct’s fast main track last week in 1:13 1/5 beneath jockey Rudy Rodriguez. Saint Liam won Belmont Park’s Grade 1 Woodward handily in his last start and should be favored in Saturday’s Classic for trainer Rick Dutrow and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey. Saint Liam’s stiffest challenge could come from Borrego and Rock Hard Ten.
ROCK HARD TEN worked at Santa Anita last week in preparation for the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. The Richard Mandella-trained colt was timed in fractions of :24 3/5, :49, 1:01 1/5 and 1:13 1/5 before finishing seven furlongs in 1:25 3/5. The massive four-year-old galloped out a mile on the fast track in 1:39 3/5 under exercise rider Paul Nilluang. He worked in company with three-year-old maiden Dixie Glow (Dixie Union), who was timed in 1:27. "He went terrific," Mandella said. "He went great."
BORREGO, who could be third in the wagering in the Classic behind Saint Liam and Rock Hard Ten, breezed six furlongs over the fast main Belmont track in 1:16 1/5. Borrego is riding a two-race win streak, having won Del Mar’s Pacific Classic and Belmont’s Jockey Club Gold Cup. He was very impressive in winning the Gold Cup on October 1, hitting the wire "wrapped up" under jockey Garrett Gomez, four and one-half lengths better than runner-up Suave.
Undefeated sprint star LOST IN THE FOG breezed five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 over a fast track at Golden Gate Fields in his final major work before the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Unlike his prior work, when he sizzled five-eighths in a bullet :57 1/5 on September 23 at Golden Gate, last week’s breeze was the seventh fastest of 23 works at the distance. Lost in the Fog was timed in fractions of :12 1/5, :24, :36 and :48 1/5 under jockey Russell Baze. "I called in a five-eighths work to the clockers, but it was closer to six furlongs," trainer Greg Gilchrist said. "He went in :12s all the way around. I cautioned Russell that I didn’t want to see any :57 1/5s like we got last time. You don’t have to break his neck to get him to go in 1:00 2/5. He’s pretty easy to work, but if you start him out fast, you’re never going to get him back." Lost in the Fog has yet to be seriously tested in 10 career starts. The dark bay colt, with a large irregular blaze, owns two tracks records and has won nine stakes, including the prestigious seven-furlong King’s Bishop S. (G1) at Saratoga.
LEROIDESANIMAUX, the likely favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, breezed six furlongs over the inner turf course in 1:15 3/5. The Brazilian-bred Leroidesanimaux enters the Mile in search of his ninth consecutive victory for Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel.
Multiple Grade 1 winner SOCIETY SELECTION, third to Ashado and Happy Ticket in the Beldame, breezed seven furlongs over the main track in 1:25 1/5 for Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens. Society Selection is pointing to the Distaff, a race she finished ninth in last year.
Also likely for the Distaff is SWEET SYMPHONY, the fourth-place finisher from the Beldame. The filly won the first four starts of her career, including Saragoga’s Grade 1 Alabama, before finishing fourth to Ashado in the Beldame earlier this month. She breezed five furlongs over the main track in 1:00 2/5 for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf hopeful FLIP FLOP (Fr) worked six furlongs in a bullet 1:12 4/5 over a firm turf course at Santa Anita. The move was the fastest of nine works at the distance. Flip Flop most recently finished second to Megahertz (GB) in the Yellow Ribbon Stakes on October 1. "It was a very nice work," trainer Ben Cecil said. "She broke behind two workmates and finished well. I wasn’t planning on running, but Mr. Tanaka (owner Gary Tanaka) was keen on it. We know it’s a very hard field but she is doing extremely well since the Yellow Ribbon." Garrett Gomez will ride Flip Flop in the Filly & Mare Turf.