Morning training sessions at Keeneland, Churchill Downs, Santa Anita, and Belmont Park were packed with action as key contenders for the 14 championship races turned in their final pre-race workouts. Here’s a roundup of the most noteworthy names on the tabs:
Fast workouts were the story of the week as Classic contenders sharpened their speed in advance of the Keeneland showdown.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert was busy at Santa Anita. On Saturday, 2020 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Authentic clocked 5 furlongs in :59.60, while stablemate and reigning champion 3-year-old Maximum Security worked the same distance in 1:00.60. The following morning, expected Classic favorite Improbable—a three-time Grade 1 winner this season—blazed 6 furlongs in a bullet 1:11.40.
At Keeneland, Kentucky Derby runner-up Tiz the Law wrapped up his major preparations with a quick 5 furlongs in :59.20. But he wasn’t the fastest Classic contender of the morning—that honor went to 2019 Pacific Classic (G1) winner Higher Power, who sped the same distance in :58.80.
On Sunday, Suburban (G2) winner Tacitus took his first spin over the Keeneland overall, clocking 5 furlongs in 1:00 while working in company with his four-time Grade 1-winning stablemate Channel Maker.
At Churchill Downs, Stephen Foster (G2) winner Tom’s d’Etat cruised an easy half-mile in :50.40 on Saturday. He was joined on the work tab by Keeneland allowance winner Title Ready (4 furlongs in :48.40), Woodward H. (G1) victor Global Campaign (5 furlongs in 1:00.40), and four-time Grade 2 hero By My Standards (5 furlongs in :59.80).
The 2018 Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Monomoy Girl is training strongly in search of another Distaff title. On Saturday at Churchill Downs, she completed her major pre-race preparations with 5 furlongs in 1:01, cementing her status as a key contender for victory.
But Monomoy Girl will face a stiff test on Saturday from Preakness (G1) winner Swiss Skydiver, who likewise took to the Churchill main track for a 5-furlong breeze on Saturday, clocking the distance in 1:00. Although Swiss Skydiver was initially cross-entered in both the Distaff and the Classic, trainer Kenny McPeek has confirmed the five-time graded stakes winner will face fellow fillies and mares in the Distaff.
Monomoy Girl and Swiss Skydiver aren’t the only talented fillies and mares targeting the Distaff. The improving Spinster (G1) winner Valiance traveled a half-mile in :49 over the Belmont training track on Saturday, while 2019 Alabama (G1) winner Dunbar Road tackled the Belmont main track on Sunday for a bullet 5 furlongs in 1:00.60.
Across the country at Santa Anita, Apple Blossom (G1) heroine Ce Ce fired off 5 furlongs in :59.60 on Friday. But fellow Californians Harvest Moon (5 furlongs in 1:01) and Ollie’s Candy (6 furlongs in 1:11) chose to post their final pre-race workouts at Keeneland the following day. Upset Beldame (G2) winner Horologist had the same idea, speeding a half-mile in :47.40 at Keeneland on Sunday, while La Troienne (G1) runner-up Lady Kate worked the same distance in :48.20 on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Beaten a head in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Turf, four-time Grade 2 winner United will attempt to go one better at Keeneland, To that end, the 5-year-old gelding wrapped up his preparations with 6 furlongs in 1:15 on Saturday at Santa Anita.
Red King, who handed United his only defeat of 2020 when claiming the Del Mar H. (G2), by a head, tackled the Keeneland turf course on Sunday and clocked 5 furlongs in a bullet 1:04.00. His seemingly modest time was the result of breezing in the center of the course, around the “dogs” (cones set up to mark the course), in order to preserve the inside lanes.
Channel Maker, fresh off victories in the Sword Dancer (G1) and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1), joined Red King on the Sunday work tab. But rather than breeze on turf, the accomplished gelding took to the main track, traveling a half-mile in :47.40 in company with Tacitus.
Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) winner Arklow likewise turned in a dirt workout over the weekend, cruising a half-mile in :49 on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Defending Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Uni breezed over the Belmont turf course on Sunday, clocking 4 furlongs in :50.60 around the dogs. On the same morning, stablemate Digital Age traveled the same course and distance in :51.25.
The impressive Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) victor Ivar has been cranking out straightforward half-mile workouts like clockwork at The Thoroughbred Center, traveling the distance in :50 on Saturday. Shoemaker Mile (G1) winner Raging Bull, who chased home Ivar when second in the Shadwell Turf Mile, likewise breezed a half-mile on Saturday, going in :48.20 at Keeneland.
Not far away at Churchill Downs, Dinner Party (G2) winner Factor This turned in a nearly identical time of :48.80 for 4 furlongs.
2019 Preakness (G1) winner War of Will has campaigned exclusively on turf this season, but geared up for a return to dirt by breezing a half-mile in :48.20 over the Churchill Downs main track on Saturday. His time was matched by 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) runner-up Knicks Go, an impressive Keeneland allowance winner who looms as a wildcard contender in the Dirt Mile.
Also on Saturday morning, Blue Grass (G2) victor Art Collector took a spin over the all-weather track at the Skylight Training Center, breezing 4 furlongs in a bullet :49.20. Kelso H. (G2) winner Complexity traveled the same distance on Sunday at Belmont, recording a time of :49.21.
The undefeated Steve Asmussen-trained 3-year-old Yaupon took things easy in the final week before the Breeders’ Cup, traveling 3 furlongs in :36.80 on Sunday at Keeneland.
Metropolitan H. (G1) winner Vekoma passed on recording a weekend workout, resting up after clocking 5 furlongs in 1:01.79 over the Saratoga training track on Oct. 25. Vosburgh (G2) winner Firenze Fire wasn’t quite so relaxed, firing off a bullet half-mile in :48 over the Belmont training track on Wednesday.
In California, the rapidly-improving two-time Grade 2 winner C Z Rocket went 4 furlongs in :49.20 at San Luis Rey on Saturday. The following morning, Bing Crosby (G1) hero Collusion Illusion rocketed 3 furlongs in a bullet :34.60 at Santa Anita, sharpening his speed for the showdown at Keeneland.
Diamond Oops, who won the Phoenix (G2) during the Keeneland fall meet, was also quick in a Sunday workout, blazing a bullet half-mile in :47 over the turf course at Palm Meadows. Back at Keeneland, the filly Frank’s Rockette cruised through 4 furlongs in :49.
Runner-up in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Mile, the talented mare Got Stormy is slated to cut back in distance for the 2020 Turf Sprint. The 5-year-old Grade 1 winner wrapped up her preparations with a straightforward half-mile in :48.80 on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Got Stormy isn’t the only mare targeting the Turf Sprint. The Australian-bred Oleksandra won the Jaipur (G1) during the summer and has been training forwardly for her return to action, clocking 6 furlongs in 1:14.04 on Sunday at Belmont.
Leinster, winner of the Shakertown (G2) and Woodford (G2) at Keeneland this year, recorded a half-mile in :49.40 over his favorite turf course on Saturday. Across the country at Santa Anita, the blazingly fast Eddie D (G2) winner Big Runnuer rocketed a bullet 5 furlongs in :58.60 on Friday.
FILLY & MARE TURF
On Sunday at Belmont Park, 2018 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) heroine Sistercharlie worked in company with stablemate and 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) winner Rushing Fall, with both clocking a half-mile in :50.14 around the turf course dogs at Belmont Park. Trainer Chad Brown also sent out My Sister Nat to travel the same distance in :50.46.
Coincidentally, the rapidly-improving Civil Union—who narrowly defeated My Sister Nat in the Flower Bowl (G1)—was also in action on Sunday at Belmont, cruising a half-mile in :51.
Woodbine Mile (G1) winner Starship Jubilee took a different approach for her final pre-race breeze, clocking a bullet half-mile in :47.20 over the dirt training track at Woodbine. And New York (G2) winner Mean Mary employed still another approach to prep for the Breeders’ Cup, speeding 6 furlongs in 1:12.60 over the all-weather training track at Fair Hill.
Grade 1 winners Harvey’s Lil Goil (4 furlongs in :47.20 at Churchill), Mucho Unusual (5 furlongs in 1:01.80 at Santa Anita), and Lady Prancealot (4 furlongs in :49.20 at Keeneland) completed the major weekend workout action.
FILLY & MARE SPRINT
The brilliant Acorn (G1) and Test (G1) winner Gamine has been training up a storm at Santa Anita, completing her preparations with 5 furlongs in :59.40. But Ballerina (G1) winner Serengeti Empress has likewise been sharp in the mornings, speeding a half-mile in :48.60 at Churchill Downs.
Bell’s the One, who upset Serengeti Empress in the Derby City Distaff (G1), recorded an even quicker half-mile move at Churchill, clocking the distance in :47.60.
Sophomores will have a strong presence in the Filly & Mare Sprint. In addition to Gamine, graded stakes winners Venetian Harbor (4 furlongs in :47 at San Luis Rey), Speech (5 furlongs in 1:02 at Santa Anita), and Sconsin 4 furlongs in :48.80 at Churchill Downs) are taking aim at the 7-furlong dash.
The undefeated Champagne (G1) winner Jackie’s Warrior has breezed twice over the Keeneland main track, culminating with a half-mile in :48.80. A couple of local workouts will hopefully offset the home-court advantage boasted by Keeneland’s Breeders’ Futurity (G1) victor Essential Quality, who clocked a bullet 5 furlongs in 1:01 at Churchill Downs.
Champagne runner-up Reinvestment Risk stayed at Belmont Park to complete his serious pre-racing training, with a half-mile in :49.04 serving as his final workout. Across the country at Santa Anita, the flashy maiden winner Classier traveled the same distance in :48.60. But the fastest worker of the week was Iroquois (G3)winner Sittin On Go, who fired off a bullet half-mile in :47.40 at Churchill Downs.
The Juvenile Fillies is shaping up to be a battle between four undefeated 2-year-olds. Del Mar Debutante (G1) winner Princess Noor has arguably been flashiest during morning training, wrapping up with 5 furlongs in :59.80 at Santa Anita.
But her rivals have also been sharp. Frizette (G1) winner Dayoutofoftheoffice shipped to Keeneland last week and clock 5 furlongs in a bullet 1:00.40. Pocahontas (G3) victor Girl Daddy cruised through a half-mile in :48.20 at Churchill Downs, and Simply Ravishing sped 5 furlongs in 1:00 over the same track.
Spinaway (G1) winner Vequist, runner-up in the Frizette, also turned in a quick workout when traveling a half-mile in :47.20 at Keeneland.
Mutasaabeq, a powerful late-running winner of the Bourbon (G2), has been turning in straightforward half-mile workouts over the training track at Belmont Park, most recently negotiating the distance in :49.49 on Thursday. In contrast, Summer (G1) winner Gretzky the Great has been burning up the Tapeta track at Woodbine, clocking a half-mile in :47.80 less than two weeks after blazing 5 furlongs in a bullet :59.
Pilgrim (G2) winner Fire At Will took to the Churchill Downs training track for 5 furlongs in 1:01.40. Public Sector, beaten to second place when heavily favored in the Pilgrim, traveled a half-mile in :50.69 around the turf course dogs at Belmont Park.
JUVENILE FILLIES TURF
Similar to the Juvenile Fillies, four undefeated 2-year-olds are slated to square off in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. Local Jessamine (G2) winner Aunt Pearl was the first to complete her pre-race workouts, clocking a half-mile in :48.60 on Friday at Churchill Downs.
The following afternoon, Prix Morny (G1) heroine Campanelle took to the Keeneland turf course, traveling in company with stablemate Outadore to record 5 furlongs in 1:08 around the dogs. Surfer Girl S. winner Madone traveled 5 furlongs over the Keeneland main track in 1:01.40, while Miss Grillo (G2) victor Plum Ali went 3 furlongs in :36.11 on Sunday at Belmont.
JUVENILE TURF SPRINT
Expected favorite Golden Pal wrapped up his preparations on Saturday, clocking 5 furlongs in 1:05.20 over the Keeneland turf course. He was joined for the exercise by his Wesley Ward-trained stablemate After Five, who stopped the clock in 1:05.00.
A third Ward trainee, Outadore, worked in company with Campanelle and traveled 5 furlongs in 1:07.60. The following day, Royal Approval and Into the Sunrise clocked the same distance in 1:05.20 and 1:07.20, respectively. And to reiterate the incredible depth of Wesley Ward’s 2-year-old division, Speakeasy S. winner Amanzi Yimpilo—a sixth contender for the Juvenile Turf Sprint—traveled 5 furlongs in 1:03.80 on Wednesday.