• Honor Code preps for BC Classic • McLaughlin possible to send five starters to the Breeders' Cup
ELMONT, N.Y. - Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey was well-pleased Monday morning after Breeders' Cup Classic candidate Honor Code worked a sparkling five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 over the main track at Belmont Park.
Going out at approximately 6:30 a.m. with exercise rider Donna McMullen aboard, the 4-year-old A. P. Indy ridgling went from the half-mile pole and was caught by New York Racing Association clockers in splits of :25 and :48 3/5, galloping out in 1:13 1/5 and up in 1:26. The move was the third-fastest of 31 at the distance.
"That's the best he's worked all summer," said McGaughey of Honor Code, who is owned by Lane's End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm. "He galloped out very, very good, and I'm very pleased."
The breeze was the first for Honor Code since his late-closing third-place finish in the Grade 2, one-mile Kelso behind Appealing Tale and Red Vine, both of whom are under consideration for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. Prior to that, the 4-year-old put together back-to-back Grade 1 wins in the Whitney at Saratoga Race Course and the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont, and began 2015 with a victory in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap.
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A little under three weeks out from the Breeders' Cup, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is busy readying a possible contingent of five horses, likely to be headed by Grade 1 TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial winner Frosted, who will point to the $5 million Classic.
Following his victory in the Wood, Frosted ran consistently well but endured a four-race winless streak prior to breaking through in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby in his most recent start. The gray son of Tapit encountered Triple Crown winner American Pharoah twice in three starts, including the Grade 1 Travers at Saratoga Race Course, before taking the Pennsylvania Derby by two lengths. Logging the first of three planned workouts in advance of the Breeders' Cup on Saturday in Saratoga, Frosted breezed four furlongs in 48 seconds over the synthetic surface at the Greentree Training Center.
"He worked great," McLaughlin said of the Godolphin color-bearer. "He'll work back on Friday. He worked on Saturday this past week because it rained on Friday. He's doing fabulous and couldn't be doing better. He'll stay at Greentree and ship from there to Keeneland."
Also at Greentree is multiple Grade 1 winner Wedding Toast, who will target the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff on October 30 at Keeneland for McLaughlin and Godolphin. The 5-year-old daughter of Street Sense is currently on a three-race win streak - all at Belmont - including the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps and Grade 1 Beldame in her two most recent starts.
According to McLaughlin, Wedding Toast will work on Thursday at Greentree and then again the following Thursday to complete her preparations for the Distaff. Like Wedding Toast, Cavorting has won three in a row and is Breeders' Cup bound for McLaughlin. The 3-year-old filly by Bernardini captured the Grade 1 Test and Grade 2 Prioress at the Spa, and is headed to the Grade 1, $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint, where she will meet her elders for the first time in her career. Cavorting worked on Thursday over the Belmont training track, breezing four furlongs in 49.01, and will keep up with her Thursday regimen before shipping to Keeneland the week of the Breeders' Cup, McLaughlin said.
The Kentucky-born trainer may also send out Sentiero Italia, who is coming off a troubled trip in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland, in the Grade 1, $2 million Filly & Mare Turf. The 3-year-old daughter of Medaglia d'Oro won the Grade 2 Maker's Mark Lake Placid and Grade 2 Sands Point before getting hung very wide on the far turn of the Q.E. II and staying on to finish third, beaten 2 ¾ lengths by Her Emmynency. She exited the race in good shape, according to McLaughlin, and will ship back to New York before a decision is made regarding her Breeders' Cup status.
McLaughlin added that Group 2 winner Tamarkuz is a possibility for the Grade 1, $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.
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Artemis Agrotera, the dual Grade 1 winner who has not raced since finishing seventh in last year's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, could make her return in this year's edition, said trainer Mike Hushion after the filly worked a scintillating 59.11 seconds from the gate on Monday morning.
"It is an ambitious leap but I think she deserves it," said Hushion of the Chester and Mary Broman homebred. "Talent-wise, she's one of the best in the country. From the moment she came back she's been working brilliantly, and had me scratching my head, wondering what I was going to do with her. Every time she's gone out, she's been better."
A 4-year-old daughter of Roman Ruler, Artemis Agrotera won the Grade 1 Frizette in just her second start as a 2-year-old, and last year put together a three-race win streak that included the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga Race Course and the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Handicap by a head over La Verdad.
Monday's breeze was the New York-bred's sixth since returning to the worktab in September and second straight bullet move, having covered five furlongs over a dull training track in 1:00.50 last Monday, fastest of 40 at the distance.
"I think I can have her fit enough to run seven furlongs," said Hushion. "As far as definite plans, we'll have to see how she is tomorrow morning, what's available transportation-wise, and so on. But she's very, very good."
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Still reveling in 4-year-old Tonalist's back-to-back Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup victories, trainer Christophe Clement reported his star colt has come out of the race in great shape and will put in a pair of works at Belmont before shipping to Keeneland to compete in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
"He's been galloping well and we'll breeze him again this weekend," said Clement. "He came out of the race in great shape and right now the plan is to breeze him twice here and then ship to Kentucky."
Tonalist will take his second shot at the Breeders' Cup Classic after finishing fifth last year.
With two Grade 1 victories this year in the Gamely Stakes at Santa Anita and Diana on July 25 at Saratoga Race Course, 6-year-old Hard Not to Like worked four furlongs in 49.85 Sunday morning over the inner turf course at Belmont. The classy turf mare under consideration for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, with Clement likely to make a final decision on entering the race this Sunday.
"She put in a very nice work yesterday on the grass," said Clement. "We'll work her again next Sunday with John Velazquez and make a decision after speaking with the owners."
Wrapping up Clement's Breeders' Cup contingent are 5-year-old Red Vine, who last out finished second in the Grade 2 Kelso possible, for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and 4-year-old graded stakes winner Pure Sensation, who put up a bullet work this morning going four furlongs and is under consideration for the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint.
"Red Vine is still a possible for the Breeders' Cup Mile," said Clement. "Not a hundred percent sure, but we'll get him a work this weekend and we'll make a decision after speaking to Mr. Kelly. Purse Sensation had a nice work this morning. Half [mile] in 47 [seconds], looked good. I'm not 100 percent sure we've got enough points to get in, but we're very happy with the horse." * * *
Next weekend's graded stakes action includes the Grade 2, $200,000 Athenia for fillies and mares on the turf and a pair of six-furlong races for 2-year-olds, the Grade 2, $200,000 Futurity and the Grade 2, $200,000 Matron for fillies.
Among those under consideration for the 1 1/16-mile Athenia on Saturday are the multiple stakes-winning Discreet Marq, who worked five furlongs Monday morning in 1:01.51; Rusty Slipper and A Little Bit Sassy, first and second, respectively, last time out in the One Dreamer at Kentucky Downs; Lady Lara, Baffle Me and Coffee Clique, most recently second, fifth and fourth, respectively, in the Grade 3 Noble Damsel; mid-Atlantic shipper Joy from trainer Graham Motion; Kitten's Queen, fourth in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa; Speed Seeker, second in the Lady Baltimore at Laurel Park last time out; Stellar Path, no worse than fourth in three stateside starts for trainer Christophe Clement; and Tango Time, making her stakes debut for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Recent maiden winner Annual Report from trainer Kiaran McLaughin and Full Salute, winner of the Hall of Fame on September 26 at Parx Racing, are among those likely for Saturday's Futurity, while Sunday's Matron is expected to attract Constellation, third in the Grade 1 Spinaway last time out; Island Saint, most recently third in the Sorority at Monmouth Park; Tonasah, second in the Grade 2 Adirondack and fifth in the Spinaway, and maiden winners Blast, Libreta, and Wave of Glory. Summer Reading is questionable.