December 10, 2019


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Unsung Smooth Roller, who earned a fees-paid berth to the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland on Oct. 31 by virtue of his impressive 5 ¼-length victory at 5-1 in the Grade I Awesome Again Stakes Sept. 26, worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Saturday in 1:01 under Tyler Baze, who rides the 4-year-old Hard Spun gelding in the mile-and-a-quarter Classic.

“His win might have surprised some people, but not me,” said trainer Victor Garcia, who has Smooth Roller set to leave for Kentucky on Monday. “It didn’t surprise me at all. When Tyler started working the horse, he thought he could really run. He was really happy with him.” Garcia is undaunted by the prospect of facing Triple Crown king American Pharoah and two-time Eclipse Award champion Beholder in the Classic.

“Two superstars,” is how he assessed their status. “But you never know. Keeneland is a different surface than here, but my horse can handle that, too.”

Said private clocker Toby Turrell of The Yellow Sheet: “Smooth Roller worked well over a real deep track. He’s dead fit, real sound, and thriving.”


With 173 recorded workouts Saturday on the main track, clockers and horsemen had their stopwatches churning virtually all morning.

In addition to Smooth Roller, among the Breeders’ Cup candidates on the track were Sprint contenders Wild Dude (five furlongs in 1:02.40 for Jerry Hollendorfer); Big Macher (six furlongs in company with Little Jerry, the former getting 1:14.60 and the latter 1:15.40 for Richard Baltas, who won three races Friday); Kobe’s Back (also Sprint, four furlongs in 47.80 for Peter Eurton).

Also, Gold Cup at Santa Anita winner Hard Aces (Classic, five furlongs in 1:00.40 for John Sadler); FrontRunner runner-up Swipe (Juvenile, five furlongs in 1:01.20 for Keith Desormeaux); and Santa Anita Oaks winner Stellar Wind (Distaff, seven furlongs in 1:27.20, also for Sadler). “She went excellent,” said Victor Espinoza, who was aboard Stellar Wind after the 7:30 renovation break. “She went seven-eighths following another horse. She’s pretty much ready.” In other Breeders’ Cup news:

Eddie D. Stakes winner No Silent is scheduled to have one more work at Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at 5 ½ furlongs on Oct. 31 before leaving for Kentucky.

“He worked really well two days ago (five furlongs in a bullet 1:01) and came out of it great,” trainer Gary Mandella said. “It was on the main track because turf works were cancelled that day, but it was fine, because he’s been working on the dirt all summer.

“He’ll ship to Kentucky on either the 25th or the 27th, I’m not sure. But he won’t work at Keeneland. His last work will be here the Saturday before he leaves.”

Phil D’Amato is right on course with Obviously (Mile) and Big John B (Turf). “Both will breeze Sunday on the grass,” the trainer said. “They’re doing great. They’ll both leave (for Kentucky) on the 27th. They’re grass horses so it’s not like I really need to train on the dirt (at Keeneland) to get acclimated.

“They’ll ship in and do their thing, but they couldn’t be coming into their races any better.” When asked about possible differences between the turf courses at Keeneland and Santa Anita, D’Amato said: “I worked in Kentucky years ago, but I think it all depends on the weather. So far the weather’s been really good at Keeneland and the turf course seems fair. If it stays like it is right now, I think we’ll be sitting pretty.”

Jerry Hollendorfer has undefeated Chandelier Stakes winner Songbird set to work at 6:30 tomorrow morning under regular rider Mike Smith.

Rodeo Drive runner-up Elektrum, a candidate for the Filly & Mare Turf for Sadler, works on the grass Sunday under Victor Espinoza.


American Pharoah, who was on the main track shortly after 6:30 a.m. today, had a “light gallop, a little mile,” Bob Baffert said of the Triple Crown winner who is preparing for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Baffert did not reveal when the colt would have his next workout or when he would leave for Kentucky, but if he keeps the colt on a five-day pattern, as is expected, he will have his next breeze here Monday morning. Baffert has previously mentioned one of two dates of departure for Lexington, either next Sunday (Oct. 25) or the following Tuesday (Oct. 27).

Pacific Classic winner Beholder, also ticketed for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, ponied on the training track at 5:55 a.m. for Richard Mandella, who has the two-time Eclipse Award champion set to leave for the Blue Grass State early Monday morning.

Baffert did rule out the Classic for Clark Handicap and San Pasqual Stakes winner Hoppertunity, who is likely to run in the Grade II, $200,000 Marathon at 1 ¾ miles Oct. 30 at Keeneland. Hoppertunity was a distant second to Smooth Roller in the Awesome Again.

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