Whitney Next Up For Blame
Whitney next up for Blame
Al Stall Jr. said going into the Stephen Foster Handicap that he had Blame ready to run "in the 90th percentile." So in light of how Blame raced to an electrifying victory last Saturday in the Grade 1 Foster at Churchill Downs, it's not hard to understand Stall's enthusiasm as he plots out the rest of the year.
"After that race, he's got to be close to 100 percent," said Stall. "And that's exciting. He's just such a nice horse. He does everything right, and you don't have to do that much with him between races. We all know how very difficult it is in this game for everything to go just as you plan it, but he sure is making it look that way so far."
Blame, bred and owned by Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm, will race next in the Aug. 7 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga, a Grade 1 race also expected to get Quality Road and Mine That Bird.
"We'll send him up there in time to get two works over the track, so in terms of our travel schedule, we'll just work backward from that," said Stall.
The Whitney could be followed by the Woodward at Saratoga, then either the Jockey Club Gold Cup or the Hawthorne Gold Cup as a final prep before the Nov. 6 Breeders' Cup Classic, said Stall.
Blame earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure in capturing the 1 1/8-mile Foster by three-quarters of a length over Battle Plan, who since has been sidelined with a soft-tissue injury sustained during the race. Some two hours earlier Saturday, Rachel Alexandra covered the same distance in winning the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap in 1:48.78, or .59 of a second faster than Blame. She got a 108 Beyer.
"As hot as it was, the track loosened up dramatically, no question about it, and poor Battle Plan paid the price," said Stall. "It wasn't anybody's fault. It's just what Mother Nature does, like when the track got as slow as it did [at Belmont Park] on Belmont Day.
"Nothing against Rachel. She's fast. And there's nothing wrong with running a couple ticks slower than her. But the track really did loosen up a lot as the afternoon got hotter."
Meanwhile, the connections of Rachel Alexandra said the 2009 Horse of the Year came out of her 10 1/2-length victory in good shape. No specific race has been announced as her next start although obvious options include the Grade 1 filly and mare races at Saratoga, the Aug. 1 Ruffian Handicap and the Aug. 29 Personal Ensign.
by Marty McGee
On the Kentucky worktab
2009 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner MINE THAT BIRD (Birdstone), unraced since an unplaced finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), drilled five furlongs in a bullet :59 3/5 over the fast track at Churchill Downs on Tuesday. Now trained by D. Wayne Lukas, the four-year-old gelding started two lengths behind a stablemate, maiden Bird Empire (Empire Mark), drew alongside his workmate at the quarter-pole and surged clear by 1 1/2 lengths under the wire. Jockey Calvin Borel was up.
"He did what he was supposed to do and went by the other horse easily," Borel said "It was a nice work."
Lukas, who has now worked Mine That Bird four times since his May 20 arrival in his stable, was also pleased.
"I couldn't have drawn it up any better," Lukas said. "It was picture perfect and Calvin is such a good judge of pace. I wanted to let him stride out today and he leaped on that horse at the quarter pole."
Mine That Bird recorded splits of :24 1/5, :35 4/5 and :47 3/5 before galloping six furlongs in 1:00 1/5.
"All the horses coming off the track this morning were sweating, but not him," Lukas added. "He didn't take a deep breath and he doesn't sweat after going a mile and five-eighths, a mile and three-quarters in the morning."
Mine That Bird is being pointed toward the August 7 Whitney H. (G1) at Saratoga and could prep in an allowance race before the end of the Churchill meet on July 4.
Kentucky Derby third-placer PADDY O'PRADO (El Prado [Ire]), sixth in the Preakness S. (G1) last time, breezed a half-mile in :48 3/5. Winner of the grassy Palm Beach S. (G3) earlier this year, the Dale Romans trainee will return to turf in Saturday's $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup (G2).
Canadian champion three-year-old EYE OF THE LEOPARD (A.P. Indy), unraced since September, completed six furlongs in 1:14 4/5.
Illinois Derby (G3) winner AMERICAN LION (Tiznow), 11th in the Kentucky Derby, breezed five-eighths in 1:01 over Keeneland's Polytrack.
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