Tuning Up For The Alabama
Blind Luck, Acting Happy tune up for Alabama
At Del Mar on Monday, four-time Grade 1 queen BLIND LUCK (Pollard's Vision) completed her major preparations for Saturday's Alabama S. (G1) by working a half-mile in :49 on the Polytrack.
"She went just fine," trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. "We were very pleased with the workout."
Most recently victorious by a nose in the Delaware Oaks (G2), Blind Luck captured the Kentucky Oaks (G1), Fantasy S. (G2) and Las Virgenes S. (G1) earlier this season. The late-running chestnut is scheduled to ship into Saratoga sometime Tuesday afternoon, with Hollendorfer arriving on Wednesday.
At Saratoga, Black-Eyed Susan S. (G2) winner ACTING HAPPY (Empire Maker) took to the fast main track just after 5:30 a.m. (EDT) and traveled five furlongs in 1:02 3/5 with jockey Jose Lezcano in the saddle.
"I was very happy with her work," trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. said of his Alabama hopeful. "I thought she went very well, and Jose did, too. She'll walk tomorrow, jog the next day, I'll either gallop or pony her the next day, same thing the next day and she'll walk the day she's in."
The Alabama will be Acting Happy's sixth start this year. She broke her maiden at first asking on January 24 at Gulfstream Park, and has not finished outside of the trifecta in any of her starts since. The dark bay filly is coming off a third in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1).
Trainer Dominick Schettino and assistant Anthony Bonomo Jr. made a "spur of the moment" decision Monday morning to give Alabama contender CONNIE AND MICHAEL (Roman Ruler) a workout over the fast Oklahoma training track just before a heavy downpour saturated the area.
Connie and Michael, runner-up in the Mother Goose S. (G1) last time out, negotiated five furlongs in 1:01, the fourth-best work of 11 at the distance.
"We were up in the air about working her. It was a spur of the moment work," Bonomo Jr. said. "We felt coming into the race, we wanted to see where she was at with her fitness. We were proud of the way she went. She came back to the barn with no problems."
In other Alabama news, trainer George Weaver looks forward to saddling TIZAHIT (Tiznow), the winner of last fall's Demoiselle S. (G2). An Alabama victory would carry extra significance for Weaver, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, who now lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.
"It definitely would be a thrill," Weaver said of a possible win in the Alabama.
Weaver realizes that Tizahit will be an outsider, having finished second in an allowance/optional claimer last out. But he notes how the filly has the pedigree to appreciate the Alabama's 1 1/4-mile distance, being by Tiznow out of a Kris S. mare.
"Going into it, I know we won't be one of the favorites," Weaver said. "I don't expect to win, but if we do, it will be a cause for celebration."
On the New York worktab
MINE THAT BIRD (Birdstone), the 2009 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner, zipped five furlongs in a bullet 1:00 2/5 over the fast Oklahoma training track at Saratoga on Monday. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee, who was a non-threatening fifth in the Whitney H. (G1) last out, is expected to return in the September 4 Woodward S. (G1).
Grade 2 king and Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) runner-up COURAGEOUS CAT (Storm Cat), unraced since his ninth in the March 27 Dubai Duty Free (UAE-G1), traveled a half-mile in :50 2/5.
Trainer Billy Badgett Jr. sent out his two entrants in Friday's Yaddo H. for four-furlong works. Multiple stakes victress and Grade 3-placed CHESTORIA (Chester House) clocked :49 3/5, while EXCLUSIVE SCHEME (Saarland), who just upset her unlucky stablemate in the William B. Fasig S., motored in :48 3/5.
Multiple Grade 2-placed sophomore NORTHERN GIANT (Giant's Causeway), third in a turf allowance, sped five panels in 1:01.
Grade 2-placed FLYING PRIVATE (Fusaichi Pegasus), whose form has deteriorated since his runner-up effort in the Alysheba S. (G3) on Kentucky Oaks Day, turned in the same time.
Stakes scorer BOOTS AHEAD (Storm Boot), unraced since his close fifth in the Appleton S. (G3) in March, blitzed a half-mile in a bullet :48, fastest of 42 works at the distance.
Multiple Grade 3-placed BROTHER NICK (Malibu Moon) was caught in :49 4/5.
Stakes veteran SIMPLIFY (Pulpit), fourth in the West Virginia Secretary of State S., strolled in :51.
New York-bred stakes winner GENERAL MAXIMUS (Freud), runner-up in the Mike Lee S. two back, completed his trial in :50 2/5.
On the fast main track, Ohio Derby (G3) victor PLEASANT PRINCE (Indy King) covered four furlongs in :50 1/5. The August 28 Travers S. (G1) as well as the September 6 Smarty Jones S. at Philadelphia Park are the current options for the Florida Derby (G1) runner-up.
QUALIA (Saarland), who missed narrowly in the Bed o' Roses S. (G3), posted :49 4/5 ahead of her tilt at the August 28 Ballerina S. (G1).
Grade 3 hero THISKYHASNOLIMIT (Sky Mesa), a distant fifth in the West Virginia Derby (G2), sauntered in :53.
Victoria S. romper MADMAN DIARIES (Bring the Heat), second as the 1-5 favorite in the Colin S., finished up in :49 4/5.
Kentucky Juvenile S. (G3) winner LOU BRISSIE (Limehouse), runner-up in the Bashford Manor S. (G3) and fourth in the Sanford S. (G2) in his last pair, earned the bullet by breezing in :48 4/5. The Neil Howard pupil turned in the best of 50 moves at the half-mile distance.
Grade 3 veteran GEMSWICK PARK (Speightstown) went in :50 3/5 in preparation for her first outing since January.
Grade 2-placed CAPTAIN CHEROKEE (Sir Cherokee), runner-up in the Harvey Arneault Memorial S. last time, strode in :52 2/5.
Darley homebred sophomore BANK MERGER (Consolidator), unbeaten from two starts so far, clocked :49 4/5.
Over Belmont Park's fast training track, Suburban H. (G2) victor HAYNESFIELD (Speightstown) took a half-mile spin in :52. The Steve Asmussen charge was most recently fourth in the Whitney.
Four-time stakes star JACKSON BEND (Hear No Evil), a close third in the Preakness S. (G1) two back, stretched his legs in :49 4/5. Nick Zito's "Mighty Mite," who was freshened following his dull fifth in the June 19 Pegasus S. (G3), was posting his first work back.
Grade 2 veteran SIR WHIMSEY (Jump Start), successful in the R.R.M. Carpenter Jr. Memorial S. in his latest venture, traveled in :49 1/5.
Stakes diva QUIET MEADOW (El Prado [Ire]), who placed for the fourth time in graded company when runner-up in the Matchmaker S. (G3), exercised in :49 2/5.
Multiple Grade 3-placed KIAWAH CAT (Lemon Drop Kid), exiting an allowance/optional claiming score, breezed in :49 3/5.
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