When word circulated that Keeneland's main track would be sealed during Saturday's renovation break due to the rainy weather, trainer Jorge Navarro called an audible and sent multiple Grade I winner Private Zone out for his four furlong move a bit early.
Navarro ended up not totally satisfied with the end result as Private Zone, one of the likely favorites for the Breeders' Cup Sprint on October 31, worked a half mile in 48.60 over a track that exercise rider Carlos Marquez termed "heavy".
Private Zone recorded splits of :12 4/5, :35 4/5, 4f :48 3/5, out in 1:03 3/5. The move was the 11th fastest of 27 at the distance and, for a horse capable of ripping off moves in 45 and change, Navarro was hoping to see a little more.
"I was expecting a little faster," Navarro said. "But he did it so easy. He's ready. I just think going it this race I wanted to get a little more but luck was not on my side.
"As soon as they said 'sealed the track' I knew I wasn't going to work him on a sealed track. But Carlos is on top and he knows him really well so he told me 'don't worry about it, the horse is doing really good.' They're still going to have to bring King Kong to beat him."
Private Zone is expected to vie for favoritism in the Sprint with 3-year-old Grade I winner Runhappy. The 6-year-old son of Macho Uno was third in the Sprint a year ago and has won three of his five starts this year, including the Grade I Forego at Saratoga on August 29.