Havre de Grace, who will likely be among the favorites in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs, had her first serious work since winning the Grade I Beldame on Oct. 1 when she went 5 furlongs in :58.60 over the Polytrack at Keeneland on Monday morning.
Ridden by jockey Gabriel Saez, Havre de Grace broke off about an eighth of a mile behind trainer Larry Jones, who was aboard the 2-year-old Reason to Be Proud, but she had reeled in that duo by the time they reached the far turn. The daughter of Saint Liam posted splits of :353⁄5 and :47 and galloped out 6 furlongs in 1:12, playfully flicking up her ears when she was done.
"My horse, I thought, was running, and she just come by me like, 'Whoa,' " Jones said. "I really wasn't planning on her catching me until we turned for home, but she come on by me. Sitting here, I couldn't have asked for it to go much better. She drank maybe a gallon and a half of water. She's blowing a little bit, but we're ready. I would have liked to have run last Saturday."
Saez, who has been aboard Havre de Grace regularly for her works, said the 4-year-old filly didn't seem to love the Polytrack surface but felt as professional as ever underneath him.
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"She's really in the zone. The last eighth of a mile she was kind of picking it up a bit," Saez said. "She was doing it easy. When she saw the horse in front of her, she's like, 'Come on, let's go get him.' That's how she is. This track is kind of tricky but ... she handled it OK. I'm not going to say she handled it great, but she worked really good on it."
Havre de Grace won her first three starts this season, including a handy victory in the Grade I Apple Blossom, before suffering her lone defeat when Blind Luck beat her by a nose in the Grade II Delaware Handicap. The bay filly rebounded in spectacular fashion by defeating males in the Grade I Woodward before her 81/4-length victory in the Beldame.
Owner Rick Porter has indicated he plans to pre-enter Havre de Grace in the Classic and Ladies' Classic, but Jones reiterated Monday the 11/4-mile Classic is the primary target. Pre-entries for all Breeders' Cup races were due Monday and will be announced Wednesday.
"I know where we're pointing to," Jones said. "I don't know that (Keeneland) is her favorite surface, but it's giving her a break from the dirt. I think she got to rest up some muscles that were taking some strain on the other tracks but ... I think she's also ready to get back to dirt and do her thing."
Jones said Havre de Grace would probably ship to Churchill Downs on Saturday and have her final work on Monday.
Also working at Keeneland on Monday was Grade I Woodbine Mile Stakes winner Turallure. The 4-year-old son of Wando tuned up for his expected start in the Breeders' Cup Mile by covering 5 furlongs on the turf in :59.40 under the watch of trainer Charlie Lopresti.
"He's pretty good right now," Lopresti said. "I think that's about all he's going to have. We might get a little strong three-eighths in before he ships or something on the Poly, but no more on the turf."
Clockers caught Turallure in fractions of :23.85, :36.51, :47.76, and :59.40, with the gallop out at 1:13.53. The gray horse is scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs around Oct. 31.
Unbeaten Grade I Frizette winner My Miss Aurelia led a parade of five Steve Asmussen-trained contenders at Churchill Downs. The 2-year-old daughter of Smart Strike breezed 5 furlongs over a fast track in 1:01.20 under exercise rider Carlos Rosas as she prepares for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.
"We're extremely pleased with her," Asmussen said. "She's been very special at every stage, and has looked the part and has come through. Her talent was obvious, but the races that she's run have shown another dimension."
Uncle Mo, Stay Thirsty at Churchill
Four Breeders' Cup hopefuls trained by Todd Pletcher, led by Mike Repole's Grade I-winning duo of Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty, arrived at Churchill Downs on Monday morning. Uncle Mo, the 2010 champion 2-year-old colt, returned to Churchill for the first time since missing this year's Kentucky Derby with a rare liver ailment. He and Travers Stakes winner Stay Thirsty are pointed toward the Classic.
Also arriving at Pletcher's barn Monday morning were Stopshoppingmaria, who will pre-enter the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies or the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint, and Grade III winner Finale, who will pre-enter the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.