LOUISVILLE — Owner Jerry Crawford had a couple scares put into him on the Churchill Downs backstretch Saturday morning.
The first came when a loose horse came within inches of him as he was standing by the gap waiting for his Grade I winner Dullahan to take to the track. The second came when Crawford misheard the time for the colt's final move before the Breeders' Cup.
"It was a minute and four fifths? Someone told me it was a minute and four," Crawford said. "That feels better."
Dullahan looked good enough for Crawford to say he was going to start the son of Even the Score in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Nov. 5 instead of the Juvenile Turf the same day. Working in company with Cars and Trucks, Dullahan indeed covered the distance in 1:00.80, finishing well ahead of his stablemate under the watch of trainer Dale Romans.
A half brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, Dullahan earned his first win in five career starts when he captured the Grade I Breeders' Futurity over the Polytrack at Keeneland on Oct. 8. The chestnut colt finished third and fifth in his only two starts over dirt, both at Churchill, but Crawford said his horse deserves a shot to chase divisional honors.
"He has earned the right to compete for the Eclipse Award for 2-year-old of the year and that certainly would mean going in the Juvenile," Crawford said. "Now that my heart stopped pounding from thinking he worked in a minute and four, that's what we'll do, we'll go in the Juvenile."
Dullahan's stablemate, Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford, put in his final move in advance of the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, working 5 furlongs in a bullet 58.20 in company.
Motion mulling his options
How Aruna handled the dirt in her final work before the Breeders' Cup was going to help determine whether the Grade I-winning filly went in the Ladies' Classic on Nov. 4 or the Filly and Mare Turf earlier on the card.
In the aftermath of her 5-furlong move in 1:03.20 over the main track at Churchill Downs, trainer Graham Motion found himself leaning back toward his original plan.
Though the Filly and Mare Turf has been the target for Aruna most of this season, the door was left open for her to contest the Ladies' Classic on the main track when she captured the Grade I Spinster over the Polytrack at Keeneland on Oct. 9.
Aruna has not started on dirt before but the 11⁄8-mile distance of the Ladies' Classic is one she is proven at compared to the 13⁄8-mile Filly and Mare Turf.
Thus, Motion finds himself in the conundrum of either taking a stab at a distance he's not sure she'll handle or swinging for the fences against what has become a wide-open edition of the Ladies' Classic.
"If it weren't for the fact it was a mile and three-eighths, we wouldn't even be having this discussion," Motion said. "Until she won the Spinster and the dirt race started falling apart, I hadn't even considered (the Ladies' Classic). I would hate to make the wrong decision to run her on the dirt and have her not handle it."
Winchester out of Turf
Grade I winner Winchester has been withdrawn from the Breeders' Cup Turf after he failed to scope well following a 4-furlong work on the inner turf at Belmont Saturday, trainer Christophe Clement told Breeders' Cup officials.