Blame breezes sharp half-mile

Blame, arguably the leading candidate for top older horse in North America, resumed his serious training for the Nov. 6 Breeders' Cup Classic when he breezed a half-mile Sunday at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky.

With exercise rider Casey Chavez aboard, Blame went in 47.60 seconds over a Polytrack surface that has been playing fast. The work was the first for the 4-year-old Blame since he finished second as the 4-5 favorite in the Oct. 2 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.

"Everything was fine," said Al Stall Jr., who trains Blame for the colt's owner-breeders, Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm. "He was taking Casey around there on his own, and that's all we needed to see."

Stall said Blame will work at Keeneland next Sunday, Oct. 24, by going five furlongs in company, then ship Oct. 27 to Churchill Downs, site of the Nov. 5-6 Breeders' Cup. Blame then will work under his regular rider, Garrett Gomez, before dawn on Oct. 31, partly to become reacclimated with the Churchill lights, under which the $5 million Classic will be run.

Meanwhile, workouts by several other Breeders' Cup hopefuls also were posted early Sunday over a fast main track at Churchill.

Haynesfield, another BC Classic prospect, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.20 in his first work since he upset the Jockey Club Gold Cup at 7-1; Secret Gypsy (BC Filly and Mare Sprint) went a half-mile in 47.80 seconds; Switch (Filly and Mare Sprint) went a bullet half-mile in 47 seconds; and Pluck (BC Juvenile Turf) went five furlongs in 1:02.

At Belmont Park, Quality Road breezed six furlongs in 1:13.46 as he continues to build stamina in the lead up to the 1 1/4-mile Breeders' Cup Classic, which will be his first start following an easy victory in the Grade 1, 1 1/8-mile Woodward on Sept. 4.

"We're running 1 1/4 miles off a little bit of a layoff, so we want to make sure we have him fit enough," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "He finished strongly and galloped out well, which is what we wanted."

Stay Thirsty, runner-up in the Grade 1 Hopeful, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.27 in the second quickest of 28 moves over the course and distance in preparation for the BC JUvenile.

"We were looking to get a good, solid five-eighths into him," said Pletcher. "He galloped out strongly, and we are pleased."

Others who worked Sunday included Turf Sprint contender Rose Catherine, who breezed four furlongs in 48.27 seconds, and Bribon, who traveled five furlongs in 1:00.46 and is under consideration for either the Sprint or the Dirt Mile.

Life At Ten and Malibu Prayer, both probable starters in the Ladies' Classic, turned in separate works on Saturday, and Pletcher expressed satisfaction with their progress.

Winner of four graded stakes this year, including the Grade 1 Beldame on Oct. 2 last time out, Life At Ten breezed four furlongs on the training track in 49.90.

"That was Life At Ten's first workout since the Beldame, and she looked good," said Pletcher.

Malibu Prayer, who captured the Grade 1 Ruffian Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 1 and was second as the beaten favorite in the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher at Monmouth Park on Aug. 29 most recently, went five furlongs in 1:01.26.

"I thought she worked well and galloped out strongly," said Pletcher.

Godolphin Racing stablemates Vineyard Haven and Gayego continued their preparations for the BC Dirt Mile on Sunday, working five furlongs in 1:01.90 and 1:00.56, respectively, while Filly and Mare Sprint candidate Sara Louise zipped a half-mile in 48.15.

The trio, along with Sprint hopeful Girolamo, who went three furlongs Thursday morning in his first timed move since his Grade 1 Vosburgh victory, will have two more works at Belmont before departing for Churchill Downs, according to Godolphin assistant trainer Rick Mettee.

"None of the races are easy, but our hopes are higher this year than last year, with the races on dirt instead of synthetic," he said.

Vineyard Haven, who will be supplemented to the Breeders' Cup, and Gayego should appreciate both the dirt and the one-turn mile, said Mettee.

"They both have a lot of speed; it should be a good race for both of them," he said. "Then you have Sara Louise going seven furlongs – her comeback race was good, not great, but she's done well since then and worked well this morning. You'd like to think Girolamo will run well in the Sprint; it's a much tougher race than he won, but at least you know it's a dirt track."