Trainer Steve Asmussen was pleased with the Sunday works by his nine pre-entrants to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships Sunday on Friday and Saturday.
Among them was J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s undefeated two-time Grade 1 winner Jackie’s Warrior, expected to be the favorite in Friday’s$2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. Jackie’s Warrior worked a half-mile over a track labeled fast in :48.80. It was his second work at Keeneland, where he covered 5 furlongs in 1:00.20 Oct. 25.
“He had a nice, easy half-mile,” Asmussen said. “Thought he moved well over the race track. The circumstances were excellent today. We’re very excited about running him on Friday.”
After opening his career June 19 at Churchill Downs, Jackie’s Warrior recorded a 3-length win in the Aug. 7 Saratoga Special (G2) at 6 furlongs, a 2¼-length win in the Sept. 7 Hopeful (G1) at 7 furlongs and a 5½-length win in the Oct. 10 Champagne (G1) at 1 mile. The Juvenile is at 1 1/16 miles.
Asmussen is confident in the colt’s ability at the Juvenile distance.
“I think what gave us the most confidence was his Champagne, two brilliant races at Saratoga and for him to carry that (talent) over to another surface – and he looked brilliant doing it,” he said. “This will be his first two-turn race. He is very speed-influenced in his pedigree but physically and mentally he is doing exceptional.”
Asmussen’s other Juvenile contender, Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Calibrate, also worked 4 furlongs in :48.80.
Asmussen’s three pre-entrants to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) – Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt’s Yaupon, L and N Racing’s Echo Townand CHC Inc. and WinStar Farm’s Nashville – each turned in 3-furlong works. Yaupon in :36.80, Echo Town in :37.40 and Nashville in :36.40.
The work was the fourth at Keeneland for Yaupon, who is undefeated in his four career starts this year.
“Got a very laid-back attitude with a tremendous amount of talent. (Assistant) Scott (Blasi) and I were talking about what were the odds of the Heiligbrodts replacing (last year’s Sprint winner and champion) Mitole with Yaupon because they have a similar demeanor and both of them have tremendous ability.”
Nashville wore his Sprint towel Sunday. The colt also is pre-entered in the $2 million Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) and is nominated to Saturday’s Perryville on the Breeders’ Cup undercard.
Elliott Walden, President/CEO and Racing Manager for WinStar, said no decision had been made regarding Nashville’s next race.
“Everything’s on the table.” Walden said. “He’s an extreme talent. He’s only 3. He’s only run twice. It seems like a big ask to run against the accomplished sprinters that he would have to run against. Not that he wouldn’t be capable.
“I think he’ll go a mile. I think he’ll use his speed to stretch out as well naturally. We’ll see how it goes. Great problem to have. Blessed to have him. He’s got a cool name: Nashville.”
Other Asmussen workers were Heider Family Stables’ Thoughtfully (Juvenile Fillies), 4 furlongs in :49.40, and West Point Thoroughbreds, William Sandbrook and Anna Marie Shannon’s County Final (Juvenile Turf Sprint) and Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt, Madaket Stables and Spendthrift Farm’s Cowan (Juvenile Turf Sprint), 3 furlongs in :39.20 and 38.80, respectively.
Crawford Farms Racing’s Archidust (Turf Sprint) worked 3 furlongs on the good turf course in :38.