Key Takeaways from the Weekend: Final Derby Works and Breeders’ Cup Preps

Tiz the Law, pictured on Aug. 29, finished up his training at Saratoga over the weekend in preparation for a start in the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. (Susie Raisher/NYRA Photo)

Tom Pedulla presents five takeaways from the weekend in horse racing, including Kentucky Derby preparations and the results of the Sword Dancer Stakes at Saratoga and other major races:

Early morning exercise. (Susie Raisher/NYRA Photo)

TIZ GOOD AND LUCKY: Tiz the Law, the probable morning-line favorite for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, won his race against inclement weather early Saturday morning, taking the main track at Saratoga at 5:45 a.m. and working five furlongs in 59.21 seconds. He completed the drill for exercise rider Heather Smullen 15 minutes before the start of what would be heavy rain. “Everything went fine. He came back well,” said trainer Barclay Tagg. “He did everything he was supposed to do. I’m satisfied with this work. We had to make the decision (Saturday) morning to work him. We made the decision around 4 a.m. Luckily, it wasn’t raining when he was working.” The Constitution colt traveled the first three-eighths in 36.01 seconds. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.01 on a fast surface that had been raked and harrowed. Tiz the Law is scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs on Tuesday.

Final Derby workout. (Eclipse Sportswire)

HOPING FOR LUCK: Honor A. P., in his final Derby tune-up, was timed in 1:27.20 for seven furlongs at Del Mar with jockey Mike Smith aboard. “I just wanted an easy seven-eighths. He got it. We’re good to go,” said trainer John Shirreffs. “Now, we just need a bit of luck. You need some of that in that race.” Shirreffs and Smith know that firsthand. They had everything go their way when 50.30-1 Giacomo pulled a tremendous upset in the 2005 Derby. Honor A. P. figures to go off at considerably lower odds based on his win in the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby in June. The $850,000 yearling continues to be well regarded despite a surprising loss to Thousand Words in the Aug. 1 Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar.

On to the Breeders' Cup. (Eclipse Sportswire)

DEEP WATERS: Channel Maker earned an automatic berth in the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf on Nov. 7 at Keeneland with a 5 ¾-length romp in the Sword Dancer Stakes, and yet Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott was understandably wary of taking advantage of the free pass. While Channel Maker is a multiple Grade 1 winner, he has not fared well in three trips to the Breeders’ Cup. He came in seventh in the Juvenile Turf in 2016. He ran 11th and 12th, respectively, in the Turf the last two years. “That water gets very deep. We’ve tried it a couple of times and it hasn’t worked out with him,” Mott said. “You get a whole different group of horses. But who knows?”

GRADE 1 BREAKTHROUGH: Trainer Michael Trombetta decision to give Win Win Win an opportunity at a shorter distance was amply rewarded with the 4-year-old’s first graded stakes victory in the Forego Stakes Presented by America’s Best Racing. The son of Hat Trick, patiently handled by Javier Castellano, rallied from last in the 11-horse field and overcame a whopping 16 ¼-length deficit in the seven-furlong contest, which was held in the midst of a summer downpour. “It’s been on my mind for a long time,” Trombetta said of the cutback in distance. Win Win Win was unable to live up to his name at classic distances, running ninth and seventh, respectively, in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness last year.

ASTUTE CLAIM: C Z Rocket registered his fourth consecutive victory since owner Tom Kagele claimed him for $40,000 at Oaklawn Park and gained fees-paid entry into the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on Nov. 7 when he won the Pat O’Brien Stakes at Del Mar. Peter Miller indicated it did not take any arm twisting when Kagele pointed out the availability of the 6-year-old City Zip gelding in April. “You could see he had run some really fast races. I like old class horses that have shown talent,” the trainer said. “If you can get them going in the right direction, they can run back to past form. Tom claimed him and the rest is history.” Jockey Flavien Prat notched his 12th stakes win of the meet, one shy of Rafael Bejarano’s Del Mar record set in 2012.

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