Eclair de Lune – The German-bred filly followed her usual routine Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs and went trackside at 8:30 for a 12f gallop under exercise rider Archie Cross. Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally, who’ll saddle her Friday in the Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf, looked on as she went through her exercise.
McAnally has said all systems are go for his 4yo daughter of the Theatrical sire Marchand de Sable, who has four stateside starts under her girth, including a last-out victory in the Beverly D. at Arlington Park.
Well-traveled veteran Junior Alvarado, who rode her in her Beverly D. triumph, will be back aboard for her Friday run.
Forever Together – After walking on Tuesday, Forever Together returned to the track at Churchill Downs Wednesday morning.
“We went out and did what we call ‘a jog and gallop.’ She warmed up in the chute, jogged down to the 4-1/2 furlong pole, backed up to the wire, and then galloped about a half-mile. It’s what we do after they walk a day,” said Barry Wiseman, assistant to trainer Jonathan Sheppard.
Forever Together, who captured the 2008 Filly & Mare Turf and finished third in the race last year at Santa Anita, is winless in five starts this year, but has finished second twice and third twice.
“She seems to drop back farther than she used to, probably because she’s more relaxed,” Wiseman said. “She does like things her own way, but she’s worked well for the race. She worked with Fantasia before coming here and Fantasia went to Woodbine and won a stake (River Memories Stakes).”
Anna Napravnik will be aboard the 6yo mare for the first time.
Harmonious – The Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup winner, better known as Zenyatta's stablemate, went to the track at 8:30 a.m. and galloped 1 1/2 m. Although she didn't get the same fanfare, trainer John Shirreffs was equally pleased with her.
“She's doing great,” said Shirreffs. “She really looks good.”
Hibaayeb – Godolphin’s Yellow Ribbon winner galloped on the main track Wednesday morning under exercise rider and assistant trainer Jo Hunnam.
Hunnam is handling the 3yo filly for trainer Saeed bin Suroor, who is expected to be at the track Thursday morning after saddling two horses in the Melbourne Cup Tuesday.
Hot Cha Cha – Nelson McMakin’s Filly & Mare Turf contender shipped to Churchill Downs from Keeneland Tuesday morning and made her first appearance on the Louisville track for an easy gallop on Wednesday. Jockey James Graham was in the saddle and has been aboard the 4yo daughter of Cactus Ridge for her pre-race preparations in Lexington as well.
“I’ve been galloping her the past couple days and she feels good,” he said. “This is her first time across dirt in quite a while and she actually enjoyed herself this morning. She feels happy, she’s comfortable, enjoying herself, I guess. I can see in her ears that she is.”
The Phil Sims trainee won the Mint Julep Handicap at Churchill on June 5, and although that was her last victory, she did not fail to hit the board in three following starts. She was third in the July 17 Modesty Handicap at Arlington, second in that track’s Beverly D. on Aug. 21, and third in the Oct. 10 Spinster behind Ladies’ Classic contender Acoma. Her last work was a 5f move in 1:00 flat over the turf at Keeneland on Oct. 23.
Graham has been aboard in the filly’s last nine starts, including a win in Keeneland’s 2009 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.
“She places herself in the race, really,” he said. “You just have to make sure you have room and time to go. It takes her a while to get into her next gear, but when she does, she flies.”
Keertana – As Tom Proctor makes the walk over with Keertana for the Filly & Mare Turf Friday, thoughts of another special filly may cross his mind. It was here at Churchill Downs in 1994 that he won his only Breeders’ Cup race when One Dreamer upset the Distaff (now the Ladies’ Classic) at odds of 47-1. Nonetheless, the veteran horseman is hardly sentimental.
“That was not a life-changing experience,” said Proctor, who will saddle the 30-1 morning line choice this edition of the Filly & Mare Turf. “It was a nice day. To put it in perspective, it was a good day.”
One Dreamer raced in the black-and-orange colors of Leonard Lavin’s Glen Hill Farm, and Lavin retained Tom’s late father, Willard, as his private trainer before Tom took the helm. On the desk in Tom’s office at the barn is a framed but yellowed paddock photograph of Lavin, Willard Proctor, and Bill Shoemaker dressed in the Glen Hill silks.
“I brought that picture out for this week,” Tom said. “It’s from 1972 or 1973 and the horse that day was (multiple stakes winner) Convenience.
Proctor still trains for Glen Hill and Keertana’s owner, Barbara Hunter, is another who has employed both father and son over the decades.
“I’ve known her since I was a little boy,” said Proctor, 54. “It would be nice to win one for her.”
Midday – Trainer Henry Cecil watched as the defending champion and 6-5 morning-line favorite visited the main track Wednesday morning.
“I just had her canter on the dirt,” Cecil said.
Cecil said the 4yo Juddmonte Farms homebred, who brings a three-race winning streak in Group 1 races into the Filly & Mare Turf, is in better form than she was at this time last year.
“She’s improved, yes, and is in very good order,” he said. “So I’ve got no excuses. I wouldn’t swap her. I’m happy with her.”
Miss Keller – The Irish-bred filly by Montjeu was out on the track early Wednesday to jog 1m and gallop 1 1/2 m with Sue Lorimer aboard.
Lorimer, assistant to trainer Roger Attfield, said Miss Keller might blow out on the grass Thursday morning. Attfield, who is en route to Churchill Downs from his Woodbine headquarters, will be on hand Thursday to supervise the filly’s training.
Miss Keller, a 4yo filly owned by Three Chimneys Racing LLC, finished second in the E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine on Oct. 16. She has won three times in seven starts this year, most recently taking the Canadian Stakes on Sept. 19.
Javier Castellano, who has been aboard in all her wins this year, gets the riding call again Friday.
Plumania – The 4yo filly cantered on the main track after the break Wednesday morning, with assistant trainer Richard Lambert supervising the training.
Elizabeth Fabre, wife of trainer Andre Fabre, is expected to be on hand Thursday to oversee Plumania’s final preparations.
In her most recent start, the daughter of Anabaa finished 17th behind Workforce in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. In the Prix Vermeille in September, Plumania was second, less than a length behind Midday.
Olivier Peslier, who has been aboard in all of the filly’s 15 lifetime starts, has the mount again. Plumania, like Goldikova, was bred by and is owned by the Wertheimer Family.
Red Desire – The 4yo Japanese-bred filly, who won a 1 1/4 m stake on the Tapeta track in Dubai earlier this year for her only victory in four starts, was out on the main track at Churchill Wednesday morning for an easy jog.
The daughter of Manhattan Café, owned by Tokyo Horse Racing Co., Ltd, was sent to the United States in late September and finished third in the Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont on Oct. 2. That was her first start in more than four months, and her trainer, Mikio Matsunaga, said she needed the race and expects her to run well here on Friday.
“She was supposed to run in June,” Matsunaga said through interpreter Nobutaka Tada, the racing manager for the owners, “but just before the race she bled in the morning while training. We gave her a break, and then sent her to the U.S. because she could run on Lasix there.
“She ran well in the Flower Bowl, but she really needed the race. She changed after the race, and she is doing well here.
“Each day,” Matsunaga continued, “she comes off the track wanting to do more. She is doing very well.”
Red Desire drew Post 10 for the Filly & Mare Turf, which is not a problem, said Matsunaga.
“We would have been happy with any draw,” he said.
Shared Account – The 4yo daughter of Pleasantly Perfect galloped 1 3/4 m over the Churchill Downs turf course Wednesday morning.
Shared Account is coming off a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Flower Bowl over a yielding turf course at Belmont Park.
“It was beyond yielding. It was bottomless; Irish-soft ground,” trainer Graham Motion said. “She seemed to me not to handle it. She’s handled soft ground, but not when it’s bottomless like that. Last year, when she ran at Keeneland (on a soft turf course in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup), she hurt herself. Because it was so soft, I think she strained herself.”
Motion pointed out that her Flower Bowl performance was the only disappointing showing since he put the Sagamore Farm’s filly on turf in July 2009.
“The race before she got beat a head by Proviso, who I think is the best turf mare in the country,” said Motion, whose filly closed strongly to just fall short in the Diana Stakes at Saratoga. “She’s in great form. Her whole year has been pointed to the Breeders’ Cup.”