Danny Peitz and Calvin Borel said they are happy with Grade I Arkansas Derby contender Najjaar's five-furlong breeze Friday morning at Oaklawn.
Clockers caught the son of Jazil going five furlongs in 1:01.60 (3/14) with a six-furlong gallop-out Peitz timed in about 1:14. Najjaar has won twice this season using late-running tactics, but he finished sixth in the Grade II Rebel Stakes after a poor start left the late-running colt with too much to do.
Peitz cited an oft-repeated cliche. "Doesn't every trainer say 'it was just what I asked for'? I told Calvin I was looking for about 1:01, with about 37 in the first part and come home in 24 for the second part. He didn't quite hit those, but close enough, and he galloped out really strong. You always like to see that. So pretty much it was exactly what we asked for."
Najjaar's sire won the Belmont Stakes and closed to finish second in the Wood Memorial and fourth in the Kentucky Derby. So it's not surprising his offspring has a similar running style.
Najjaar has raced around two turns his whole career, trying turf, synthetic and then kicking it in late in a maiden race in his dirt debut at Oaklawn in January. Peitz stayed out of the one-mile, Grade III Southwest in favor of a longer allowance race, and it paid off. Inn the Rebel, he ran a very similar race after his tardy break.
"He breezes pretty much like he runs," said Peitz. "He doesn't show you a whole lot of speed in the first part, and we haven't really tried to change that."
Peitz plans another workout next weekend, depending on the weather, as a final tune-up before the April 14 Arkansas Derby.
Secret Circle, Bodemeister Work Toward Arkansas Derby
Jim Barnes oversaw a quick workout Thursday at Santa Anita from Southwest and Rebel winner Secret Circle while trainer Bob Baffert recuperates ahead of Saturday's Dubai Wold Cup card.
Meanwhile Barnes said Bodemeister will join Secret Circle in a trip to Hot Springs for the Arkansas Derby.
Secret Circle posted a bullet five-furlongs in :59:40 (1/37) in his first major drill since the Rebel.
Baffert was released from a Dubai hospital Thursday, three days after surgeons implanted three stents to relieve two blocked arteries. Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and host of the World Cup racing carnival this Saturday, saw to it that Baffert received the best care after complaining of chest pains on Monday. The Sheik visited Baffert in the hospital two days later.
--Edited Oaklawn release