(Jesus’ Team / Coady Photography)
From the Keeneland Media Team:
D’ANGELO PLEASED WITH WORK FROM JESUS’ TEAM
FOR BREEDERS’ CUP DIRT MILE
Trainer Jose D’Angelo was all smiles Saturday morning after Grupo 7C Racing Stables’ Jesus’ Team walked off the track following a 5-furlong breeze over a muddy track in 1:00.80 in preparation for the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) to be run here Nov. 7.
“It was a good work and he will come back again next Saturday and work a half-mile,” said D’Angelo, who never has started a horse at Keeneland.
“I have only been in this country a year,” the 30-year-old native of Venezuela said. “I have not been here to race but I have been to the sales.”
Jesus’ Team has been at Keeneland for two weeks, following his third-place finish in the Preakness (G1) that gave D’Angelo his first taste of the American classic races.
“At home, we would watch all the big races like the Preakness and the (Kentucky) Derby (G1) and to be there was a dream,” D’Angelo said. “Everybody was so nice; it was not like a competition.”
D’Angelo took over the training of Jesus’ Team a month after he broke his maiden on March 18 for a $32,000 claiming price at Gulfstream Park.
“The first time I worked him, it was not what I wanted,” D’Angelo said. “His next work, we broke him from the gate and I said, ‘He’s ready’.”
On May 8, Jesus’ Team won a $25,000 claiming race going a mile by 6¾ lengths. The performance had D’Angelo thinking he might have something special on his hands.
“I told the owners I wanted the opportunity to run with the best horses in Florida,” D’Angelo said. Another boost to his confidence came on May 31 at Palm Meadows Training Center when Grade 1 winner Tiz theLaw worked a half-mile in :48.40 and Jesus’ Team worked in :47.70.
“We kind of laughed a bit that he and Maximum Security can go from claiming (races) to champions,” D’Angelo said, referring to last year’s champion 3-year-old male.
Following that work, Jesus’ Team competed in a June 10 allowance race at Gulfstream. He finished three-quarters of length behind Grade 3 winner Sole Volante, who went on to run in the Belmont (G1) and Kentucky Derby, and finished ahead of Grade 2 winner Ete Indien.
D’Angelo began looking at a possible path to the Kentucky Derby, opting for the TVG.com Haskell (G1), in which he finished fourth behind subsequent Derby winner Authentic, and then a third-place finish in the Jim Dandy (G2) before going to the Preakness.
Which brings D’Angelo and the star of his 17-horse stable to Keeneland.
“I brought him here right after the Preakness to get him acclimated,” D’Angelo said. “He likes it. It is so quiet here and beautiful; it’s like heaven.”
OLLIE’S CANDY, BELLAFINA WORK TOWARD BREEDERS’ CUP ENGAGEMENTS
Paul and Karen Eggert’s Ollie’s Candy, runner-up in the Juddmonte Spinster (G1) in her most recent start, began serious preparations for a repeat run in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) by working a bullet 5 furlongs in :59 over a muddy track Saturday morning at Keeneland.
As the first worker over a freshly harrowed track at 7:30 a.m., Ollie Candy’s posted fractions of :23, :47.40, :59 and galloped out 6 furlongs in 1:12.60. Juan Levya, assistant to trainer John Sadler, was aboard.
“She got over the track really well and galloped out well,” Leyva said of Ollie’s Candy, who finished fourth in the Distaff last year.
Ollie’s Candy is cataloged as a racing or broodmare prospect to Keeneland’s November Breeding Stock Sale as part of the premier Book 1, which opens the auction on Nov. 9. She is Hip 83.
In other Breeders’ Cup action on Saturday:
Leyva said two other Sadler Breeders’ Cup hopefuls – Higher Power (Classic-G1) and Chaos Theory(Turf Sprint-G1) – are scheduled to work Sunday. A fourth Sadler runner, Flagstaff, is expected to ship in for the World Championships here Nov. 6-7 for a run in the $1 million Sprint (G1).
After the second morning renovation break, Kaleem Shah, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s Bellafina (Filly and Mare Sprint-G1) worked 5 furlongs on her own in 1:00.60 with Nick Bush aboard.
Second in the Filly and Mare Sprint to champion Covfefe last year, Bellafina posted fractions of :11.40, :23, :35.40, 1:00.60 and galloped out 6 furlongs in 1:14.20.
Trainer Simon Callaghan is expected to have two other Breeders’ Cup runners in Alice Bamford and Michael Tabor’s Harvest Moon (Distaff) and Kaleem Shah’s Madone (Juvenile Fillies Turf-G1). Both are expected to arrive at Keeneland on Monday.
Also working toward a possible Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) start was Calumet Farm’s True Timber, who covered 5 furlongs in 1:00.80 for trainer Jack Sisterson.
LEPAROUX CLOSING IN ON 500-WIN MARK AT KEENELAND
With his 8½-length victory on Eel Point on Friday afternoon’s third race, jockey Julien Leparoux notched his 499th Keeneland triumph.
On this afternoon’s closing-day program, Leparoux has three mounts in his bid to become the fourth rider in Keeneland history to reach 500. Riders who previously have topped that mark are Pat Day (918), Don Brumfield (716) and Robby Albarado (526).
Leparoux, who first rode here in 2005 when he recorded his initial Keeneland win during that year’s Fall Meet, has 64 stakes victories. That total is second to Day’s 95 stakes victories.
He has won 12 meet titles, third only to Day’s 22 and 16 for Brumfield.
With two victories on Friday afternoon’s card, Brad Cox moved closer to claiming his first outright training title at Keeneland.
Cox, who shared the Spring Meet title in 2018 with Wesley Ward, owns a one-win edge at 13-12 over Mike Maker with Steve Asmussen right behind with 11.
Cox has horses entered in three races on this afternoon’s closing-day program. Maker has one entrant and Asmussen three.
Tyler Gaffalione has clinched his third riding title. Going into today’s program, he owns a 22-15 edge over Florent Geroux, who has five mounts today.