Work Tab for Wednesday, Jan. 16: Binoculars Focused On Tax, Road to Victory, International Star & Some “Surprises(?)”

(Mike Maker trains International Star for Ken & Sarah Ramsey / Photo Courtesy of Churchill Downs)

Every day, we scour the work tabs at racetracks all over the country.  We are looking for workouts that may be of interest and helpful to you — as both race fans and handicappers.  Some of the horses we will be tracking, you will know.  Some of them, you may not know — as of yet.  We will keep a keen eye and stopwatch to see who may be working well:

  1. Preservationist, a 6YO horse by Arch trained by James Jerkens, has made only 5 starts in his career to date, but the well-respected connections have stuck with this one for some reason. And, it must be because he has shown the ability to run. In the 5 career starts, he has 2 wins, a second and two thirds. The last start came at Aqueduct on Jan. 5, when he was third. That was his first start in nearly 11 months. This morning, the horse worked a nice half mile at Belmont Park in :48.07. That was the third best time out of 34 to go the distance. If this one can stay on the track? Look out. He has some run to him.
  2. Tax, a 3YO son of Arch and trained by Danny Gargan, is one of my most favorite stories of 2018. And, he could become a real big one in 2019. After running second in the career debut at Churchill Downs last September, Tax was claimed when he won at Keeneland on Oct. 21 in a maiden event by Gargan. He was immediately shipped to NY, treated with Lasix and entered in the G2 Remsen Stakes. Right off a MCL win. He ran third that day, and nearly was second. He’s the type that you root for and hope that he can take the next major step. This morning, he worked a half-mile in :49.23. That was the 11th fastest time out of 35 to go that far. I’m watching for this ones return.
  3. Road to Victory, a 4O Quality Road filly who has been idle since running second to Midnight Bisou in the G2 Mother Goose at Belmont Park last June, worked on Tuesday at the Casse Training Center in Central Florida. This one — who swept to victories in each of her first three career starts before the Mother Goose — went an easy half-mile in :49.20. That was the bullet move out of 4 to go that distance. That was the 7th published work for the filly — all at the farm track — since Nov. 17. Love to see this one return full of vigor.
  4. International Star, now a 7YO horse by Fusaichi Pegasus, didn’t run a single race in 2018. Last time he was entered in the afternoons was the G2 Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 5, 2017, in fact. But this veteran, trained by Mike Maker for the team of Ken and Sarah Ramsey, has a tidy record of 6-4-1 in 18 career starts and has pocketed over $1.2 million to date. And? Why does he show up in this reading? Well, he worked at Gulfstream Park this morning, going 5 furlongs in a brisk 1:00.82. That was the 2nd fastest time out of the first 9 to go that far over the dirt track. It was the fourth published work for International Star since returning to training on Christmas Eve. Here’s wishing this old bird the best.
  5. Ranger Up, a 3YO son of First Samurai and trained by Todd Pletcher for the ownership team of Spendthrift Farm and Starlight Racing, may be one worth watching this Spring. This one cost $575,000 as a Keeneland September Yearling in 2017, and made only one start in 2018. That was a second on debut at Tampa Bay Downs on Dec. 15. Today, he got his third published work since that inaugural run and looked mighty sharp for Team Pletcher at the Palm Beach Downs Training Center in South Florida. Went the half-mile distance in :48.92 over the dirt track. That was the bullet move out of the first two to go that far. Keep an eye here. May spring a big one.
  6. Rotation, a 3YO son of Tapit and trained by Steve Asmussen for the Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC, worked at the Fair Grounds on Tuesday. In two career starts to date, this one ran 5th at KY Downs last September and then returned to post a second in New Orleans on Dec. 22. Came from well back in the pack in the last race, when shifted over to the dirt for the first time. Was beaten less than a length by Chase the Ghost, who could be good one for Dallas Stewart. Rotation worked 5 furlongs on Tuesday, going the distance in 1:00.60. Bullet move out of 10. Take heed. My bet the next time out for top connections. Could be a bloomer.

That’s very, very special to do it at Tampa Bay,” an emotional O’Connell said after Well Defined’s two-and-three-quarter length victory from a charging Kentucky Wildcat in 1:42.70 for the mile-and-a-sixteenth, .26 seconds off 2018 winner Flameaway’s stakes record. So Alive finished a distant third, with the 19-10 favorite, Knicks Go, getting nipped for fourth at the wire by Counter Offer.

“He’s had little things that have happened and he’s grown up mentally and physically, and today he showed up with his game face on,” O’Connell said of the Florida-bred Well Defined, a son of With Distinction by Fru Fru, out of Medaglia d’Oro. “I like this horse a lot and the decision (on what’s next) will be up to the owners (Gilbert and Marilyn Campbell’s Stonehedge, LLC), but we just want him healthy. Maybe the (Grade II, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on March 9) – who knows.”

“His rear end slipped out from underneath him in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile,” she said, “and he was compromised on early position when he ran in the Mucho Macho Man and got bottled up inside. He’s a young horse who is improving, mind-wise and everything-wise.”

  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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