Every day, we scour the work tabs at racetracks and training facilities all over North America searching for those horses that appear to be peaking at just the right time for a prime performance in the afternoons. Some of the horses that we track, you will recognize. Others, though, you may not know — yet. Here is a closer look at today’s list of morning glories:

  1. Pavel, who was a disappointing 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and many, many lengths behind Gun Runner at the end, was back on the track Monday for O’Neill, as well. Tis guy had strung together some impressive runs before that debacle, with a tough-beat fourth in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga (fresh off a MSW win), a win in the G3 Smarty Jones at Parx (beating the likes of Colonelsdarktemper, Battalion Runner and Hence), and a third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park (behind Diversify and Keen Ice and in front of Jim Dandy winner Good Samaritan). He went an easy half in :48.20, which was 10th best of 66. Watch for this guy. He could have a great 2018 campaign, if given the opportunity.
  2. Cumberland River, a well-bred 4YO son of Distorted Humor who is out of the Mari’s Book mare Mari’s Sheba, has certainly had his series of ups and downs through a troubled race career. He started out with 3 straight losses as a 2YO, way back in the late summer and fall of 2015. He posted only one second in 3 starts a year ago. And, after breaking his maiden this March at Aqueduct for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, he hasn’t been seen in the afternoons since. But this talented guy posted his fourth straight work on the return, again, this morning at Belmont Park, gong a half-mile in :48.79.  That was the 3rd best time out of 9 to go that far. His win this past spring certainly spurred some hope for this colt, who has a stallion’s pedigree, for sure. His dam was Graded Stakes Placed, having run third in the Santa Anita Oaks in 1995. He was bred by Darley Stud and is still owned by Godolphin Racing. Worth keeping an eye out for this one.
  3. Uncontested, a 3YO colt by Tiz Wonderful, worked at Keeneland this morning for trainer Wayne Catalano, going 5-furlongs in 1:01.40. That breeze was the tops of the day, because he was the only one to go that distance. But this guy certainly appears to be readying for another run soon. He ran 6th in the G2 Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland in his last try, but he has some nice runs this year. He ran third in the G3 Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs on Derby Day and won the Smarty Jones Stake at Oaklawn Park back in the winter. Watch for his return soon.
  4. Theory, who has had a troubled 2017 after a brilliant 2YO campaign in 2016 when he broke his maiden in first asking and then won the G3 Futurity Stakes at Belmont Park in October, was back on the track at Palm Meadow Downs — the winter home for trainer Todd Pletcher. This guy worked 5-furlongs in 1:03.36 breeding, which was the best of 2 to go that distance this a.m. The son of Gemologist —  owned by WinStar Farm, Head of Plains Partners, and the China Horse Club — has not been the same since he ran 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita in 2016. He came back this March to run 4th in the Bay Shore and then he was a disappointing 7th in the Chick Lang at Pimlico on Preakness Day. Today’s work was his fourth in a row since Nov. 17, though, and it looks like he may be finding his old form again? Maybe. He must look the part. He sold for $335,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sale for 2YOs in training a year ago.
  5. B Squared, who was last seen running 9th in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint for trainer Doug O’Neill, worked at Santa Anita on Monday. He went a half mile in :48.60, which was the 14th best time out of 66 to go the distance. This Cal-bred would be awfully tough if he shows back up in a Stakes or allowance restricted to those bred in the Big Bear State. Keep an eye out for his next appointment.