(Gotta Go winning the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs last fall / Photo courtesy of Churchill Downs)

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

  1. Arklow, a 4YO Arch colt trained by Brad Cox, worked this morning at the Fair Grounds. He went a half-mile in :48.80, which was the 17th best time out of 163 to go the distance. This guy has four published works now since New Year’s Eve and looks to be tuning up nicely for his 2018 debut. A year ago, he won the G2 American Turf Stakes at Churchill Downs on Derby Day, before tailing off to run 11th in the G1 Belmont Derby and then 7th in the G2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga. Keep an eye on this one’s return in New Orleans. He could be salty.
  2. Galileo Gal, a 4YO daughter of the great Galileo, posted a win and a second in just three starts last year for trainer Mark Casse and owner Gary Barber. She breezed this morning at the Fair Grounds in :48 flat, which was the bullet work out of the 163 to go. This one now has 7 published works since Dec. 3 and should be ready for a local bow soon. Looks sharp.
  3. Givemeaminit, the LA-bred son of Star Guitar who ran third in the G1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga; 5th in the G1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland; and 4th in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar, was back on the track at the Fair Grounds today for trainer Dallas Stewart. He breezed a half mile in :49 flat, which was 21st out of the 163. He should have won his last start, which was in the Louisiana Futurity — his first try against LA-breds only. Didn’t get the greatest of rides that day, when parked 3 and 4 wide throughout the 6-furlong test. Should be ready going longer next time.
  4. Seeking the Soul, winner of the G1 Clark Handicap in his last start and now hellbent on trying Gun Runner in the Pegasus World Cup in his next outing, got his last tune-up this morning at the Fair Grounds. He went a half mile in :48.60 over a tiring racetrack, which was the 14th best time out of 163.  This guy will be shipping over to Gulfstream Park soon for the biggest race of his career.
  5. Valadorna, who has posted a fine line of 4 wins, 3 seconds and 1 third in just 8 career starts for trainer Mark Casse and Stonestreet Stables, worked at FG this a.m. She went the half mile over the dirt track in :48 flat. That tied for the top time out of 163 to go. This 4YO Curlin filly is coming off back to back wins in New Orleans and looks to be getting geared up for a monster 2018. Watch for this one’s return to the afternoon.
  6. Good Magic, winner of the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile for trainer Chad Brown, warmed up this morning at Palm Meadow Training Center in South Florida. It was his first published work since the Breeders’ Cup and he drilled 3Fs in a time of :36.95 — which was the best time out of 10 to go that far. He is just beginning the 2018 Road to the Kentucky Derby, but obviously will be one of the top contenders until we see otherwise.
  7. Gotta Go, who is being pointed to the Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park for his 2018 debut, worked 5Fs at Palm Meadows this morning for trainer Ian Wilkes. He went the distance in 1:02.10, which was the 11th best time out of 20 to go. This son of Shanghai Bobby won the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs last fall before encountering one horrendous trip in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes to finish the year. Look for this guy to run well on debut as he gets ready for the Derby Trip, as well. We contacted trainer Ian Wilkes after the work this morning and he texted this about the colt: “Yes. All Good.”
  8. Cicatrix, who is an undefeated 2-for-2 with a win in the Glitter Woman Stakes at GP on Jan. 6, was back on the track this morning for trainer Ian Wilkes, as well. The 3YO Violence filly went a half mile in an easy :51 flat at PMTC, which was 16th best of the 28 to go the distance. Keep an eye on this filly. She has Oaks material written all over her.
  9. Collected, who will test Gun Runner again in the Pegasus World Cup, got his final tuneup today. he went a half mile in a brilliant :46.20, which was the 2nd best time out of 87 to go that distance for trainer Bob Baffert. The son of City Zip ran second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and came back to be third in the G2 San Antonio Stakes, when he was too far off a slow pace. Mike Smith has the saddle job and he figures to be right up with Gun Runner in the early going in the Pegasus.
  10. McKinzie, a top Derby contender for the barn of Bob Baffert, was back on the track at Santa Anita today, as well. He went the half mile in :49 flat, which was an easy maintenance move for the undefeated son of Street Sense. He won the G3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 6 in his last start. Watch and evaluate this guy.
  11. Unique Bella, the big beautiful gray filly trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, was on fire this morning at SA. She went 5Fs in a brilliant :59 flat, which was the bullet work out of 110 to work the distance this morning. Despite the debacle that occurred in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, she still has 6 wins in 8 career starts and her win over Paradise Woods in the G1 La Brea Stakes on Dec. 26. She is spectacular. Watch and wait for this one’s return.