(Featured Photo of The Player, winning the Fayette Stakes at Keeneland / Courtesy of Keeneland)

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 and look to be primed and ready for a top performance in the afternoons. Some of the horses that we watch and track, you will recognize and know. Others, though, you may not — yet. Here is a closer look at some of today’s morning glories:

(Photo of Dak Attack / Courtesy of Churchill Downs)

  1. Dak Attack, the 2YO Ghostzapper colt who won the Ellis Park Juvenile in ultra-impressive fashion this summer before sustaining a hairline fracture to his shin, was back on the track at Gulfstream Park this morning. He breezed 5-furlongs in a sizzling :59.06 breezing, which was the fastest time out of 37 to go the distance this morning. This guy is my Winter Book Bet for the 2018 Kentucky Derby and he will kick off his road to the Triple Crown next Saturday — in one week — in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes in Southern Florida. This just in from trainer Dale Romans, via text: Great work! (He used the exclamation point!) Next Saturday.” It’s time to roll guys. This one is owned by the Albaugh Family Stables and Airdrie Stud, who bred him.
    Dak Attack Worked 5 Furlongs at Gulfstream Park on December 30th, 2017
  2. Wonder Gadot, the 2YO super filly who has won 3 of 5 lifetime starts to date and just captured the G2 Demoiselle Stakes at Aquduct on Dec. 2, was back in training this morning at the Casse Training Center in Florida. She breezed 5-furlongs in 1:02.40, which was the fastest time out of 6 to go the distance. Many have speculated that trainer Mark Casse may enter this daughter of Medaglia d’Oro in the upcoming Lecomte Stakes at the Fair Grounds — and the first leg of that Louisiana trail to the Kentucky Derby. With the exception of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, when she was all be eliminated in a horrendous trip and still managed to finish 6th, this filly has never been worse than 3rd. That came in the G1 Natalma Stakes at Woodbine, when she was bumped around at the start and still lost by only a length for all of it. We will be watching this one’s progress very closely.
  3. Summer Luck, who is a multiple Graded Stakes placed 3YO filly for Casse, trained this a.m. at the Casse Training Center, as well. She breezed a half mile in :50 flat, which was the third best time out of 9 to go the distance. This filly has won only one time out of 12 races, but she has a third in the G3 Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs, a third in the G2 Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream Park to her credit. If she can get back to some conditioned allowance races, she may find the going a little easier.
  4. Salty, who was heavily touted going into this year’s Kentucky Oaks where she was fifth behind Abel Tasman, was back on the track this morning at the Casse Training Center, too. She went 5 furlongs in 1:03.40, which was 4th best of 8. This was her third work here since Dec. 16, and she is gearing back up for a winter program at Gulfstream Park. In 2017, Salty won the G2 Gulfstream Park Oaks, and a MSW event over that oval. This daughter of Quality Road has the ability and a chance to be one of the best older mares in the country next year, without a doubt.
  5. Upset Brewing, a 2YO filly by Justin Phillip trained by Buff Bradley, has posted a record of 1-4-0 in her first six starts, with the only off-the-board placing coming in the G2 Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs on Sept. 16. In her last race, she ran a game second in the Letellier Memorial Stakes at the Fair Grounds. She was back on the track this morning in New Orleans and she breezed an easy half mile in :50.60 — which was both best of 103. She is ready to run again, and may show up in some of the bigger preps for the Fair Grounds Oaks. Keep an eye on her. Buff Bradley had this to say: “Upset is doing well and may look to stretch her back out in the near future.”
  6. The Player, an ultra-talented 4YO colt trained by Bradley, worked 5Fs in a brilliant :59.00 flat this morning at the Fair Grounds. That was the fastest time out of 39 to go the distance. Only two other horses out of the 39 were able to crack under 1:00 on the day. The Player was brilliant in winning the G2 Fayette Stakes at Keeneland in October before he had a rough and troubled fifth in the G1 Clark Handicap at Churchill on Nov. 24. From trainer Buff Bradley, who said that he would run in the Louisiana Stakes in about two weeks, this morning: “We were looking for a strong breeze from The Player this morning. We are two weeks out from race, so next week he will have an easier breeze and we will be ready to go. Calvin (Borel, his regular rider) felt really good about the breeze and gallop out and said he was ready to go.”

(Photo of The Player / Courtesy of Keeneland)