Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott was all smiles on Sunday morning after NEWSDAD (Arch) turned in an impressive work in advance of Saturday's $750,000 Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland.
With exercise rider Rodolphe Brissett aboard, the Grade 3-placed colt sped six furlongs in 1:13 on Keeneland's Polytrack, suggesting that he's adapting well to a synthetic surface after three consecutive starts on turf.
"He worked very well," Mott said of the colt, whose last breeze was at Gulfstream Park on March 31. "He seems like he's handling the Polytrack just fine."
Clockers caught Newsdad in splits of :14 1/5, :26 3/5,: 38 3/5, :50 1/5 and 1:01 2/5. He went on to gallop out seven furlongs in 1:25 1/5 and one mile in 1:39 4/5.
Newsdad is coming into the Blue Grass off a third-place finish in the Palm Beach S. (G3) on March 12 at Gulfstream. The winner of that race, Joes Blazing Aaron (Graeme Hall), and runner-up Queen'splatekitten (Kitten's Joy) also are expected in the Blue Grass.
Jesus Castanon, who rode Newsdad in the Palm Beach and has ridden the colt in three of his four races, will again be aboard the colt in the Blue Grass, Mott said. Newsdad has one victory, a maiden special weight score at 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream on January 28. He has earned $45,794.
Mott's first Blue Grass starter was Taylor's Special, who won the race in 1984. His second came 25 years later with Hold Me Back, who finished second, 1 1/2 lengths behind General Quarters (Sky Mesa).
Trainer Todd Pletcher has a trio of candidates to give him a third win in the Blue Grass, and all three worked Sunday morning at Churchill Downs.
QUEEN'SPLATEKITTEN (Kitten's Joy), most recently runner-up in the Palm Beach, and PRAETEREO (Giant's Causeway), who broke his maiden in his sixth try last time out, each worked a half-mile in :48 2/5 over a fast track.
Multiple stakes winner SENSATIONAL SLAM (Grand Slam), who captured the Fred "Cappy" Capossela S. in his reappearance, drilled five furlongs in 1:00 1/5.
Sensational Slam and Queen'splatekitten are perfect so far in their limited experience on a synthetic surface, for both won over Woodbine's Polytrack last year. Sensational Slam landed the Clarendon S. and Vandal S., a pair of sprints, while Queen'splatekitten was a good-looking maiden winner going 1 1/16 miles in December. Praetereo finished fifth in a Keeneland maiden last fall in his only previous attempt on Polytrack.
In other Blue Grass news, KING CONGIE (Badge of Silver) is scheduled to work at Keeneland Monday morning for the Blue Grass, likely between 7 and 7:30 a.m. (EDT) with jockey Rajiv Maragh, up according to Dan Blacker, assistant to trainer Tom Albertrani. King Congie galloped 1 1/4 miles under Blacker early Sunday morning. Albertrani, who saddled Arthur's Tale (Bernardini) to a runner-up finish in Saturday's Wood Memorial (G1), is scheduled to work another Blue Grass probable starter, BRILLIANT SPEED (Dynaformer), at Palm Meadows on Monday morning.
CRIMSON CHINA (Giant's Causeway) galloped 1 1/2 miles under exercise rider Leo Molina as he continued to gallop up to Saturday's Grade 1 test. Trainer Graham Motion, who already has Animal Kingdom (Leroidesanimaux [Brz]) penciled in for a start in the Kentucky Derby (G1), picked up another possible Derby starter Saturday when Toby's Corner (Bellamy Road) rallied to win Aqueduct's Wood Memorial and defeat champion Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie).
WILLCOX INN (Harlan's Holiday) had the morning off Sunday after working six furlongs in 1:12 2/5 on Saturday morning.
"He is fine this morning and he will go back to the track Monday," trainer Mike Stidham said.