Breeders’ Cup Classic favorite Accelerate had his penultimate workout at Santa Anita Saturday for the $6 million race at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3, going five furlongs under assistant trainer Juan Leyva in 59.80.

“He went very well,” trainer John Sadler said of the multiple Grade 1 winner owned by principal clients Kosta and Peter Hronis. “I had him in a minute flat, but we’re splitting hairs there. He had another nice gallop out. I had him out (seven furlongs) in (one) 26.

“(Bob) Baffert clocked him, too. He was standing right next to me and he says, ‘I don’t like it,’ so I felt good. Accelerate will have one more work here, either Friday or Saturday next week, and he ships Sunday (Oct. 28).”

Michael McCarthy supervised drills for a quartet of Breeders’ Cup candidates Saturday: multiple Grade 1 winner City of Light (Dirt Mile/Sprint), five furlongs in a bullet 59 flat, fastest of 40 works at the distance, the average time of which was 1:01.07; Liam the Charmer (Turf), five furlongs in 1:01.40; Paved (Filly & Mare Turf), five furlongs also in 1:01.40; and Vibrance (Juvenile Fillies), five furlongs in 1:00.40.

Gunmetal Gray, early third choice for the Juvenile, went six furlongs in a bullet 1:13.40 for Jerry Hollendorfer. It was the fastest of 11 works at the distance, the average time of which was 1:14.69.

In all, there were 145 works at Santa Anita Saturday, eight on the training track.


The next two weeks will be bittersweet for Bill Spawr.

The well-respected trainer, who turns 79 on Dec. 13, will say goodbye to his bargain claim, Skye Diamonds, scheduled to run her last race in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs before being put up for sale the next day at the Fasig-Tipton auction.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” said the native of Bell, California, from his usual backstretch perch at the chain link fence overlooking the picturesque San Gabriel Mountains.

“The Breeders’ Cup will be tough, but she always tries and she’s doing so well,” Spawr said of the California-bred daughter of First Dude, claimed for $40,000 on Aug. 27, 2016, at Del Mar, and developed into a multiple graded stakes winner, earning some $600,000 since.

“She’s been a gem,” said part owner Jeff Bloom. “What a ride she took us on, and is still taking us on.”

Added Spawr, who has been training more than four decades: “She came out of her victory in the LA Woman Stakes very, very well (defeating 7-10 favorite Anonymity in the Oct. 7 race by a length and a quarter).”

Spawr worked Skye Diamonds a half-mile Saturday morning in 48:20 seconds on the training track under regular rider Tiago Pereira, who retains the mount in the Filly & Mare Sprint. “She’ll work again next Saturday, then ship Tuesday to Kentucky,” Spawr said.

“She’s on the same flight with Marley’s Freedom (the Filly & Mare Sprint favorite trained by Bob Baffert). I’m working on having Skye Diamonds stare her down on the plane and give her the evil eye.

“Maybe that will help us.”

FINISH LINES: Horse for Course Muchos Besos missed winning his 10th race at Santa Anita yesterday by a scant nose after being “edged on the line” by 4-5 favorite Popular Kid, who gave Kent Desormeaux his 5,898th career victory, leaving him 12 shy of 6,000. Overall, the nine-year-old Muchos Besos, a gelded son of Macho Uno, has an 11-9-13 record from 70 starts with earnings of $300,151. “We’re very proud of him,” said Javier Sierra, who trains the front-running gray for Hugo Catalan . . . Starting Bloc, who rallied from eighth and last under Rafael Bejarano to win his second straight race in Friday’s sixth at 1 ¼ miles on turf for Alfredo Marquez, is one of but “three or four horses” in the effusive trainer’s stable. “I got him fresh when I claimed him from Richard Mandella (for $50,000 last May 13) and the horse was ready to move up,” Marquez said, readily dismissing credit for the four-year-old colt’s improvement. “He would have done as well with Richard. It’s not about me; it’s about the horse. Mandella is one of my heroes. I happened to claim the horse at the right time, and he loves the grass. All eight of his races have been on turf.”


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