WITH five racing days left in the 2012 season, the focus has now shifted to the Stewards Cup which will be run off on December 1 at Santa Rosa Park. And the question that is being asked is could Horse of the Year, Bruceontheloose-who was narrowly defeated by Signal Alert in last year's renewal--reverse the placings? Yesterday, Signal Alert indirectly answered that question, displaying signs that he is ready for his title defence with a sedate workout by trainer Glenn Mendez's standards.
The spotlight however, was on Sunday morning, when "Bruce" went through his customary paces ahead of the Grade One sprint with stablemate Ignition Coil.
They started breezing from the half-mile pole, with Ignition Coil against the rails jumping off in front and Bruceontheloose on his outside taking aim. Bruce was alongside his younger stablemate before they hit the 600-metre pole and they moved as one nearing the quarter-mile mark. Ignition Coil continued to head Bruce and never surrendered the lead, although the rider on Bruce tried to get the roan grey ahead.
They were clocked in a good 35.62 for the last three furlongs. However, other railbirds timed the pair at a very good 48.44 for the half-mile.
Also yesterday, Signal Alert was sharpened ahead of the sprint event with Rock Movistar. They breezed in a good 1:02.38, with Signal Alert very easy. Earlier in the morning, Readbetweendlines had last year's Gold Cup winner Boogie Blues for company and they breezed over half-mile, with the club's clockers getting them over 600 metres in a good 35.60, and the other clockers timing them in 47.2 for the half-mile.
Readbetweendlines against the rails led the way early, with Boogie Blues tracking on his outside. Barrelling down the stretch run, Boogie Blues surprisingly inched ahead and galloped out just as strong.
And making a return to training was last year's champion turf runner Treasure Each Day, who is now conditioned by leading trainer John O'Brien. The filly breezed over 600 metres in 36.72, but looked in need of the workout.
The trainers' divisional title (wins) is now heading to the last day of racing - Boxing Day, as Derby-winning trainer Derick Mosca (42)—who recorded a treble last raceday—is now four wins behind O'Brien who scored a double to take him to 46. The horses trained by both men will be ones to follow.
On Sunday morning, O'Brien sharpened unraced juveniles Ex-Honeymoon and Ex-Bella In Bloom from the gates and they flew out in a fast 22.26. They could be the horses to note on Saturday. Mosca does not appear to have juveniles that forward, but O'Brien has a number of them that could see him hold off Mosca, who has made giant strides with five racedays remaining. But Mosca could balance the scales with his importations Ex-Slevjero, It Is Alleged and Homecoming Queen. This trio fired a very good 48.88 over 800 metres.
Here are yesterday and Sunday's recorded workouts:
400 metres --The Conqueror 28.69 pacing; Sea Gold 29.99 pacing; Little Otis 29.94 pacing.
600 metres -- Boogie Blues and Readbetweendlines 35.60 god; Cordell Walker 44.92 pacing.
800 metres--Raging Thunder 58.13 pacing; The Red Skull and The Big Show 54.09 handily; Space Girl 59.98 pacing; Sweetie Jan 55.82 handily.
1,000 metres--Signal Alert better than Rock Movistar 1:02.38 good.
400 metres--Rock Movistar 27.87 pacing; Burst Of Energy 26.79 handily; Ex-Bellisimo and Asia 25.22 handily; Tennessee Hustler and Super Snitch from gates 24.65; Fly Junior 25.25 handily; Ex-Sweet Vision and Ex-Brickley Bear from gates 23.70; Messi and Ex-Book The Devil 24.75 good; Ex-Sea Of Red, Ex-Stormy Frontier and Lady Of Class 28.53 pacing; Oro De Cordoba 24.12 good; Instinctive Point better than Saphire 24.12; Diplomatic Cat from gates 23.46; Golden Enchantment from gated 23.44; Ex-Royal Red better than Ex-Chereaux Dansur 23.47.
600 metres--Khalil's Dream better than Key To The Heart 35.93; Who's The Problem 41.63 handily; Buss The Mark 37.64 handily; Ex-Honeymoon and Ex-Bella In Bloom from gates 22.26; Just My Luck 38.44 handily; Black Pepper and Gold Coin 38.09 handily; Sam's Hero 39.12 handily; Princess Indra 39.25 handily; Precise Moments and Settled Score 42.28 pacing; Treasure Each Day 36.72 good; Fearghas 37.63 handily; Ex-Kay's Inlet and Ex-Sweet Love 41.18 handily; Ignition Coil better than Bruceontheloose 36.69; As Time Goes By and Traditional Song 39.39 handily.
800 metres--Prado's Wells 51.54 handily; Damage Control 54.34 handily; Ex-Select Princess and Ex-Little Sophie 59.00 pacing; Undulation 58.34 pacing; Ex-Sea Urchin and Lady Felisha 57.38 pacing; Skyzim and Role Model 53.02 handily; Coconut Drive 51.44 handily; Sweet Parang Music 56.68 pacing; Readbetweendlines 53.53 handily; Roman Anthem 58.53 pacing; Curfew Breaker 53.62 handily; My Ari 54.99 handily; Uncle Max, Release The Beast, Ex-Our Delight and Sweet Genius 51.00 handily; Stroke Of Love 53.31 handily; Casino Host 58.53 pacing; Silverleo 50.34 handily; Quick City and Ring The Bell 59.62 pacing; Zum Zum 52.24 handily; King Street 54.12 handily; Ram Galba 55.39 handily; Ex-Slevjero, Ex-Beneficial Batik and Homecoming Queen 48.88 good.
1,000 metres--Boogie Blues 1:14.47 pacing; Mobthewarrior 1:01.80 good; Really Classy and Martha 1:06.28 handily; Lang Amour 1:14.95 pacing; Salome and Against The Odds 1:03.41 handily; Rosie's Dream 1:09.90 pacing; Esquire 1:13.20 pacing; Luna Divina 1:05.53 handily; Star Dreamer and A Great Moment 1:05.17 handily; Signal Alert 1:11.20 pacing; Slip Away 1:07.51 handily.