Work All Week: a Champion!

Work All Week proved at age four that he was a good sprinter.  He started his 2013 season with a maiden win in his first dirt sprint try, and cleared his first two allowance conditions in short order.  He got nosed out by Sweet Luca in the Addison Cammack Handicap, but returned to his winning ways to take an allowance at Arlington.  He travelled out of state for the first time to win another allowance at Indiana Grand, and then closed the year with two Illinois-bred stakes wins.

The beginning of his five-year-old season started a little more ambitiously.  He opened the season with a frontrunning allowance win at Oaklawn, and then took down the Hot Springs Stakes: his first open stakes win.  He travelled to Iowa next.  Things looked dicey turning for home in the Iowa Sprint Handicap, when Delaunay headed him.  Work All Week would not lose: he dug in, regained the advantage, and edged away to keep his dirt record perfect.  The Addison Handicap eluded him again, but despite a 130 pound impost and a hot pace from Roarin Missile, he still let no one but Sweet Luca past.  After the Addison Cammack, jockey Chris Emigh expressed his hopes that the loss would not derail Work All Week from the Breeders’ Cup trail.

After a brief freshening, his Breeders’ Cup plans remained on target.  He made his graded stakes debut in the Phoenix (GIII) at Keeneland, a Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.  He sat off Zee Bros early, and showed something he had never shown before: an ability to rate.  Holding off a late-running C. Zee, he punched his ticket to California.

The Breeders’ Cup was his first Grade I, and his first trip west.  He worked well at Hawthorne leading up to the race, but despite that and his still-perfect dirt record, the public still slept on him.  Work All Week went off at 19/1, but he had no idea what the bettors thought of him.  He did not run like a horse who knew he was on a class rise.  He just knew it was time to go to work.

That nailed it for him.  The other finalists for Champion Sprinter had good years, very good years.  Goldencents could not have won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile more gamely.  Private Zone ran a sharp third behind Work All Week in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and returned with an emphatic front-end victory in the Cigar Mile (GI).

When all was said and done it was Work All Week who passed every test on dirt, and Work All Week who worked all year at sprint distances.  He showed up when it counted, he won the biggest sprint race of the year, and today he joined Buck’s Boy (Champion Grass Horse, 1998) in the exclusive club of Illinois-bred horses to win Eclipse awards.

Congratulations, Work All Week!  You make Illinois racing proud.

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