LAUREL, MD – M M G Stables’ multiple Grade 3 winner and Triple Crown contender El Areeb had an easy work Wednesday morning at Laurel Park as he continues preparations for his next start in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial on April 8 at Aqueduct.
Working 1 1/8 miles over the main track in company with multiple stakes winner Winter, El Areeb was timed in 51.60 seconds for the final half-mile. Trainer Cal Lynch’s son and assistant, Charlie, was aboard El Areeb, with current meet-leading rider Trevor McCarthy on Winter.
“He felt great. He keeps continuing to grow and get better and better every day. We loved the way he worked today,” Charlie Lynch said. “He was pulling me all the way around there, so we’re really happy with that. My dad had a really big smile on his face when we got back, so that’s a good sign, usually.”
Winter, a winner of three straight including the Nellie Morse and Maryland Racing Media Stakes in succession at Laurel, will run next in the Grade 3 Top Flight Invitational Handicap on Sunday at Aqueduct.
El Areeb has worked three times since having his four-race win streak snapped when he finished fourth as the favorite in the Grade 3 Gotham on March 4 at Aqueduct, where he won two Grade 3s, the Withers and the Jerome, to kick off his 3-year-old season.
“It was an easier work today than last week. Winter is running in the stake on Sunday and I didn’t want her to go too fast and leave her race on the track,” Cal Lynch said. “They both worked really good and came back good. It looks like the Wood is right on schedule.”
Cal Lynch said El Areeb will have a final breeze on April 4 and ship to New York the following day. Among the horses he is expected to face in his first time going 1 1/8 miles is Irish War Cry, winner of the Marylander on December 31 at Laurel and the Grade 2 Holy Bull on February 4 at Gulfstream Park. Trained by Fair Hill, MD-based Graham Motion, Irish War Cry was seventh last time out in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth on March 4.
“We haven’t run into him yet. We’re not trying to make life any harder than we have to,” Lynch said. “At some point, you have to run into them. If it has to be the Wood, this will separate them out a little bit, then we’ll decide who’s going to the Derby and who’s not.
“We can only train our horse. If he does what he’s supposed to do, he’s competitive with all those horses,” he added. “Numbers-wise, if he runs back to any of his three or four races before, he’s competitive.”
Lynch will saddle Matthew Schera’s Vorticity in a second-level optional claiming allowance for 4-year-olds and up going six furlongs when live racing returns to Laurel Park with a nine-race program on Friday.
Vorticity won the Marylander in 2015 and was second in both the Jerome and Withers last winter before being sidelined with an eye injury. He didn’t race again until finishing third in a six-furlong sprint on March 4 at Aqueduct, his first race for Lynch.
“They had him ready to go and then he got a little ulcer in his eye. He runs in a bubble now, just to protect that. It looks well and it’s doing good; it’s just an ongoing thing where we need to maintain it,” Lynch said. “We only had him for a few weeks before we ran him. He’s a lovely horse, and he has a lot of back class. He’s still young. He was where El Areeb was last year. He’s a nice horse and he’s been a good addition to the barn. We’re glad to have him.”