LAUREL, MD – M M G Stables’ multiple Grade 3-winning Triple Crown contender El Areeb returned to the work tab with a sharp half-mile breeze over Laurel Park’s main track Saturday morning.
With trainer Cal Lynch’s son, Charlie, in the irons, the 3-year-old Exchange Rate colt was clocked in 47.70 seconds, the second-fastest of 35 horses at the distance. It was his first timed work since a 4 ¼-length victory in the Withers (G3) Feb. 4 at Aqueduct.
“Everything went really well,” Cal Lynch said. “He galloped out [five furlongs] in a minute and 1:13 for three-quarters, but that was very easy under a hand ride. It was effortless for him.”
Lynch decided to give his son, who doubles as his assistant and exercise rider, a leg up rather than jockey Trevor McCarthy, El Areeb’s regular rider and frequent breeze partner in the mornings in an effort to have a more relaxed work.
“Charlie was on him today because I wanted him to go a little slower. When Trevor gets on there he knows he’s up for a work and he’ll try to go a little quicker. He did it all by himself today,” he said. “It was a little quicker than he probably needed to, but it’s not unusual for him.”
El Areeb is one of the top sophomores on the Triple Crown trail, having reeled off four consecutive wins including the James F. Lewis III Nov. 19 at Laurel to cap his juvenile season and both the Jerome (G3) and Withers to open his sophomore year.
Lynch said El Areeb continues to thrive following the Withers, enough that he is considering a return to the New York for the 1 1/16-mile Gotham (G3) March 4 at Aqueduct as well as the 1 1/8-mile Wood (G2) April 8. The 1 1/8-mile Blue Grass (G2) April 8 at Keeneland is another consideration.
“Right now I’m kind of in-between the Gotham and the Wood or just the Wood or the Blue Grass in Kentucky. Those are the three,” Lynch said. “The next choice I have to make is whether we’re going to go ahead and run in the Gotham. I was planning to give him some time between the races. If he insists he doesn’t need any more time and we want to run then he’ll go in the Gotham. That’s something that’s not based on today’s work. It’ll be another work or two before we make a final decision.
“The only thing about going to Kentucky is that we would go there and maybe fly or drive there I’m not sure, maybe get him used to some different things and throw some other stuff at him,” he added. “He’s handled everything we’ve thrown at him so far really well. He’s still a young horse and we have to test him every time we do something different. So far he’s passed with flying colors. He’s a 4.0 student.”