Jimmy Toner knows that winning at Keeneland for longtime owner John Phillips isn't an absolute requirement. He also knows too well that it is coveted and desirable for the man who heads up the Phillips Racing Partnership and runs the legendary Darby Dan Farm located not far from Keeneland's back gate.
As such, Keeneland is frequently factored into the campaigns of the very best members of Toner's stable, especially those carrying the Kelly green and white colors of Phillips Racing Partnership.
Time And Motion will carry those colors Saturday in one of Keeneland's signature races - the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes presented by Lane's End - and the $500,000 turf stakes has been a target for most of 2016. Toner said as much last summer at Saratoga, even before the Tapit filly won the Grade 2 Lake Placid.
"The Queen Elizabeth is the goal, yes," Toner said, standing outside his shedrow two days before the Lake Placid. "I've won it twice, John's won it - between Darby Dan and the Phillipses - have won it a total of five times. It's Keeneland; it's important.
"If they get to go to Keeneland they want to go. It's always, spring and fall, you better have something to run there. They want something ready to run there. Hopefully they run well because if they don't there's a lot of people you have to look at after the race and explain yourself."
Toner was partly joking on that last statement, mainly because he's got an owner in Phillips that is patient and thoroughly understanding of the difficulty in targeting short meets in the spring and fall and because he puts enough pressure on himself to succeed at the upper tiers of racing that include major stakes like the Queen Elizabeth at Keeneland.
"Oh yes, we gear up for Keeneland," Toner said.
Time And Motion could add to Toner's previous two wins in the Queen Elizabeth, following Tribulation in 1993 and Memories Of Silver in 1996. Tribulation raced for John Phillips' father James Phillips and Arthur Seelbinder while Memories Of Silver was owned by John Phillips and his mother Joan Phillips.
The other three winners with ties to Darby Dan were Graceful Darby (1987), Love You By Heart (1988) and Plenty Of Grace (1990).
The five Queen Elizabeth trophies are on display in the office at Darby Dan on Old Frankfort Pike and Debbie Phillips-Bower, a member of Phillips Racing Partnership and John Phillips' sister, said Toner and his crew at Keeneland should expect a typically large crowd of around 40 for Saturday's race.
Phillips-Bower came out just before sunrise Thursday morning to see Time And Motion train for the first time since she arrived by plane from New York early Tuesday evening. Assistant trainer Tiffany Webb led the filly on the short walk to the track just before 7:30 and once there Time And Motion stood a few times and turned in a good gallop once around the fast main track.
"She looked fantastic out there today, especially coming out of that breeze," Webb said, referring to a 3-furlong move in :35.18 on Belmont's inner turf course Tuesday.
John Phillips was out a bit later, while Webb grazed Time And Motion in a small grassy area just outside Barn 24 in Keeneland's stable area. She lifted her head a few times to acknowledge Phillips' presence, but only briefly, before digging back into the green grass.
"She's saying, 'come on, let me graze, we don't have grass like this in New York,' " Webb said.
Time And Motion is one of nine fillies entered in the Queen Elizabeth, along with familiar foe and Canadian Horse of the Year Catch A Glimpse, Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks winner Harmonize and Grade 2 Sands Point winner On Leave. The race, like many of the stakes so far at Keeneland's fall meet, is shaping up as a tough task for Time And Motion.
The only times Time And Motion lost in her last six starts was when she faced Catch A Glimpse - a fifth in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf when she was still a maiden and a second in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational in July at Belmont Park. Time And Motion turned the tables on Catch A Glimpse in the Lake Placid, defeating her rival by a neck in an emotional win for the Toner stable not long after they lost Recepta to a career-ending injury.
The Queen Elizabeth is the last of six Grade 1 stakes at the Keeneland fall meet and it goes as the ninth of 10 races Saturday. Five other stakes remain through the end of the meet, including next Saturday's Grade 2 Lexus Raven Run and the Grade 2 Hagyard Fayette on Closing Day Saturday, Oct. 29.