Saratoga Race Course Notes - August 28
By NYRA Press Office | 08/28/2013 03:11 PM ET
Cross Traffic to bypass G1 Woodward in favor of G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup
Successful Dan breezes in the fog for Woodward
Caixa Eletronica, Saginaw meet in Friday starter allowance
Take Her Tothe Top seeks Saratoga double in Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords
GoldMark Farm's Cross Traffic will make his next start in the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 28 at Belmont Park, trainer Todd Pletcher confirmed on Wednesday.
An impressive front-running winner of the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap on August 3 at Saratoga, Cross Traffic also was being considered for Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward.
The Whitney and Woodward are run at 1 1/8 miles, while the Jockey Club Gold Cup is contested at 1 ¼ miles, the same distance as the Breeders' Cup Classic on November 2 at Santa Anita, which is Pletcher's primary goal for the 4-year-old son of Unbridled's Song.
"It was a tough decision, but we're trying to figure out the best way to get to the Breeders' Cup," said Pletcher. "We felt like bypassing [the Woodward] and getting a mile and a quarter race five weeks out from the Breeders' Cup Classic puts us in a better position than running a mile and an eighth nine weeks out, and then possibly needing to run back in the Jockey Club, as well. It was a tough call, but that's kind of what it came down to."
The Whitney was the longest race to date for Cross Traffic, who has posted four consecutive triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures. Prior to the Whitney (108), his first Grade 1 win, Cross Traffic ran second in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap (110) and Grade 3 Westchester (116), beaten a nose and a head, respectively. He earned a 105 for an optional claiming win in March at Gulfstream Park.
Multiple graded stakes winner Successful Dan went three furlongs through the fog on the main track Wednesday morning in a final work before Saturday's Grade 1 Woodward.
The older half-brother to reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan, Successful Dan was credited with a breeze in 37.15 seconds, third-fastest of 11 horses at the distance.
"Nobody knows [the exact time] because the fog rolled in here," said trainer Charles LoPresti. "We do know he went the last eighth in 11 and change, so we're kind of guessing he went 36 [seconds]. They're going to put down 37, but nobody knows."
Later Wednesday morning, LoPresti schooled Successful Dan in the paddock. In his last start, before he closed to finish second in the Grade 1 Whitney, he tripped and fell at the gap where horses enter the main track from the paddock, suffering minor scrapes.
"I've tried to figure out why that happened and how it happened. I don't know," LoPresti said. "Something spooked him, because he's never been that kind of horse."
As the 150th anniversary celebration of Saratoga Race Course's inaugural meet winds down, a pair of throwback horses will appropriately kick off the 2013 season's final weekend when they meet on Friday afternoon. First post is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
Veteran runners Caixa Eletronica and New York-bred "win machine" Saginaw will square off in the third race, a $70,000 starter optional claimer that drew a field of nine going seven furlongs on the main track.
The 8-year-old Caixa Eletronica and 7-year-old Saginaw have combined for 43 wins and $2,749,195 in purses from 106 career starts dating back to 2007. Breaking side-by-side in post 1 and 2, respectively, they will each carry 130 pounds, 14 more than each of their seven rivals.
"This might be as tough an assignment as he's had in a while, when you think about him and Saginaw hooking up, both carrying 130 pounds," said Todd Pletcher, who trains Caixa Eletronica for owner Mike Repole. "They're two of the best in the business at what they do.
"When you look at the fact that they've won  times and run as many times as they have, their record is amazing. I almost hate for the two of them to have to run against each other. They're two very popular horses."
Caixa Eletronica debuted on July 14, 2007, finishing seventh in a maiden race at Calder Race Course for trainer Juan Arias. He raced exclusively in Florida until midway through his 5-year-old season, making his first of nine Saratoga starts on August 9, 2010, running fourth.
He has won at distances from six furlongs to 1 1/8 miles, and owns six stakes wins, including the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic, Grade 2 True North, Grade 3 Westchester and Grade 3 Fall Highweight.
Most recently, Caixa Eletronica was last of five in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap on August 4 at the Spa, running a 95 Beyer Speed Figure, his highest since winning the 2012 Fall Highweight last November. Overall, he is 22-8-11 from 66 starts with purses of nearly $1.8 million.
"His versatility is impressive, and he's put that on display multiple times," Pletcher said. "He won from off the pace in a graded stakes going short, winning a starter handicap here carrying  pounds [on August 26, 2011] going a mile and an eighth, winning the Charles Town Classic. He's capable of doing many different things."
Saginaw takes a five-race win streak into Friday's race, having defended his title in the John Morrissey for state-breds on August 1 in his last start. Co-owned and trained by David Jacobson, he also has won each of his past three starts in open company, including a seven-furlong handicap last summer at the Spa. He has won 15 of his 18 past starts.
Jacobson gave Saginaw a three-furlong blowout on Wednesday morning in 39.94 seconds over the main track.
"He is training very well," Jacobson said. "He went really well. We always have these tough horses to run against, and when you have a horse like Saginaw, you have to expect that. If he brings his 'A' game, which he usually does, the competition [is] going to be in trouble."
Since being claimed by Jacobson for Drawing Away Stable in March 2012, the gelded son of Peruvian has won 14 of 17 starts, including 10 stakes, and purses of $713,100. In his career, which began in a maiden race at Saratoga on August 15, 2009, Saginaw has 21 wins and $974,690 in purses from 40 starts.
Jacobson said the long-range goal for Saginaw is the $150,000 Hudson on New York Showcase Day at Belmont Park, October 19.
"We are in Saratoga. It is the best of the best, and that's what Saratoga is all about," he said. "You have to thrive on that in order to be successful here. I really want to keep him among the New York-breds. That is where he is supposed to run and that is what has given him the longevity that we have been able to keep with him. He will try so hard, no matter who he runs against."
Also in Friday's field are Bernie the Maestro, who is 15-for-45 lifetime for meet-leading owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey; Metarus, on the board 28 times in 45 career starts, including six wins; Maui Mark, a winner of 11 of 33 total races; Private Tale, Tummel, Kingsford Drive and Where's Danny.
Arcadia Stable's Take Her Tothe Top will attempt a rare Saratoga Race Course stakes double when she meets a high-powered field of mares in the $75,000 Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Stakes on August 29 on the final Steeplechase Thursday of the meet.
Also on the Steeplechase Thursday program will be a $65,000 optional allowance claimer that, like the Mrs. Jeffords, attracted a field of nine.
Trained by Jack Fisher, Take Her Tothe Top successfully made the steep step from maiden over fences to stakes winner in the $75,000 Mrs. Ogden Phipps on August 8. A $20,000 claiming winner on the flat last September at Belmont Park, she had finished a good second in a filly-and-mare maiden hurdle on May 25 at Fair Hill, Md.
She put her speed to good use in the Mrs. Phipps and drew clear after the final fence to a 3 ¼-length victory under Xavier Aizpuru, who will again ride the 5-year-old More Than Ready mare.
Take Her Tothe Top will be coupled in the wagering with Arcadia's Opera Heroine, the 2011 Mrs. Phipps winner who finished sixth in this year's edition. David Crosse again will be in the saddle.
Among the entry's opponents will be the winners of last year's Mrs. Phipps and Mrs. Jeffords. Owner-trainer Kate Dalton's Cat Feathers upset the Mrs. Phipps at 23-1 and then finished a good second in the Mrs. Jeffords to claim the National Steeplechase Association's filly and mare championship.
Third in Colonial Downs' Grade 3 David L. "Zeke" Ferguson Memorial in June, the five-year-old Catienus filly most recently finished fourth in Saratoga's $75,000 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes on August 15. The owner's husband, veteran jockey Bernie Dalton, will ride.
Dalton also will saddle Riverdee Stable's Lillehammer, the fifth-place finisher in the Mrs. Phipps. The maiden winner will be ridden by Danielle Hodsdon.
Owner-trainer Jonathan Sheppard will saddle Cubist, who turned back Cat Feathers for a neck victory in last year's Mrs. Jeffords. The 6-year-old Sheppard homebred by Royal Academy most recently was pulled up in the Mrs. Phipps. The Hall of Fame trainer named Richard Boucher to ride the half-sister to Italian Wedding, who won the Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap last Thursday.
"She has bad feet. The ground was very hard that day [in the Mrs. Phipps]," said Sheppard. "She takes a while to warm up, not breaking it too fast from the start. She came down to the first fence and practically fell. So now instead of being a couple of lengths behind, she was 20 lengths and never could get into race. When she obviously was not going to catch up, [the rider] just pulled her up. Since then she's been back to the farm and has trained rather well. She seems to be doing fine."
Also coming out of the Mrs. Phipps is Gregory Hawkins' The Grey Express, who led at the final fence but could not hold off Take Her Tothe Top. Ross Geraghty has a return call aboard The Grey Express for Hall of Fame trainer Janet Elliot.
Doug Fout will send out the betting entry of Well Fashioned and Quiet Flaine, both owned by Virginia horsewoman Magalen O. Bryant. Well Fashioned finished third in the Mrs. Phipps after a victory in the Margaret Currey Henley at Nashville's Iroquois Steeplechase on May 11.
Quiet Flaine, a Bryant homebred, will be making her first start since finishing fourth in the Henley, a race she won in 2012. Willie McCarthy rides Well Fashioned, and Paddy Young takes over the mount on Quiet Flaine.
Clarke Ohrstrom's Kisser N Run will be seeking her first 2013 victory in the Mrs. Jeffords. Nosed out for the victory in the Henley, she had a wide trip in the Mrs. Phipps and tired to finish fourth. Robbie Walsh again will ride for trainer Richard Valentine.
Earlier on the card, Sheppard will send out Bluegrass Summer and Royal Fling Shot, fifth and sixth, respectively in an optional claimer on August 1. That race was the first in almost 19 months for Royal Fling Shot, who has made three starts over jumps.
"[Royal Fling Shot is] coming up to the race well, I think," said Sheppard. "That was his first start in almost two years but only his third lifetime start over jumps, so he probably needed that. Hopefully, he will benefit from the outing. He's training well. We are hoping for a good race."