Saratoga Race Course Notes - July 20
By NYRA Press Office | 07/20/2013 03:03 PM ET
Wise Dan, Successful Dan breeze for LoPresti
Mylute confirmed for G2 Jim Dandy following Saturday breeze
Fort Larned preps for defense of G1 Whitney title
Mucho Man Man works for G1 Whitney
2012 Travers co-winner Alpha breezes; McLaughlin considering G1 Whitney
Velazquez nearing Bailey as Saratoga’s all-time leading jockey
Fields taking shape for next weekend’s stakes
After Wise Dan and Successful Dan turned in separate Saturday breezes at Saratoga Race Course, trainer Charles LoPresti said he now has a better idea of where he’ll run the half-brothers during the 2013 race meet.
Reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan remains on course for a title defense in the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap on August 10, while Successful Dan is now under consideration for the Grade 1, $750,000, Whitney Invitational Handicap on August 3, according to LoPresti, who trains the geldings for Morton Fink.
Exercise rider Damien Rock was aboard for both workouts, with Wise Dan breezing four furlongs in 51.24 seconds over a main track labeled “good” and Successful Dan earning a bullet for his five-furlong breeze in 1:00.61 after the track had been upgraded to “fast.”
Successful Dan, a four-time graded stakes winner, was fourth in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap on June 15 at Churchill Downs in his most recent start.
“I was really on the fence what to do with [Successful Dan] after he got up here,” said LoPresti of the 7-year-old. “His race in the Foster was kind of a question. He had never been beat at Churchill. A lot of those horses didn’t show up that night. [The winner] Fort Larned ran a great race, but the rest of the horses – Ron the Greek and Take Charge Indy – didn’t run their races. Royal Delta didn’t run her race over that track [when second that night in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap]. [Jockey Julien Leparoux] told me [Successful Dan] was having trouble getting hold of the ground, so I drew a line through [the race].”
Successful Dan’s breeze Saturday impressed LoPresti sufficiently for the trainer to consider the Whitney. The trainer had hoped to run Successful Dan in the Whitney last year before the gelding was forced to miss the race with a strained XYZ ligament.
“That was our plan last year, but it went south on us because of injuries,” said LoPresti. “This horse has been plagued by injuries that keep him from being the same caliber as Wise Dan.”
LoPresti spoke in glowing terms when describing Wise Dan’s breeze.
“We didn’t go fast by design,” said LoPresti. “Damien said he just held onto him the whole way. He was really strong galloping out and going down the backside. [Wise Dan] wanted to do more, obviously. He’s dead fit off those races. We’ll probably take him over to the grass, maybe next week, and work him one time for the Fourstardave.”
Wise Dan, a 6-year-old, has won seven straight races, a streak that began with last year’s Fourstardave and includes the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Mile. The streak briefly appeared in jeopardy last time out in the Grade 2 Firecracker Handicap on June 29 at Churchill Downs when Wise Dan was shut off before he squeezed through along the inside en route to a two-length win.
“I don’t have to prove anything or chase anybody,” said LoPresti. “Now I got him where I want him. If he can repeat what he did last year, I don’t have to win a Grade 1 on the dirt with him.”
Also on the main track worktab was Enchanting Lisa, a 3-year-old half-sister to Wise Dan and Successful Dan who went four furlongs in 51.51. Enchanting Lisa has made one start, a seven-length victory on June 12 at Presque Isle Downs.
Following a half-mile work over the main track on Saturday morning, Mylute was confirmed as a starter in the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy by trainer Tom Amoss.
Fifth in the Kentucky Derby and third in the Preakness, Mylute was caught in 52.23 by NYRA clockers in his first local breeze since arriving from Kentucky.
“It was an easy half-mile,” Amoss said. “The track is deeper than what I’m used to back home. He’s not an exceptional work horse on his own. He’s a very good work horse in company, but today’s work was by himself. That was our last work, and we’ll gallop into the race.”
Jockey Rosie Napravnik, who rode Mylute in both the Derby and Preakness, was up for the move and will be back aboard in the 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy, to be run on July 27.
Amoss considered both the Jim Dandy and the Haskell Invitational on July 28 at Monmouth Park for Mylute, who has two wins and $587,695 in purse earnings in 11 lifetime starts, but remains in stakes races.
“Mylute is a confirmed closer,” Amoss said. “We wanted to see how much speed was in each of those races. I’m pleased we’re running here. It’s right in his backyard, and he’s been here for about a week, so this makes good sense. And there will be some pace in the race, from what we can tell.”
Also on the worktab for Amoss on Saturday were the filly So Many Ways, who went four furlongs in 52.20 seconds, and sprinter Delaunay, clocked in 52.24 for a half-mile.
So Many Ways won the Grade 3 Schuylerville and Grade 1 Spinaway last year at Saratoga for her previous trainer, Anthony Dutrow. The bay daughter of Sightseeing joined Amoss after finishing fifth in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks in March, winning the Grade 3 Eight Belles in May at Churchill Downs.
Though he hasn’t completely ruled out the Grade 1, $300,000 Prioress at six furlongs on July 27 for So Many Ways, Amoss said he is more inclined to wait for the Grade 1, $500,000 Test at seven furlongs on the August 24 Travers undercard.
“I’d say we’re about 90 percent sure we’ll wait for the Test,” Amoss said. “It’s a good distance. She loves this racetrack.”
Meanwhile, Amoss is eyeing the Grade 1, $400,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt on August 4 for Delaunay, a 6-year-old gelded son of Smoke Glacken who has 14 wins in 40 lifetime starts, including the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap in May, his first graded stakes victory.
“Don’t sell Delaunay short; he’s a very, very good sprinter,” Amoss said. “He didn’t work as fast as [Mylute and So Many Ways], but he was our first worker over the course and we just made a little error in how fast we went early with him, so it didn’t show up as a great time. But, he’s doing well, also.”
Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned had his penultimate tune-up Saturday morning for his title defense in the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap, breezing five furlongs in 1:03.81 over the main track.
“It was a little slower than what I wanted, but the track was a little dead this morning, and it was a work to set up a work,” said Ian Wilkes, who trains Fort Larned for owner Janis Whitham. “We’ll come back [next week] and get a major work with him off this.”
Fort Larned, who earned his first Grade 1 in last year’s 1 1/8-mile Whitney, enters this year’s edition off a eye-catching 6 ¼-length victory in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap on June 15 at Churchill Downs. It was the 5-year-old’s first win since the 2012 Classic, having lost his rider two strides out of the gate in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 9 and then finishing a non-threatening fifth in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap a month later.
“The first one, the stumble, that was a thing which took more out of him than you think,” said Wilkes. “If I’d stuck with my original plan [and not run at Oaklawn] that would be fine, but I could second-guess myself all day long.
“He got a lot out of his last race,” he added. “He ran fast [1:47.45] and the track wasn’t a fast track that night.”
Wilkes is also supervising Grade 2 Jim Dandy hopeful Looking Cool, trained by his former boss, the semi-retired Hall of Famer Carl Nafzger, who won the 2007 Jim Dandy and Travers with Street Sense.
“He worked yesterday [4 furlongs, 49.77] and will work again either Monday or Tuesday,” said Wilkes of Looking Cool, winner of the Grade 3 Iowa Derby last time out. “Carl is enjoying this one. It’s always fun to have a 3-year-old.”
Grade 1 Whitney hopeful Mucho Macho Man also went to the main track Saturday morning, where he was credited with a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.61 under exercise rider Nick Petro.
“He had a great work this morning, and we’re looking forward to the Whitney,” said trainer Kathy Ritvo of the Reeves Thoroughbred Racing color-bearer. “He’ll have one more work; the day will be dependant on the weather.”
Mucho Macho Man, second in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic, has made two starts this year, finishing seventh in the Sunshine Millions Classic on January 9 at Gulfstream Park and third in the Criminal Type overnight stakes on June 14 at Belmont Park.
“His last race was a good comeback race for him,” said Ritvo. “It reminded us of the Alysheba last year, when he finished third and then came up and won the [Grade 2] Suburban Handicap.”
Alpha, dead-heat winner of the 2012 Travers, prepped for his return to Saratoga with a half-mile breeze over the main track on Saturday.
The 4-year-old son of Bernardini went out after the renovation break and was timed in 51.77 seconds for four furlongs. It was his first work since finishing fourth of five in the Grade 2 Suburban on July 6 at Belmont Park.
“It was just a maintenance work,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who is eyeing the Grade 1 Whitney for Alpha. “It’s going to be a tough race, but he likes Saratoga, so we’ll see.”
Alpha is 3-for-3 at Saratoga, having won the Grade 2 Jim Dandy prior to his dead-heat victory with Golden Ticket in the $1 million Travers. He won his career debut at the Spa on September 3, 2011.
“[The track] was kind of weird today because it was wet, but it’s no big deal. He was fine,” McLaughlin said. “It was just a little half-mile. He’s fit and ready. He’ll have to work back next week, and we’ll make a decision.”
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez entered Saturday’s card five wins behind Jerry Bailey on the all-time win list at Saratoga Race Course.
Velazquez, 41, named to ride in 10 of the 11 races on the second day of the race meet, began the day with 688 wins from 4,168 mounts. Bailey, who retired in 2006, finished his career with 693 victories.
Velazquez’s agent, Angel Cordero, called the “King of Saratoga,” ranks third with 649 career victories at the Spa.
Among his mounts Saturday, Velazquez is scheduled to ride Unlimited Budget, the 2-1 second choice on the morning line, in the 97th running of the Grade 1, $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks. He had three wins on the opening-day card and is scheduled to ride eight horses on Sunday.
Probable for the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy, one of three graded stakes on July 27, are Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice, who is scheduled to work on the main track Sunday morning at 8:45 for trainer Todd Pletcher; Grade 2 Peter Pan winner Freedom Child; Code West, who captured the Grade 3 Matt Winn in his most recent start; Grade 3 Iowa Derby winner Looking Cool; Grade 2 Dwyer winner Moreno; Mylute, fifth in the Kentucky Derby and third in the Preakness; multiple stakes winners Vyjack and Will Take Charge, and Perfect Title. Both Bad Hombre and Chief Havoc are questionable.
The Grade 1, $600,000 Diana is expected to attract three last-out graded stakes winners: Laughing (Grade 3 Eatontown Handicap), Starformer (Grade 2 New York), and Stephanie’s Kitten (Grade 1 Foxwoods Just a Game). Also probable for the 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares is Grade 1 winner Centre Court, last year’s Diana runner-up Dream Peace, and Minakshi.
The Grade 1, $300,000 Prioress is expected to draw multiple graded stakes winner Kauai Katie, who won the Grade 2 Adirondack at Saratoga in her second career start; Grade 1 Acorn winner Midnight Lucky; Grade 3 Azalea winner Wildcat Lily, and Irish Lute. Baby J and Blueeyesintherein are questionable.
The first full week of racing at the Spa’s 150th anniversary week wraps up with the Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam for 3-year-olds on Sunday, July 28, and the Grade 2, $200,000 Honorable Miss Handicap for fillies and mares on Monday, July 29.
Likely for the 6 ½-furlong Amsterdam are Forty Tales and Declan’s Warrior, who were separated by three-quarters of a length when first and second, respectively, in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens presented by NYRA Rewards on June 8 at Belmont Park; the John Shirreffs-trained Mentor Cane, a five-length maiden winner on July 6; Grade 3 Jersey Shore winner Rainbow Heir; The Truth and K G, fourth against older horses in an optional claimer on June 2 at Belmont, and the Florida-based Cat Five Hurricane. Black Hornet and Do It for Don are questionable.
The six-furlong Honorable Miss is expected to attract Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses winner Dance to Bristol, winner of five straight; Grade 2 Vagrancy Handicap winner Glorious View, undefeated in four starts since breaking her maiden on February 15; Burban, winner of an overnight stakes at Churchill Downs last time out; Livi Makenzie, fifth in last year’s Prioress, and Munnings Sister, winner of the off-the-turf Smart N Fancy overnight stakes on June 13 at Belmont. Amie’s Dini is questionable.