McGaughey basks in aftermath of Code of Honor's G1 Runhappy Travers win; plans uncertain for allowance winner Performer
by NYRA Press Office
- Tacitus, Elate in fine fettle after G1 seconds
- Beldame likely next for Personal Ensign heroine Midnight Bisou
- Next move to be determined for G1 Forego winner Mitole
- Mind Control greeted with hero's welcome at Monmouth Park
- Come Dancing follows G1 Ketel One Ballerina win looking to waltz into Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint
- Brown impressed with Annals of Time; looks to regroup with Highest Honors and Looking At Bikinis
- G1 winners War of Will, Got Stormy breeze Sunday morning for Casse
- G1 Sword Dancer runner-up Sadler's Joy bound for G1 Joe Hirsch
- Foley remains upbeat following Hog Creek Hustle's close second in G1 H. Allen Jerkens presented by Runhappy
- Mr. Buff adds Lezcano for G1 Woodward; Pacific Gale sidelined
Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey could barely take a half-dozen steps outside his barn at Saratoga Race Course Sunday morning without being stopped by someone wanting to congratulate him on Code of Honor's victory in the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers, the trainer's fourth in the "Mid-Summer Derby."
"When I finally got a chance to look at my phone, I had 143 texts," said McGaughey, who also won the race with Easy Goer (1989), Rhythm (1990) and Coronado's Quest (1998). "It was pretty exciting. When you get a little bit older, you know you're not going to have as many opportunities as you did 21 years ago - 30 years ago was my first one - so I was really, really pleased. And I want to do it again."
Code of Honor, owned by William S. Farish, returned from the Travers in good form, said the trainer, who noted that he did not have a precise route mapped out for the remainder of the year.
"Nothing is solid with what I'm going to do with him," said McGaughey. "The [Grade 1] Jockey Club Gold Cup back at Belmont [September 28] would sort of be the best scenario. If I wanted to wait a bit longer you've got the Discovery at Aqueduct in November, or the Cigar Mile. And obviously we know where the Breeders' Cup is, so we'll have to keep that in mind also.
"He seemed to come back good, but they're usually good the next day," he added. "It starts getting to them two or three days down the road. We'll keep a good eye on him."
The Travers was the first Grade 1 win for Code of Honor, who was second in the 2018 Champagne, third in the Florida Derby and placed second in the Kentucky Derby. Both McGaughey and Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez agreed that his last-to-first victory in the Grade 3 Dwyer on July 6 at Belmont and Saturday's win were his two best outings.
"We've always felt that way, that he didn't quite put everything together in some of his races," McGaughey said of Code of Honor, who is 4-2-1 from eight career starts. "That's why his last two races were so satisfying. I thought in the Dwyer, he put it together, and yesterday, too."
His improved mentality in those two races, his stature, and his late foal date [at May 23, he was the youngest horse in the Travers field] all lead McGaughey to think he hasn't seen the best of Code of Honor yet.
"I think we're going to see more as a 4-year-old, or at least I hope so," he said. "He's been running pretty good. I think that Johnny's learned to ride him the last two times, and that's made a difference, too. Nobody's better than him. He's a special guy."
Easily overlooked in the aftermath of the Travers was another winning performance from the McGaughey barn on Travers Day with 3-year-old Phipps homebred Performer, who now is 2-for-2 this year after an eye-catching allowance victory in Race 4.
The Speightstown colt, who broke his maiden on June 29 at Belmont going six furlongs, came from ninth of 12 Saturday to win the 6 ½-furlong race on the main track by a length.
"I like the way he did it," said McGaughey. "I thought yesterday was even more impressive, because he ran down a horse [Payne] that was still running. He had never been back like that; when he broke his maiden he was right there. I'm looking forward to getting him stretched out. Where that will be, I don't know. I asked [assistant] Robbie [Medina] and Reeve [McGaughey] 'What are we going to do with him now?' But I'll figure something out."
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Tacitus, Elate in fine fettle after G1 seconds
On Sunday morning at his Saratoga barn adjacent to the Oklahoma training track, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott reflected on a tough Saturday at the races that saw Tacitus run second in the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers and Elate complete the exacta in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign presented by Lia Infiniti.
"We didn't win. I've been second in a lot of stakes - Whitney [with Yoshida], Jim Dandy [with Tacitus], Travers, Personal Ensign - and I think there's a couple more," said Mott.
Mott said Tacitus, a Juddmonte Farms homebred, was in good order following his prominent second to Code of Honor.
"He came back good," said Mott. "He's sound and jogging good."
Tacitus captured a pair of Grade 2 events including the Tampa Bay Derby and Wood Memorial presented by NYRA Bets ahead of a Triple Crown run that saw the Tapit grey elevated to third in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and rallying for second in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.
Following a stumbled start in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy presented by NYRA Bets, Tacitus rallied gamely to complete the exacta behind Tax.
Mott put blinkers on Tacitus for the first time in the Travers and the colt responded with a forwardly placed effort. The Hall of Fame conditioner said he will likely leave the blinkers on the regally bred colt.
"I liked what I saw with the blinkers," said Mott. "It didn't get us outrun. It put us in the race. We were in a good spot. He broke well. I don't see any reason to change that."
Mott said that Tacitus is likely to take on older company for the first time in his next start, with the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup, a 10-furlong Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" event slated for September 28 at Belmont Park.
"I would give that a lot of consideration," said Mott. "With that being said, we have not discussed the next race for him yet, but that's my feeling."
Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider's Elate, a 5-year-old daughter of Medaglia d'Oro, has won 7 of 17 starts with more than $2.25 million in purse earnings. The multiple Grade 1 winner raced close to the pace in the nine-furlong Personal Ensign, enjoying a head advantage at the top of the lane before battling gamely to the wire where she was nosed by familiar foe Midnight Bisou.
Mott said he is not certain if the Grade 2, $300,000 Beldame, a one-turn nine-furlong trip set for September 28 at Belmont is next on the radar for Elate, but did offer serious consideration for the 10-furlong Breeders' Cup Classic against the boys. Elate is undefeated in three starts at 1 1/4-miles.
"She's good. We'll have to decide if we go back to the Beldame or if we wait for the Breeders' Cup," said Mott. "If we wait for the Breeders' Cup, we're going to give strong consideration to the Classic. It seems like [the further the better]. It brought her and Midnight Bisou closer together yesterday...real close together."
Summer Wind Equine's Golden Award was pulled up in the Personal Ensign and Mott said the Grade 3 Shuvee winner seemed no worse for wear this morning.
"It was a bit of a headscratcher. We don't see enough to see any reason for what happened," said Mott.
Mott said Aymara, a 3-year-old maiden pulled up in Saturday's finale, also seemed in good order.
"She is. We discovered something with her, but she's okay," said Mott.
China Horse Club International, WinStar Farm, Head of Plains Partners' Yoshida, a Grade 1 winner on dirt and turf, breezed four furlongs in 49.70 on the Oklahoma training track on Sunday morning. Mott said the versatile 5-year-old Heart's Cry horse will point towards the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward set for nine furlongs on the Saratoga main on August 31.
"He seems to be feeling really good," said Mott. "He'll stay on the dirt this next time."
Juddmonte Farms' homebred Seismic Wave breezed four furlongs on the turf training track in 49 flat on Sunday. Mott said the graded-stakes placed Tapit chestnut will target the Grade 3, $200,000 Saranac at 1 1/16-miles on the Mellon turf on August 31.
"He could run in this last stakes here at Saratoga - the Saranac," said Mott.
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Beldame likely next for Personal Ensign heroine Midnight Bisou
Lest there were any doubts about the ferocity of Midnight Bisou's on-track demeanor, the daughter of Midnight Lute was at her bullish best Saturday in nipping fellow Grade 1 winner Elate at the wire to add the hardware for the Grade 1 Personal Ensign presented by Lia Infinity to her mantel.
The morning after earning her sixth consecutive victory and third top-level win in 2019, the 4-year-old filly showcased her versatility but flaunting her sweet side as one admirer after another sought out the presence of the nation's leading distaffer.
"She's in great shape. She was out grazing this morning, she's bright-eyed, she's been playing with us all morning," said Jeff Bloom of Bloom Racing Stable, which co-owns Midnight Bisou along with Madaket Stables and Allen Racing. "It's as if she was out for a gallop. She lays her body down but she came out in great shape."
In besting Elate for the third time in as many matchups between the two this year, Midnight Bisou not only strengthened the grip she has on the older female division, she silenced critics who thought the race's 1 1/8-miles distance would be her Achilles Heel. Her lack of a win beyond 1 1/16-miles prior to Saturday helped the betting public send Elate off as the race even though Midnight Bisou had bested her in both the Grade 2 Azeri and Grade 1 Apple Blossom earlier this season.
Coming off a victory in the Grade 3 Molly Pitcher on July 20, Midnight Bisou showed she had plenty of stamina still to unearth as she ran down Elate after her rival got separation on her in the stretch.
"The distance [question], how many times did I hear that? We knew that a mile and an eighth was not an issue for her and so yes, she helped validate that in such a big way," Bloom said. "And it was here at Saratoga where she had run well but she didn't have her best races. And it was against Elate, again a phenomenal race mare. All of that is even more gratifying. It was a big race and it felt fantastic to answer all those questions.
"I'm just lost for words describing how amazing this filly is because she's just in a different league all together. And she's getting better, and she continues to wow us. It's so much fun."
Midnight Bisou will get a chance to double down on her ability at nine furlongs as she is expected to make her next start in the Grade 2 Beldame at Belmont Park September 28, her final prep for the Grade 1 Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff - a race she finished third in last year.
"I would have to think that's a pretty solid position [at the top of the division] but we'll continue to do what we're doing and enjoy the fact that she's already taken down so much at this point," Bloom said. "She's been so push-button all year long. And she makes that so easy because with her training, her racing, her shipping she's just like 'What do you want me to do?' She just wants to please everybody."
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Next move to be determined for G1 Forego winner Mitole
William and Corrine Heiligbrodt's Mitole emerged from his victory in the Grade 1 Forego presented by Encore Boston Harbor in good order, according to Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who said that his next start is still undecided.
Piloted by jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr., who guided Whitmore to a Forego victory the prior year, Mitole broke sharply in the seven-furlong sprint for older horses and shook off pressure from Promises Fulfilled, who retreated around the far turn.
"He came out of it well. He'll train here at Saratoga before deciding what to do next," Asmussen said.
The Forego was a third Grade 1 victory for Mitole, who previously won the Churchill Downs and Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park. Never off the board in 13 career starts, the 4-year-old Eskendreya chestnut was third in his prior effort in the Grade 1 A.G. Vanderbilt which ended a seven-race win streak.
* * *
Mind Control greeted with hero's welcome at Monmouth Park
Hail the conquering hero Mind Control, who left his weekend guest accommodations in John Kimmel's barn just before 9 a.m. after pulling off the upset in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes presented by Runhappy and en route to his home at Monmouth Park.
"My staff tacked up the barn and everyone is really excited. We're all here waiting for him to get off the van," said Gregg Sacco, who trains the now dual Grade 1 winning Mind Control for breeder and co-owners Red Oak Stable and Sol Kumin's Madaket Stables. "My guys told me that he ate up everything and was just great. He had a good, clean scope and everything is good with him."
Sacco drove back to New Jersey after the races as he had a busy morning to attend to at the track he has called home all his life, but he wasn't road weary.
"The drive home was pretty good. When you win at Saratoga the miles just fly by," said Sacco, a third-generation horseman who took over the family stable at Monmouth after his father passed away in 1988. "It was a pretty good day, obviously."
The Jerkens marked the second appearance, and second long odds victory, at Saratoga for the son of 2011 Travers winner Stay Thirsty following his 2018 Grade 1 Hopeful score.
Both of those races were contested at 7 furlongs, which is clearly the colt's ideal distance. He is now 3-for-5 at 7 furlongs and might have been undefeated at that stanza had he not endured disastrous trips in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens at Belmont Park in June and in the Grade 3 Concern at Laurel Park in July.
Looking down the road, the distance factor raises the Breeders' Cup question, as the $2 million Sprint is run at 6 furlongs and the $1 million Dirt Mile is contested at 8 furlongs.
"We never look ahead. We're going to savor this," said Sacco, whose brother, Rick is the Red Oak general manager for the Brunetti family. "I'm going to sit down with my brother, Steve Brunetti and Sol Kumin and we're going to make a decision in the next 10 days to two weeks. There are some things we'll discuss and nothing is set in concrete. He has been training for a long time, he's never been taken out of training, so we might go easy with him."
Nonetheless, the connections could be making reservations for a Christmas trip to Southern California. The Grade 1, seven-furlong Malibu is a sprinter's major resume-builder and it will be run on December 26 at Santa Anita.
"I will tell you that one of the main goals at the end of the year is the Malibu. That's a long range goal," said the trainer.
Meanwhile, Sacco was still savoring the performances of his charge and Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez on Saturday that resulted in a three-way head bob at the wire among 1-2 favorite Shancelot and Woody Stephens winner Hog Creek Hustle. At the head of the lane Shancelot was 2 ½ lengths in front while Mind Control was racing in fourth and Hog Creek Hustle was farther behind. Then, both Mind Control and Hog Creek Hustle came flying.
"It was a picture-perfect ride by Johnny, everything worked out, and thank God we got up. It was a heads-up, savvy ride. When Shancelot got away with that twenty-three and change (23.11) first quarter, I thought, 'Wow. He's going to be really tough to reel in by anybody.' It was a great race and they were noses apart at the wire so it was so exciting to watch. Johnny was going to go after him on the turn but then he just bided his time, and we needed everything. Fortunately for us, he really kicked in that last eighth of a mile," said Sacco, who was relieved when Mind Control broke cleanly.
"That was what I was hoping for because we didn't break clean in the Woody. Breaking has been a little bit of the key to him because he gets a little antsy in the gate. A couple of times (in the past) even when he breaks well there's been a split second before that when he was acting up. After the break, we got a fair shot," Sacco explained. "But it did scare me a little bit because I thought that was a pretty easy quarter for a horse like Shancelot. It was a great race. Shancelot ran his heart out. Hog Creek Hustle ran back to his Woody Stephens' performance and we ran our race. It could have been any one of the three. We were fortunate to get the bob."
Sacco, a longtime multiple graded stakes winning trainer, now has two Grade 1 wins on his sheet, both courtesy of Mind Control.
"This is even better than last year [winning the Hopeful]. Other horses don't improve from two to three and this horse did. There's a lot to look forward to with him," he said.
* * *
Come Dancing follows G1 Ketel One Ballerina win looking to waltz into Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint
Blue Devil Racing Stable's Come Dancing came out of her impressive win in Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Ketel One Ballerina in good order and in a playful mood the day after earning trainer Carlos Martin his second career Grade 1 win and first since 1991.
"She came back great and looks super. She's been ready to go again. She was looking out all morning as if to say, 'where is the crowd today?'" Martin said with a laugh. "She's doing great. "
Under Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, Come Dancing, the 3-5 favorite in a field that was scratched down to five fillies and mares 3-years-old and up, overcame a bump at the start and was pinched back but took command in the stretch and drew away for a 3 ½-length score over Dawn the Destroyer, earning a 98 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort.
With Special Relativity making contact with Come Dancing at the start, the favorite was taken back and rallied from last to win her third graded stakes in the last four starts, building on a 7 ¾-length victory in the Grade 3 Distaff Handicap in April at Aqueduct Racetrack and a 6 ¾-length win in the Grade 2 Ruffian. Come Dancing ran a competitive second to Midnight Bisou in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on June 8 at Belmont before capturing the 41st running of the Ballerina at seven furlongs on a fast main track.
"With five horses, I thought we'd break and go. I knew we had a big target on our backs at 3-5, but in his mind, I think he [Castellano] wanted to get her off the pace," Martin said. "As funky as it looked coming out of the gate when the 1 [Special Relativity] came over on her, I think Javier was relieved that he didn't have to make that decision of going to the lead or taking her back. But she was on her game. She was ready."
Winning the Ballerina garnered Come Dancing an automatic entry into the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in November at Santa Anita Park. After nearly 2 ½ months off between the Ogden Phipps and her Travers Day appearance at the Spa, Martin said he will follow a similar pattern and not race again until the Grade 1, $1 million seven-furlong sprint on November 2 in California.
"Every time we give her a couple of months between races, she's ready," Martin said. "That's why we are talking to the owners yesterday evening. I said we have one goal: to make her a Breeders' Cup winner and an Eclipse champion. She runs great fresh. I'd like to do the same protocol we had from June 7 [the Ogden Phipps] to yesterday. I now have to November 2.
"She could come back in three weeks and run in a race like the [Grade 2] Gallant Bloom [September 22 at Belmont] and probably win again, but then you'd get to that third race. She gets a little light on me," he added. "She puts a lot into her gallops. So, she can be a little strong to deal with at times, so the freshening won't hurt her."
Come Dancing improved to 7-2-0 in 12 starts with four of those wins coming against stakes company. The 5-year-old Malibu Moon mare could be sent to Fair Hill in Maryland under the care of Bruce Jackson to rest and then campaign into the Breeders' Cup, Martin said.
"It's like heaven for horses, so I'm thinking of sending her there for a few weeks and getting her back and ready in the middle of September," he said. "I think it'll work out well."
The Ballerina was the 12th career graded stakes win for Martin and first at Saratoga. Martin, who saddled his first winner in 1989. Born into a family of training legends, including his grandfather and Hall of Famer Frank "Pancho" Martin, who conditioned Sham among others, and his late father Jose Martin, who trained five-time stakes winner Noble Nashua.
Carlos Martin won his first Grade 1 Buy the Firm in the 1991 Top Flight and now has another one 28 years later.
"It's been a long time between drinks. It's incredible," Martin said. "I've been coming here for many, many years since I was a kid, so to win a Grade 1 on Travers Day, that's what it's all about."
Empire State Thoroughbreds' Bon Raison came out of his fifth-place finish in the Grade 1, $600,000 Forego presented by Encore Boston Harbor in good order, with Martin saying no definitive future plans are set for the 4-year-old son of Raison d'Etat.
Bon Raison made his 14th start of the year and his fifth since July, bidding for his first on-the-board finish in five attempts against graded stakes caliber before tiring late. He was coming off a win and a 100 Beyer in the Tale of the Cat on August 9 at Saratoga.
* * *
Brown impressed with Annals of Time; looks to regroup with Highest Honors and Looking At Bikinis
Picking up five wins on Saturday's Travers Day card, including a pair of graded stakes wins with Annals of Time in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer and Significant Form in the Grade 2 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa, conditioner Chad Brown increased his win total to 33 entering day 34 of the Saratoga meet.
Making his first graded stakes start since winning the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby as a 3-year-old, the now 6-year-old Annals of Time, who has only made eight lifetime starts overcoming soft tissue injury and two-year layoff, was sent off as the 5-2 post time favorite. He stalked the nine-horse field early and rallied late to win the 1 ½ mile Sword Dancer by a neck at the wire.
"I was really impressed with his race," said Brown. "He tried something new in a three-turn race but he came through."
In three starts this year, Annals of Time has two wins including an impressive 4 ½ length allowance victory on July 24. Brown believes even with his limited time back, he has shown enough to be included as one of the top contenders in the older turf division to multiple graded stakes winner and stablemate Bricks and Mortar also owned by Klaravich Stable as the division's leader.
"Bricks and Mortar is clearly at the top, but he's proven now that he's one of the top turf colts in his division and can stay a mile and a half which is important," said Brown.
In the Grade 2 Ballston Spa, 4-year-old Significant Form for owner Stephanie Seymour Brant picked up her second graded stakes victory of the year rallying late to earn the victory by a neck. She was making her first start stretching out in distance after finishing a disappointing fifth in the Caress on July 21 at the Spa. Brown also entered New York-bred Fifty Five for owner Peter Brant, who finished fourth.
"She ran terrific, I was really proud she got right up there at the wire and showed a lot of courage," said Brown. "Fifty Five ran well and has proven now in a couple seasons in a row that Saratoga might not be her favorite turf course. We'll fight on another day with her."
Before ending Saturday's card with impressive 3-year-old maiden winner Magic Star for Don Alberto Stable, Brown saddled 13-1 contender Highest Honors and 11-1 Looking At Bikinis in the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers who finished sixth and 11th respectively.
"Magic Star - she was impressive," said Brown. "She had trained like she would potentially run well and it's nice to see her running to her workouts like that.
"Looking At Bikinis and Highest Honors have come back okay so far," added Brown. "Looking At Bikinis was disappointing but she was compromised at the start and never really got in the race. I thought Highest Honors had a good trip, but just couldn't quicken with those other horses. We'll move on from there. I thought the winner was impressive."
* * *
G1 winners War of Will, Got Stormy breeze Sunday morning for Casse
Looking more like the horse that gave Canadian Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse his first American Classic victory in the Grade 1 Preakness this spring, Gary Barber's War of Will sizzled through a half-mile breeze in 47.04 seconds over Saratoga's main track Sunday morning.
With regular rider Tyler Gaffalione aboard, it was the second work for War of Will since finishing a well-beaten fifth in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy presented by NYRA Bets July 27. The time was the fastest of 69 horses at the distance.
"He worked extremely good this morning," Casse said. "We were looking for 48 and he went in 47, but that was OK. Tyler was just amazed. The first thing Tyler said when he got back was, 'He's back.'"
Between the Preakness and Jim Dandy, War of Will ran ninth behind stablemate Sir Winston in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets June 8. War of Will returned from the Jim Dandy with a half-mile breeze in 50.54 August 17.
"I had this conversation with Gary this morning. I think War of Will thrives in the cooler weather," Casse said. "Just when it cooled off the last few days, he was like a monster. He was trying to buck off the rider yesterday, and he's very quiet. Some horses thrive in the cold.
"We changed a little bit. We put a rubber figure eight [bit] on him to keep his mouth shut," he added. "He opens his mouth pretty good and today he had his mouth shut, which was better. The other thing we did was last week we went ahead and put glue-on shoes on him, because his feet have always been tender. I don't know if that helped. Maybe it was a combination of a few things."
War of Will is being pointed to a return in the Grade 1, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on Saturday, June 21.
"The one thing we know he likes, and I think it might have got him that day, he likes a tighter track. I know it ate him up in the Belmont," Casse said. "I could give him an excuse in the Belmont; I couldn't give him much of an excuse in the Jim Dandy. So, we're going to forget about it and move forward."
Barber and Southern Equine Stable's 4-year-old filly Got Stormy returned to the work tab Sunday for the first time since defeating males for her first Grade 1 victory in the Fourstardave Handicap on August 10. It was her second win in a week this summer at Saratoga following the Fasig-Tipton De La Rose on August 3.
Headed for the Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile on September 14, Got Stormy was joined on the Oklahoma training track turf course by Live Oak Plantation's homebred Grade 2 winner March to the Arch, being pointed to the Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap on Labor Day, September 2, Closing Day of the Saratoga meet.
Got Stormy was timed in 50.23 seconds for a half-mile over the firm going, ranking 12th of 31 horses, while March to the Arch went the same distance in 50.55.
"They both went really nice. We weren't looking for anything special," Casse said. "[Got Stormy] worked super. We're still on schedule for the Woodbine Mile. She's been unbelievable. I could have run her the next week. She is just thriving right now. I don't know if it's Saratoga or what it is, but she's raring and ready to go."
Following a stylish maiden victory from Tap It To Win, trainer Mark Casse said the talented Tapit gray could race back in either the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne on October 5 at Belmont Park or the Grade 1, $500,000 Claiborne Breeders Futurity on the same day at Keeneland.
Owned by Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Planation, Tapit It To Win broke his maiden at second asking over the Saratoga main track after a runner-up effort at Woodbine in July.
Tapit It To Win scored by 3 1/2 lengths in his maiden victory, where he earned an 86 Beyer Speed Figure.
"He's a pretty good horse. I think we have two options: the Champagne or get the two-turn experience in the Breeders Futurity and that's something I'll have to discuss with Mrs. Weber," Casse said. "His last work out of the gate was great. It surprised me how fast he ran, but it didn't surprise me that he won."
A Florida homebred, Tap It To Win is out of the three-time stakes winning Medaglia d'Oro broodmare Onepointhreekarats, who was bought for $1.3 million as a yearling.
* * *
G1 Sword Dancer runner-up Sadler's Joy bound for G1 Joe Hirsch
Woodslane Farm's homebred multi-millionaire Sadler's Joy exited his runner-up finish in Saturday's Grade 1 Sword Dancer in good order, trainer Tom Albertrani said Sunday, and will be pointed to the Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic on October 5 at Belmont Park.
"We'll probably head for the Joe Hirsch," Albertrani said. "He looked fine this morning. I was very happy with the way he ran."
Sadler's Joy settled in sixth in the nine-horse Sword Dancer, trailed closest by eventual winner Annals of Time for 1 ¼ miles. Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano and Annals of Time, racing five wide, got the jump on Jose Lezcano and Sadler's Joy for the run home and emerged from a photo a neck ahead after 1 ½ miles in 2:27.50.
"He ran very well. He was a little closer this time. Usually he's a little further back," Albertrani said. "I liked where he was positioned early on. He had a good trip and, unfortunately, just got nailed.
"There was some bumping down the lane. I'm a little surprised there wasn't an inquiry looking at the stretch run, because Javier did come over and bump him a couple of times," he added. "The second time he bumped him, he knocked him off to his left lead. I'm not saying it would have cost him but it was something worth looking at. But, the horse ran a huge race."
The Sword Dancer was just the second start this year and 24th overall for 6-year-old Sadler's Joy, the 2017 Sword Dancer winner who was sixth as the favorite in last year's edition. Third in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf last fall, he returned to close from well back and be sixth by 1 ¼ lengths in the Grade 2 Bowling Green on July 27 at Saratoga.
"The plan was to give him a little break after the Breeders' Cup. We were actually trying to target the Manhattan, but we had a couple of hiccups along the way; nothing serious, just a couple of minor things which brought us to the Bowling Green," Albertrani said. "The Sword Dancer was another of our target races. I thought he was unlucky in the Bowling Green, as well. He just never found a way to get through early on and it probably cost him a little earlier placing, but the horse always shows up."
* * *
Foley remains upbeat following Hog Creek Hustle's close second in G1 H. Allen Jerkens presented by Runhappy
Trainer Vickie Foley reported Sunday that Something Special Racing's Hog Creek Hustle emerged from his tough beat in Saturday's Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens presented by Runhappy in good shape.
In the Jerkens, Hog Creek Hustle took his customary spot well off the pace before making a steady stretch run, finishing a nose behind the winner Mind Control in second in a four-way blanket finish.
"He thinks he won," said Foley. "His legs look good, he ate up. As of now, he looks good."
Foley was proud of Hog Creek Hustle's performance but couldn't help but wonder what could have been if the race had played out a little bit differently.
"When I looked up and saw the fractions and they went the first quarter in :23, I was hoping for :21 and change," said Foley. "They did step it up. I just said, 'C'mon, c'mon.' It was really exciting. For a horse like that to make up that kind of ground, that was impressive. There was one nod before the wire when [Hog Creek Hustle] was in front, and then the nod was Mind Control. It was a bob of the head. I'm still feeling it this morning. I wish it could have been the other way, but he ran good."
Foley added that she will now point Hog Creek Hustle, winner of the Grade 1 Woody Stephens in June at Belmont, toward the Grade 2 Phoenix, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds and up October 4 at Keeneland.
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Mr. Buff adds Lezcano for G1 Woodward; Pacific Gale sidelined
Chester and Mary Broman's 5-year-old chestnut Mr. Buff will make his next start in Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward at nine-furlongs on the Saratoga main.
Trainer John Kimmel said Jose Lezcano will take over from regular pilot Junior Alvarado, who is committed to Woodward contender Preservationist. Lezcano was aboard Mr. Buff on Friday for a four-furlong breeze in 49.20 on the main track.
"Jose will be riding him and I wanted him to have a chance to breeze him a nice little half-mile," said Kimmel. "He breezed nicely, but lost a shoe in the breeze and still went in 49. He'll be ready to rock and roll."
The strapping New York-bred chestnut son of Friend Or Foe dominated the Evan Shipman on August 7 at the Spa by 3 1/2-lengths at the Woodward distance. Kimmel said the 10-time winner from 30 starts excels at two-turn races.
"He loves two-turns and mile and an eighth races," said Kimmel. "He's won six of seven two-turn races and he only lost one [the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap) and no one who was supposed to run well there that day ran well. So, we just drew a line through that effort and he's run very well since."
Tobey Morton's Pacific Gale was scratched out of Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Ketel One Ballerina after incurring an injury the day before the race.
"She's resting comfortably," said Kimmel. "She came out of her gallop on Friday off on the left front to the point it was disconcerting. We brought her back to the barn and gave her a thorough examination and really couldn't find anything. She is scheduled to go for a scintigraphy at Rood and Riddle to see if they can find anything."