Saratoga Race Course Notes 8.6.17
by NYRA Press Office
- Gun Runner 'fabulous' out of G1 Whitney victory
- Neolithic looks to parlay allowance win into G1 Woodward momentum
- Dutrow pleased with Mo Town's effort off the bench in Saturday allowance
- Delta Prince possible for G2 Bernard Baruch after Saturday win
- American Gal in fine fettle following G1 Longines Test victory
- Zennor in good order after Fasig-Tipton Lure win
- Expedited Vision looks to stay perfect in $100,000 Quick Call
- Team Gaudet bringing family tradition to Saratoga this summer
Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimney's Gun Runner was in fine fettle Sunday morning following his 5 ¼-length domination in Saturday's Grade 1, $1.2 million Whitney - a performance made all the more memorable by a wayward horseshoe that mystifyingly made its way into the chestnut colt's tail.
"He's fabulous, happy with himself, came back great," reported Gun Runner's Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.
Prior to the race, Gun Runner's regular jockey, Florent Geroux weighed in as the Whitney field's high weight at 124 pounds, but the pair picked up a few odd ounces during the backstretch run when pacesetter Cautious Giant sprung a horseshoe high into the air, eventually landing behind Gun Runner, where it became entangled in the 3-5 favorite's tail.
"[I only noticed it] once he slowed down," Asmussen said. "We watched the tape repeatedly, repeatedly, and if you never seen anything before, just wait around. Can you believe that? I mean if we tried to throw one and stick in one's tail as he was standing, still we'd go 0-for-1,000 - let alone at a run, let alone Gun Runner, let alone in the Whitney - and it stayed. [With] how fast he was going, it was held out from him, when he slowed down to walk, then it came into him. We were obviously unaware of it until he came back to the winner's circle, but not a nick on him. I mean, there's still nails in it."
The mystery shoe was removed when Gun Runner galloped back to the winners' circle and initially discarded, he said. But once the horse's connections realized the rare curiosity of the situation, Asmussen's assistant trainer Scott Blasi went back to retrieve it, paying $100 to a lucky fan who had picked up the unique castoff.
"My kids took it home," Asmussen said of the famous shoe's fate. "They were going to put a shadow box around it. They said that they literally have a rabbit's foot since it came off the horse that was the rabbit."
The Whitney marked the fourth straight U.S. victory for Gun Runner and his second Grade 1 win in a row following his seven-length romp in the Stephen Foster on June 17 at Churchill Downs. The Foster marked the 4-year-old Candy Ride colt's first start since finishing second to reigning Eclipse Award winner Arrogate in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse in March.
Asmussen said he expects to run Gun Runner once before the Breeders' Cup, citing the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward on Saratoga's closing weekend as a strong possibility. Gun Runner, who finished second in the 2016 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, holds an all-fees-paid berth into the Grade 1, $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic on November 4 at Del Mar.
"It seems very probable with him running over the racetrack here [and] not having to travel again," he said. "It would be ideal."
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Trainer Todd Pletcher said Keen Ice came out of his runner-up finish in Saturday's Grade 1 Whitney in good order, adding that he showed no ill effects from stumbling at the start.
Keen Ice, who finished 5 ¼ lengths behind winner Gun Runner, is now pointing toward the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup on October 7 at Belmont Park, Pletcher said.
While Keen Ice might bypass the Grade 1 Woodward on September 2, Neolithic is targeting the 1 1/8-mile race on the main track following an allowance win by a neck at seven furlongs in Saturday's finale at the Spa. The win marked his return to North America after running third in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup, setting up a potential matchup against Gun Runner.
"I thought he ran well," Pletcher said. "He had a little freshening at WinStar and got a little sick when he first came back, so we had a tight schedule to get to that. I think he overcame a less-than-ideal schedule and not his preferred distance, but I was proud of him for putting in that kid of run.
"He kind of got pushed out a little bit but showed some real determination," he added. "We're going to move forward from that race and run a mile and an eighth, which is more in his wheelhouse. Gun Runner is very good, so we'll do the best we can."
Patch, the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes third-place finisher, came out of his fourth-place finish in the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby Saturday without any issues, Pletcher said.
The trainer said hasn't made a determination for Patch's next spot, adding that he is waiting to see options after a difficult trip at Mountaineer Park.
"Mountaineer is a funny track and I was a little concerned when he drew the 3 [post]; you don't want to be on the inside in that track," Pletcher said. "I thought he ran hard and tried hard, but it's a difficult assignment when you get stuck down inside all the way around there."
Pletcher said the situation for his 3-year-olds hasn't changed, with Belmont Stakes-winning Tapwrit still on target for the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers presented by NYRA Bets on August 26.
Always Dreaming, the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby winner and third-place finisher in last week's Grade 2 Jim Dandy, and Outplay, the Bernardini colt who won the Curlin on July 28 at the Spa, will have their futures determined after next week's breezes, Pletcher said.
"Tapwrit is definitely on schedule for the Travers and we'll see how Always Dreaming and Outplay work next week and go from there," he said.
Bal Harbour, who finished fifth in his stakes debut in the Grade 3 Sanford on July 22, will run in the Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special on August 13, joining stablemate Tempestad.
Bal Harbour was second in his debut on May 12 and broke his maiden on June 8 at Gulfstream Park before taking the step up in class at the Spa. He breezed four furlongs in 49.45 seconds on the Oklahoma dirt track Sunday.
"I thought he ran better than what it reads on paper in the Sanford," Pletcher said. "Especially the way the track was that time. He got shuffled around a bit and lost some ground on the far turn with all the kickback. Once he leveled off late, he put in a decent run. I thought he worked well this morning, so we should be good with him."
Fellow 2-year-old Tempestad, an Uncle Mo colt, won his debut on May 18 at Belmont Park and will be looking to go 2-for-2, racing at 6 ½ furlongs. Tempestad breezed five furlongs in 1:02.73 on the Oklahoma track Sunday.
"I thought he worked well; it was what I was hoping for," Pletcher said.
Pure Silver, a 2-year-old Mission Impazible filly, also worked Sunday, logging five furlongs in 1:02.65 on Belmont's training track. After starting her career with two straight wins, Pletcher said her graded stakes debut could come in the Grade 2, $200,000 Adirondack on August 12.
"We originally had her targeted for the Seeking the Ante [August 25], but she worked well this morning at Belmont and we're contemplating going to the Adirondack," he said.
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Though Mo Town finished fourth behind favored Neolithic in a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance that closed Saturday's Whitney Day program, trainer Tony Dutrow said he was pleased with the competitiveness the Grade 2 winner showed in his first start in nearly four months.
Unraced since a dull seventh-place effort in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial April 8 at Aqueduct, Mo Town found himself on the outside down the backside and into the stretch, rallying from mid-pack to hit the wire less than four lengths behind the winner.
Mo Town hadn't sprinted since he ran second going six furlongs in his debut last August at Saratoga. He broke his maiden going a mile at Belmont Park last fall and capped his juvenile campaign with a victory in the Grade 2 Remsen. He opened 2017 finishing fifth in the Grade 2 Risen Star February 25 at Fair Grounds.
"Mo Town seems good from the race," Dutrow said. "I'm going to take the positive side of looking at things that he did finish up some and he did compete. It was so unlike his last race in the Wood Memorial.
"He's not a sprinter type of horse," he added. "I'm not making excuses ... but he is a better two-turn horse and I thought with him finishing up a little bit I think that gives us hope to go forward with him."
Dutrow's Team D sold a controlling interest in Mo Town to Michael Tabor, Susan Magnier and Derrick Smith of Coolmore prior to the Remsen. Dutrow said he would talk to the principals before deciding on what's next.
"I don't know what the Coolmore folks may have on their minds. I'll talk to them today," Dutrow said. "If he's any good he'll move forward. The only way he doesn't move forward is if he isn't any good."
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Stronach Stable's Delta Prince, a 4-year-old half-brother to three-time Eclipse Award winner Royal Delta, is likely to rejoin the stakes ranks following his 3 ¼-length victory in Saturday's fifth race, trainer Jimmy Jerkens said Sunday morning.
The race, a competitive allowance optional-claiming contest at a mile on the inner turf, was the first for the Street Cry colt since he finished second in the Grade 3 Appleton on April 1 at Gulfstream Park. The Appleton was Delta Prince's only defeat since switching to the turf in December, when he broke his maiden by four lengths in his third career start.
Jerkens said Delta Prince will be considered for the Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap on Labor Day, September 4, closing day of the Saratoga meet.
"I haven't really looked at everything," Jerkens said. "We'll nominate probably to the Bernard Baruch. I've got to sit down and look at what's at Belmont too. The timing [of the Baruch] could probably work."
Jerkens said his stable's standout, older dirt male Shaman Ghost, continues to train well for the Grade 1 Woodward. The 5-year-old multiple Grade 1 winner by Hall of Famer Ghostzapper breezed an easy, 50-second half-mile over the Oklahoma training track Wednesday.
"It's still a long way until the Woodward but he's been doing good so far," Jerkens said. "He worked three or four days ago going half a mile and we'll start cranking him up pretty soon."
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One day removed from her thrilling four-length win on Saturday in the Grade 1 Longines Test, trainer Simon Callaghan reported American Gal came out of the race in good order.
"She came out of the race great," Callaghan said. "Her legs were nice and cold this morning and she looks really happy. She jogged sound, so she couldn't be better."
Making only her sixth career start, the homebred for owner Kaleem Shah picked up her first Grade 1 win and second consecutive graded stakes, building on her Grade 3 Victory Ride win on July 9 at Belmont Park. Callaghan said he was still in awe of her latest performance.
"Watching the replay again, I think it was a huge performance," Callagan said. "Going wide her whole trip, and the way she drew away at the end, I think it was really special."
Set to ship back to California on Tuesday, Callaghan added that he thinks that seven-eighths is her ideal distance and will now plan around the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Del Mar.
"There's lots of options that we could choose between now and then so we're just going to get our heads together when we get her back to California and figure out where to go next but the Breeders' Cup is the ultimate goal," Callaghan said.
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Godolphin Stable's Zennor is also an expectant entrant in the Bernard Baruch following his third straight win in Sunday's Fasig-Tipton Lure. The 5-year-old grey Medaglia d'Oro gelding picked up his third straight win - and fourth victory in his last five starts - while earning his first stakes victory.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said the Lure came up better than anticipated and was impressed with the effort.
"It was supposed to be the next step, a beaten stake, but it seemed like it was an equivalent to a Grade 3 or even a 2," said McLaughlin. "We were very pleased with the way he ran and winning the race, obviously. [Jockey] Joe [Bravo] rode a great race. He thought there wasn't much pace so he put him forwardly placed instead of coming from the back, and it worked out great."
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Undefeated Expedited Vision will put his perfect record on the line for his stakes debut in Wednesday's $100,000 Quick Call for 3-year-olds going 5 ½ furlongs on the Mellon turf course.
Co-owned by D Hatman Thoroughbreds and trainer Phil Schoenthal, Maryland-bred Expedited Vision drew post 5 in the six-horse field. Regular Laurel Park-based rider Sheldon Russell will come in for the mount at 117 pounds.
Schoenthal is no stranger to Saratoga, having run second with multiple stakes-winning filly Miss Behaviour in the Grade 1 Test and Grade 2 Prioress in 2014. Last summer, he finished eighth with Inspired Flight in the Grade 3 Schuylerville.
"I don't know if he's that kind of horse or not and I don't know if he's better on the grass or the dirt, but it's been a goal of ours every year to try to win a race at Saratoga," Schoenthal said. "If you're not going to take an undefeated horse up there to take a shot in a minor stakes race, then what horse are you going to take? We're going to go up there and try to check that box of having our fun at Saratoga for a couple days and take our shot of winning a race on the big stage."
Expedited Vision went unraced at 2 and has aced both his starts this year at Laurel, taking his June 9 debut by a length at odds of nearly 23-1 going 5 ½ furlongs on the turf. Schoenthal put the Hansel gelding on the dirt for an optional claiming allowance 15 days later, and he responded with a 6 ½-length rout.
"We liked the horse early on. He was getting ready for the very first 2-year-old race in New York for $100,000 last year, and at that time we felt like he was the best 2-year-old we'd had in a long, long time," Schoenthal said. "He was breezing lights-out and we were confident that he was going to be extremely hard to beat.
"Then he got hurt the last workout right before the race and he was 15 months getting back to the races after two surgeries," he added. "It was kind of a long, long haul. It was a patient time and we felt like we wanted to do the right thing by the horse and do all we could do to get him back and give him every opportunity."
Expedited Vision is listed at 5-1 on the morning line for the Quick Call, whereMalraux, coming off back-to-back wins at Arlington Park, is the 2-1 program favorite. Also entered are Blind Ambition, Mongo Nation, stakes winner The Money Monster and Indy Hill.
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Long respected for its success on the Mid-Atlantic circuit, the Gaudet family has been training thoroughbreds since the late 1950s. For the first time this summer, it has brought that tradition to Saratoga.
Team Gaudet, headed by 29-year-old Lacey Gaudet with help from her mother, Linda, has a handful of stalls at the Oklahoma training track. They have alternated being here and managing a full string at their main base of Laurel Park.
I Stand Alone, a 7-year-old gelding they own along with David and Illana Cramer, gave Team Gaudet its first starter of the meet in Sunday's opener.
"I'm still kind of in shock that we're doing it," Lacey Gaudet said. "We said that we would apply for stalls and if we got them we would make our best effort to go. We have a few that fit up there but we have to be there to claim; that's going to be the big thing. We have a lot of clients that want to claim and ... it's the only way to get new fresh horses.
"When they called and told me that we had stalls I said it was kind of like being accepted into Harvard," she added. "The Saratoga acceptance letter was just as good. It's our Harvard."
Gaudet is coming off a career year where she won 31 races including multiple stakes and earned more than $850,000 in purses. Her father, Eddie, won 1,735 races as a trainer between 1959 and 2011, when he retired at the age of 81 and his wife took over the stable. Gaudet had been training on her own before joining forces with her mother last year.
Lacey Gaudet shipped in to run two horses at Saratoga last August, finishing third with Pret Say Eye and sixth with Big Air in a pair of claiming events. Before leaving they also picked up the British-bred mare Marabea, a $25,000 claim that won the first two starts for her new connections including the $125,000 Tiara on Claiming Crown Day Dec. 3 at Gulfstream Park.
In addition to working for her father, Gaudet was an assistant for trainers Helen Pitts at Gulfstream and Allen Iwinski at Saratoga before going out on her own. She won five races including three stakes last year with John Jones, a horse she claimed for $25,000 at Laurel. Gaudet's younger sister, Gabby, is a NYRA TV racing analyst.
"We're not going up there to take over the world. I'll be ecstatic if we win a race," she said. "I'll be very pleased with a few seconds and thirds, and if we can bring back two or three horses that are half as nice as Marabea, which we got up there last year, it'll be worth the trip. We hope to have some fun."