Saratoga Race Course Notes - August 12
By NYRA Press Office | 08/12/2013 03:50 PM ET
Pletcher's Corfu, Danza possible for G1 Hopeful; Sweet Whiskey joins Elena Strikes, Stopcharingmaria among G1 Spinaway contenders; Authenticity, Shanghai Bobby breeze
Designer Legs exits Adirondack in good shape, G1 Spinaway possible; Golden Soul on target for G1 Travers, Irish Lute for G1 Test
Dilger considering Saratoga Special rematch in Hopeful with Wired Bryan
Mott comments on Royal Delta's and Flat Out's breezes
Travers contender Moreno posts Sunday work
McGaughey pleased with Orb following colt's Sunday arrival at Saratoga
Pick 6 pays six figures to single ticket holder for three consecutive days
PaulRoberts to discuss history and architecture of several race courses around the world at Hall of Fame on Wednesday
Despite his dominance with 2-year-olds at Saratoga Race Course, nine-time meet-leading trainer Todd Pletcher had never won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special until Corfu's gutsy victory by a nose in Sunday's renewal.
Pletcher had gone 0-for-6 in the second of Saratoga's three graded juvenile stakes on the dirt not restricted to fillies, finishing second with King of the Roxy in 2006 and Stat in 2011. Meanwhile, he has won the Sanford five times, the Spinaway and Schuylerville four times, the Adirondack three times, the With Anticipation twice, and the Hopeful twice.
"I think the Saratoga Special has sort of been similar to the Preakness for us, in that a lot of our better 2-year-olds have shown up in the Sanford and then kind of their next step was the Hopeful," Pletcher said. "It's just kind of the way it has fallen."
Pletcher reported Monday morning that both Corfu and rallying third-place finisher Danza emerged from the Saratoga Special in good shape, and both would be considered for the Grade 1, $300,000 Hopeful on September 2.
"[Corfu] has shown that he's very fast and he's got some courage to go along with it," Pletcher said. "I was once again surprised at how well he bounced out of what seemed like a demanding race. I think [Danza] definitely got lost in the shuffle, because one more stride and it's going to be a three-horse photo."
Two of Pletcher's four wins on Sunday came with maidens, including impressive filly Sweet Whiskey, who led from start to finish and hit the wire 5 ¼ lengths in front after running 5 ½ furlongs in 1:02.81.
The Grade 1, $300,000 Spinaway on September 1 is a "definite possibility" for the bay daughter of Old Fashioned, said Pletcher, along with stablemates Elena Strikes and Stopchargingmaria.
"She'd been training really well and had breezed in company with a couple of other fillies that had already run well at the meet, so we anticipated she would run well," Pletcher said. "It was nice to see her do it."
Pletcher said Sunday's other maiden winner, We Miss Artie, would be pointed to the Grade 2, $200,000 With Anticipation on August 29. We Miss Artie won by three lengths going 1 1/16 miles on the Mellon turf course in 1:45.06 under a hand ride.
"I thought he ran OK on the dirt, but being [by] Artie Schiller, we felt like turf was something we wanted to look at," said Pletcher. "We breezed him on the turf and he went really well, so we decided to go that way. I thought he ran a good race."
Among Pletcher's workers on Monday were Authenticity, who went five furlongs in 1:01.92 prepping for the Grade 1, $600,000 Personal Ensign Invitational on August 25, and Shanghai Bobby, last year's champion 2-year-old male who was clocked in 49.62 seconds for a half-mile. Since being sidelined with a pelvic stress fracture, Shanghai Bobby has had three works at Saratoga.
"[Authenticity] was her normal professional self and galloped out great. I think we're in really good shape at the moment," Pletcher said. "This was [Shanghai Bobby's] first half, and he surprised me a little bit. His fitness level is a little higher than I expected it to be after only three breezes, so we're making good progress."
Pletcher's big Sunday put him at 23 wins heading into Monday's card, leading runner-up Chad Brown by 11.
"I felt like, going in, we could have a good day, but I've felt that way before and left there with a big bagel," Pletcher said. "It's nice that it came together."
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Owner Murray Valene joined trainer Dallas Stewart at the barn Monday morning following the victory via disqualification for Designer Legs in Sunday's Grade 2, $200,000 Adirondack.
The Adirondack was the third straight win for the unbeaten daughter of Graeme Hall, who was promoted to first after Who's in Town was taken down for interfering with favored Fiftyshadesofgold in the stretch.
"Murray knows her really well, and he said, 'She's a fighter,' and she is. She fought really hard," Stewart said. "It was a tough race. She got banged a little bit, but thank God she came back good. She's got one little minor scratch, but she looks good. As hard as it is to win, we got lucky."
Stewart hopes to bring Designer Legs back in the seven-furlong Spinaway for her next start.
"We would love to," he said. "We'll just train her up to the race, and, if everything's right on, we'll do it."
Stewart's Kentucky Derby runner-up Golden Soul remains on target for the Grade 1, $1 million Travers on August 24. In his most recent start, Golden Soul was seventh in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational on July 28.
"He's doing really well, so we're just continuing on," Stewart said. "He's sharp. He's feeling good, so we'll train him right up to the race. So far, so good."
Stewart said Perfect Title, last seen running seventh of nine in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga on July 27, is out of action for two to three months after needing surgery to repair a leg injury suffered in his first work back.
The Perfect Soul colt was hurt following a five-furlong breeze on August 8 and was operated on the following day by Dr. Larry Bramlage, who was in Saratoga for the annual Jockey Club Round Table conference.
"He's back in his stall here," Stewart said. "We had to put a couple of screws in the cannon bone. He worked excellent; it was just one of those things. He'll go to the farm in a couple of days, when he's good enough to travel. He'll be out a few months, for sure, so we'll have time to figure it out."
Stewart said filly Irish Lute, third in the Grade 1 Prioress on July 27, remains on course for her return in the Grade 1, $500,000 Test on August 24. She worked four furlongs in 51.80 on Saturday over the Oklahoma training track.
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The Grade 1 Hopeful on September 2 could serve as a Saratoga Special rematch as trainer Michael Dilger revealed Monday morning that runner-up Wired Bryan will be considered for the closing-day feature.
"We'll see. The horse looks good this morning," said Dilger, who trains the New York-bred for Anstu Stables. "He doesn't seem to have any ill effects from this race. Right now, he's not acting like he had a hard race, even though he did. He's bouncing out there, so we'll see. We waited until we worked and waited until we saw how the horse was until we [decided to run in the Saratoga Special off a win in the Grade 2 Sanford on July 21]. We'll do the same for the next one.
"I suppose we'll know a week from know how much it took out of him," Dilger added. "He walked this morning and he was on his toes. When he gets back to the track, that's when we'll really get a gauge on it, I suppose."
Dilger, who assisted Pletcher for seven years until January, said he was disappointed with the outcome of the Saratoga Special but was also pleased with Wired Bryan's performance.
"To be honest, we didn't really get to see how fast [Corfu and Wired Bryan] were going," said Dilger. "We were just looking at our horse. They battled the whole way, but we sat right there with him and inched away at him. We might have gotten a little bit ahead of him [right after the finish], but it only counts at the wire."
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One day after Royal Delta breezed four furlongs in a bullet 47.48 seconds over the Oklahoma training track, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott expressed satisfaction with the way the 5-year-old mare is training up to the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Invitational.
"She's had a couple works here and she' s doing well," said Mott. "She seemed like she came out of her work in good order. She'll work again before the race, I guess next weekend. She's been working [quickly] recently. She's working right along, but she's doing that well within herself. She's not being pushed to do that; she's doing that on her own courage, under wraps."
Mott was lukewarm when discussing Flat Out's four-furlong breeze in 49.28 on the Oklahoma training track on Monday.
"I didn't think he was quite as sharp as he had been before [his victory in the Grade 2] Suburban [Handicap on July 6], but the work was OK," said Mott. "It wasn't his best work, but we've got a couple more before the [Grade 1, $750,000] Woodward [on August 31]."
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On Sunday, Travers Stakes contender Moreno worked six furlongs on the main track in 1:12.01, breezing, as colorful trainer Eric Guillot watched from the grandstand.
Guillot, a California resident from New Iberia, La., stood next to Todd Pletcher, who was watching his own Travers horses, Palace Malice and Verrazano, work out.
Morenomade a strong pace in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy on July 27 then faded to third after battling into the stretch with eventual winner Palace Malice.
Guillot joked that he tried to convince Pletcher to work one of his horses in company with Moreno. Then he said he was delighted with what his horse had done.
"He finished like a freight train, galloped out in 1:24 2/5," he said. "He's like smoked ham - always ready. Put it on the dashboard, put it on the counter, put it in the trunk of your car - smoked ham is always ready."
Since the Jim Dandy, Guillot has jokingly insisted he would apply "bear grease" to Moreno's tail and send the gelding directly to the front in the Travers.
"Todd needs to acclimate Palace Malice and Verrazano to bear," Guillot said. "He needs to go to the zoo and acclimate his horse for bear because when I paint that bear grease in Moreno's tail and get on the lead, the horse is in fear of the bear. They have bears in the New York zoo, right?"
* * *
Shug McGaughey liked what he saw Monday morning as Kentucky Derby winner Orb began his first full day at the Hall of Fame trainer's Saratoga barn after two months at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland.
"We got here and turned him out in the round pen at 5:30 this morning, and he was jumping and playing," McGaughey said. Orb arrived Sunday afternoon following a van ride up from Maryland.
"I think his energy level is back to where we want it," McGaughey said. "We fed him last night, and he ate up in 20 minutes. We didn't feed him full feed, obviously, but he'll be on it tonight. He didn't look at it and go back to the corner by any means."
Orb, preparing to compete in the Grade 1 Travers, looks stronger than he did going into the Kentucky Derby, according to McGaughey. "He weighs like 1,050 pounds now, but when he went down there he weighed about 960 pounds, but that was Monday after the Belmont."
After giving McGaughey his first victory in the Kentucky Derby, Orb finished fourth in the Preakness Stakes and third in the Belmont Stakes. The trainer believed he had a tired horse, and he decided to send Orb to Fair Hill and put him in the care of Bruce Jackson, who manages the Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center.
At Fair Hill, Orb underwent sessions in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber as well as cold saltwater spa treatment after morning activities.
McGaughey liked the way Orb flourished so much, he began sending other runners to Fair Hill, including Boisterous, one of the top contenders for the Grade 1, $600,000 Sword Dancer Invitational this Saturday.
As for plans leading up to the Travers, Orb started out with an easy jog Monday morning and then a long walk.
"I'll gallop him through the week, and I'll breeze him a half-mile on Monday, which we have done all the time," McGaughey said. "I think I blew him out Sunday before the Belmont. But, maybe, I want to do a little more with him, and we'll see how it goes from there. I want to school him in the paddock a time or two. We have schooled him in the gate at Fair Hill, so I don't know that I'll do that. Really, we're just going to try to keep what we've got, keep him happy and get him ready to [work] next Monday."
* * *
The $2 Pick 6, which concludes in the final race on the card, has been hit by just a single player each of the past three days at Saratoga Race Course.
On Friday, the Pick 6 paid $197,399; on Saturday, it paid $145,904, and yesterday it paid $120,415.
* * *
Saratogaat 150: The World's Greatest Race Course?
On Tuesday at 7 p.m. Paul Roberts will answer that question during a presentation at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, 191 Union Avenue.
Roberts, a principal in Turnberry Consulting in London, and Capital Planning Consultant of The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA), will review the history and architecture of several race courses around the world and assess Saratoga's place in worldwide racing after 150 years.
An authority on racecourses, Roberts is the co-author with Isabelle Taylor, of "The SPA: Saratoga's Legendary Race Course and Race Course Architecture." The book, which is out of print, will be available for purchase, and Roberts will sign copies after the lecture.
Prior to the lecture, Saratoga Race Course will be honored for its 150th Anniversary with a specially prepared citation and two limited edition prints from Chester, England, the home of Chester Racecourse, the oldest race course in the United Kingdom.
Saratoga Springsmayor Scott Johnson and members of the Saratoga 150 Committee will accept on behalf of Saratoga Race Course. The link between the two cities has been made by Kay Kent, director of strategic projects at the University of Chester. Chester Racecourse will celebrate 475 years of racing in 2014.
The lecture is presented by the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation and the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, and sponsored by NYRA. The cost is $10 per person and proceeds will benefit both organizations. Because seating is limited, reservations are encouraged but not necessary.