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Saratoga Race Course Notes - August 17

By NYRA Press Office | 08/17/2013 02:25 PM ET
PHOTO/Adam Coglianese

  • Moreno turns in final five-furlong breeze for G1 Travers; Salutos Amigos drills for G1 Foxwoods King's Bishop
  • McPeek sends War Dancer out for G1 Travers work
  • Mucho Macho Man goes six furlongs for G1 Woodward
  • Lighthouse Bay has first work since G1 Prioress upset
  • Baby J breezes for G1 Test

Southern Equine Stable's Moreno flashed his speed in a Saturday morning workout, zipping five furlongs in 59.68 seconds over the main track in preparation for the Grade 1, $1 million Travers on August 24.

Gate-to-wire winner of the Grade 2 Dwyer on July 6 at Belmont Park and a game third to Palace Malice and Will Take Charge in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy on July 27 at the Spa, Moreno went an opening quarter-mile in :24 1/5 seconds, three-eighths in :35 flat, and galloped out in 1:13 1/5.

"He traveled really good for the Travers," Guillot said. "I chose today [to work Moreno] because you know how he's a looky-loo; he's got the earplugs and the blinkers. I figured with the Alabama [being run today], the apron would be full of people, and sure enough I was right. Last Sunday, when I worked him [1:12 flat for six furlongs] he was more focused on the rider. Today, he's got his ears pricked and he's looking around at people eating Dunkin' Donuts."

In the Jim Dandy, Moreno sailed through an opening half-mile in 47.48 seconds and six furlongs in 1:11.13 before a stalking Palace Malice overtook him. With speedy Grade 1 Haskell Invitational winner Verrazano also in the Travers lineup - giving trainer Todd Pletcher an imposing, double-barreled entry - Guillot believes moderate internal fractions will be critical for Moreno to have a chance to win at 1 ¼ miles.

"It's going to all be about the inner fractions," Guillot said. "Inner fractions make races. If you're any kind of handicapper, you should know that.

"I would imagine Todd wouldn't be pressing his own horse with Palace Malice and Verrazano together; that wouldn't make much sense," he continued. "So, somebody's going to push me, and, hopefully, they push me so far up front, or push me to the point where the other one can't catch up. That would be the best-case scenario."

Guillot also sent out Salutos Amigos, bound for the Grade 1, $500,000 Foxwoods King's Bishop on the Travers undercard, for a five-furlong work in 1:02.53.

In the Grade 2 Amsterdam on July 28, the son of Salute the Sarge raced close behind a fast pace, briefly dropped back and then came charging along the rail to finish third, beaten 1 ¾ lengths by winner Forty Tales.

The performance earned Salutos Amigos a lifetime-best 98 Beyer Speed Figure.

Guillot said the 3-year-old colt has overcome nagging foot issues, and he expects a big run in the Foxwoods King's Bishop.

"When I bought the horse and put him on the shelf, he had real spongy, real crumbly, a real bad horny wall on him," Guillot said of Salutos Amigos' feet. "You couldn't put in any nails; you had to kind of glue - put a nail, glue, put a nail, glue. It would take two hours ... to put a shoe job on him.

"I knew it would take six months to grow out. They've grown out. I don't have any more glue on the horse. The day after I shoe him, he goes like a champ. I don't have to keep him on any kind of medication to keep his feet right. The horse went from shuffling like he was on egg shells to striding out like a good horse."



Both trainer Ken McPeek and regular rider Alan Garcia were pleased with the way War Dancer performed in his final breeze prior to the Grade 1 Travers on August 24.

Garcia, who has been aboard for six of the War Front colt's seven career starts, guided War Dancer through a five-furlong work on the Oklahoma training track Saturday morning.

"He went great; better than ever," Garcia said. "He was moving sweet. I'm looking forward to the Travers. The way I'm feeling the last two times I breezed this horse, he couldn't be better."

Owned by Magdelena Racing, War Dancer worked in company with maiden winner So Raise Yourglass. Both horses were clocked in 1:02.33, fourth-fastest of 11 horses at the distance.

"It was a nice work," McPeek said. "He did it well. Alan seemed to think that he could have left the other horse earlier in the breeze. It looks like it sets up pretty nice for us. War Dancer does everything you ask him to do, whenever you ask him to do it. He's drilling the feed tub, and that's what he's got to do going into this."

All but one of War Dancer's races have come on turf, including a gutsy head victory in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby on July 13 in his most recent start. He was fourth in his lone dirt try in February at Gulfstream Park, a race in which each of the top three finishers - Saint Vigeur, Wabbajack and Freedom Child - came back to win their next start.

"We think he'll handle the dirt fine; we just haven't given him much of an opportunity on it other than the one race in Florida," he said. "He's made the mile and a quarter already in the Virginia Derby, and that was a very heavy turf course."

McPeek recently moved War Dancer into stall 1, the same one occupied by Golden Ticket last summer prior to his dead-heat victory with Alpha in the Travers.

"Same groom, too," McPeek said. "Same exercise rider. What works, you stick to it."

Also working for McPeek on Saturday was Grade 1 Arkansas Derby runner-up Frac Daddy, who went five furlongs in 1:02.87 at Oklahoma. Sixteenth in the Kentucky Derby, Frac Daddy has not run since finishing 14th in the Belmont Stakes on June 8.



Multiple graded stakes winner Mucho Macho Man returned to the worktab on Saturday, putting in a six-furlong breeze in advance of his next start in the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward on August 31.

Trained by Kathy Ritvo for Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, the 5-year-old son of Macho Uno was clocked in 1:14.43 on the main track. Mucho Macho Man had not worked since his third-place finish in the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap on August 3.

"He went good, very good," Ritvo said. "He was very strong today. He came out of his race really good and showed us that he's ready to get ready to run again. He's very sharp; he can't be doing any better."

Mucho Macho Man is 0-for-3 in 2013, including a third in the Criminal Type at Belmont Park on June 14, but he won the Grade 2 Suburban and was second in the Woodward and Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic in the second half of 2012.

"He ran a monster race [in the Whitney]," Ritvo said. "It's been kind of a slow start to this year, but he's picking it up. He'll be running his third race [off a layoff] in the Woodward, and it should be a good one."

Mucho Macho Man has a record of 6-5-6 from 21 lifetime starts, with purse earnings of $2,440,410. He competed in all three legs of the 2011 Triple Crown, including a third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.

"I don't understand how you can find a more consistent horse," Ritvo said. "He ran a good race coming back in the Criminal Type, and he took a huge step to the Whitney. Huge."



With exercise rider Cindy Hutter aboard, Lighthouse Bay breezed five furlongs in 1:01.21 on the main track Saturday morning for trainer George Weaver.

It was the first work for the 3-year-old Speightstown filly following her half-length upset of the Grade 1 Prioress on July 27 at odds of 21-1.

"It went really smooth," Weaver said. "I made the decision to only work her once. The fact that she worked in 1:01 and change was good because usually by herself she can very easily have gone much slower. She's not a horse that goes over there and is a flashy work horse. I took it as a sign that she was eager and wanting to go as well as she did."

Lighthouse Bay will make her next start in the Grade 1, $500,000 Test Stakes on the Travers undercard August 24. She stretches out to seven furlongs for the first time in the Test, having run as far as 6 ½ furlongs once, winning the Jostle Stakes at Parx Racing one start before the Prioress.

"She seems to be in fine form. Hopefully, she'll go over there and run her race for us on Travers Day," Weaver said. "They call it the Test, and it will be a test for her, but she has the right style to run a good seven furlongs. Until you do it, you don't know for sure, but we're delighted to be able to be pointing for the Test. She deserves to be in there after winning the Prioress, for sure."



On the sidelines since her gritty score in the Grade 3 Victory Ride on June 29 at Belmont Park, Paul Pompa Jr.'s Baby J worked six furlongs Saturday in 1:14.50 in preparation for the Grade 1 Test, a historic seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies on August 24.

"She went nice and easy and galloped out good, so we're going to take a shot at the Grade 1," trainer Patrick Reynolds said. "She won the Victory Ride. She got knocked sideways at the eighth pole and got up and got the job done. When you have a horse like that, you've got a good shot. She's a tryer and wants to do it."

Transferred to Reynolds' barn this spring, Baby J has won a six-furlong sprint gate-to-wire in the slop on May 8 at Belmont Park, finished third next out in an optional claimer against older horses June 14 and then took the Victory Ride off two weeks' rest.

Discussing the loss, Reynolds said jockey Joel Rosario tried to harness Baby J's speed early, and she did not appreciate it.

"She's a speedball, and she sulked a little bit," Reynolds said. "It was a mistake in judgment and planning."

Reynolds said the win in the Victory Ride emboldened Pompa to shoot for the Test.

"He said let's lock and load and see if we can't stretch her [to seven furlongs]," Reynolds said. "It's the Test. It's a big race. Everyone knows the Test. We have our fingers crossed."