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Saratoga Race Course Notes - August 19

By NYRA Press Office | 08/19/2013 05:07 PM ET
PHOTO/Susie Raisher

  • Kentucky Derby winner Orb fires bullet over Oklahoma training track for G1 Travers
  • Will Take Charge has final pre-Travers breeze
  • Palace Malice, Verrazano doing well following Sunday breezes
  • Royal Delta breezes for G1 Personal Ensign, Flat Out for G1 Woodward
  • LoPresti duo of Successful Dan, Turallure to breeze Tuesday
  • Demonstrative faces tough challenge in quest for second N.Y. Turf Writers Cup
  • Fields forming for Travers weekend graded stakes
  • Velazquez, Bailey and Cordero to be honored Friday at Saratoga

Kentucky Derby winner Orb, who arrived at Saratoga Race Course on August 11, turned in a four-furlong breeze over the Oklahoma training track on Monday for Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Travers.

Breezing for the first time since his arrival at the Spa, Orb was clocked in 47.68 seconds and galloped out five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 seconds with exercise rider Jennifer Patterson aboard. The workout was the fastest of 31 at the distance on the Oklahoma training track. 

"I thought he worked a nice, sharp half-mile," said Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, who trains Orb for Stuart S. Janney, III and Phipps Stable. "Everything is going the right way. His work at Fair Hill [on August 10] was great. He shipped up here in really good order and hasn't missed a beat."

"His stride, when he's right, is so big, and he does things so easily," added Patterson. "He always fools me with his times when he's right, because I just feel like we're galloping around there. I had that feeling again this morning, which is really nice."

After giving McGaughey his first Grade 1 Kentucky Derby victory, Orb finished a non-threatening fourth in the Grade 1 Preakness and third in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes. He recuperated and trained at Fair Hill in Maryland from mid-June until he was shipped to Saratoga.

"I think the time off after the Belmont kind of helped mature him more, like he did over the winter," said McGaughey. "We were just trying to get him back where we wanted him. I thought the Fair Hill thing really worked well for him, the different therapies and being able to be [outside]. They kept him out for a long time. Even sometimes the night watchman would get him out and graze him. I think that experiment worked very well. I think he's more of a horse now [than he was immediately after the Belmont Stakes]. When he got off the van here, I thought I saw things where he kind of matured as a horse."

McGaughey believes Orb, a son of Malibu Moon, is ready for a top effort in the Travers, which could play a large role in determining Champion Three-Year-Old Male honors.

"Obviously, we're in the race to win, but if we get a really solid effort then that would be fine, too," said McGaughey. "I think he'll be awful tough."

Orb's competition in the Travers is expected to include Grade 1 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice and Grade 1 Wood Memorial and Grade 1 Haskell Invitational winner Verrazano from the barn of Todd Pletcher.

"They're the proven horses," said McGaughey of Pletcher's pair. "Palace Malice won the Belmont and came back and ran a big race in the Jim Dandy. Verrazano has been a 'now' horse since he ran the first time. The only blemish he has on his record is in the Derby, and he has come back and run two solid races down at Monmouth, so I would have to think he's going to be very tough, too."

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas gave Will Take Charge his final preparations for Saturday's Grade 1 Travers with a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.88 on the Oklahoma training track Monday.
The 3-year-old Unbridled's Song colt is coming off a runner-up finish to Palace Malice in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at 1 1/8 miles on July 27, beaten a length despite a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 105. He stretches out to 1 ¼ miles for the Travers.
"He's had a good month since the Jim Dandy," Lukas said. "I'm hoping the extra little distance is going to help. There's a lot of speed in the race, and maybe we can use that to our advantage. He's maturing nicely."
Will Take Charge, sidelined Lukas stablemate Oxbow and Kentucky Derby winner Orb were the only three horses to go through the spring competing in all three Triple Crown races. Will Take Charge was eighth in the Derby, seventh in the Preakness and 10th in the Belmont Stakes.
Prior to the Triple Crown, Will Take Charge won the Smarty Jones and Grade 2 Rebel at Oaklawn Park during the winter.
"He was a little immature through the whole Triple Crown," Lukas said. "I like what I see now, so maybe we're just finding out about him. I look for a big effort from him."

Grade 1 winners Palace Malice and Verrazano each emerged from their final works for Saturday's Grade 1 Travers in good shape, trainer Todd Pletcher said Monday.

Dogwood Stables' Palace Malice breezed a half-mile in 48.21 seconds, and Let's Go Stable, Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith's Verrazano went the same distance in 48.65, both Sunday on the main track.
"They are doing excellent," Pletcher said. "Both horses are in very good shape."

Entries will be taken and post positions drawn for the Travers on Wednesday at 11 a.m. in the Saratoga paddock.

Among the horses breezing for Pletcher on Monday were Authenticity, pointing for Sunday's Grade 1, $600,000 Personal Ensign Invitational; and Elena Strikes and Stopchargingmaria, both targeting the Grade 1, $300,000 Spinaway on September 1.

Authenticity was clocked in 49.65 seconds for a half-mile on the main track, while Elena Strikes and Stopchargingmaria both went five furlongs in 1:01.25 on the Oklahoma training track.

"I thought Authenticity was very good," Pletcher said. "She seems to be coming up to this race very well. I think her last two races have been exceptional. I'm just really pleased with her.

"Both fillies [Elena Strikes and Stophchargingmaria] worked very well, and both seem to be coming up to the race in good shape, with one more breeze to go," he added.

Pletcher indicated that Sweet Whiskey, a 5 ¼-length debut winner at the Spa on August 11, is also being considered for the seven-furlong Spinaway.
All in Blue, who broke his maiden at Belmont Park July 4 and ran fourth in the Grade 2 Sanford at Saratoga on July 21, both on dirt, breezed a half-mile in 48.07 seconds over the Oklahoma training track turf, ranking fifth of 48 horses.
Pletcher is keeping his options open for All in Blue, including the Grade 2, $200,000 With Anticipation on the grass August 29, and the Grade 1, $300,000 Hopeful on dirt September 2.

"There's a chance he'll go in the With Anticipation. There's a chance he'll go in the Hopeful," Pletcher said. "I thought he breezed well on the grass today. He's by More Than Ready, and he's got turf on the bottom side of his pedigree, but he has also worked very well on the dirt. We'll just play it by ear."

Partially shrouded by fog, two-time champion mare Royal Delta sailed through a half-mile work in 48.30 seconds over the Oklahoma training track on Monday for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. It was the third-quickest workout at the distance on Monday.

A five-time Grade 1 winner and earner of more than $4.2 million, Royal Delta had fired five consecutive bullet works, three of them at Belmont Park and the last two at Saratoga.

"She was doing pretty darn good at Belmont," Mott said. "Is she doing better? She was doing great then. She's [still] doing very well."
Royal Delta had lost back-to-back starts for only the second time in her 19-race career before bouncing back with a 10 ¾-length romp in the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap on July 20. She is being pointed to the Grade 1 Personal Ensign on Sunday.

"I'll tell you what I like about her here," Mott said. "We schooled her in the paddock yesterday, and she seemed pretty cool about it. She's an Empire Maker, and she can get a little keyed up when you start changing her routine around a little bit. But, she handled it real well."
Another Mott trainee, Flat Out, went five furlongs in 1:01.75 at Oklahoma on Monday, the fastest of eight horses at the distance, in preparation for the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward on August 31.

Trainer Charles LoPresti has enjoyed a relative calm following reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan's victory in the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap on August 10, but the action is about to pick up.

LoPresti plans to breeze Successful Dan on the main track and Turallure on the Oklahoma training track turf Tuesday morning, as they work toward their next scheduled starts.

Runner-up in the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap Invitational on August 3, Successful Dan is being pointed to the Grade 1 Woodward, while Grade 1 winner Turallure, most recently second by a head in an optional claimer at Saratoga on July 24, will come back in the Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap. Both races will be run August 31.

"Every one of my horses is doing really good. I have no complaints about any of them," LoPresti said. "They're all right on target."
LoPresti has yet to decide where or when Wise Dan will run next but is in no hurry to make a decision. The 6-year-old Wiseman's Ferry gelding has won eight straight races dating back to last summer.

"I'm not sure what we're going to do with him yet," he said. "He might go to Woodbine, he might go to Kentucky. I might leave him here until I go home. He's doing good up here and there's no reason to take him home. I probably won't work him on the turf. I may just give him a little easy workout on the dirt like I did before the Fourstardave. He's come out of the race really good, as you can see."

Demonstrative will attempt to score a second straight victory in the Grade 1, $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap against a talented field of veterans and newcomers in Saratoga's premier steeplechase race on Thursday.

Among his opponents will be Gil Johnston's Mr. Hot Stuff, winner of Saratoga's Grade 1, $100,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial on August 1, and a formidable entry from Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard.

Scratched from the Smithwick with a minor cough, Demonstrative heads into the Turf Writers with one start in 2013, having won the Grade 1, $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois on May 11 at Nashville's Iroquois Steeplechase. No stranger to Saratoga, Demonstrative graduated from the novice ranks last summer with a victory in the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes and came back five weeks later to win the New York Turf Writers. Robbie Walsh again will ride Demonstrative, who carries the 158-pound highweight for the New York Turf Writers' 2 3/8 miles and who is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line.

Mr. Hot Stuff has duplicated Demonstrative's leap from novice stakes winner to Grade 1 victor. After winning Iroquois' $75,000 Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes, Mr. Hot Stuff drew away to a 2 1/2-length victory in the A. P. Smithwick, which earned him a 148-pound weight assignment in the New York Turf Writers. Leading trainer Jack Fisher named Paddy Young to again ride Mr. Hot Stuff, who competed on the 2009 Triple Crown trail and finished third in the Santa Anita Derby before unplaced finishes in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes.

He is listed at 7-2 on the morning line.

Fisher also will saddle Sheila Williams' and Andre Brewster's All Together, winner of Saratoga's $65,000 optional allowance claimer hurdle on August 1, and Woodslane Farm's Brave Prospect, fifth in the Smithwick. Xavier Aizpuru rides All Together (8-1) and Dave Crosse will be aboard Brave Prospect (20-1).

Sheppard, who has won a race at Saratoga for 45 consecutive years, will saddle four starters for the New York Turf Writers, with the entry of Divine Fortune, Martini Brother and Italian Wedding taking the favorite's role at 7-5 on the morning line. Carrying the 150-pound second highweight will be Divine Fortune, who finished second to Demonstrative in the Calvin Houghland Iroquois before a third-place finish in the Smithwick. Co-bred and co-owned by Sheppard and longtime client Bill Pape, Divine Fortune will be ridden for the first time by Irish jockey Sean McDermott.

Pape's Martini Brother, undefeated over fences this year, will attempt to duplicate Demonstrative's Kiser-New York Turf Writers double. Divine Fortune and Martini Brother will be coupled in the wagering with Sheppard's Italian Wedding, who finished second in the Smithwick. Sheppard also will saddle Atlantic Equine's recent import Hunt Ball (12-1), who finished sixth in the Smithwick. Darren Nagle rides Martini Brother, Bernie Dalton returns on Italian Wedding, and Ross Geraghty has a return call on Hunt Ball.

Randleston Farm's Spy in the Sky, always a threat at Saratoga, will attempt to duplicate his upset victory in the 2009 New York Turf Writers. Third in last year's New York Turf Writers, he most recently finished fourth in the Smithwick and carries a 148-pound weight assignment. Danielle Hodsdon again rides Spy in the Sky, 15-1, for trainer Jimmy Day.

The Grade 1, $1 million Travers on Saturday is shaping up to be a showdown between Kentucky Derby winner Orb, Belmont Stakes victor Palace Malice, and Haskell Invitational hero Verrazano. Also probable are Kentucky Derby runner-up Golden Soul, seventh in the Haskell in his most recent start; Grade 2 Dwyer winner Moreno, third in the Jim Dandy; Romansh, who was promoted to victory in the Curlin Stakes; Transparent, disqualified from first and placed fifth in the Curlin; War Dancer, who is switching from turf to dirt after taking the Grade 2 Virginia Derby; and Grade 2 Rebel winner Will Take Charge, second in the Jim Dandy, according to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes.

The Travers card will be complemented by three additional graded stakes: the Grade 1, $500,000 Foxwoods King's Bishop for 3-year-olds, the Grade 1, $500,000 Test for 3-year-old fillies, and the Grade 2, $250,000 Ketel One Ballston Spa for fillies and mares.

In the seven-furlong Foxwoods King's Bishop, Forty Tales will attempt to win his fourth straight stakes, having already captured the Grade 3 Derby Trial, Grade 2 Woody Stephens presented by NYRA Rewards, and Grade 2 Amsterdam, all at margins between a neck and three-quarters of a length. Salutos Amigos and Declan's Warrior, third and fifth, respectively, in the Amsterdam, also are probable for the Foxwoods King's Bishop, as are Smirnoff Sorbet Quick Call top-two finishers Central Banker and No Distinction, and Let Em Shine and Majestic Hussar. Bad Hombre and Mentor Cane are possible.

The Test, also at seven furlongs, will serve as a rematch between Grade 1 Prioress top-three finishers Lighthouse Bay, Wildcat Lily, and Irish Lute. They'll face Grade 3 Victory Ride heroine Baby J, I'm Mom's Favorite, My Happy Face, So Many Ways, and Sweet Lulu. Ju Ju Eyeballs is possible.

The Ketel One Ballston Spa at 1 1/16 miles on the turf is expected to attract Laughing, who won the Grade 1 Diana on July 27 for owner Richard Santulli, as well as Diana fourth- and fifth-place finishers Samitar and Centre Court. Also probable are Better Lucky, Hessonite, Hungry Island, Miz Ida, and Somali Lemonade. Embarr is possible.

On Sunday, Saratoga will present the Grade 1, $600,000 Personal Ensign Invitational Handicap for fillies and mares. Two-time champion Royal Delta, who won the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap by 10 ¾ lengths on July 20, will attempt to make amends for her runner-up performance as the odds-on favorite in last year's Personal Ensign. The provisional field also includes Authenticity, who captured the Grade 3 84 Lumber Shuvee Handicap on July 20 at the Spa, Centring, Flashy American, Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap heroine On Fire Baby, and Open Water.

Saratoga Race Course will honor the three winningest jockeys in the track's history on Friday morning, August 23, at 11:30 a.m. just outside the paddock.

New York Racing Association CEO and President Chris Kay will be joined by Hall of Fame riders John Velazquez, Jerry Bailey and Angel Cordero, Jr. On July 27, Velazquez registered his 694th career winner at Saratoga to surpass the all-time mark previously held by Bailey.  Cordero is third on the Saratoga wins list with 649.

The ceremony, to be hosted by Saratoga track announcer Tom Durkin, will also feature the unveiling of a special plaque that will be displayed outside the Jockey's Room, commemorating the Saratoga achievements of Velazquez, Bailey and Cordero.  In the event of rain, the event will take place at the Mutuel bay directly across from the paddock.