Saratoga Race Course Notes - July 27
By NYRA Press Office | 07/27/2013 04:14 PM ET
Horse of the Year Wise Dan blazes five furlongs over Oklahoma turf in 57.38 seconds
Transparent targets G1 Travers; Alpha works for possible G1 Whitney start
Albertrani considering Travers with Romansh, promoted to victory in Curlin
Mucho Macho Man breezes five furlongs for Whitney
Fast Falcon takes to Oklahoma training track for pre-Whitney breeze
Probables for G1 Whitney and G1 Vanderbilt
Csaba breezes four furlongs for Birdstone Stakes
Currency Swap "OK" following third-place finish in Friday optional claimer
Ryerson recalls Unbridled Song's winning debut at Saratoga
Horse of the Year Wise Dan went out to the Oklahoma turf course Saturday morning for what likely will be his only work for the Grade 2, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap on August 10.
Under regular exercise rider Damien Rock, Wise Dan hit the turf course at 9:45 a.m., with trainer Charles LoPresti watching, and unleashed a sensational five-furlong work in 57.38 seconds. NYRA clockers caught the 6-year-old gelding galloping out six furlongs in 1:09.16 and seven in 1:22.56. His opening three-eighths fraction was 34 4/5 seconds.
"I never in my life had a horse like this," LoPresti said afterward. "People don't believe me when I tell them, but he's a freak of nature, this horse."
Wise Dan had a one-mile blowout on the main track last week, but LoPresti considered this Wise Dan's first significant drill since the Grade 2 Firecracker on June 29 at Churchill Downs. LoPresti had not wanted a work quite that fast, but he had no complaints afterward.
"He was never asked for anything, I'll tell you," LoPresti said. "I would have liked for him to have gone in a minute, but that turf is not real soft right now. But I don't worry about him. He does what he wants to do. He's a horse that does it the way he wants to do it. You can't make him do things you want him to do. If he had worked real slow, I might have had to come back and do something else, but this looks like it's going to put me right where I want to be."
Rock marveled after the workout, saying despite his extensive experience, Wise Dan continues to surprise him.
"He's so hard to judge; he's got that huge stride," Rock said. "Once he starts going 11s [seconds] like that, you pretty much have to sit there and let him go because that's when he's comfortable.
"For me, clocking in my head over the year, I feel like I'm going closer to 59 on him, and then you come back and hear the time. Every time I go out on him on the grass, I feel like I know him more and I've gotten closer to [hitting the scheduled time], and it's like his stride has gotten bigger this year. This year, he's been flying over the track from Day 1. He just feels like a powerhouse underneath me."
It's on to the Grade 1, $1 million Travers on August 24 for Darley Stable's
Transparent, who finished first in Friday's Curlin Stakes but was disqualified to fifth.
"We missed out on the money, but he ran great," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "Our team did a great job of getting him ready. Nice horse. It was a great race coming off 112 days. It's a blow, but on the other hand, he's a very nice horse, so we'll point toward the Travers hopefully."
In the Curlin, Transparent, ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr., moved out on the turn and crossed in front of Proud Strike, who clipped heels, stumbled, and lost all chance.
"It was a rider error - he made a mistake; everybody makes mistakes," said McLaughlin. "It was a matter of inches. If he waits another stride or two and then comes out, he's fine. It was unlucky."
On Saturday morning, McLaughlin sent out Alpha, co-winner of the 2012 Travers in a dead-heat with Golden Ticket, for a five-furlong breeze on the main track in preparation for a possible start in Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Invitational Handicap. NYRA clockers caught the 4-year-old traveling the distance in 1:00.25.
"That was his best work this year," said McLaughlin. "It was really nice to see. He loves it up here. He likes it up here on the main track. We're happy.
"Most likely we'll be running [in the Whitney]," he continued. "We'll look at the weights and see who's running. There's an overnight stakes we are nominated to on Friday [the 1 1/8-mile Birdstone] that's a possibility. We'll see."
Unlike McLaughlin with Transparent, trainer Tom Albertrani did not fully commit
Romansh to the Travers but did say he will consider the "Mid-Summer Derby" for the half of the Darley Stable entry who was promoted to victory in yesterday's Curlin Stakes.
In the Curlin, Romanash stumbled at the start, raced wide on both turns, and led in the stretch before being overtaken by his entrymate, who was subsequently disqualified and placed fifth for interfering with Proud Strike.
Albetrani said he will await the outcomes of today's Grade 2 Jim Dandy here at Saratoga and tomorrow's Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park before deciding whether Romansh will compete in the Travers.
"I think he can be at that level," said Albertrani. "We always saw this horse train like a nice horse, and he's still maturing. Even yesterday, it looked like when Transparent came up to him it looked like he almost started to come back a little bit again at him when he saw him. I still think there's a lot of maturing ahead for the horse.
"We'll just see how everything unfolds and if there's any standout in both races," the trainer added. "You never know. We'll definitely look and see how things progress later."
Both Romansh and Transparent are by Bernardini, whom Albertrani trained to victory in the 2006 Travers on behalf of Darley Stable. Bernardini is the sire of the past two Travers winners Stay Thirsty and Alpha, with the latter having won via dead heat for McLaughlin and Godolphin Racing.
Multiple Grade 2 winner and 2012 Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up Mucho Macho Man completed his serious preparations for next Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Invitational Handicap with a five-furlong breeze Saturday morning.
In his third local work, the 5-year-old son of Macho Uno was clocked in 1:02.18 over the main track for trainer Kathy Ritvo. On July 20, he went five-eighths in 1:01.61.
"He breezed great this morning, and he came back great," Ritvo said. "It was a very good move today. He's been very consistent with his works, and is just feeling great."
Mucho Macho Man is coming off a third-place finish in the Criminal Type overnight stakes at Belmont Park on June 14. Ritvo drew a parallel to last year, when Mucho Macho Man was third in the Grade 2 Alysheba and then came back with a solid victory in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap, his most recent win.
"I think he's going to run really good this race," Ritvo said. "He's just doing so well. He's going into all his works good, and coming out of all his works good. He's had a very consistent schedule, and his attitude has been great. He's just doing very well."
With a record of 6-5-5 and earnings of $2,365,410 in 20 career starts, Mucho Macho Man is still seeking his first Grade 1 victory. In addition to the Breeders' Cup Classic, he was second by a neck in the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga last summer.
"The Whitney is a great, great race to win," Ritvo said. "If we can be that blessed and get that lucky, it would be fantastic."
Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito is eyeing the Whitney with Fast Falcon, who breezed four furlongs over the Oklahoma training track in 49.98 seconds on Saturday.
"He worked good," said Zito, who won the Whitney in 2005 and 2008 with Commentator. "It was good, just nice and easy. He's ready. He's been running all year, and he's very consistent. We'll just take it from here."
The 86th edition of the Whitney will be run on August 3 and would be the third Saratoga start for Fast Falcon, who was seventh in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy and third, beaten just a neck by co-winners Alpha and Golden Ticket, in the Grade 1 Travers last year.
In the Travers, Fast Falcon raced near the back of the pack from post 11, had to navigate around Street Life at the three-eighths pole, and came flying on the outside. Street Life was vanned off after finishing last.
"He shows up all the time, and he loves Saratoga," Zito said. "If you remember, he could have easily been last year's Travers winner. If that horse doesn't get hurt and doesn't stop in front of him, he's going to win."
Last time out, Fast Falcon was third, beaten 2 ½ lengths by Flat Out in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap on July 6 at Belmont, posting a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 103.
Zito said he has lined up jockey Junior Alvarado to ride in the Whitney.
Older horses will be showcased next weekend as Saratoga will present the Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Invitational Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on Saturday and the Grade 1, $400,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at six furlongs on Sunday.
In addition toAlpha,Fast Falcon,Mucho Macho Man, the Whitney is expected to attract last year's winner Fort Larned Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap runner-upCross Traffic, and four-time graded stakes winner Successful Dan, according to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes.
The Vanderbilt is expected to serve as a rematch between the Iowa Sprint Handicap top-two finishers
Gentleman's Bet and Delaunay. In the Iowa Sprint, Gentleman's Bet defeated Delaunay by 1 ¾ lengths to register his first stakes score and snap Delaunay's winning streak at six. Also probable are
Bahamian Squall, Justin Phillip, and Picko's Pride
Bruce Hollander and Cary Shapoff's Csaba, who likely will make his start in next Friday's $100,000 Birdstone, breezed four furlongs on Saturday in 49.15 seconds.
"Csaba worked great this morning," said trainer Phil Gleaves. "He worked very well, and, God willing, he runs in the Birdstone on Friday."
Gleaves said he considered next Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Invitational Handicap for Csaba before opting in favor of the Birdstone.
"The Whitney is coming up a little too tough, and I think this is the more logical spot," said Gleaves.
Csaba, who owns a pair of Grade 3 victories in the Fred W. Hooper at Calder and Hal's Hope at Gulfstream Park, missed by a nose when second in an off-the-turf edition of the 2012 Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame at Saratoga. He made one other start during the 2012 Saratoga meet, finishing ninth in the Equalize Stakes on the turf. In his two most recent starts, he won the Memorial Handicap in May at Calder and was third in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile on July 6 at Monmouth Park.
Grade 1 winner Currency Swap returned to Monmouth Park on Saturday after finishing third in his comeback race, a six-furlong optional claiming allowance that opened Friday's Saratoga card.
It was the first race since last September for the 4-year-old High Cotton colt, winner of the Grade 1 Hopeful in 2011 and Grade 2 Amsterdam in 2012 at Saratoga. He had surgery to repair a breathing problem and remove an ankle chip last fall and had been working steadily toward his return.
"He's OK. He came out of it a little tired and a little muscle sore," trainer Terri Pompay, a Saratoga Springs native, said Saturday morning. "We're a little disappointed, but he'd been off a long time. He's a big, heavy horse. We thought we had him fit enough. Hopefully, we'll live to fight another day."
In Friday's race, Currency Swap sat off the pace of eventual winner Jake N Elwood and tired late, finishing third by two lengths as the 4-5 favorite in the four-horse field.
"He didn't quit, he just got outkicked down the stretch, basically," Pompay said. "He needed the race. His breathing wasn't an issue, so we got that tackled. He didn't make any noise, nothing."
Pompay indicated she would like to bring Currency Swap back to Saratoga for a start before the end of the meet, but not likely in the Grade 1, $500,000 Forego on August 31.
"He likes this track and he likes the big, wide turns," she said. "We probably want to come here, but we're not going to push hard. I think we're going to wait and probably do another kind of stake or allowance race. Tackling Grade 1 horses at this point would probably be unfair."
Upon the announcement of the death of Unbridled's Song at age 20 on Friday at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, trainer James Ryerson reflected on the electrifying colt, who went on to become one of the top sires in the country.
Unbridled's Song, a son of the 1990 Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled, made his debut for Ryerson on August 26, 1995 at Saratoga Race Course and won a six-furlong race by 8 ½ lengths in 1:11.38 (video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWPbPHZiaAQ)
"It was great having him break his maiden the day before the big 2-year-old race here (Hennessey won the Grade 1 Hopeful on August 27)," said Ryerson.
Unbridled's Song went on to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in 1995 and then, as a 3-year-old, won the Grade 1 Florida Derby and the Grade 1 Wood Memorial. He finished his career with $1,311,800 in earnings.
As a top stallion, who stood for as much as $200,000, he sired 45 graded stakes winners.
"Being back here [at Saratoga] and yesterday, the remembrances of the time - it was a great horse and for my family and I, it was a great run," Ryerson said. "Even though he had a short career as a racehorse, he was able to make his mark in a handful of races."