Tonalist and Wicked Strong duke-it-out in the G2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga last month
By Phil Janick
Grade 1 winners, Tonalist and Wicked Strong, will renew their budding rivalry on racing’s biggest summer stage, joined by fellow Grade 1 heroes Bayern and Mr Speaker among 10 horses set to gather for the 145th running of the G1 Travers Stakes on Saturday at Saratoga.
The Travers highlights a 13-race card that kicks off with a special first-race post time of 11:35 a.m. and also features the G1 King’s Bishop for 3-year-old sprinters, the G1 Ballerina for female sprinters, and the G2 Ballston Spa for females turf horses.
Live coverage of the Ballerina and Travers will be part of NBC Sports Network’s national telecast from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The Travers has a scheduled post time of 5:46 p.m.
Travers favorite, Bayern, put in his final work for the G1 Travers at Del Mar Tuesday morning. The 3-year old son of Offlee Wild went 4-furlongs in 47.4 with regular rider, Martin Garcia, in the saddle. The Haskell winner will board a plan for New York Wednesday.
In Tuesday evening’s post position draw for the Travers, Bayern drew post #2, the same post he broke from in the Haskell at Monmouth Park at the end of last month. He won that race by over 7-lengths. The Travers is another 1/8 mile longer, presenting the only doubt trainer, Bob Baffert, has in his Grade 1 winner.
After weeks of speculation about where Wise Dan would make his return to the races, trainer Charlie LoPresti announced Tuesday morning his two-time Horse of the Year will be entered in the G2 Bernard Baruch at Saratoga, August 30th.
Wise Dan was sidelined in May when he underwent emergency colic surgery. He has been working since last month both on the grass and on the dirt, which further heightened the speculation about where the Eclipse champion would next run.
LoPresti initially considered the G2 Fourstardave at Saratoga earlier this month, but after a disappointing work prior to the race, the veteran trainer backed off on Wise Dan, noting he didn’t want to rush the champ back. It was then he… Read the rest of this entry >>
Close Hatches will face a contentious contingent of challengers when she attempts to extend her winning streak to four on Friday in the G1 Personal Ensign Invitational at Saratoga.
The 1 1/8-mile Personal Ensign for fillies and mares is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race in the Distaff division. The race attracted seven entrants, all graded stakes winners, three at the Grade 1 level.
A Juddmonte Farms homebred, Close Hatches began her 4-year-old season by posting a pair of 1 ¼-length victories in gate-to-wire fashion at Oaklawn Park in the G2 Azeri in March and G1 Apple Blossom Handicap in April.
She had a tougher assignment in the Grade 1, 1 1/16-mile Ogden Phipps on July 7 at Belmont, drawing post 1 against a field that included Beholder and four-time Grade 1 winner, Princess of Sylmar. Deftly handled by Joel Rosario, Close Hatches fended off multiple challenges in the stretch to prevail by a head… Read the rest of this entry >>
Gulfstream Park is considering a proposal put forward by owner, Frank Stronach, to run lasix-free races for 2-year olds next year. Stronach made the proposal at the Saratoga Institute on Racing & Gaming Law in Saratoga Springs. He believes its a first step in restoring confidence in the game among the general public and racing’s players, the owners, breeders and the racetracks themselves.
In his statement, Stronach said most of the races in next year’s condition books will be lasix free, but the Stronach Group later clarified it will begin with some 2-year old races run without the use of furosemide, a medication that controls bleeding in horse’s respiratory systems during races.
Grade 3 Dwyer winner, Kid Cruz, hit Saratoga Race Course’s main track at about 7:15 Monday morning before turning in his final breeze for the G1 Travers, traveling four furlongs in 49.19 seconds while working in company with A Marked Man.
The Travers for 3-year-olds will be contested this Saturday at 1 ¼ miles on the dirt.
Kid Cruz, a four-time stakes winner who was third in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy on July 26 at Saratoga, began the work on the inside a neck in front of A Marked Man. He entered the stretch on even terms with his stablemate before finishing approximately a half-length in front. A Marked Man, a maiden, needed urging to keep up with Kid Cruz during the gallop out.
Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile defending champion Goldencents worked six furlongs Sunday under jockey, Rafael Bejarano, in 1:11.80 in anticipation of a start in the Grade II $250,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes which is part of the Classic undercard on Sunday, August 24. The Pat O’Brien is a “Win And You’re In” qualifier for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on November 1 at Santa Anita.
Del Mar clockers caught Goldencents in splits of :24.20, :47.80, :59.40, leading up to the 1:11.80 with the 4-year-old Into Mischief colt galloping out to seven furlongs in 1:24.60 and the mile in 1:38.60.
Several key works Monday morning at Del Mar as the contenders prepare for Sunday’s Pacific Classic.
Defending champion, Game On Dude, worked five furlongs in 59.6, galloping out 6-furlongs in 1:13.4. Trainer Bob Baffert indicating his charge is ready to go. Baffert also noted that Sky Kingdom will not run in the Classic.
Gold Cup at Santa Anita winner, Majestic Harbor, also worked 5-furlongs, going 59.2, and galloping out 6-furlongs in 1:11.6. Trainer Sean McCarthy saying he was very happy with the work.
Trainer Ken McPeek confirmed that Alan Garcia will travel from his East Coast base to ride Frac Daddy who worked Monday morning, going… Read the rest of this entry >>
Main Sequence’s one weakness as a racehorse appears to be his inability to break well out of the gate, and it manifested again Sunday when he spotted the field several lengths at the start of the G1 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga.
Yet just as he did in his prior start, the Grade 1 United Nations last month at Monmouth Park, Main Sequence rallied powerfully on the far turn and ran down the leaders in the stretch to win. In a perfectly timed, high-wire move by jockey Rajiv Maragh, Main Sequence caught determined favorite, Imagining, in the final strides to take the 1 ½-mile turf fixture by a head.
Ultra consistent Judy the Beauty, considered by many observors the best female sprinter in the country, lived up to her reputation Sunday with a dominating victory in the featured G3 Rancho Bernardo Handicap.
Sent postward the 6-5 second choice to the 4-5 favored defending champion, Reneesgotzip, Judy the Beauty and jockey Mike Smith bided their time until the stretch where they rallied to win by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:15.63 for the 6 ½ furlongs over Del Mar’s main track while carrying topweight of 125 pounds.