Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Saratoga Race Course Notes

• G1 Woodward contender Successful Dan returns to worktab
• Will Take Charge works toward G1 Travers
• Champion My Miss Aurelia arrives at Pletcher's barn from Ocala
• Naylor fields formidable entry for Michael Walsh Novice

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Morton Fink's homebred Successful Dan remains on target to make his next start at Saratoga Race Course in the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward on August 31, trainer Charlie LoPresti said Wednesday.

The 7-year-old Successful Appeal gelding breezed a half-mile in 49.73 seconds Tuesday morning, ranking 10th of 23 horses at the distance. It was his first work since finishing a fast-closing second to Cross Traffic in the Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Handicap Invitational on August 3.

"I'm very happy with him," LoPresti said. "I wanted him to go just as easy as he can go, and [exercise rider] Damien [Rock] said he just dragged him around there the whole way. He was well in hand. I didn't want a fast work. I didn't need a fast work; he's fit enough now off of that last race.

"I just want to keep him ticking," he said. "He'll probably have another work in between, and if everything goes right we'll run him in the Woodward. That's the plan. We're here, so we're going to stay."

Older half-brother to reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan, who ran his win streak to eight races in the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap on August 10, Successful Dan has shown no ill effects from the fall he took near the end of the path that leads from the paddock to the main track prior to the Whitney.

"He had one little scrape on his hock," LoPresti said. "It was a scratch. It didn't amount to a hill of beans. He's doing good. I've tried to figure out why that happened and how it happened. I led Wise Dan out there the other day, because I wanted to see what it was that caused that. I don't know. Something spooked him, because he's never been that kind of horse."

LoPresti did not see Successful Dan fall after the gelding got his back legs in a tangle and lost jockey Julien Leparoux, and the trainer has only seen one replay of the incident.

"I don't want to watch it," he said. "I saw it one time and I don't care if I ever see it again. It scared me."

* * *

Willis D. Horton's Will Take Charge turned in a 1:03.90 five-furlong breeze on the Oklahoma training track on Tuesday, and Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said the Grade 2 Jim Dandy runner-up is in good shape as he trains toward the Grade 1, $1 million Travers on August 24.

"He started out slow but finished up really strong, so we're pleased with that. I think he's in good shape, and we're headed in the right direction," said Lukas on Wednesday. "We got what we needed to get out of it."

Will Take Charge, who won the Grade 2 Rebel in February and competed in all three legs of the Triple Crown, will have one more breeze prior to the Travers, according to Lukas.

"We won't do much," said Lukas. "He's dead fit; we've been running him through the Triple Crown, so we won't have to do a lot."

* * *

My Miss Aurelia, the 2011 juvenile female champion, arrived in trainer Todd Pletcher's barn Wednesday morning and is stationed in the stall adjacent to his office.

Pletcher said he had no immediate plans for the 4-year-old filly, who has been in Ocala, Fla. on Barbara Banke's Stonestreet farm, which was purchased last year by Banke from Vinery.

My Miss Aurelia has not raced since finishing third in March in the Grade 3 Azeri on March 16, beaten 5 ½ lengths by Tiz Miz Sue, who went on to win the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park.

My Miss Aurelia won the first six starts of her career, including victories in the Grade 2 Adirondack at Saratoga, the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont Park, the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and the Grade 1 Cotillion. Last year, she finished second to Royal Delta in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic.

* * *

Irvin S. Naylor, American steeplechasing's leading owner for the past three years, will be represented by the entry of Black Quartz and Sacred Soul for the $75,000 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes on Thursday.

The Walsh, restricted to steeplechase horses in their first seasons of competition over fences, attracted a strong field that also includes 2012 champion novice Alajmal and 2012 filly and mare champion Cat Feathers.

The 2 3/8-mile Walsh will be the second race of Saratoga's Steeplechase Thursday doubleheader. A field of 11 was entered for the afternoon's first race, a $65,000 optional claimer.

Black Quartz won the $50,000 Queen's Cup MPC 'Chase for novices in North Carolina on April 27 and then finished second in the Iroquois Steeplechase's $75,000 Marcellus Frost for novices to recent Grade 1 A. P. Smithwick Memorial winner Mr. Hot Stuff. In his most recent start, the Danehill Dancer gelding finished a distant sixth in the Grade 3, $50,000 David L. "Zeke" Ferguson Memorial at Colonial Downs on June 8.

Reigning champion steeplechase jockey Ross Geraghty has the mount.
Sacred Soul secured his maiden victory over fences at the Middleburg Spring Races on April 20 and then drew away to a 9 3/4-length score in a Virginia Gold Cup optional claimer on May 4. Trained by Leslie Young, Sacred Soul will be ridden by the trainer's husband, top jockey Paddy Young.

Powerofone will be attempting to give longtime owner Bill Pape a sweep of Saratoga's novice races after Martini Brother won the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 25. A 4-year-old by A.P. Indy who sold for $300,000 as a yearling, Powerofone never performed well on the flat, but he showed promise after Pape acquired him last year and placed him in the hands of Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard.

Sheppard, who won at Saratoga for the 45th consecutive year with Martini Brother's score, also will saddle his Barnstorming, who finished a good second in the Kiser. Sean McDermott will ride.

Rounding out the field are Extraextraordinary, third in the Kiser; Sulwaan, who was sixth in the Kiser, and Private Equity, making his first stateside appearance.

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