Working along the rail in company with Hawaii Calls, who was one of the 20 Woodward nominations released this morning by New York Racing Association Stakes Coordinator Andrew Byrnes, an aggressive Curlin cruised through splits of :24 3/5, :36 4/5, :48 4/5 and 1:00, galloping out in 1:37 4/5 after leaving his stablemate in the dust at the quarter pole.
According to trainer Steve Asmussen, the four-year-old colt will have one more maintenance work on the Oklahoma training track prior to his engagement in the nine-furlong Woodward.
“We felt it really important to get him over there one time before he ran,” said Asmussen. “Whatever the weather wants to do here on out will be fine.”
Asmussen also said Curlin will school in the paddock between races this week, most likely on Thursday.
“Whenever we are going to school him, we’ll definitely let everybody know so it will be like what actually happens to him on that day,” said Asmussen.
Asmussen had a busy morning, sending out several stakes horses in addition to Curlin.
Grade 2 Jim Dandy runner-up Pyro breezed four furlongs in 52.28 in his final work for Saturday’s 139th edition of the Grade 1, $1 million Travers Stakes presented by Shadwell Farm.
“He’s just there,” said Asmussen. “He had a pretty strong race in the Jim Dandy and trying to get two good races out of a horse here can be pretty tricky.”
J Be K, who is the likely favorite for Saturday’s Grade 1, $250,00 NetJets King’s Bishop Stakes, worked in 50.67; Magna Graduate, third in the Duke of Magenta Stakes, went in 52.03, and Student Council, second in the Grade 1 Whitney, covered a half-mile in 49.89. Asmussen said Student Council will leave Wednesday for his date in the Pacific Classic.
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott added another possible starter for the Travers with IEAH Stables' Court Vision, who breezed five furlongs over the Oklahoma training track in 1:02.44 this morning.
“Three or four days ago, the owners voted on it and that’s what they wanted to do,” Mott said.
Court Vision has not won a race since taking the Grade 2 Remsen and the Grade 3 Iroquois as a two-year-old last year. In his last start, the Grade 2 Virginia Derby, the dark bay son of Gulch and Weekend Storm was beaten a nose by Gio Ponti.
IEAH Stables is also expected to run Acai, who has won back-to-back races for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., in the Travers.
Mott also gave Edmund Gann's You and I Forever a five-furlong breeze over the Oklahoma training track that went in 1:02.88 this morning.
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WinStar Farm’s Colonel John went five furlongs in 1:00.60, handily, on the fast all-weather track at Del Mar this morning. The Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby winner and trainer Eoin Harty are expected to arrive in Saratoga on Wednesday, along with Grade 2 Swaps winner Tres Borrachos, who runs for trainer Beau Greely.
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Request to the media: The Travers Stakes presented by Shadwell Farm is one of three Grade 1 stakes run at Saratoga that are sponsored. We would appreciate your cooperation in recognizing the sponsorship of these races by using the full race name at least once in your coverage. The races are: Travers Stakes Presented by Shadwell Farm (August 23), NetJets King’s Bishop (August 23) and the Three Chimneys Hopeful (September 1).