“He’s in a beautiful rhythm, he’s very comfortable,” said Asmussen. “He’s very loose. It amazes me how he jogs off afterward. For me, it's like Christmas morning -- I get giddy when I see him.”
“We’re going to sit down, take all the information, and make a decision,” said Asmussen. “I’m just excited to see him run.”
Among the options for Curlin are the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodward at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, August 30, or, if it is decided to proceed on turf, the Grade 1, $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational on August 16. Curlin was among 14 horses invited to the mile and one-half Sword Dancer, along with Red Rocks, who defeated Curlin in his first grass race, the Grade 1 Man o’War at Belmont Park on July 12.
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Wednesday’s feature at Saratoga Race Course is the restricted Cab Calloway Division of the New York Stallion Stakes for three-year-olds at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Cannonball comes back to the East Coast after his eighth-place finish to Grade 1 winner Dixie Chatter in the restricted Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar last month.
“The conditions of the Oceanside fit him beautifully,” said trainer Wesley Ward, who has won three races from eight starters heading into Monday’s card. “We couldn’t control the draw. He was raced wide and because Del Mar is such a tight course, if you don’t get over right away, you’re done.”
Before Cannonball went to California, he won the Pebo’s Guy Stakes against New York-breds going six furlongs over the Belmont Park Widener Turf Course. Also, after his third-place finish to Nownownow in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, Cannonball was third in the Grade 3 Tropical Park Derby.
“He came back from California in good shape; he’s looking great,” Ward said. “So, we’re going to take a shot.”
In the Cab Calloway, Cannonball will run against Brookhaven’s Money – the only stakes winner in the field with the Spectacular Bid Division of the New York Stallion Stakes at Belmont Park after being claimed for $35,000 by Herbert and Carol Schwartz.
Trainer Anthony Dutrow has gotten off to a solid Saratoga start with four winners from 10 starters. As for his six other starters, all of them have finished either second or third. Dutrow believes his work ethic is an attribute to being a solid horseman.
“Like all of us horsemen, I come out and get to work every day,” Dutrow said. “I just try to do a great job each day. I try to plan and make great decisions. Some times are better than other times. It was never a goal to come here at Saratoga and save horses. We’re doing well and the horses are doing well. There is a lot of work “
With reliable help, Dutrow has placed himself in an ideal spot where he is not far away from his 20 horses at Saratoga, 10 stabled at Aqueduct, 10 horses at Monmouth Park, 35 stabled at Delaware Park and 25 horses at Philadelphia Park.
“There is a lot of work and I need good people, and I have good people doing a great job,” Dutrow said. “I go to my racetracks. I was at Aqueduct yesterday. I am at Saratoga today and I am at Delaware Park tomorrow. I am spread out, but that’s by design. It works very good.”
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Trainer Todd Pletcher is looking to point Stronach Stables’ Harlem Rocker for the Grade 1, $1 million Travers Stakes presented by Shadwell Farm. The 1 ¼-mile “Mid-Summer Derby is for three-year-olds on Saturday, August 23.
Working with Ravel over the main track on Sunday, Harlem Rocker, winner of the Prince of Wales and Grade 3 Withers Stakes, breezed five furlongs in 1:00 1/5. Ravel, winner of last year’s Grade 3 Sham Stakes, finished in 1:00 3/5, breezing.
“I thought he worked very well,” Pletcher said about Harlem Rocker. “Physically, he has been a very nice individual. He has gotten bigger and stronger as a three-year-old. The biggest change in him is that he’s become much more of a work horse. Early in his career, he was never one that really did much more than his company mate did in the morning. He’s become more professional in his training.”
Trying to rebound from his fourth-place finish as the overwhelming 3-10 favorite in the Plate Trial Stakes over the Woodbine Polytrack, Harlem Rocker stalked the pace and came away with a 1¼-length victory in the Prince of Wales Stakes at 1 3/16 miles.
After Harlem Rocker won the Withers by 2½ lengths over e J Be K, Pletcher was considering the Grade 1 Preakness where he would have met Kentucky Derby and recent Haskell winner Big Brown. However, Pletcher and Stronach thought about other plans.
“We talked about running him in the Preakness,” Pletcher said. “Then, we decided to run in the Queen’s Plate route. He didn’t run horribly (in the Plate Trial Stakes), but he didn’t run his ‘A’ race over the Polytrack.
“He beat a quality horse in J Be K,” Pletcher added. “He beat him convincingly going a mile. I think that race stamped his quality because of J Be K’s accomplishments (he won the Woody Stephens at Belmont Park). I think interesting thing (about the Travers) will be the mile and a quarter. He has never gone that far, but he did run well at a mile and three-sixteenths, and he acted like he had more to give that day.”
New York-bred will be featured next weekend with Saturday’s $100,000 Yaddo Handicap for fillies and mares at nine furlongs on the turf, and its male counterpart, the $100,000-added West Point Handicap on Sunday.
Likely starters for the Yaddo are Factual Contender, Junkanoo Party, Latitude Forty, Rewrite and You Go West Girl, with Roll the Di listed as questionable.
Rewrite defeated defending Yaddo champ Latitude Forty by a nose in the Irish Actress at Belmont Park on July 16 at a mile and a sixteenth. Rewrite is undefeated in two starts at nine furlongs.
For the West Point, Al Basha, Banrock, Classic Pack, Foreverness, Gimme Credit, Hammock and Key Event are likely, with My Man Lars a possibility.
Banrock exits a victory over Gimme Credit and 2007 West Point winner Classic Pack in the Thunder Puddles at Belmont Park on July 6
Sunday’ Saratoga Giveaway will be the Stadium Cushion Seat.
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Louie Olah was the beloved silks man for the New York Racing Association for 41 years. His death at the age of 79 on March 8 marked the end of a “colorful” life for a man who won his first race in 1946, retired from riding in 1966 and took care of the owners’ silks thereafter.
Next Monday, August 11, NYRA will dedicate the Saratoga Race Course silks room to the memory of Louie Olah in a special ceremony at 10:30 a.m. outside of the room, which is located behind the jockeys’ room.