“It was quite the rodeo,” joked trainer Dallas Stewart. “He just got loose, you know, these horses get loose. They get loose no matter who they are. He was hard to catch. He just loves it up here. [But] he’s fine. He worked good. So, all went well.”
Also working for the Travers on Saturday were Aqueduct’s Grade 1 Wood Memorial winner Tale of Ekati, who breezed six furlongs in 1:13.60 on the fast main track, and Tiz Now Tiz Then, who went five furlongs in 1:03.94, breezing.
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Commentator, who won his second Grade 1 Whitney here on opening weekend, worked a half-mile in 50.45 on the fast Oklahoma training track this morning. Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito also worked multiple graded stakes winner Wanderin Boy work the same distance in 49.67.
Both horses are seven years old.
“They are in great shape for their age,” Zito said. “We have been lucky enough to have these two running at this age. It’s important to treat the horses right, and that’s what we have done with them.”
Zito said Commentator remains on target for the $500,000 Massachusetts Handicap at a mile and an eighth at Suffolk Downs on September 20.
As for Wanderin Boy, Zito is contemplating having him face 2007 Horse of the Year Curln in the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodward Stakes at nine furlongs. Another option is the Grade 1, $250,000 Forego at seven furlongs. Both races will be run at Saratoga on Saturday, August 30.
“We might look at the Forego; he won at seven-eighths pretty good in his last race,” Zito said in reference to Wanderin Boy’s July 28 victory at Saratoga where he finished 3¼ lengths ahead of the field while crossing the wire in 1:21.87. “We will have to talk about it. We want to see who is going to run.”
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West Point Thoroughbreds’ highly regarded three-year-old Lieutenant Ron drilled four furlongs in 48.34. Although the unbeaten colt is nominated to the Grade 1, $250,000 NetJets King’s Bishop Stakes on Travers Day, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin says he will not run.
“We just have to look at it a little closer to see where we’re going to go,” said McLaughlin. “He’s doing great. He’ll go further [than sprints], but at this time, we’re probably talking six or seven furlongs, but we just have to pick a spot.”
Lieutenant Ron is a chestnut colt by Graeme Hall out of Spell Again, by Seattle Battle.
Another of McLaughlin’s charges, Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap winner Divine Park, continues to train forwardly for his date with Horse of the Year Curlin in the Grade 1 Woodward on August 30th. He worked five furlongs on the “fast” main track Friday in 59.97, good enough for the second fastest work of the day.
“He’s fabulous,” said McLaughlin of James Barry’s four-year-old son of Chester House. “He’s doing great.”
McLaughlin also got a good maintenance work from Lucky Island, who went a half-mile in 49.37, breezing. The Argentina-bred, winner of the Grade 2 Tom Fool at Belmont Park, is expected for the Grade 1, $250,000 Forego at seven furlongs on August 30.
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Paul Pompa Jr.’s Backseat Rhythm is recovering nicely after her 3¼-length score in Friday’s Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes on the turf.
“She came back well. She’s happy, she didn’t turn a hair,” said trainer Pat Reynolds. “I think she gave a Grade 1 performance in a Grade 2 race. She ran terrific.”
“I’m probably going to lean towards the Garden City [Grade 1, $200,000, 3yo fillies, nine furlongs, turf, Belmont Park, September 6th ],” Reynolds said. “If that’s too close, I’m sure we’ll find something else. But, we’re going to keep her long on the turf. After a race like yesterday, the Breeders’ Cup is not out of the question if she holds her form.”
Backseat Rhythm has run some impressive races in her two-year career. She beat Country Star and Mushka in her maiden-breaking turf debut before those two went on to be respective Grade 1 and Grade 2 winners. She ran second in the Grade 1 Frizette in 2007 to eventual juvenile filly champion Indian Blessing, and followed that up with a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies behind Indian Blessing and Proud Spell.
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Sargent Seattle, who broke his maiden impressively first time out on opening day at Saratoga in 2007, breezed five furlongs on Friday morning in 1:01.79 for trainer Stan Hough and is on his way towards returning to the races after a nine-month layoff.
While the three-year-old son of Vindication-Sweet Nanette, by You and I received plenty of hype after his debut, he failed to live up to it in his two other starts with fourth- and fifth-place finishes.
“He had his share of problems,” Hough said. “He ran a couple times and needed time. We gave him plenty of time and he’s training well right now. We’re planning on running him towards the end of the meet.”
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Sunday, fans will receive a long-sleeved Saratoga T-shirt with each paid admission, while supplies last.