“He worked pretty good; everything is on schedule,” said trainer Michael Maker. “He’s going to fly up Monday.”
“I texted with [Maker], and he said the horse went very well and is very happy,” said owner Dr. Kendall Hansen, reached by telephone. “He ran recently, so it’s just a maintenance work. I’m glad the long-term weather looks like moderate temperatures because his two worst races were in the heat.”
Three-time Travers-winning jockey Javier Castellano picks up the mount on Hansen, who Maker said would gallop again on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Dr. Hansen said he would likely arrive in Saratoga on Friday, the day before the race.
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Shortleaf Stable’s Atigun will have his first workout wearing blinkers when he breezes on Sunday in the lead up to the Travers, trainer Ken McPeek said on Saturday.
“I’m going to decide whether he’s going to run in blinkers,” said McPeek. “We need to find another gear, and we’ll see if [wearing blinkers] matters.”
After finishing third, beaten two lengths in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes in June, Atigun raced evenly and was sixth in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy on July 28.
“I think the pace of the [Jim Dandy] didn’t suit us at all, and we’ll have another eighth of a mile to run at them [in the Travers],” said McPeek. “I’m not sure our tactics worked in the last race, either.”
McPeek added that Mike Smith, who won the Travers in 1994 aboard Holy Bull and 1998 aboard Coronado’s Quest, will ride Atigun in the 2012 Travers.
On Saturday, Atigun galloped and schooled in the paddock at the starting gate, McPeek said.
* * *
Multiple Grade 1 winner It’s Tricky turned in her final serious work for next Sunday’s Grade 1, $600,000 Personal Ensign Invitational, breezing a half-mile in 46.77 seconds over the Tapeta surface at Greentree Training Center Saturday morning. Encouraged through the stretch by exercise rider Renzo Morales, It’s Tricky worked in company with an unraced 3-year-old filly named Villanesca.
“We’re done,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said after clocking the Godolphin Racing representative. “We’ll gallop on to the race. She’s not like Alpha, [not] just a maintenance work. It’s been a few months in between, so we just need to continue to work her.”
It’s Tricky, undefeated thus far in 2012, most recently won the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap on May 28 at Belmont Park. Last Saturday, also in company with Villanesca, she worked five furlongs in 1:00.10. Always swift, It’s Tricky also has a reputation for living up to her name. Though her personality quirks have ebbed somewhat as she has matured, McLaughlin recognizes the Mineshaft filly can still be wily.
“She always works pretty fast, but if you don’t ask her a little bit she might stop and turn around,” he joked. “That was nice. We’re there, now.”
* * *
Mrs. John Magnier’s Turbulent Descent completed her final preparations for Friday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Ballerina Stakes with a swift four-furlong move over the Saratoga main track. Last year’s Grade 1 Test winner covered the distance in 47.91 seconds.
“She seems like she’s sitting on go,” trainer Todd Pletcher said of the 4-year-old Congrats filly.
The Ballerina will be Turbulent Descent’s first start for Pletcher. She previously was trained by Mike Puype for Blinkers On Racing Stable et al, and under his care won three Grade 1 races, including the Test. The filly has made just one start this year, winning the Desert Stormer Handicap on June 17 at Hollywood Park.
Pletcher added that the three horses he has nominated for the Grade 1 Personal Ensign – Green Hills Farm’s Love and Pride, M.V. Deegan’s Maristar and E. Paul Robsham Stables’ R Gypsy Gold – would breeze Monday morning before a decision will be made about which will start in next Sunday’s race.
* * *
Trainer Steve Hobby continues to marvel at the sharp form being displayed by his 5-year-old mare Tiz Miz Sue, who came within a neck of knocking off champion Royal Delta last time out in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap on July 21.
In that race, Tiz Miz Sue closed a four-length gap between her and Royal Delta after the six-furlong mark in the Del Cap and then steadily inched closer before missing right on the line in the 1 ¼-mile race.
“She ran a huge race; that’s all there is to it,” Hobby said Saturday morning. “She was training well, and we got nine pounds from [Royal Delta].”
The two will meet again August 26 in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign, a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic.
The stretch battle in Delaware appeared demanding, but Hobby said of Tiz Miz Sue, “She came out better than I had any right to expect. Not tired, ate up, and went back to the track.”
Tiz Miz Sue breezed four furlongs in 49.80 seconds on August 7, but the work accidently was posted under the name of her 4-year-old half-sister Sue’s Sweet Sioux, Hobby said.
In preparation for the Personal Ensign, Tiz Miz Sue will work five furlongs tomorrow at Monmouth. Hobby hasn’t set a travel schedule, but said he is considering shipping up in time for a gallop over the main track.
Tiz Miz Sue finished third in the Grade 1 Ruffian and third in the Personal Ensign last summer, both in losses to Ask the Moon. She wintered at Oaklawn Park, winning the Grade 3 Azeri and then finishing third in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom to the Bob Baffert-trained Plum Pretty.
Two races later, she came within of neck of Royal Delta and now will try again to pull off the upset.
“It would be pretty big,” Hobby said.
* * *
Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard reported that Magalen Bryant’s Stack the Storm was doing well the morning after her eventful victory in Friday’s third race, a $65,000 maiden claimer on turf for 3-year-old fillies.
Stack the Storm initially refused to load into the starting gate and threw off her rider, Rosie Napravnik. After being blindfolded and spun around, she was finally led into the gate. When the gates opened, she broke outwardly and hit the stall door, cutting her right shoulder. She trailed the field until the stretch, got up in the waning strides to break her maiden by a neck, and was unsaddled on the backstretch and vanned off.
“There was a slice on her shoulder where she hit the side of the gate coming out,” said Sheppard. “I think it nicked a little artery. She could have walked back [to the winner’s circle] on her own, really.”
It marked the first win on the flat of the meet for Sheppard, who won Thursday’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes over hurdles with History Boy, also in dramatic fashion.
In hot pursuit of the leader, Cornhusker, in second as they approached the final jump, History Boy inherited the lead when Cornhusker stumbled attempting to clear the hurdle and fell to his knees. Jockey Kiernan Norris somehow stayed aboard Cornhusker, but History Boy was off to a 9 ¼-length victory. Cornhusker resumed running to finish fourth.
Not only did History Boy’s win in the Walsh continue Sheppard’s streak of winning at least one race every year at Saratoga dating back to 1967, it was also a fitting tribute to the 6-year-old gelding’s late owner, William Entenmann, III, who died in 2011. History Boy now races for Entenmann’s widow, Christine, who sold off most of her husband’s horses after his death.
“This is the only one they kept with me,” said Sheppard. “This is the last horse he bought before he died. And they thought it’d be nice to [keep History Boy] out of respect for [William Entenmann].”
The win was also special to the Entenmann family in another way.
“M.G. Walsh was a Hall of Fame steeplechase trainer, and he used to train for the Entenmanns,” said Sheppard. “Mrs. Entenmann’s daughter, Denise, married M.G. Walsh’s grandson, Tommy Walsh. The guy who used to be sort of like Bill Gallo with the [National Steeplechase Association], Charlie Hogan, is married to M.G. Walsh’s daughter, and they flew up here the night before to present the trophy on behalf of their father, so she ended up presenting the trophy to her niece-in-law, or something like that. It was a whole big family thing.”