“There’s been too much rain and the turf is just too soft for her,” Bond said “It really is a shame. We’ll see if the weather lets up and maybe she can run here in the Glens Falls Handicap (Grade 3, $100,000-added, fillies and mares, 3 and up, 11 furlongs, turf, Monday, September 1). If not, then we’ll look at races like the Yellow Ribbon, the Flower Bowl and the Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup.”
With just nine days to the 139th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Travers presented by Shadwell Farm on Saturday, August 23, Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito sent out two of his five nominees to the muddy Oklahoma training track this morning to prepare for the 1 ¼-mile “Mid-Summer Derby” for three-year-olds.
Amped and Cool Coal Man, both owned by Robert LaPenta, worked half-miles in 49.15, breezing, and 48.42, breezing, respectively. Amped was third in an overnight stakes here on July 27, and Cool Coal Man was third behind Kentucky Derby/Preakness winner Big Brown and stablemate Coal Play in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.
Zito’s main player for the Travers remains LaPenta’s Belmont Stakes winner Da’ Tara, who will likely put in his work either Friday or Saturday, depending on the weather. Coal Play and Four Roses Thoroughbreds’ Anak Nakal will follow a similar schedule.
There is a 70 percent chance of rain on Friday.
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Court Vision, who won Aqueduct’s 2007 Grade 2 Remsen Stakes as a two-year-old last fall and recent runner-up in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby, worked a half-mile in 48.10 on the “good” main track on Wednesday morning for Hall of Famer Billy Mott.
Mott was pleased with the work and also pleased with the Gulch colt’s last race. “He ran a super race last time in the Virginia Derby,” said Mott. “He looked like he was probably the best horse in the race. He was maybe a victim of post position. The winner had a little better post position than we did, and kind of held us in for a little while. I would say the last race was probably the best race for him this season.”
While he is a Grade 2 winner on dirt, Court Vision’s last races have been on the turf. Mott is considering races on both surfaces for his next start.
“The options are the Travers, the Pennsylvania Derby, and the Del Mar Derby,” Mott said. “If he runs on the dirt, chances are he’ll go in the Pennsylvania Derby.”
Court Vision has a race record of 3-2-2 from nine career starts for earnings of $553,542. He is owned by IEAH Stables and WinStar Farm.
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Trainer Eoin Harty said that WinStar Farms’ Colonel John will have a final five-furlong workout on Monday at Del Mar before he ships to Saratoga on Tuesday for the Travers.
Last Tuesday at Del Mar, Colonel John breezed five furlongs in 58 before galloping out seven furlongs in 1:23.
“He’s fit and ready,” Harty said. “We’ll give him one more workout before he ships to Saratoga. Once he’s there, he’ll gallop for a couple of days leading up to the Travers.”
Coming off a sixth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, Colonel John, who won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby earlier this year, was third to Tres Borrachos and Two Step Salsa in the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park.
“He had an unfortunate trip in the Kentucky Derby,” Harty said. “Coming off of that race and not running in two months, I thought he ran a good race in the Swaps.”
Harty also noted that Darley Stable’s Desert Party, winner of the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes here on July 24, is on target for the Grade 1, $250,000 Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes for two-year-olds at seven furlongs on September 1.
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Steve Stan Stables’ Loose Leaf returned to the Saratoga winners’ circle for the first time in more than a year and, after a grueling stretch drive with graded stakes winner Temporary Saint, earned a nose victory over in Wednesday’s allowance and optional claiming race at nine furlongs.
Coming off a nine-month layoff because of an undisclosed physical ailment and running for a $75,000 claiming tag, Loose Leaf had not won a race since the Lemon Drop Kid Stakes on August 5, 2007 at Saratoga. Twenty days later, Loose Leaf finished sixth to Street Sense and Grasshopper in the Grade 1 Travers.
Loose Leaf was scheduled to make his return on July 24 at six and a half furlongs; however, additional rain later that day forced trainer Ken McPeek to alter Loose Leaf’s workout plan.
“It wasn’t exactly the best plan,” he said. “He got scratched in the paddock because of the rain. I had to make a decision to work him on top of that. I was hoping they would wait a few days to use (this race). Everything happens for a reason.”
Not only did Loose Leaf defeat this year’s Grade 3 Excelsior Handicap winner Temporary Saint, he finished ahead of Ravel, a $950,000 purchase who won the Grade 3 Sham Stakes as a three-year-old and Fearless Vision, who just missed winning the Grade 2 Peter Pan last year.
“This was a tough group of horses,” McPeek said. “I was surprised with the way he won off the layoff. He was getting tired. He hadn’t run in nine months. The issues he had during the layoff were pretty serious. We never thought we would get him back to the races. We gave him a lot of time to heal. Good horses make you look good.”
No one had claimed Loose Leaf after the race and McPeek said he did not have any immediate plans for the four-year-old horse.
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Two-year-old specialist Wesley Ward worked two of his better young horses -- Notonthesamepage and Mine All Mine – on the main track on Wednesday at noon, on the main track, and with Hall of Famers Angel Cordero, Jr. and Edgar Prado, respectively, in the irons.
Notonthesamepage, who set the track record at Churchill Downs for 4 1/2 furlongs in his debut on April 30th before finishing second in the Tyro Stakes at Monmouth, covered the six furlongs in 1:10 1/5. His workmate, Mine All Mine, finished in 1:11 2/5. She has a race record of one win and one second from three career starts.
Notonthesamepage is being pointed to the Grade 1, $250,000 Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes for two-year-olds on Saratoga’s Closing Day on Labor Day, Monday, September 1, while Mine All Mine is in consideration for the Grade 1, $250,000 Spinaway Stakes for two-year-old fillies on August 31.
“This place just never stops raining,” Ward said “If I hadn’t gotten a big, stiff work into them a couple weeks out from their races, speaking with the racing secretary, I was just going to have to cancel that race and go somewhere else.
“This way, I can come back next week with a nice, easy maintenance drill. That work was almost like a mini race. So, everything worked out perfect. The filly set the pace in front with Prado and we took the blinkers off Notonthesamepage because we’re wanting him to not show the blazing speed that he showed. He sat back nice and relaxed. Cordero kept the perfect space. Initially, he tried to go but then he settled right into it. Then, at the 3/8 pole he came to the filly and stayed with her in hand and then went off.”
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Outrider Natalie Rutgilano and her 12-year-old gelding, K.C., made a great catch on two-year-old filly Tough But Fair, who unseated jockey Javier Castellano before being scratched prior to Wednesday’s seventh race. Earlier that morning, Rutgilano caught another loose horse on the Oklahoma Training Track.
“This has been a busy day,” the 24-year-old Rutgilano said. “When you see a loose horse, you have to get going. When a horse is coming at you full speed, you have to get in gear. I was getting scared because she was getting in front of me. She actually cut in front of me, but she stopped.”
Rutgilano stays at Saratoga through November before heading back to Belmont Park as a morning outrider for the remaining fall, winter and early spring.