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SATURDAY, AUGUST 23, 2014

Graded Recaps

Close Hatches pulls clear in Personal Ensign

Close Hatches sailed over the muddy track at Saratoga in Friday's Personal Ensign (Spencer Tulis/Horsephotos.com)

Juddmonte Farms' Close Hatches quickly took command of Friday's Grade 1, $500,000 Personal Ensign and led every step of the way en route to an easy five-length victory over Saratoga's muddy dirt.

"She's already a Grade 1 winner, and she just carried on that tradition today," Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott simply stated. "Our plan right now, and has been since Keeneland went back to dirt, was to go to the (Grade 1, $500,000) Spinster (on October 5)."

Close Hatches was never challenged while setting :23, :46 3/5, 1:11 and 1:36 4/5 fractions under jockey Joel Rosario. Antipathy tried to go early with the Mott trainee but fell back and was closest of all rivals down the backstretch. Fiftyshadesofhay slipped through on the rail nearing the final turn while Princess of Sylmar, sporting blinkers for the first time, ranged up beside Antipathy as those three ran in tandem entering the lane.

At no point did Close Hatches or Rosario appear troubled by the trio. The First Defence filly just kept motoring in the stretch to cross under the wire in 1:50 3/5 for 1 1/8 miles over the muddy, sealed, track. She returned $5.90 for the win as the 9-5 favorite.

"I did not expect it to be wire-to-wire," Rosario admitted. "It looked like another horse was going to go to the lead. It looked like Irad took a little hold (of Antipathy) and I just took my position. Turning for home, I expected Princess of Sylmar to show up, but she didn't.

"(My horse) looked good out there; she was doing it nice and easy and it was a good race for her. She's a nice filly with a long stride. I'm not surprised she went that fast."

"My instructions to (Rosario) were to be wherever he was comfortable," Mott said. "We didn't know who might try to go to the lead. We thought Antipathy or (Majestic River) might try to go to the lead. He gave them the opportunity (to go the lead) going into the first turn. We were laying second going into first turn, but (Close Hatches) was full of run. (Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.) kind of snugged (Antipathy) up, it looked like, and took a little bit of a hold of her, and we inherited the lead."

Close Hatches was well in hand while leaving her Personal Ensign rivals far back (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Fiftyshadesofhay lost the war but won the battle over Antipathy and Princess of Sylmar, taking second by 3 3/4 lengths. Stanwyck actually got up for third, 3 1/4 lengths clear of Antipathy, while Princess of Sylmar trailed by another 1 1/4 lengths in fifth. Belle Gallantey, upset winner of the Delaware Handicap last out, and recent Molly Pitcher heroine Majestic River completed the order of finish.

"She got hung out a little wide on the first turn but ended up in a good position on the backside," explained Princess of Sylmar's trainer, Todd Pletcher. "(Jockey Javier Castellano) ended up in a good spot down the backside and said she felt great, moving really well until about the three-eighths pole and then she just kind of turned him loose.

"It didn't seem like (running in the mud was a problem) for the first five-eighths (of a mile). It seemed like she was in a decent position and handling it pretty well. She's run OK on an off track before.

"It wasn't like he was having to ask her to try to keep up with Close Hatches. So, I don't know. Back to the drawing board."

"I really don't have the answer," Castellano agreed. "She had a beautiful spot today, and on the backside she was really running, but when she got to the quarter-pole she was done. I didn't have horse at all.

"I think the blinkers helped a lot," the reinsman added. "She used to be too far back, and with the blinkers she was a little more into the race. It just wasn't her day today."

Close Hatches has now captured six of her last seven, with the only interruption coming via a runner-up effort in the Breeders' Cup Distaff last November. Thanks to her win in the Personal Ensign, which is part of the Breeders' Cup "Win & You're In" challenge series, she earned a second shot at that contest with an guaranteed spot in the Distaff starting gate at Santa Anita.

Close Hatches is eyeing a second go at the BC Distaff at the end of the season (NYRA/Adam Mooshian/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Close Hatches is actually 9-2-0 from 12 career starts now and has accumulated $2,682,300 in lifetime earnings. Her only off-the-board run came when seventh in last year's Kentucky Oaks, which she preceded with three straights wins culminating in the Gazelle at Aqueduct.

The dark bay four-year-old followed her Kentucky Oaks loss with a second in the Acorn but got back on track when taking the Mother Goose and Cotillion leading up to the Breeders' Cup, after which she was given a four-month break. Close Hatches made her seasonal bow in the Azeri at Oaklawn Park and stayed at that Hot Springs, Arkansas, venue to add the Apple Blossom Handicap to her resume next out. She entered the Personal Ensign off a head score in the Ogden Phipps last out at Belmont Park.

Bred in Kentucky by Millsec Ltd., Close Hatches is the first registered foal out of the winning Storm Cat mare Rising Tornado, who is herself a daughter of the listed-placed Zafonic mare Silver Star. Close Hatches' third dam is the Group 3-winning Sir Ivor mare Monroe, from whom is descended the likes of English, Irish and French highweight sire Xaar and multiple Grade 1-winning stallion Senure.

Most notably, Close Hatches' fourth dam is the blue-hen mare Best in Show, who was honored as the 1982 Broodmare of the Year. She is the dam of 1982 Kentucky Oaks queen Blush With Pride, who is the granddam of champion Rags to Riches, Jazil and Man of Iron. Rags to Riches captured the 2007 editions of the Belmont Stakes and Kentucky Oaks, Jazil was king of the 2006 Belmont Stakes and Man if Iron proved victorious in the 2009 Breeders' Cup Marathon.

Best in Show is the ancestress of numerous champions and highweights, including top sires Aldebaran, Spinning World, Redoute's Choice and El Gran Senor.

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Results

NORTH AMERICAN GRADED STAKES RESULTS

PERSONAL ENSIGN S. (G1), SAR, $500,000, 3YO/UP, F/M, 1 1/8M, 8-22.
6—CLOSE HATCHES, f, 4, First Defence--Rising Tornado, by Storm Cat. O-Juddmonte Farms, Inc, B-Millsec, Ltd (KY), T-William I. Mott, J-Joel Rosario, $300,000.
4—Fiftyshadesofhay, f, 4, Pulpit--Quiet Kim, by Real Quiet. ($175,000 '11 KEESEP). O-Watson, Karl, Pegram, Michael E and Weitman, Paul, B-WinStar Farm, LLC (KY), $100,000.
2—Stanwyck, m, 5, Empire Maker--Set Them Free, by Stop the Music. O-Moss, Mr and Mrs Jerome S, B-Mr & Mrs Jerome Moss (KY), $50,000.
Also Ran: Antipathy, Princess of Sylmar, Belle Gallantey, Majestic River.
Winning Time: 1:50 3/5 (my)
Margins: 5, 3 3/4, 3 1/4.
Odds: 1.95, 15.40, 8.00.

Close Hatches pulls clear in Personal Ensign

Close Hatches sailed over the muddy track at Saratoga in Friday's Personal Ensign (Spencer Tulis/Horsephotos.com)

Juddmonte Farms' Close Hatches quickly took command of Friday's Grade 1, $500,000 Personal Ensign and led every step of the way en route to an easy five-length victory over Saratoga's muddy dirt.

"She's already a Grade 1 winner, and she just carried on that tradition today," Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott simply stated. "Our plan right now, and has been since Keeneland went back to dirt, was to go to the (Grade 1, $500,000) Spinster (on October 5)."

Close Hatches was never challenged while setting :23, :46 3/5, 1:11 and 1:36 4/5 fractions under jockey Joel Rosario. Antipathy tried to go early with the Mott trainee but fell back and was closest of all rivals down the backstretch. Fiftyshadesofhay slipped through on the rail nearing the final turn while Princess of Sylmar, sporting blinkers for the first time, ranged up beside Antipathy as those three ran in tandem entering the lane.

At no point did Close Hatches or Rosario appear troubled by the trio. The First Defence filly just kept motoring in the stretch to cross under the wire in 1:50 3/5 for 1 1/8 miles over the muddy, sealed, track. She returned $5.90 for the win as the 9-5 favorite.

"I did not expect it to be wire-to-wire," Rosario admitted. "It looked like another horse was going to go to the lead. It looked like Irad took a little hold (of Antipathy) and I just took my position. Turning for home, I expected Princess of Sylmar to show up, but she didn't.

"(My horse) looked good out there; she was doing it nice and easy and it was a good race for her. She's a nice filly with a long stride. I'm not surprised she went that fast."

"My instructions to (Rosario) were to be wherever he was comfortable," Mott said. "We didn't know who might try to go to the lead. We thought Antipathy or (Majestic River) might try to go to the lead. He gave them the opportunity (to go the lead) going into the first turn. We were laying second going into first turn, but (Close Hatches) was full of run. (Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.) kind of snugged (Antipathy) up, it looked like, and took a little bit of a hold of her, and we inherited the lead."

Close Hatches was well in hand while leaving her Personal Ensign rivals far back (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Fiftyshadesofhay lost the war but won the battle over Antipathy and Princess of Sylmar, taking second by 3 3/4 lengths. Stanwyck actually got up for third, 3 1/4 lengths clear of Antipathy, while Princess of Sylmar trailed by another 1 1/4 lengths in fifth. Belle Gallantey, upset winner of the Delaware Handicap last out, and recent Molly Pitcher heroine Majestic River completed the order of finish.

"She got hung out a little wide on the first turn but ended up in a good position on the backside," explained Princess of Sylmar's trainer, Todd Pletcher. "(Jockey Javier Castellano) ended up in a good spot down the backside and said she felt great, moving really well until about the three-eighths pole and then she just kind of turned him loose.

"It didn't seem like (running in the mud was a problem) for the first five-eighths (of a mile). It seemed like she was in a decent position and handling it pretty well. She's run OK on an off track before.

"It wasn't like he was having to ask her to try to keep up with Close Hatches. So, I don't know. Back to the drawing board."

"I really don't have the answer," Castellano agreed. "She had a beautiful spot today, and on the backside she was really running, but when she got to the quarter-pole she was done. I didn't have horse at all.

"I think the blinkers helped a lot," the reinsman added. "She used to be too far back, and with the blinkers she was a little more into the race. It just wasn't her day today."

Close Hatches has now captured six of her last seven, with the only interruption coming via a runner-up effort in the Breeders' Cup Distaff last November. Thanks to her win in the Personal Ensign, which is part of the Breeders' Cup "Win & You're In" challenge series, she earned a second shot at that contest with an guaranteed spot in the Distaff starting gate at Santa Anita.

Close Hatches is eyeing a second go at the BC Distaff at the end of the season (NYRA/Adam Mooshian/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Close Hatches is actually 9-2-0 from 12 career starts now and has accumulated $2,682,300 in lifetime earnings. Her only off-the-board run came when seventh in last year's Kentucky Oaks, which she preceded with three straights wins culminating in the Gazelle at Aqueduct.

The dark bay four-year-old followed her Kentucky Oaks loss with a second in the Acorn but got back on track when taking the Mother Goose and Cotillion leading up to the Breeders' Cup, after which she was given a four-month break. Close Hatches made her seasonal bow in the Azeri at Oaklawn Park and stayed at that Hot Springs, Arkansas, venue to add the Apple Blossom Handicap to her resume next out. She entered the Personal Ensign off a head score in the Ogden Phipps last out at Belmont Park.

Bred in Kentucky by Millsec Ltd., Close Hatches is the first registered foal out of the winning Storm Cat mare Rising Tornado, who is herself a daughter of the listed-placed Zafonic mare Silver Star. Close Hatches' third dam is the Group 3-winning Sir Ivor mare Monroe, from whom is descended the likes of English, Irish and French highweight sire Xaar and multiple Grade 1-winning stallion Senure.

Most notably, Close Hatches' fourth dam is the blue-hen mare Best in Show, who was honored as the 1982 Broodmare of the Year. She is the dam of 1982 Kentucky Oaks queen Blush With Pride, who is the granddam of champion Rags to Riches, Jazil and Man of Iron. Rags to Riches captured the 2007 editions of the Belmont Stakes and Kentucky Oaks, Jazil was king of the 2006 Belmont Stakes and Man if Iron proved victorious in the 2009 Breeders' Cup Marathon.

Best in Show is the ancestress of numerous champions and highweights, including top sires Aldebaran, Spinning World, Redoute's Choice and El Gran Senor.

Racing Headlines

Bayern 'super good' in first trip over Saratoga's main track

Bayern appears a tough customer ahead of the Travers (NYRA/Susie Raisher/Adam Coglianese Photography)

On his second morning in Saratoga, Bayern galloped 1 1/2 miles over the main track after the renovation break Friday in preparation for Saturday's Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers.

Favored on the morning line at 2-1 in a field of 10 sophomores for the 145th renewal of the Mid-Summer Derby, Bayern jogged one mile on Thursday morning following his arrival from California late Wednesday afternoon.

"We waited until after the break to get a decent track and he went over it very good; super good," said Jim Barnes, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who is remaining with his string at Del Mar.

"You just want to make sure that he's happy," Barnes added. "You don't want to lead a quiet horse over there. We're very familiar with shipping horses. We ship out a lot, and all the signs are looking good. He's a good horse."

Bayern will break from post 2 under jockey Martin Garcia in the 1 1/4-mile Travers, carded as the 12th of 14 races on Saturday with a scheduled post time of 5:46 p.m. (EDT). All horses will carry 126 pounds.

In his most recent start, the Offlee Wild colt was a dominant 7 1/4-length winner of the Haskell Invitational on July 27 at Monmouth Park while going 1 1/8 miles on the front end. It was a stretch-out from the seven-furlong Woody Stephens at Belmont Park on June 7, which he won by 7 1/2 lengths.

"I think everybody knows what our plans are. I think they're all (wondering), 'Can he get a mile and a quarter?'" Barnes remarked. "Looking at the form, I don't know who's going to go (with us) but you could compromise your own chances by going too fast early. As long as we have a sensible pace, you don't want to have to overcome anything."

Baffert is winless in three Travers since his 2001 victory with eventual Horse of the Year Point Given, who also was the last Haskell winner to repeat in the Mid-Summer Derby. Among Baffert's Saratoga stakes victories are the King's Bishop, Alabama, Test and Forego, all Grade 1 races.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Bayern 'super good' in first trip over Saratoga's main track

Bayern appears a tough customer ahead of the Travers (NYRA/Susie Raisher/Adam Coglianese Photography)

On his second morning in Saratoga, Bayern galloped 1 1/2 miles over the main track after the renovation break Friday in preparation for Saturday's Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers.

Favored on the morning line at 2-1 in a field of 10 sophomores for the 145th renewal of the Mid-Summer Derby, Bayern jogged one mile on Thursday morning following his arrival from California late Wednesday afternoon.

"We waited until after the break to get a decent track and he went over it very good; super good," said Jim Barnes, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who is remaining with his string at Del Mar.

"You just want to make sure that he's happy," Barnes added. "You don't want to lead a quiet horse over there. We're very familiar with shipping horses. We ship out a lot, and all the signs are looking good. He's a good horse."

Bayern will break from post 2 under jockey Martin Garcia in the 1 1/4-mile Travers, carded as the 12th of 14 races on Saturday with a scheduled post time of 5:46 p.m. (EDT). All horses will carry 126 pounds.

In his most recent start, the Offlee Wild colt was a dominant 7 1/4-length winner of the Haskell Invitational on July 27 at Monmouth Park while going 1 1/8 miles on the front end. It was a stretch-out from the seven-furlong Woody Stephens at Belmont Park on June 7, which he won by 7 1/2 lengths.

"I think everybody knows what our plans are. I think they're all (wondering), 'Can he get a mile and a quarter?'" Barnes remarked. "Looking at the form, I don't know who's going to go (with us) but you could compromise your own chances by going too fast early. As long as we have a sensible pace, you don't want to have to overcome anything."

Baffert is winless in three Travers since his 2001 victory with eventual Horse of the Year Point Given, who also was the last Haskell winner to repeat in the Mid-Summer Derby. Among Baffert's Saratoga stakes victories are the King's Bishop, Alabama, Test and Forego, all Grade 1 races.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Clement, McGaughey, Rice discuss their Travers runners

Tonalist is ready to take a bite out of his Travers competition (NYRA/Susie Raisher/Adam Coglianese Photography)

While Point Given was the last Haskell/Travers winner, 2009 victor Summer Bird holds the distinction of being the last Belmont Stakes scorer to take Saratoga's Mid-Summer Derby.

Tonalist captured the "Test of the Champion" in just his second stakes attempt 2 1/2 months ago, and at the same time gave Christophe Clement one of the biggest wins of his training career in that classic contest.

The horseman is hoping lightning strikes twice as he sends out Tonalist again in hopes of capturing another classic in Saturday's Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers, which will go even further in disproving the commonly held belief that Clement is primarily a turf trainer.

On the eve of the race, Clement considered where a Travers win would fit into his illustrious career, and reflected on his landmark victory in the Belmont.

"I'll have to decide after the race, (if we win), which win is more important," he said. "The Belmont was even more meaningful a week later than it was the day of because there's too much going on. I won the Belmont, and then I had to saddle a horse in the next race.

"That's what I call good problems; I can deal with that."

Tonalist has made one start since prevailing by a head in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont, finishing second behind the re-opposing Wicked Strong in the Jim Dandy on July 26 at Saratoga.

"He was pretty fit (for the Jim Dandy)," Clement remarked. "Everyone said he wasn't fit, but he was pretty fit. We were second best on the day, and that's OK. The winner had a better trip, and on that day he was better than us.

"I love the way (Tonalist) has trained since the Jim Dandy, and I love the fact we're going an eighth of a mile farther."

If Tonalist is to make up the 2 1/4 lengths Wicked Strong beat him by in the Jim Dandy and catch the front-running Bayern, who projects to be the lone speed in the race, distance and where the Belmont winner is positioned early will have a lot to do with it.

Clement believes the former is to his colt's advantage; the latter he will leave up to jockey Joel Rosario.

"If somebody is riding a speed horse, he should put pressure on Bayern," Clement stated. "On paper, there's not much speed except for Bayern in the race. No matter what, it's 1 1/4 miles; you still have to get the distance. Slow or fast, you still have to get the distance. At some stage stamina will come into play. The one thing in the race is you believe Mr Speaker and Tonalist are the two horses proven at the distance.

"I don't want to be involved with (where he'll be positioned in the race). Joel is coming to speak with me this morning, and we'll talk. The main thing is to be comfortable, wherever he wants to sit in the race. Wherever Joel is comfortable -- wherever the horse is comfortable -- will be fine with me."

Mr Speaker is expected to make some noise in the Mid-Summer Derby (NYRA/Susie Raisher/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Unlike most of the Travers field, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said Mr Speaker has demonstrated an affinity for the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Mid-Summer Derby. In his latest start, the dark bay colt captured the inaugural Belmont Derby Invitational at 10 furlongs on Belmont Park's turf over the highly regarded Adelaide, who came back to take the Secretariat in his next start.

The crux of the problem, however, is that unlike most of the field, Mr Speaker has no proven dirt form in his running lines.

"We know (1 1/4 miles) isn't going to be a problem. Whether that relates to being OK at 1 1/4 miles on dirt, we'll have to see," McGaughey acknowledged. "Workouts say 'yes,' but workouts are different than afternoons.

"If we were going 1 1/4 miles on turf, I'd have all the confidence in the world. There's no way I can know how he's going to handle the dirt. I hope the rain packs (the track) down some, which it should."

Mr Speaker's lone dirt start came in the January 25 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park. The long-winded colt was keen early that day, which McGaughey believes led to his undoing. The Pulpit colt pressed a swift pace before fading to seventh in the stretch.

"He just laid up too close to the pace (in his last dirt start); I don't think that's the way he wants to run," the trainer said. "I think he wants to come from off the pace a little bit."

Tactics were changed in his next start, whether by design or not, when he got back on grass in the 1 1/8-mile Palm Beach at Gulfstream. Mr Speaker was steadied at the start, forcing jockey Jose Lezcano to take up position at the back of the pack from his wide post. Despite a decidedly disadvantageous pace, the three-year-old colt launched a strong rally in the stretch to miss by only a half-length.

After a four-length win in the Lexington at Keeneland and a disappointing fifth in the Pennine Ridge Stakes at Belmont Park, Mr Speaker took the Belmont Derby from well off the pace by a neck.

The decision to enter Mr Speaker in the Travers off of such a strong turf effort stemmed from several variables, according to McGaughey, who admitted he is not averse to taking shots with his horses.

"The upside is huge," the horseman stated. "I'd much rather take a chance in a big race than go to a little race. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. I've seen a lot of improvement in him since he's been up here; I think he's done really well up here. I think he's matured a lot. I told (owner) Mr. Phipps no matter what; I didn't want to ship him, and he was on board with that. I have no regrets not going in the Secretariat at all."

Kid Cruz is keeping his eye on the Travers prize (NYRA/Susie Raisher/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Two races after purchasing him for $50,000 out of a maiden claimer at Aqueduct, trainer Linda Rice had Travers contender Kid Cruz down in Maryland for the Private Terms Stakes, and the colt dropped more than 18 lengths off a slow pace before rallying powerfully to win by four.

The race set Kid Cruz's reputation as a deep closer, but he enters the 10-furlong Travers on Saturday a different horse, one that can show speed if needed and still kick down the lane.

Kid Cruz dropped back 8 1/2 lengths in his next start after the Private Terms, the Federico Tesio at Pimlico, and won again. But then in the Preakness, jockey Julien Pimental let Kid Cruz drop way back again, 16 lengths, and against the likes of California Chrome, he simply could not make up the ground.

After that, Rice turned the mount over to Irad Ortiz Jr., who had ridden him in his third start, and they made a conscious decision to put Kid Cruz into his races.

"Certainly, Irad has asked him to stay closer, and I hope we get a happy medium this time around," Rice said. "The last race (third in the Jim Dandy), he was thrown off his game, being rushed early and squeezed out on the (first) turn; he just lost his action. He could have just thrown in the towel and galloped in behind the field. I was thrilled he pulled it together, that Irad pursued with him enough to make a show and put us in the Travers."

Kid Cruz drew the 8 post and is 12-1 on the morning line.

"I'm hoping there's more speed in this one, and they go away from him and he can relax and make a truer run at the end of it," Rice remarked. "But, my biggest fear is (favorite) Bayern gallops away from there and never looks back."

Rice believes Kid Cruz is as good as any horse in the field and hopes his kick will not be dulled by the 1 1/4-mile distance.

"It's an interesting thought that maybe his finish is better used from a mile and a sixteenth to a mile and an eighth. We'll find out," she shrugged.

Asking if the Travers would be the crowning achievement of her training career, Rice said, "If we win? Of course. Absolutely."

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Clement, McGaughey, Rice discuss their Travers runners

Tonalist is ready to take a bite out of his Travers competition (NYRA/Susie Raisher/Adam Coglianese Photography)

While Point Given was the last Haskell/Travers winner, 2009 victor Summer Bird holds the distinction of being the last Belmont Stakes scorer to take Saratoga's Mid-Summer Derby.

Tonalist captured the "Test of the Champion" in just his second stakes attempt 2 1/2 months ago, and at the same time gave Christophe Clement one of the biggest wins of his training career in that classic contest.

The horseman is hoping lightning strikes twice as he sends out Tonalist again in hopes of capturing another classic in Saturday's Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers, which will go even further in disproving the commonly held belief that Clement is primarily a turf trainer.

On the eve of the race, Clement considered where a Travers win would fit into his illustrious career, and reflected on his landmark victory in the Belmont.

"I'll have to decide after the race, (if we win), which win is more important," he said. "The Belmont was even more meaningful a week later than it was the day of because there's too much going on. I won the Belmont, and then I had to saddle a horse in the next race.

"That's what I call good problems; I can deal with that."

Tonalist has made one start since prevailing by a head in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont, finishing second behind the re-opposing Wicked Strong in the Jim Dandy on July 26 at Saratoga.

"He was pretty fit (for the Jim Dandy)," Clement remarked. "Everyone said he wasn't fit, but he was pretty fit. We were second best on the day, and that's OK. The winner had a better trip, and on that day he was better than us.

"I love the way (Tonalist) has trained since the Jim Dandy, and I love the fact we're going an eighth of a mile farther."

If Tonalist is to make up the 2 1/4 lengths Wicked Strong beat him by in the Jim Dandy and catch the front-running Bayern, who projects to be the lone speed in the race, distance and where the Belmont winner is positioned early will have a lot to do with it.

Clement believes the former is to his colt's advantage; the latter he will leave up to jockey Joel Rosario.

"If somebody is riding a speed horse, he should put pressure on Bayern," Clement stated. "On paper, there's not much speed except for Bayern in the race. No matter what, it's 1 1/4 miles; you still have to get the distance. Slow or fast, you still have to get the distance. At some stage stamina will come into play. The one thing in the race is you believe Mr Speaker and Tonalist are the two horses proven at the distance.

"I don't want to be involved with (where he'll be positioned in the race). Joel is coming to speak with me this morning, and we'll talk. The main thing is to be comfortable, wherever he wants to sit in the race. Wherever Joel is comfortable -- wherever the horse is comfortable -- will be fine with me."

Mr Speaker is expected to make some noise in the Mid-Summer Derby (NYRA/Susie Raisher/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Unlike most of the Travers field, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said Mr Speaker has demonstrated an affinity for the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Mid-Summer Derby. In his latest start, the dark bay colt captured the inaugural Belmont Derby Invitational at 10 furlongs on Belmont Park's turf over the highly regarded Adelaide, who came back to take the Secretariat in his next start.

The crux of the problem, however, is that unlike most of the field, Mr Speaker has no proven dirt form in his running lines.

"We know (1 1/4 miles) isn't going to be a problem. Whether that relates to being OK at 1 1/4 miles on dirt, we'll have to see," McGaughey acknowledged. "Workouts say 'yes,' but workouts are different than afternoons.

"If we were going 1 1/4 miles on turf, I'd have all the confidence in the world. There's no way I can know how he's going to handle the dirt. I hope the rain packs (the track) down some, which it should."

Mr Speaker's lone dirt start came in the January 25 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park. The long-winded colt was keen early that day, which McGaughey believes led to his undoing. The Pulpit colt pressed a swift pace before fading to seventh in the stretch.

"He just laid up too close to the pace (in his last dirt start); I don't think that's the way he wants to run," the trainer said. "I think he wants to come from off the pace a little bit."

Tactics were changed in his next start, whether by design or not, when he got back on grass in the 1 1/8-mile Palm Beach at Gulfstream. Mr Speaker was steadied at the start, forcing jockey Jose Lezcano to take up position at the back of the pack from his wide post. Despite a decidedly disadvantageous pace, the three-year-old colt launched a strong rally in the stretch to miss by only a half-length.

After a four-length win in the Lexington at Keeneland and a disappointing fifth in the Pennine Ridge Stakes at Belmont Park, Mr Speaker took the Belmont Derby from well off the pace by a neck.

The decision to enter Mr Speaker in the Travers off of such a strong turf effort stemmed from several variables, according to McGaughey, who admitted he is not averse to taking shots with his horses.

"The upside is huge," the horseman stated. "I'd much rather take a chance in a big race than go to a little race. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. I've seen a lot of improvement in him since he's been up here; I think he's done really well up here. I think he's matured a lot. I told (owner) Mr. Phipps no matter what; I didn't want to ship him, and he was on board with that. I have no regrets not going in the Secretariat at all."

Kid Cruz is keeping his eye on the Travers prize (NYRA/Susie Raisher/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Two races after purchasing him for $50,000 out of a maiden claimer at Aqueduct, trainer Linda Rice had Travers contender Kid Cruz down in Maryland for the Private Terms Stakes, and the colt dropped more than 18 lengths off a slow pace before rallying powerfully to win by four.

The race set Kid Cruz's reputation as a deep closer, but he enters the 10-furlong Travers on Saturday a different horse, one that can show speed if needed and still kick down the lane.

Kid Cruz dropped back 8 1/2 lengths in his next start after the Private Terms, the Federico Tesio at Pimlico, and won again. But then in the Preakness, jockey Julien Pimental let Kid Cruz drop way back again, 16 lengths, and against the likes of California Chrome, he simply could not make up the ground.

After that, Rice turned the mount over to Irad Ortiz Jr., who had ridden him in his third start, and they made a conscious decision to put Kid Cruz into his races.

"Certainly, Irad has asked him to stay closer, and I hope we get a happy medium this time around," Rice said. "The last race (third in the Jim Dandy), he was thrown off his game, being rushed early and squeezed out on the (first) turn; he just lost his action. He could have just thrown in the towel and galloped in behind the field. I was thrilled he pulled it together, that Irad pursued with him enough to make a show and put us in the Travers."

Kid Cruz drew the 8 post and is 12-1 on the morning line.

"I'm hoping there's more speed in this one, and they go away from him and he can relax and make a truer run at the end of it," Rice remarked. "But, my biggest fear is (favorite) Bayern gallops away from there and never looks back."

Rice believes Kid Cruz is as good as any horse in the field and hopes his kick will not be dulled by the 1 1/4-mile distance.

"It's an interesting thought that maybe his finish is better used from a mile and a sixteenth to a mile and an eighth. We'll find out," she shrugged.

Asking if the Travers would be the crowning achievement of her training career, Rice said, "If we win? Of course. Absolutely."

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Rome talks Shared Belief

Jim Rome pictured after Shared Belief's championship-clinching win in last December's CashCall Futurity (Benoit Photos)
Nationally prominent sports talk show host Jim Rome is part owner of Shared Belief, the unbeaten (five-for-five) 5-2 morning line favorite for Sunday's Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic. While vacationing last week in Europe with his family, Rome responded to some emailed questions from Del Mar officials.

Q: What's your "take" on a guy getting into the horse business and catching lightning in a bottle with a mare like Mizdirection (two-time Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner), then following that up with a lightning storm in a 50-gallon drum like Shared Belief!?

Rome: It looks like my wife Janet and I jumped into the game and that it's the easiest thing ever. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. I've always said it: "Thoroughbred racing is a kick in the ass and a punch in the face." And prior to Miz, I was getting my face caved in. Repeatedly. For years. But then the Big Mare saved my racing life. I thought she was a once in a lifetime horse. So to find Shared Belief just as Miz went to auction was a miracle. To this day, I still can't believe we're a part of Team Shared Belief.

Q: Your trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer, is one of the hardest-working and most intense guys in the business. What's it been like for you in your dealings with him?

Rome: Jerry Hollendorfer is a Hall of Famer in every sense of the word. A pro's pro. And the King is calling all the shots here. Jerry has handled Shared Belief beautifully and I just stay the hell out of his way.

Q: How does it make you feel that one of the great money riders in the history of the game, Hall of Famer Mike Smith, chooses to get off Game On Dude --who won this race by a record 8 1/2 lengths last year -- and instead ride Shared Belief?

Rome: Obviously, I'm a huge Mike Smith guy. He won us two Breeders' Cup trophies on Mizdirection and is one of the best big race riders in the game. And for him to leave Game On Dude for Shared Belief in this spot tells you what he thinks of our horse, because I know he loves the Dude. It was a huge vote of confidence for our horse and our group. He told me a few years back in an interview, "I'd really like to ride one of yours one day, Rome." And I said, "I'd love for you to, Mike," while privately wondering if we'd ever have one good enough to get his attention." 

Q: Any thoughts about your three-year-old taking on older horses for the first time? Are you concerned about your "boy" taking on the "men?"

Rome: I'm absolutely concerned about our "boy" taking on the "men" in this spot. Shared Belief has done everything right and everything we've asked of him. But we've never asked him to go a mile and a quarter. And we've never asked him to do it against older. And I'm not sure he can. Then again, we wouldn't run him in here if we didn't think he had a shot. And if he's in the gate, and we get some racing luck, he should be a factor when they turn for home."

Q: Realizing that Shared Belief is a gelding who hopefully will have at least several more racing seasons ahead of him, do you think we can count on him for next year's Pacific Classic, and the one after that?

Rome: After several years in this game, I've learned a lot of lessons. Mostly I've learned, nothing is promised. This game has turned me into an equine Belichick. Or Tiger Woods. "The course looks good. My swing feels good. I like my chances." This game is extremely humbling. Seriously, I hope he came out of all his works and makes it to THIS year's Classic! One day at a time. Especially since we missed the entire Triple Crown season due to injury. That said, this gelding really is once in a lifetime and because he's a gelding, here's hoping we keep him sound and we all have a nice long ride with him.

Q: Anything to add? 

Rome: If you're an owner, trainer or jockey on the West Coast, you want to run in this meet. And you want to run in this race. And most of all, you want to have a chance to win it. It wasn't that long ago that I used to just hope to score a good seat the day of the Pacific Classic. Knowing we have a horse that folks think has a chance to win the race is unfathomable to me. Getting into this race a few years back was just a pipe dream. I have to ask our bloodstock agent, Alex Solis, who put us in Shared Belief, if it's real.

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Rome talks Shared Belief

Jim Rome pictured after Shared Belief's championship-clinching win in last December's CashCall Futurity (Benoit Photos)
Nationally prominent sports talk show host Jim Rome is part owner of Shared Belief, the unbeaten (five-for-five) 5-2 morning line favorite for Sunday's Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic. While vacationing last week in Europe with his family, Rome responded to some emailed questions from Del Mar officials.

Q: What's your "take" on a guy getting into the horse business and catching lightning in a bottle with a mare like Mizdirection (two-time Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner), then following that up with a lightning storm in a 50-gallon drum like Shared Belief!?

Rome: It looks like my wife Janet and I jumped into the game and that it's the easiest thing ever. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. I've always said it: "Thoroughbred racing is a kick in the ass and a punch in the face." And prior to Miz, I was getting my face caved in. Repeatedly. For years. But then the Big Mare saved my racing life. I thought she was a once in a lifetime horse. So to find Shared Belief just as Miz went to auction was a miracle. To this day, I still can't believe we're a part of Team Shared Belief.

Q: Your trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer, is one of the hardest-working and most intense guys in the business. What's it been like for you in your dealings with him?

Rome: Jerry Hollendorfer is a Hall of Famer in every sense of the word. A pro's pro. And the King is calling all the shots here. Jerry has handled Shared Belief beautifully and I just stay the hell out of his way.

Q: How does it make you feel that one of the great money riders in the history of the game, Hall of Famer Mike Smith, chooses to get off Game On Dude --who won this race by a record 8 1/2 lengths last year -- and instead ride Shared Belief?

Rome: Obviously, I'm a huge Mike Smith guy. He won us two Breeders' Cup trophies on Mizdirection and is one of the best big race riders in the game. And for him to leave Game On Dude for Shared Belief in this spot tells you what he thinks of our horse, because I know he loves the Dude. It was a huge vote of confidence for our horse and our group. He told me a few years back in an interview, "I'd really like to ride one of yours one day, Rome." And I said, "I'd love for you to, Mike," while privately wondering if we'd ever have one good enough to get his attention." 

Q: Any thoughts about your three-year-old taking on older horses for the first time? Are you concerned about your "boy" taking on the "men?"

Rome: I'm absolutely concerned about our "boy" taking on the "men" in this spot. Shared Belief has done everything right and everything we've asked of him. But we've never asked him to go a mile and a quarter. And we've never asked him to do it against older. And I'm not sure he can. Then again, we wouldn't run him in here if we didn't think he had a shot. And if he's in the gate, and we get some racing luck, he should be a factor when they turn for home."

Q: Realizing that Shared Belief is a gelding who hopefully will have at least several more racing seasons ahead of him, do you think we can count on him for next year's Pacific Classic, and the one after that?

Rome: After several years in this game, I've learned a lot of lessons. Mostly I've learned, nothing is promised. This game has turned me into an equine Belichick. Or Tiger Woods. "The course looks good. My swing feels good. I like my chances." This game is extremely humbling. Seriously, I hope he came out of all his works and makes it to THIS year's Classic! One day at a time. Especially since we missed the entire Triple Crown season due to injury. That said, this gelding really is once in a lifetime and because he's a gelding, here's hoping we keep him sound and we all have a nice long ride with him.

Q: Anything to add? 

Rome: If you're an owner, trainer or jockey on the West Coast, you want to run in this meet. And you want to run in this race. And most of all, you want to have a chance to win it. It wasn't that long ago that I used to just hope to score a good seat the day of the Pacific Classic. Knowing we have a horse that folks think has a chance to win the race is unfathomable to me. Getting into this race a few years back was just a pipe dream. I have to ask our bloodstock agent, Alex Solis, who put us in Shared Belief, if it's real.

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Irish Surf opts for Pacific Classic; Topic chooses Del Mar 'Cap

Topic passed on a title defense in Friday's CTT & TOC to face males in the Del Mar 'Cap (Benoit Photos)
Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale scratched Topic, the 3-1 morning line second choice for Friday's CTT & TOC Handicap at Del Mar, to run her against males -- among them stablemate and 7-2 morning line favorite Fire With Fire -- in Saturday's Grade 2, $250,000 Del Mar Handicap.

Trainer Dan Hendricks, who entered Irish Surf in both the Handicap and Sunday's Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic, will scratch from the Del Mar 'Cap to run in the Classic. That created an opening for Ice Cream Truck, the lone also eligible in the Handicap (and also entered in the Classic) that trainer A.C. Avila said he was "80 percent certain" to fill.

And, taking account of all the "ins" and "outs," the 75th running of the Del Mar Handicap stacks up as an important, prestigious and certainly worthy kickoff to the biggest stakes weekend of the meeting.

The Del Mar Handicap, 1 3/8 miles on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course, is a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf. It will have the solo stakes spotlight one day before Sunday's stakes triple-header of the Grade 2, $250,000 Del Mar Mile, Grade 2, $250,000 Pat O'Brien and the Pacific Classic. The Pat O'Brien and Pacific Classic are "Win and You're In" qualifiers for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic, respectively.

In Topic and Fire With Fire, Drysdale has two horses coming in freshened off strong efforts. Topic, a four-year-old Discreet Cat filly, finished second but was disqualified to ninth of 12 in the Robert G. Dick Memorial July 14 at Delaware Park. Fire With Fire, a six-year-old son of Distorted Humor, has been away from racing since winning the Charles Whittingham on May 24 at Santa Anita.

"(Topic) ran very well but in the stretch she got the lead and she veered out a little bit," Drysdale said. "I didn't like it (stewards' decision), but there you go. I thought the jockey on the other horse (interfered with) was going somewhere he shouldn't have been going.

"(Topic) has been training very well since."

Fire With Fire took the Whittingham by a neck over Segway with Del Mar Handicap competitor Quick Casablanca only another neck behind. It was the third victory in five 2014 starts for Fire With Fire.

"He ran quite hard this winter, so we gave him a rest," Drysdale said. "Now hopefully he'll have a good fall campaign."

Irish Surf ran away to an 8 1/4-length victory in the 1 1/2-mile Cougar II Handicap, setting a track record of 2:29.01 on Polytrack on July 25. Given that performance, and Irish Surf's subsequent training over the surface, Hendricks opted for the Classic even though 13 of the Giant's Causeway colt's 18 lifetime starts have been on grass.

Ice Cream Truck, a former $20,000 claimer, was third in the Cougar II. The four-year-old son of Pleasantly Perfect two prior starts, and one of his two career wins, on turf.

In other Pacific Classic news:

Connections of unbeaten champion Shared Belief, the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the Pacific Classic, were unfazed by his drawing the outside post in a field of 11.

"I think we'd rather have the outside than inside," Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. " (Hall of Fame rider) Mike (Smith) is the one who has to do all the maneuvering and I don't think he minds being out there."

"He's a very talented horse and I think a lot of him," Smith said. "There's speed inside and hopefully we can follow them on over (toward the rail) and find a good spot. Then it's a matter of him being good enough."

Defending champion Game On Dude's part-owner Bernie Schiappa commented on his landing in post 5.

"We're fine with number 5, we're fine with everything," Schiappa said of the 3-1 second choice on oddsmaker Russ Hudak's line.

Another of Dude's co-owners, Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Torre, will be absent with good reason. The former New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers manager will be at Yankee Stadium for the retirement of the No. 6 jersey he wore during his tenure there. He will become the third manager and the 18th player or manager to have his number retired.

Majestic Harbor is pegged at 9-2 because of "lower profile connections," according to trainer Sean McCarthy (Benoit Photos)
Majestic Harbor, the winner of the Gold Cup at Santa Anita, ranks as the 9-2 third choice, and trainer Sean McCarthy was pleased with his 7 post.

"I would have preferred the middle to outside and that's where we are," McCarthy said. "We've got the speed outside of us so it's fine."

McCarthy added that he didn't feel slighted that his horse, who finished a combined 14 lengths ahead of Game On Dude in their last two races, was accorded the higher odds of the two on the morning line.

"Honestly, I thought we'd be a higher price," the trainer said. "We're lower profile connections, so 9-2 is fine. The horse has been training super since we got here. The work Monday (five furlongs in :59 1/5) was exactly what we were looking for and he galloped out strong without much effort at all, so Tyler (Baze) was very pleased. That's all I need to know."

Craig Lewis, trainer of 8-1 chance Clubhouse Ride, put the 9 post position in perspective.

"In a mile and a quarter race I don't think you can get a really bad post," Lewis said. "We just have to hope everybody breaks clean and it goes all right."

Lewis related a comment from Hall of Famer Smith about Clubhouse Ride, a winner of more than $1.3 million, most from two wins and six other on-the-board finishes in 14 stakes starts over the past 18 months: "He's like an oil well. He just keeps pumping out money."

NBC Sports Network will broadcast the Pacific Classic live from 5 to 6 p.m. (PDT) with post time scheduled for 5:46 p.m. First post for the Sunday card will be 1 p.m., an hour earlier than usual.

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Irish Surf opts for Pacific Classic; Topic chooses Del Mar 'Cap

Topic passed on a title defense in Friday's CTT & TOC to face males in the Del Mar 'Cap (Benoit Photos)
Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale scratched Topic, the 3-1 morning line second choice for Friday's CTT & TOC Handicap at Del Mar, to run her against males -- among them stablemate and 7-2 morning line favorite Fire With Fire -- in Saturday's Grade 2, $250,000 Del Mar Handicap.

Trainer Dan Hendricks, who entered Irish Surf in both the Handicap and Sunday's Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic, will scratch from the Del Mar 'Cap to run in the Classic. That created an opening for Ice Cream Truck, the lone also eligible in the Handicap (and also entered in the Classic) that trainer A.C. Avila said he was "80 percent certain" to fill.

And, taking account of all the "ins" and "outs," the 75th running of the Del Mar Handicap stacks up as an important, prestigious and certainly worthy kickoff to the biggest stakes weekend of the meeting.

The Del Mar Handicap, 1 3/8 miles on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course, is a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf. It will have the solo stakes spotlight one day before Sunday's stakes triple-header of the Grade 2, $250,000 Del Mar Mile, Grade 2, $250,000 Pat O'Brien and the Pacific Classic. The Pat O'Brien and Pacific Classic are "Win and You're In" qualifiers for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic, respectively.

In Topic and Fire With Fire, Drysdale has two horses coming in freshened off strong efforts. Topic, a four-year-old Discreet Cat filly, finished second but was disqualified to ninth of 12 in the Robert G. Dick Memorial July 14 at Delaware Park. Fire With Fire, a six-year-old son of Distorted Humor, has been away from racing since winning the Charles Whittingham on May 24 at Santa Anita.

"(Topic) ran very well but in the stretch she got the lead and she veered out a little bit," Drysdale said. "I didn't like it (stewards' decision), but there you go. I thought the jockey on the other horse (interfered with) was going somewhere he shouldn't have been going.

"(Topic) has been training very well since."

Fire With Fire took the Whittingham by a neck over Segway with Del Mar Handicap competitor Quick Casablanca only another neck behind. It was the third victory in five 2014 starts for Fire With Fire.

"He ran quite hard this winter, so we gave him a rest," Drysdale said. "Now hopefully he'll have a good fall campaign."

Irish Surf ran away to an 8 1/4-length victory in the 1 1/2-mile Cougar II Handicap, setting a track record of 2:29.01 on Polytrack on July 25. Given that performance, and Irish Surf's subsequent training over the surface, Hendricks opted for the Classic even though 13 of the Giant's Causeway colt's 18 lifetime starts have been on grass.

Ice Cream Truck, a former $20,000 claimer, was third in the Cougar II. The four-year-old son of Pleasantly Perfect two prior starts, and one of his two career wins, on turf.

In other Pacific Classic news:

Connections of unbeaten champion Shared Belief, the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the Pacific Classic, were unfazed by his drawing the outside post in a field of 11.

"I think we'd rather have the outside than inside," Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. " (Hall of Fame rider) Mike (Smith) is the one who has to do all the maneuvering and I don't think he minds being out there."

"He's a very talented horse and I think a lot of him," Smith said. "There's speed inside and hopefully we can follow them on over (toward the rail) and find a good spot. Then it's a matter of him being good enough."

Defending champion Game On Dude's part-owner Bernie Schiappa commented on his landing in post 5.

"We're fine with number 5, we're fine with everything," Schiappa said of the 3-1 second choice on oddsmaker Russ Hudak's line.

Another of Dude's co-owners, Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Torre, will be absent with good reason. The former New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers manager will be at Yankee Stadium for the retirement of the No. 6 jersey he wore during his tenure there. He will become the third manager and the 18th player or manager to have his number retired.

Majestic Harbor is pegged at 9-2 because of "lower profile connections," according to trainer Sean McCarthy (Benoit Photos)
Majestic Harbor, the winner of the Gold Cup at Santa Anita, ranks as the 9-2 third choice, and trainer Sean McCarthy was pleased with his 7 post.

"I would have preferred the middle to outside and that's where we are," McCarthy said. "We've got the speed outside of us so it's fine."

McCarthy added that he didn't feel slighted that his horse, who finished a combined 14 lengths ahead of Game On Dude in their last two races, was accorded the higher odds of the two on the morning line.

"Honestly, I thought we'd be a higher price," the trainer said. "We're lower profile connections, so 9-2 is fine. The horse has been training super since we got here. The work Monday (five furlongs in :59 1/5) was exactly what we were looking for and he galloped out strong without much effort at all, so Tyler (Baze) was very pleased. That's all I need to know."

Craig Lewis, trainer of 8-1 chance Clubhouse Ride, put the 9 post position in perspective.

"In a mile and a quarter race I don't think you can get a really bad post," Lewis said. "We just have to hope everybody breaks clean and it goes all right."

Lewis related a comment from Hall of Famer Smith about Clubhouse Ride, a winner of more than $1.3 million, most from two wins and six other on-the-board finishes in 14 stakes starts over the past 18 months: "He's like an oil well. He just keeps pumping out money."

NBC Sports Network will broadcast the Pacific Classic live from 5 to 6 p.m. (PDT) with post time scheduled for 5:46 p.m. First post for the Sunday card will be 1 p.m., an hour earlier than usual.

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Wildcat Red 'deserves to win a Grade 1 race'; Fast Anna is 'doing fantastic'

His sire was a Grade 1-winning sprinter, and on Saturday Wildcat Red will look to continue the family tradition in the Grade 1, $500,000 King's Bishop at Saratoga.

The son of D'wildcat is the 4-1 third choice on the morning-line for the seven-furlong King's Bishop, to be run two races before the Travers.

Trainer Jose Garoffalo nominated Wildcat Red to the 1 1/4-mile Travers as well as the King's Bishop, which will be his first sprint since winning the seven-furlong Hutcheson on February 1 at Gulfstream Park.

"He's been good. He likes the weather, the track. Everything has been perfect so far," Garoffalo said. "We just need to run the race."

Purchased for $30,000 last year, Wildcat Red has finished no worse than third in nine of 10 career starts with five wins and $850,850 in purse earnings. He captured the Fountain of Youth, was second in the Florida Derby and most recently third behind Travers favorite Bayern in the Haskell Invitational.

"Professionally, it's a boost for my career to be here and run in these kinds of races," noted Garoffalo, a Venezuelan native who came to the United States full time in 1999.

"Above that, I think the horse deserves to win a Grade 1 race. He has proved to have the quality and the guts at the Grade 1 level. The horse deserves a nice win, especially here in Saratoga. That's the most important thing. That's why we're here."

Wildcat Red had an educational and uneventful schooling session in the Saratoga paddock during Thursday's 3RD race

"He was very good, very calm," Garoffalo said. "He was very professional, very quiet. There were a bunch of horses schooling and he saw all the people around and the noise of the music, some noises that we don't have down there (at Gulfstream). He didn't show any kind of fear. He was OK with everything."

Fellow Florida-based trainer Kathy Ritvo never got to win a race at Saratoga with Mucho Macho Man, who went winless in three career tries at the Spa before going on to become a multiple Grade 1 winner and make the heart transplant recipient the first female to train a Breeders' Cup Classic winner.

This weekend, Ritvo will have two chances to return to her Gulfstream base with a stakes victory, saddling three-year-olds Fast Anna in Saturday's King's Bishop and New York-bred Little Daddy in Sunday's $250,000 Albany.

Fast Anna is an unbeaten but untested speedster owned by Frank Calabrese. A runaway winner of his first two starts, each in front-running fashion at Gulfstream, the Medaglia d'Oro colt will be making his stakes debut in the King's Bishop.

"He's doing fantastic. He's had two good works and he really seems to like the track here," Ritvo said. "He likes the weather, and he's been doing good. I'm excited to see him run. Everything's going really well. It's hard to imagine him going into a race any better."

Fast Anna will break from post 6 as the 6-1 fourth choice on the morning-line in a field of eight sophomore sprinters that includes, in addition to Wildcat Red, Grade 2 victors Noble Moon and Coup de Grace as well as Grade 2-placed C. Zee and Grade 3-placed Myositis Dan.

"He is a really good horse," Ritvo praised Fast Anna. "It's a race, and anything can happen. I definitely have respect for the other horses but he doing as good as he can and he has the class. He deserves the chance to run here."

Little Daddy will be facing state-breds for the first time in his career, having run in open company in each of his five starts, all at Gulfstream for owner-trainer Carlo Vaccarezza. He won his debut by 3 1/4 lengths at odds of 16-1 on March 15 and followed with an entry-level allowance victory 15 days later.

Since then, the son of Scat Daddy has been no worse than fourth in three stakes: third in the Sir Bear and fourth in the Cherokee Run behind C. Zee, and runner-up in the English Channel going 1 1/16 miles on turf.

"When he came up here he just kind of fell into the program and he's doing well," Ritvo said. "He'll do anything you ask him to do."

Ritvo noted that both Fast Anna and Little Daddy have flourished since arriving in Saratoga the first week of August, each breezing twice over the main track.

"They've both been training super since we've been here," she said. "They're different horses, but they both have been training equally good.

"I think the weather has perked them up a little. Their first works were good and on a deeper track before the break. Then I waited and let them work after the break in case we have a little moisture in the track. They both showed up, twice, and came back good. They are going into it really good."

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Wildcat Red 'deserves to win a Grade 1 race'; Fast Anna is 'doing fantastic'

His sire was a Grade 1-winning sprinter, and on Saturday Wildcat Red will look to continue the family tradition in the Grade 1, $500,000 King's Bishop at Saratoga.

The son of D'wildcat is the 4-1 third choice on the morning-line for the seven-furlong King's Bishop, to be run two races before the Travers.

Trainer Jose Garoffalo nominated Wildcat Red to the 1 1/4-mile Travers as well as the King's Bishop, which will be his first sprint since winning the seven-furlong Hutcheson on February 1 at Gulfstream Park.

"He's been good. He likes the weather, the track. Everything has been perfect so far," Garoffalo said. "We just need to run the race."

Purchased for $30,000 last year, Wildcat Red has finished no worse than third in nine of 10 career starts with five wins and $850,850 in purse earnings. He captured the Fountain of Youth, was second in the Florida Derby and most recently third behind Travers favorite Bayern in the Haskell Invitational.

"Professionally, it's a boost for my career to be here and run in these kinds of races," noted Garoffalo, a Venezuelan native who came to the United States full time in 1999.

"Above that, I think the horse deserves to win a Grade 1 race. He has proved to have the quality and the guts at the Grade 1 level. The horse deserves a nice win, especially here in Saratoga. That's the most important thing. That's why we're here."

Wildcat Red had an educational and uneventful schooling session in the Saratoga paddock during Thursday's 3RD race

"He was very good, very calm," Garoffalo said. "He was very professional, very quiet. There were a bunch of horses schooling and he saw all the people around and the noise of the music, some noises that we don't have down there (at Gulfstream). He didn't show any kind of fear. He was OK with everything."

Fellow Florida-based trainer Kathy Ritvo never got to win a race at Saratoga with Mucho Macho Man, who went winless in three career tries at the Spa before going on to become a multiple Grade 1 winner and make the heart transplant recipient the first female to train a Breeders' Cup Classic winner.

This weekend, Ritvo will have two chances to return to her Gulfstream base with a stakes victory, saddling three-year-olds Fast Anna in Saturday's King's Bishop and New York-bred Little Daddy in Sunday's $250,000 Albany.

Fast Anna is an unbeaten but untested speedster owned by Frank Calabrese. A runaway winner of his first two starts, each in front-running fashion at Gulfstream, the Medaglia d'Oro colt will be making his stakes debut in the King's Bishop.

"He's doing fantastic. He's had two good works and he really seems to like the track here," Ritvo said. "He likes the weather, and he's been doing good. I'm excited to see him run. Everything's going really well. It's hard to imagine him going into a race any better."

Fast Anna will break from post 6 as the 6-1 fourth choice on the morning-line in a field of eight sophomore sprinters that includes, in addition to Wildcat Red, Grade 2 victors Noble Moon and Coup de Grace as well as Grade 2-placed C. Zee and Grade 3-placed Myositis Dan.

"He is a really good horse," Ritvo praised Fast Anna. "It's a race, and anything can happen. I definitely have respect for the other horses but he doing as good as he can and he has the class. He deserves the chance to run here."

Little Daddy will be facing state-breds for the first time in his career, having run in open company in each of his five starts, all at Gulfstream for owner-trainer Carlo Vaccarezza. He won his debut by 3 1/4 lengths at odds of 16-1 on March 15 and followed with an entry-level allowance victory 15 days later.

Since then, the son of Scat Daddy has been no worse than fourth in three stakes: third in the Sir Bear and fourth in the Cherokee Run behind C. Zee, and runner-up in the English Channel going 1 1/16 miles on turf.

"When he came up here he just kind of fell into the program and he's doing well," Ritvo said. "He'll do anything you ask him to do."

Ritvo noted that both Fast Anna and Little Daddy have flourished since arriving in Saratoga the first week of August, each breezing twice over the main track.

"They've both been training super since we've been here," she said. "They're different horses, but they both have been training equally good.

"I think the weather has perked them up a little. Their first works were good and on a deeper track before the break. Then I waited and let them work after the break in case we have a little moisture in the track. They both showed up, twice, and came back good. They are going into it really good."

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Makari seeks another big win in New York Turf Writers Cup

Makari (right) won his U.S. debut, the A.P. Smithwick Memorial, by a nose (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

A thrilling and emotional victory by English import Makari in last month's A.P. Smithwick Memorial has put the seven-year-old gelding in line for a sweep of Saratoga's leading steeplechase stakes when he faces eight rivals in the Grade 1, $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup on Monday.

Originally scheduled for August 21, the New York Turf Writers Cup was postponed due to heavy rains which caused wet turf course conditions.

Makari's photo-finish win in the July 31 Smithwick over Demonstrative was the first winner trained by Elizabeth Voss Murray, the daughter of legendary trainer Tom Voss, who passed away in January and whose stable Elizabeth Voss Murray inherited.

A winner in five of his final seven starts in England, mostly in low-level chases, Makari was nonetheless backed down to 9-2 for his U.S. debut. He proved more than adequate to the task, besting a field that included last year's divisional champion Divine Fortune.

The latter will not return for the about 2 3/8-mile Turf Writers Cup, but otherwise the race looks very much like the Smithwick. Demonstrative, who ran his best race in more than a year when beaten a nose by Makari, captured this race by a length in 2012 over Charminster, who enters this renewal off a neck loss against optional claiming company on July 30 in his first outing in 14 months.

Grade 3 winner Pleasant Woodman, third by 7 1/4 lengths after setting the pace in the Smithwick, is joined by Italian Wedding and All Together, sixth and fourth in the Smithwick, respectively. That pair finished one-two in the Turf Writers Cup last season, with Italian Wedding the victor by a length.

Novice stakes winners Barnstorming and Staying On, both also-rans in the Smithwick, will line up Thursday as will For Non Stop, a nine-year-old who won by more than 27 lengths in his U.S. debut at Stone Mountain, Georgia, in April, and followed with a third-place finish behind Divine Fortune in the Iroquois, a Grade 1 event at Percy Warner Park in Nashville.

The flat feature on Monday's program is the $100,000 Smart N Fancy a 5 1/2-furlong turf dash for fillies and mares. Free as a Bird will be favored to win her fourth $100,000 stakes in a row following scores in the License Fee and Intercontinental at Belmont Park and the Caress at Saratoga.

Other leading contenders include Madame Giry, the 2013 Smart N Fancy winner; the three-year-old Stars Above Me, who took the Coronation Cup in her U.S. debut July 30; turf sprint stakes winners To My Valentine and Believe in Charlie; and Speedinthruthecity, a multiple stakes winner on dirt this year who has won or placed in two prior turf attempts.

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Makari seeks another big win in New York Turf Writers Cup

Makari (right) won his U.S. debut, the A.P. Smithwick Memorial, by a nose (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

A thrilling and emotional victory by English import Makari in last month's A.P. Smithwick Memorial has put the seven-year-old gelding in line for a sweep of Saratoga's leading steeplechase stakes when he faces eight rivals in the Grade 1, $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup on Monday.

Originally scheduled for August 21, the New York Turf Writers Cup was postponed due to heavy rains which caused wet turf course conditions.

Makari's photo-finish win in the July 31 Smithwick over Demonstrative was the first winner trained by Elizabeth Voss Murray, the daughter of legendary trainer Tom Voss, who passed away in January and whose stable Elizabeth Voss Murray inherited.

A winner in five of his final seven starts in England, mostly in low-level chases, Makari was nonetheless backed down to 9-2 for his U.S. debut. He proved more than adequate to the task, besting a field that included last year's divisional champion Divine Fortune.

The latter will not return for the about 2 3/8-mile Turf Writers Cup, but otherwise the race looks very much like the Smithwick. Demonstrative, who ran his best race in more than a year when beaten a nose by Makari, captured this race by a length in 2012 over Charminster, who enters this renewal off a neck loss against optional claiming company on July 30 in his first outing in 14 months.

Grade 3 winner Pleasant Woodman, third by 7 1/4 lengths after setting the pace in the Smithwick, is joined by Italian Wedding and All Together, sixth and fourth in the Smithwick, respectively. That pair finished one-two in the Turf Writers Cup last season, with Italian Wedding the victor by a length.

Novice stakes winners Barnstorming and Staying On, both also-rans in the Smithwick, will line up Thursday as will For Non Stop, a nine-year-old who won by more than 27 lengths in his U.S. debut at Stone Mountain, Georgia, in April, and followed with a third-place finish behind Divine Fortune in the Iroquois, a Grade 1 event at Percy Warner Park in Nashville.

The flat feature on Monday's program is the $100,000 Smart N Fancy a 5 1/2-furlong turf dash for fillies and mares. Free as a Bird will be favored to win her fourth $100,000 stakes in a row following scores in the License Fee and Intercontinental at Belmont Park and the Caress at Saratoga.

Other leading contenders include Madame Giry, the 2013 Smart N Fancy winner; the three-year-old Stars Above Me, who took the Coronation Cup in her U.S. debut July 30; turf sprint stakes winners To My Valentine and Believe in Charlie; and Speedinthruthecity, a multiple stakes winner on dirt this year who has won or placed in two prior turf attempts.

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Probables for closing-week stakes at Saratoga revealed

Next Thursday, two-year-olds will assemble for the Grade 2, $200,000 With Anticipation, the first of nine graded races scheduled for the final week of the 146th meet at Saratoga.

According to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes, likely for the 1 1/16-mile race on the Mellon turf are Creaky Cricket, making his turf debut; the Todd Pletcher-trained duo of Designed for War, front-running winner on August 9 at the Spa and Kamarius, a seven-length winner at the With Anticipation distance on July 19; International Star, most recently second in the Rockville Centre on Belmont Park's main track to Bustin It; Nutty Futty, who comes in from Gulfstream Park; Startup Nation, sharp maiden winner on August 7 for Chad Brown; and Strong Coffee, who scored for Graham Motion on August 2.

The final Saturday of the meet features two Grade 1 races in the $500,000 Forego, a "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Sprint, and the $600,000 Woodward at 1 1/8 miles, along with a pair of Grade 2 contests: the $300,000 Prioress for three-year-old filly sprinters and the $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Probable for the Forego are Clearly Now, winner of the Belmont Sprint championship last time out; and Palace, who captured the Alfred G. Vanderbilt on August 2; and last year's King's Bishop winner Capo Bastone. Mshawish, Private Zone and Zee Bros are questionable.

Whitney winner Moreno heads the list of probable starters for the Woodward. Also expected are Woodward runner-up Itsmyluckyday; Brooklyn winner Norumbega; Romansh, most recently seventh in the Whitney; Stephanoatsee, returning to graded stakes competition after three starts in allowance company; and Suburban Handicap winner Zivo, who carries a six-race win streak into the Woodward.

Multiple graded stakes winner Boisterous is among those likely for the 1 1/16-mile Bernard Baruch, along with Irish import North Star Boy; Sky Blazer, most recently third in the Bowling Green Handicap, and Summer Front, coming off back-to-back seconds in the Eddie Read and Shoemaker Mile in California. Two-time reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan remains possible, as does Five Iron, Mshawish, Paris Vegas, Plainview, and Sayaad.

The six-furlong Prioress could see a field comprised of Milam, Miss Behaviour, Princess Violet, Southern Honey, Stonetastic, Sweet Whiskey, Taris, Tea Time and Thirteen Arrows, with Who's In Town questionable.

On Sunday, which also is Tom Durkin Day at Saratoga, the Grade 1, $350,000 Spinaway is expected to attract Bonnie K, a recent maiden winner at Penn National; By the Moon, who broke her maiden on July 18; Condo Commander, a 12-length maiden winner on August 3; Darling Sky, who scored by 7 1/2 lengths on August 9 at Parx Racing, and Florida shipper Polyushko.

The Grade 3, $150,000 Glens Falls for fillies and mares going 1 3/8 miles on the turf looks to attract a large field, headed by Waya winner Cat's Claw, making her graded stakes debut. Also probable are the Christophe Clement-trained pair of Aigue Marine and Tabreed; Angel Terrace, fifth in the Waya; Baffle Me, most recently fourth in the De La Rose; Caroline Thomas, seventh in the Diana; Emotional Kitten, Scampering, Tabreed, Viva Rafaela, and Watsdachances. Clearbrook, English Class, Royal Fury and White Rose are questionable.

Closing day is highlighted by the Grade 1, $350,000 Hopeful for two-year-olds, which is expected to attract impressive maiden winner Competitive Edge, who scored by 10 1/4 lengths on July 16 for trainer Todd Pletcher. Florida shipper Dekabrist, Saratoga Special and Sanford runner-up Mr. Z, recent maiden winners Pride of Stride and Requite, and The Great War are also likely, with Hashtag Bourbon, and Wild Zamezi questionable.

Joining the Hopeful on the card is the Grade 3, $300,000 Saranac for three-year-olds. Expected for the 1 1/8-mile turf race are Belisarious, Beyond Smart, Cabo Cat, Lafontaine, Michaelmas, Predicting, Ring Weekend and Storm. Can'thelpbelieving and Smooth Daddy are questionable.

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Probables for closing-week stakes at Saratoga revealed

Next Thursday, two-year-olds will assemble for the Grade 2, $200,000 With Anticipation, the first of nine graded races scheduled for the final week of the 146th meet at Saratoga.

According to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes, likely for the 1 1/16-mile race on the Mellon turf are Creaky Cricket, making his turf debut; the Todd Pletcher-trained duo of Designed for War, front-running winner on August 9 at the Spa and Kamarius, a seven-length winner at the With Anticipation distance on July 19; International Star, most recently second in the Rockville Centre on Belmont Park's main track to Bustin It; Nutty Futty, who comes in from Gulfstream Park; Startup Nation, sharp maiden winner on August 7 for Chad Brown; and Strong Coffee, who scored for Graham Motion on August 2.

The final Saturday of the meet features two Grade 1 races in the $500,000 Forego, a "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Sprint, and the $600,000 Woodward at 1 1/8 miles, along with a pair of Grade 2 contests: the $300,000 Prioress for three-year-old filly sprinters and the $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Probable for the Forego are Clearly Now, winner of the Belmont Sprint championship last time out; and Palace, who captured the Alfred G. Vanderbilt on August 2; and last year's King's Bishop winner Capo Bastone. Mshawish, Private Zone and Zee Bros are questionable.

Whitney winner Moreno heads the list of probable starters for the Woodward. Also expected are Woodward runner-up Itsmyluckyday; Brooklyn winner Norumbega; Romansh, most recently seventh in the Whitney; Stephanoatsee, returning to graded stakes competition after three starts in allowance company; and Suburban Handicap winner Zivo, who carries a six-race win streak into the Woodward.

Multiple graded stakes winner Boisterous is among those likely for the 1 1/16-mile Bernard Baruch, along with Irish import North Star Boy; Sky Blazer, most recently third in the Bowling Green Handicap, and Summer Front, coming off back-to-back seconds in the Eddie Read and Shoemaker Mile in California. Two-time reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan remains possible, as does Five Iron, Mshawish, Paris Vegas, Plainview, and Sayaad.

The six-furlong Prioress could see a field comprised of Milam, Miss Behaviour, Princess Violet, Southern Honey, Stonetastic, Sweet Whiskey, Taris, Tea Time and Thirteen Arrows, with Who's In Town questionable.

On Sunday, which also is Tom Durkin Day at Saratoga, the Grade 1, $350,000 Spinaway is expected to attract Bonnie K, a recent maiden winner at Penn National; By the Moon, who broke her maiden on July 18; Condo Commander, a 12-length maiden winner on August 3; Darling Sky, who scored by 7 1/2 lengths on August 9 at Parx Racing, and Florida shipper Polyushko.

The Grade 3, $150,000 Glens Falls for fillies and mares going 1 3/8 miles on the turf looks to attract a large field, headed by Waya winner Cat's Claw, making her graded stakes debut. Also probable are the Christophe Clement-trained pair of Aigue Marine and Tabreed; Angel Terrace, fifth in the Waya; Baffle Me, most recently fourth in the De La Rose; Caroline Thomas, seventh in the Diana; Emotional Kitten, Scampering, Tabreed, Viva Rafaela, and Watsdachances. Clearbrook, English Class, Royal Fury and White Rose are questionable.

Closing day is highlighted by the Grade 1, $350,000 Hopeful for two-year-olds, which is expected to attract impressive maiden winner Competitive Edge, who scored by 10 1/4 lengths on July 16 for trainer Todd Pletcher. Florida shipper Dekabrist, Saratoga Special and Sanford runner-up Mr. Z, recent maiden winners Pride of Stride and Requite, and The Great War are also likely, with Hashtag Bourbon, and Wild Zamezi questionable.

Joining the Hopeful on the card is the Grade 3, $300,000 Saranac for three-year-olds. Expected for the 1 1/8-mile turf race are Belisarious, Beyond Smart, Cabo Cat, Lafontaine, Michaelmas, Predicting, Ring Weekend and Storm. Can'thelpbelieving and Smooth Daddy are questionable.

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La Tia weighs options at Woodbine, Keeneland, Belmont

Trainer Armando De La Cerda believes that La Tia is a better horse in 2014 (Four Footed Fotos)
Hernandez Racing Club's La Tia gave local fans a thrill through the majority of the stretch in last Saturday's Beverly D. at Arlington. Leading all the way until the last sixteenth of a mile, she held on for fourth, beaten all of 1 1/2 lengths, at odds of 17-1. The Armando De La Cerda trainee improved upon her fifth-place finish in 2013 and was beaten by Group/Grade 1 level horses in Royal Ascot-placed winner Euro Charline, Breeders' Cup winner Stephanie's Kitten and Irish classic winning Just the Judge. After the race, the filly seems no worse for the wear, according to her connections.

"She's very happy right now," De La Cerda reported. "After the race, she wasn't too tired like she usually is. I don't know if she thought she won, or not, but she was very happy with her race and you could tell. I gave her four days of walking and she started galloping yesterday and came back pretty good yesterday and today from the track."

A half-length from being Grade 1-placed, La Tia now will look at races at a variety of venues.

"I'll look at Canada," De La Cerda said, with a couple of options including the September 14 Canadian Stakes at Woodbine. "She lost by two lengths last year there (when fourth in the Canadian) and she's a better horse this year.

"There is also a handicap (at Woodbine) on September 6 on the Polytrack for her to build her confidence back. If she goes there for the handicap, I might look at running her back in the Grade 1 stakes (October 4 First Lady) at a mile on the grass at Keeneland. I also am going to look at the $200,000 Grade 3 (Noble Damsel September 13) at Belmont, too."

One of the most notably disappointing performances of the International Festival of Racing was that of Ernest Marchosky, Ken Shaw, Kate Walters and Lo Hi Stable's California invader Big Kick in the American St. Leger. A flash wire-to-wire winner of Santa Anita's iconic marathon, the San Juan Capistrano, the son of Tiznow flashed his early foot before quickly wilting 1 1/8 miles into the 1 11/16-mile race. According to his connections, he has exited the race well -- despite his uncharacteristically poor performance.

"He came back good," reported trainer Mike Machowsky. "(Jockey) James (Graham) said the ground was a little too soft for him. He was climbing a bit. He's fine and he came out well."

The future may still be a bright one for the long-winded bay.

"I'll run him in something here (in California)," Machowsky continued. "I'll even look at dirt races; he'll handle it. On Breeders' Cup Day, they have a mile and three-quarter dirt race (the October 31 Marathon Stakes) that fits him."

Also under consideration beforehand is the John Henry Turf Championship on September 28 on the Santa Anita lawn.

G. Watts Humphrey Jr.'s Annulment is bound for a return to Arlington for a third consecutive run this meet after winning the first division of the $75,000 Hatoof Stakes on Arlington Million Day. Trained by Victoria Oliver at her Kentucky base, the daughter of Broken Vow won a blanket finish under Javier Castellano.

"She came out very good," Oliver said. "The plan is hopefully to take her to the Pucker Up (Stakes on September 13)."

Previous to the Hatoof, the homebred dark bay filly was a last-place finisher of 10 in the Arlington Oaks, where she was basically eased by jockey Florent Geroux, finishing 21 1/4 lengths behind the nearest competitor.

"I just don't think she likes the Polytrack at all," Oliver reflected. "I don't think she handled it. She is a turf filly and she proved it Saturday. I was worried down the backside because they went so slow and was thinking maybe Castellano should let her move, but he was patient and she ended up being able to finish up a nose in front. Luckily, she's a pretty game filly and tries really hard the last sixteenth. The further, the better with her. I think she'll be best at mile and an eighth. She broke her maiden last year at that distance."

A daughter of the Fusaichi Pegasus mare After Thought -- herself a half-sister to Humphrey's Grade 1 turf mare Centre Court -- Annulment could be heading back to Keeneland if she shows well in the Pucker Up.

"I would probably look at the (Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on October 11) if she wins, but I also have a nice filly named Personal Diary who just won the Del Mar Oaks going there. It's a nice problem to have to have two good fillies. I have had a horse in the Pucker Up in the last couple years and have had some bad luck, so I am probably due for some good luck."

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La Tia weighs options at Woodbine, Keeneland, Belmont

Trainer Armando De La Cerda believes that La Tia is a better horse in 2014 (Four Footed Fotos)
Hernandez Racing Club's La Tia gave local fans a thrill through the majority of the stretch in last Saturday's Beverly D. at Arlington. Leading all the way until the last sixteenth of a mile, she held on for fourth, beaten all of 1 1/2 lengths, at odds of 17-1. The Armando De La Cerda trainee improved upon her fifth-place finish in 2013 and was beaten by Group/Grade 1 level horses in Royal Ascot-placed winner Euro Charline, Breeders' Cup winner Stephanie's Kitten and Irish classic winning Just the Judge. After the race, the filly seems no worse for the wear, according to her connections.

"She's very happy right now," De La Cerda reported. "After the race, she wasn't too tired like she usually is. I don't know if she thought she won, or not, but she was very happy with her race and you could tell. I gave her four days of walking and she started galloping yesterday and came back pretty good yesterday and today from the track."

A half-length from being Grade 1-placed, La Tia now will look at races at a variety of venues.

"I'll look at Canada," De La Cerda said, with a couple of options including the September 14 Canadian Stakes at Woodbine. "She lost by two lengths last year there (when fourth in the Canadian) and she's a better horse this year.

"There is also a handicap (at Woodbine) on September 6 on the Polytrack for her to build her confidence back. If she goes there for the handicap, I might look at running her back in the Grade 1 stakes (October 4 First Lady) at a mile on the grass at Keeneland. I also am going to look at the $200,000 Grade 3 (Noble Damsel September 13) at Belmont, too."

One of the most notably disappointing performances of the International Festival of Racing was that of Ernest Marchosky, Ken Shaw, Kate Walters and Lo Hi Stable's California invader Big Kick in the American St. Leger. A flash wire-to-wire winner of Santa Anita's iconic marathon, the San Juan Capistrano, the son of Tiznow flashed his early foot before quickly wilting 1 1/8 miles into the 1 11/16-mile race. According to his connections, he has exited the race well -- despite his uncharacteristically poor performance.

"He came back good," reported trainer Mike Machowsky. "(Jockey) James (Graham) said the ground was a little too soft for him. He was climbing a bit. He's fine and he came out well."

The future may still be a bright one for the long-winded bay.

"I'll run him in something here (in California)," Machowsky continued. "I'll even look at dirt races; he'll handle it. On Breeders' Cup Day, they have a mile and three-quarter dirt race (the October 31 Marathon Stakes) that fits him."

Also under consideration beforehand is the John Henry Turf Championship on September 28 on the Santa Anita lawn.

G. Watts Humphrey Jr.'s Annulment is bound for a return to Arlington for a third consecutive run this meet after winning the first division of the $75,000 Hatoof Stakes on Arlington Million Day. Trained by Victoria Oliver at her Kentucky base, the daughter of Broken Vow won a blanket finish under Javier Castellano.

"She came out very good," Oliver said. "The plan is hopefully to take her to the Pucker Up (Stakes on September 13)."

Previous to the Hatoof, the homebred dark bay filly was a last-place finisher of 10 in the Arlington Oaks, where she was basically eased by jockey Florent Geroux, finishing 21 1/4 lengths behind the nearest competitor.

"I just don't think she likes the Polytrack at all," Oliver reflected. "I don't think she handled it. She is a turf filly and she proved it Saturday. I was worried down the backside because they went so slow and was thinking maybe Castellano should let her move, but he was patient and she ended up being able to finish up a nose in front. Luckily, she's a pretty game filly and tries really hard the last sixteenth. The further, the better with her. I think she'll be best at mile and an eighth. She broke her maiden last year at that distance."

A daughter of the Fusaichi Pegasus mare After Thought -- herself a half-sister to Humphrey's Grade 1 turf mare Centre Court -- Annulment could be heading back to Keeneland if she shows well in the Pucker Up.

"I would probably look at the (Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on October 11) if she wins, but I also have a nice filly named Personal Diary who just won the Del Mar Oaks going there. It's a nice problem to have to have two good fillies. I have had a horse in the Pucker Up in the last couple years and have had some bad luck, so I am probably due for some good luck."

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Lukas, Jerkens, Durkin honored at Saratoga Red Jacket ceremony

Jimmy Jerkens, accepting for father Allen, D. Wayne Lukas, and Tom Durkin were presented with red jackets at Saratoga (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Hall of Fame trainers Allen Jerkens and D. Wayne Lukas, along with legendary track announcer Tom Durkin, were honored Friday in the second annual "Red Jacket" ceremony in the winner's circle at Saratoga to unveil individual bronze plaques commemorating their achievements.

Lukas and Durkin were presented with Saratoga red blazers by Chris Kay, CEO and president of the New York Racing Association, to celebrate their long and storied history at the track. Jerkens' son, Jimmy, accepted the blazer on behalf of his father, who expressed his gratitude from Florida's Gulfstream Park on a video shown on the HD screen in the infield, and throughout Saratoga.

A member of both the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and the Quarter Horse Hall of Fame, Lukas has trained 25 Eclipse Award champions, more than any other trainer in history. In addition to having won four Kentucky Derbies, six Preakness Stakes and four Belmont Stakes, Lukas saddled the winners of three editions of the Travers: Corporate Report (1991), Thunder Gulch (1995) and last year's eventual three-year-old champion Will Take Charge. He also won the Saratoga training title six times.

"I don't think anyone receives an honor as distinguished as this without help; you certainly don't do it on your own," Lukas said. "I'm really proud of one thing at Saratoga; I was thinking back today, and led by Todd (Pletcher) who is in a class all by himself, we have had these young assistants who all came through our program and I'd like to acknowledge them -- Todd Pletcher, Kiaran McLaughlin, Dallas Stewart, George Weaver, Mike Maker, Mark Hennig, and all of them are very active here and doing very, very well. That's what makes me the proudest. I don't think anyone gets here without those guys backing me all those years. They were wonderful guys and I'm so proud of them."

Durkin, who announced his retirement earlier this year, has called the races for 43 years, 24 of them with the New York Racing Association. Many of his most memorable calls came at Saratoga, including Holy Bull's victory in the 1994 Travers, Rachel Alexandra's triumph in the 2009 Woodward and the unforgettable New York-bred Arrrrr. Including the Breeders' Cup, which he called from its inception until 2005, and the Triple Crown, which he called for 10 years, Durkin has called races at more than 50 tracks in six countries.

"As you can see, I've had the privilege of getting the best seat in the house for some of the most dramatic and exciting competitions of the last 40 years, and it's with great gratitude that I accept the award today," Durkin said. "I find it almost difficult to absorb being honored in the same way as Allen Jerkens and D. Wayne Lukas. These two people are at the very top of my list as being the most admired people in the game. I am honored to share this honor with them."

The legendary Jerkens, for whom the coveted Saratoga training title is named, was elected to racing's Hall of Fame in 1975 at the age of 45, then the youngest trainer so honored. After taking out his license in 1950, Jerkens fashioned a stellar career that was punctuated by some of the biggest upsets in racing history including two over 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, with Prove Out in the Woodward at Belmont Park and with Onion in the Whitney at Saratoga.

Hall of Fame jockeys Angel Cordero Jr., Jerry Bailey, and John Velazquez were honored in last year's inaugural "Red Jacket" ceremony.

The plaques for all will be displayed on the boards next to the Jockeys' Silks porch at Saratoga as the Saratoga Red Jacket Walk of Fame.

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Lukas, Jerkens, Durkin honored at Saratoga Red Jacket ceremony

Jimmy Jerkens, accepting for father Allen, D. Wayne Lukas, and Tom Durkin were presented with red jackets at Saratoga (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Hall of Fame trainers Allen Jerkens and D. Wayne Lukas, along with legendary track announcer Tom Durkin, were honored Friday in the second annual "Red Jacket" ceremony in the winner's circle at Saratoga to unveil individual bronze plaques commemorating their achievements.

Lukas and Durkin were presented with Saratoga red blazers by Chris Kay, CEO and president of the New York Racing Association, to celebrate their long and storied history at the track. Jerkens' son, Jimmy, accepted the blazer on behalf of his father, who expressed his gratitude from Florida's Gulfstream Park on a video shown on the HD screen in the infield, and throughout Saratoga.

A member of both the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and the Quarter Horse Hall of Fame, Lukas has trained 25 Eclipse Award champions, more than any other trainer in history. In addition to having won four Kentucky Derbies, six Preakness Stakes and four Belmont Stakes, Lukas saddled the winners of three editions of the Travers: Corporate Report (1991), Thunder Gulch (1995) and last year's eventual three-year-old champion Will Take Charge. He also won the Saratoga training title six times.

"I don't think anyone receives an honor as distinguished as this without help; you certainly don't do it on your own," Lukas said. "I'm really proud of one thing at Saratoga; I was thinking back today, and led by Todd (Pletcher) who is in a class all by himself, we have had these young assistants who all came through our program and I'd like to acknowledge them -- Todd Pletcher, Kiaran McLaughlin, Dallas Stewart, George Weaver, Mike Maker, Mark Hennig, and all of them are very active here and doing very, very well. That's what makes me the proudest. I don't think anyone gets here without those guys backing me all those years. They were wonderful guys and I'm so proud of them."

Durkin, who announced his retirement earlier this year, has called the races for 43 years, 24 of them with the New York Racing Association. Many of his most memorable calls came at Saratoga, including Holy Bull's victory in the 1994 Travers, Rachel Alexandra's triumph in the 2009 Woodward and the unforgettable New York-bred Arrrrr. Including the Breeders' Cup, which he called from its inception until 2005, and the Triple Crown, which he called for 10 years, Durkin has called races at more than 50 tracks in six countries.

"As you can see, I've had the privilege of getting the best seat in the house for some of the most dramatic and exciting competitions of the last 40 years, and it's with great gratitude that I accept the award today," Durkin said. "I find it almost difficult to absorb being honored in the same way as Allen Jerkens and D. Wayne Lukas. These two people are at the very top of my list as being the most admired people in the game. I am honored to share this honor with them."

The legendary Jerkens, for whom the coveted Saratoga training title is named, was elected to racing's Hall of Fame in 1975 at the age of 45, then the youngest trainer so honored. After taking out his license in 1950, Jerkens fashioned a stellar career that was punctuated by some of the biggest upsets in racing history including two over 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, with Prove Out in the Woodward at Belmont Park and with Onion in the Whitney at Saratoga.

Hall of Fame jockeys Angel Cordero Jr., Jerry Bailey, and John Velazquez were honored in last year's inaugural "Red Jacket" ceremony.

The plaques for all will be displayed on the boards next to the Jockeys' Silks porch at Saratoga as the Saratoga Red Jacket Walk of Fame.

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Sole Power takes Nunthorpe for a second time

Trainer Eddie Lynam has spectacularly dominated the sprint division of the British Champions Series this year, winning four out of the five races including the four Group 1 races run so far. Slade Power took the Diamond Jubilee and July Cup over six furlongs, while Sole Power took the King's Stand and Friday's Nunthorpe Stakes at York over five furlongs.

Sole Power had won the Nunthorpe in 2010 at odds of 100-1, but he was the 11-4 favorite Friday with Richard Hughes riding a peach of a race when it looked as though he would not get a run.

Stepper Point, runner-up to Sole Power in the King's Stand, hit the front, but Hughes was looking for a gap and found one at just the right moment. He burst through with the line looming and remarkably won by a half-length. Stepper Point had to settle for second again, with Extortionist in third, Moviesta fourth and Hot Streak fifth, separated by under a length.

"It's been a remarkable journey with this horse since he won this race four years ago," Lynam said. "He's now won this race twice, he's won the King's Stand twice and he's a very talented performer.

"If the going is good, we could go for the Prix de l'Abbaye (at Longchamp), although I wouldn't want him to have too hard a race when there is Hong Kong still to think about too.

"Two weeks ago, he had American ringworm, we had to get him right for it and we had only 10 days to train him. He's a super horse, a horse of a lifetime, it's just the way he does it"

Pale Mimosa, who had the run of the race, held off Estimate by a half-length in the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup over two miles earlier in the card.

Estimate did not have a clear passage, but Pale Mimosa had more in her locker if needed. The two five-year-old mares were over two lengths clear of Times Up and Cavalryman, who were separated by a nose in third and fourth. Angel Gabrial was fifth, Forgotten Voice sixth and Certerach in last place, with High Jinx a non-runner.

Pale Mimosa was fourth in the British Champions Long Distance Cup last October and will be a force to be reckoned when that race is renewed at Ascot on October 18.

"She's a very good mare when everything is right for her, she's just a bit fragile and the boss has done a great job of minding her and keeping her right," jockey Pat Smullen said.

"I was glad we had a drop of rain last night as it just took the real firmness out of the ground, that was our concern but when conditions are right she is good. She traveled beautifully and at halfway I was very confident, they just give you that feel when everything is going right.

"She's not just a dour stayer, she has a turn of foot as well. She doesn't need it very soft, just a bit of kindness in it. Hopefully we'll have a good autumn with her."

"I was delighted with her, she's a very progressive mare," trainer Dermot Weld said. "She won well at Leopardstown and was here two years ago in the Galtres. They were two very brave fillies fighting it out, her heart was in the right place under a tactical ride.

"The race was run to suit her and Pat had her in the right position throughout. The plan was to sit handy and not many others ride a better type of race than Pat.

"We had no worries about the ground today and it looked a very good renewal."

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Sole Power takes Nunthorpe for a second time

Trainer Eddie Lynam has spectacularly dominated the sprint division of the British Champions Series this year, winning four out of the five races including the four Group 1 races run so far. Slade Power took the Diamond Jubilee and July Cup over six furlongs, while Sole Power took the King's Stand and Friday's Nunthorpe Stakes at York over five furlongs.

Sole Power had won the Nunthorpe in 2010 at odds of 100-1, but he was the 11-4 favorite Friday with Richard Hughes riding a peach of a race when it looked as though he would not get a run.

Stepper Point, runner-up to Sole Power in the King's Stand, hit the front, but Hughes was looking for a gap and found one at just the right moment. He burst through with the line looming and remarkably won by a half-length. Stepper Point had to settle for second again, with Extortionist in third, Moviesta fourth and Hot Streak fifth, separated by under a length.

"It's been a remarkable journey with this horse since he won this race four years ago," Lynam said. "He's now won this race twice, he's won the King's Stand twice and he's a very talented performer.

"If the going is good, we could go for the Prix de l'Abbaye (at Longchamp), although I wouldn't want him to have too hard a race when there is Hong Kong still to think about too.

"Two weeks ago, he had American ringworm, we had to get him right for it and we had only 10 days to train him. He's a super horse, a horse of a lifetime, it's just the way he does it"

Pale Mimosa, who had the run of the race, held off Estimate by a half-length in the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup over two miles earlier in the card.

Estimate did not have a clear passage, but Pale Mimosa had more in her locker if needed. The two five-year-old mares were over two lengths clear of Times Up and Cavalryman, who were separated by a nose in third and fourth. Angel Gabrial was fifth, Forgotten Voice sixth and Certerach in last place, with High Jinx a non-runner.

Pale Mimosa was fourth in the British Champions Long Distance Cup last October and will be a force to be reckoned when that race is renewed at Ascot on October 18.

"She's a very good mare when everything is right for her, she's just a bit fragile and the boss has done a great job of minding her and keeping her right," jockey Pat Smullen said.

"I was glad we had a drop of rain last night as it just took the real firmness out of the ground, that was our concern but when conditions are right she is good. She traveled beautifully and at halfway I was very confident, they just give you that feel when everything is going right.

"She's not just a dour stayer, she has a turn of foot as well. She doesn't need it very soft, just a bit of kindness in it. Hopefully we'll have a good autumn with her."

"I was delighted with her, she's a very progressive mare," trainer Dermot Weld said. "She won well at Leopardstown and was here two years ago in the Galtres. They were two very brave fillies fighting it out, her heart was in the right place under a tactical ride.

"The race was run to suit her and Pat had her in the right position throughout. The plan was to sit handy and not many others ride a better type of race than Pat.

"We had no worries about the ground today and it looked a very good renewal."

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Hannon has solid pair for Gimcrack

York's Ebor meeting winds up Saturday with the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes playing host to a clutch of "now" horses seeking to gain the reward for their precocity.

Chief among them, not surprisingly, is a colt from the Richard Hannon Jr. stable so adept with these types in Baitha Alga. Successful in Epsom's Woodcote Stakes over six furlongs June 7, he went on to capture the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot 12 days later and has been freshened by a subsequent break.

The Hannon barn also put forward Beacon, who took the five-furlong Dragon Stakes by four lengths at Sandown July 4 before running third over that trip in Goodwood's Molecomb Stakes July 29.

"Baitha Alga has the three-pound penalty for winning the Norfolk, but we think this is the right race for him," their trainer said. "He is so straightforward, very uncomplicated and Frankie (Dettori) has loved him from day one. He is such a professional.

"However, Beacon is a good horse too and, whereas Baitha Alga is going for four wins off the spin, Beacon should be going for five. He was very unlucky in the Molecomb at Goodwood and (jockey Richard Hughess) was the first to hold his hands up when he dismounted. He felt that six would probably suit the colt better, as they get him at it early on over five, so all in all we have two live chances."

Tommy Stack ships in the unbeaten Accepted, who arrives fresh after a win in the five-furlong Tipperary Stakes July 12 and will appreciate the fast pace which is certain to be in evidence here.

"It's a very competitive race and it will be interesting to see how he goes," Stack's son and assistant Fozzy told PA Sport. "He's done nothing wrong so far and he's ready for a step up. The ground should suit him and we're looking forward to it."

In other European stakes on Saturday:

Now that Al Kazeem has a run under his belt on his return from stud duties, the Group 3 Winter Hill Stakes at Windsor will offer a more meaningful marker of his retained ability as he builds towards a high-profile autumn campaign.

One of the most intriguing stallion prospects for the 2014 breeding season following his run of successes in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh, Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot and Eclipse Stakes at Sandown in July, John Deer's homebred failed to shine in that sphere and duly came back to Roger Charlton's stable from Sandringham Stud. A respectable fourth in Newbury's Steventon Stakes on his first outing July 19, the six-year-old is reported in sharper shape now by his conditioner.

"At home he is a very happy and willing worker, but it has surprised me how hard it has been to get him back to full fitness," Charlton commented. "As horses get older, they tend to get more relaxed and lazy in their work. He is in terrific shape and his race at Newbury has brought him forward, but there should be more improvement to come."

Facing up to the challenge is Godolphin's increasingly frustrating three-year-old True Story, who is reunited with Silvestre de Sousa for the first time since winning by seven lengths in Newmarket's Feilden Stakes over nine furlongs April 16.

"True Story is doing well -- he came out of his run at Haydock in good form and has been working nicely," Saeed bin Suroor said of the colt, who was a latest third in the Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock August 9. "A mile and a quarter is a good trip for him and I am hoping that he can run well."

Marco Botti saddles the 2012 Secretariat Stakes winner Bayrir (Medicean), who needs to show more than when fourth in the March 15 Randwick City Stakes.

Two of the leading protagonists in bringing Irish sprinting back to the forefront aptly line up in the Group 3 Renaissance Stakes at The Curragh, with Gordon Lord Byron and Maarek squaring up for the first time since they were fourth and ninth respectively in last year's Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

Since that occasion, Gordon Lord Byron has annexed the Haydock Sprint Cup in September and George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill in March, while Maarek has garnered the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp on Arc day.

"He came back with a back injury after Ascot (when a latest eighth in the June 21 Diamond Jubilee), so we've given him a bit of time and he seems to be back on song," Tom Hogan, trainer of Gordon Lord Byron, told PA Sport. "It's all about getting a run into him before Haydock (for the September 6 Sprint Cup). Hopefully he'll run well, but you would expect him to improve off it."

Maarek is also on a comeback mission following his latest fifth as the even-money favorite for the Phoenix Sprint Stakes August 10, and conditioner Evanna McCutcheon is wary of the surface being too quick for the veteran.

"We wouldn't run him on ground that is any way firm, but as long as they're making a good print in it we'll let him take his chance," she told PA Sport. "He needed the run badly the last day and those small fields don't really suit him. The more trouble he gets into the better. He seems in good form and while we're taking it one race at a time, Haydock would be in the back of our minds if all goes well."

Kept away from a slog in Newmarket's mud when scratched from the August 9 Sweet Solera Stakes, Efflorescence has conditions to suit in the Group 3 Prestige Stakes at Goodwood. Having beaten the operation's subsequent winner Good Place in a decent seven-furlong maiden on debut at Newmarket, she remains and intriguing prospect and Charlie Appleby is hoping for a bold show.

"A quick seven furlongs will play to her strengths, because she has shown that she has got some speed," the trainer said. "I am hopeful that she will be competitive."

Malabar boasts a smart piece of form, having been fourth in the Albany Stakes over six furlongs at Royal Ascot, and she showed she is not regressing with a maiden win back at that venue last time.

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Hannon has solid pair for Gimcrack

York's Ebor meeting winds up Saturday with the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes playing host to a clutch of "now" horses seeking to gain the reward for their precocity.

Chief among them, not surprisingly, is a colt from the Richard Hannon Jr. stable so adept with these types in Baitha Alga. Successful in Epsom's Woodcote Stakes over six furlongs June 7, he went on to capture the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot 12 days later and has been freshened by a subsequent break.

The Hannon barn also put forward Beacon, who took the five-furlong Dragon Stakes by four lengths at Sandown July 4 before running third over that trip in Goodwood's Molecomb Stakes July 29.

"Baitha Alga has the three-pound penalty for winning the Norfolk, but we think this is the right race for him," their trainer said. "He is so straightforward, very uncomplicated and Frankie (Dettori) has loved him from day one. He is such a professional.

"However, Beacon is a good horse too and, whereas Baitha Alga is going for four wins off the spin, Beacon should be going for five. He was very unlucky in the Molecomb at Goodwood and (jockey Richard Hughess) was the first to hold his hands up when he dismounted. He felt that six would probably suit the colt better, as they get him at it early on over five, so all in all we have two live chances."

Tommy Stack ships in the unbeaten Accepted, who arrives fresh after a win in the five-furlong Tipperary Stakes July 12 and will appreciate the fast pace which is certain to be in evidence here.

"It's a very competitive race and it will be interesting to see how he goes," Stack's son and assistant Fozzy told PA Sport. "He's done nothing wrong so far and he's ready for a step up. The ground should suit him and we're looking forward to it."

In other European stakes on Saturday:

Now that Al Kazeem has a run under his belt on his return from stud duties, the Group 3 Winter Hill Stakes at Windsor will offer a more meaningful marker of his retained ability as he builds towards a high-profile autumn campaign.

One of the most intriguing stallion prospects for the 2014 breeding season following his run of successes in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh, Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot and Eclipse Stakes at Sandown in July, John Deer's homebred failed to shine in that sphere and duly came back to Roger Charlton's stable from Sandringham Stud. A respectable fourth in Newbury's Steventon Stakes on his first outing July 19, the six-year-old is reported in sharper shape now by his conditioner.

"At home he is a very happy and willing worker, but it has surprised me how hard it has been to get him back to full fitness," Charlton commented. "As horses get older, they tend to get more relaxed and lazy in their work. He is in terrific shape and his race at Newbury has brought him forward, but there should be more improvement to come."

Facing up to the challenge is Godolphin's increasingly frustrating three-year-old True Story, who is reunited with Silvestre de Sousa for the first time since winning by seven lengths in Newmarket's Feilden Stakes over nine furlongs April 16.

"True Story is doing well -- he came out of his run at Haydock in good form and has been working nicely," Saeed bin Suroor said of the colt, who was a latest third in the Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock August 9. "A mile and a quarter is a good trip for him and I am hoping that he can run well."

Marco Botti saddles the 2012 Secretariat Stakes winner Bayrir (Medicean), who needs to show more than when fourth in the March 15 Randwick City Stakes.

Two of the leading protagonists in bringing Irish sprinting back to the forefront aptly line up in the Group 3 Renaissance Stakes at The Curragh, with Gordon Lord Byron and Maarek squaring up for the first time since they were fourth and ninth respectively in last year's Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

Since that occasion, Gordon Lord Byron has annexed the Haydock Sprint Cup in September and George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill in March, while Maarek has garnered the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp on Arc day.

"He came back with a back injury after Ascot (when a latest eighth in the June 21 Diamond Jubilee), so we've given him a bit of time and he seems to be back on song," Tom Hogan, trainer of Gordon Lord Byron, told PA Sport. "It's all about getting a run into him before Haydock (for the September 6 Sprint Cup). Hopefully he'll run well, but you would expect him to improve off it."

Maarek is also on a comeback mission following his latest fifth as the even-money favorite for the Phoenix Sprint Stakes August 10, and conditioner Evanna McCutcheon is wary of the surface being too quick for the veteran.

"We wouldn't run him on ground that is any way firm, but as long as they're making a good print in it we'll let him take his chance," she told PA Sport. "He needed the run badly the last day and those small fields don't really suit him. The more trouble he gets into the better. He seems in good form and while we're taking it one race at a time, Haydock would be in the back of our minds if all goes well."

Kept away from a slog in Newmarket's mud when scratched from the August 9 Sweet Solera Stakes, Efflorescence has conditions to suit in the Group 3 Prestige Stakes at Goodwood. Having beaten the operation's subsequent winner Good Place in a decent seven-furlong maiden on debut at Newmarket, she remains and intriguing prospect and Charlie Appleby is hoping for a bold show.

"A quick seven furlongs will play to her strengths, because she has shown that she has got some speed," the trainer said. "I am hopeful that she will be competitive."

Malabar boasts a smart piece of form, having been fourth in the Albany Stakes over six furlongs at Royal Ascot, and she showed she is not regressing with a maiden win back at that venue last time.

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Pacific Classic brings together Shared Belief, Game On Dude

Shared Belief has yet to be seriously tested in five career starts (Vassar Photography)

Shared Belief versus Game On Dude. That's the main storyline behind Sunday's Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic, the signature event of the Del Mar summer meeting.

It's a match-up between a young, rising star and the seasoned veteran who is being forced to prove that he still belongs at the highest level.

Shared Belief missed the Triple Crown season due to an injury, but the unbeaten two-year-old champion came back in late spring with a gusto, recording an impressive allowance victory at Golden Gate Fields before a scintillating display of superiority in the July 5 Los Alamitos Derby. Mike Smith has opted to ride the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained gelding over Game On Dude.

An earner of more than $6.4 million, Game On Dude remains very dangerous in a title defense. The seven-year-old gelding posted a superb victory in the Santa Anita H. earlier this season and will be seeking a measure of redemption following a subpar fourth in the June 28 Gold Cup at Santa Anita. Martin Garcia, who substituted for last year's 8 1/2-length romp in the Pacific Classic, regains the mount for Bob Baffert.

Eleven horses were entered for the 1 1/4-mile event on Polytrack, but any result that doesn't feature either Shared Belief or Game On Dude in the winner's circle will be considered an upset.

Shared Belief opened his racing career with a seven-length romp on Golden Gate's Tapeta last October. He was sold and transferred to Hollendorfer afterward and promptly rewarded his new connections with a 7 3/4-length thrashing in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue in mid-November. He concluded his juvenile campaign with another dominant performance, rolling to a 5 3/4-length score in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity on December 14, and was named champion at the Eclipse Award ceremonies a month later.

Pegged as the winter-book Kentucky Derby favorite, Shared Belief sustained a foot injury training at Santa Anita in January and was sidelined for more than six months before returning in late May. He showed his versatility capturing the Los Alamitos Derby on dirt in his second start back, but the son of Candy Ride should appreciate the switch to Polytrack given that he captured his first four outings on synthetic tracks.

Shared Belief registered a career-best 105 BRIS Speed rating last time and can assert himself as a serious contender for both Horse of the Year and champion three-year-old male with a victory over elders Sunday. He's been installed as the 5-2 favorite on the morning line and will break from the far outside post.

Game On Dude rolled home a convincing winner last year (Benoit Photo)

Game On Dude capped a six-race winning streak in last year's Pacific Classic, making amends for a close second in the 2012 edition, but he won't bring the same credentials into this year's running. He defeated a top-class field in the aforementioned Big 'Cap in March, but the son of Awesome Again has dropped his other three starts this year, including a pair of unplaced finishes.

Baffert believes Game On Dude still has something to offer -- the classy gelding shows a nice series of six works on Del Mar's Polytrack -- and the front-runner's speed makes him extremely dangerous, especially if Game On Dude can get away with an uncontested advantage during the early stages. Listed as the 3-1 second choice on the morning line, he breaks from post No. 5.

Majestic Harbor, a 6 1/4-length upset winner of the Gold Cup, is pegged as the 9-2 third favorite. The well-traveled son of Rockport Harbor was a non-descript performer last year for Paul McGee, recording unplaced finishes in his lone stakes attempts, the New Orleans H. and Texas Mile, before being transferred back to Sean McCarthy this season. He earned his first stakes victory in the Tokyo City in late March, scoring by three lengths at 1 1/2 miles, and followed with a close third in the May 31 Californian.

The six-year-old romped at 14-1 last time and will keep Tyler Baze in the saddle.

Irish Surf, who earned his first stakes success with an 8 1/2-length thrashing in the July 25 Cougar II at Del Mar, comes next on the morning line at 8-1 along with multiple Grade 2 hero Clubhouse Ride. The front-running Irish Surf is cross-entered to Saturday's Del Mar H. on turf and Elvis Trujillo will be up if he runs in the Pacific Classic. Clubhouse Ride exits a second in the Gold Cup and retains the services of Joe Talamo.

Toast of New York, a convincing winner of this year's U.A.E. Derby over a synthetic track, will make his second start stateside for trainer Jamie Osbourne following a sixth in the deep Belmont Derby on turf. Victor Espinoza picks up the assignment.

Rounding out the field are Grade 2 winner Frac Daddy, fourth as the favorite in the July 26 San Diego; San Diego third-placer You Know I Know, who also finished third in last year's Pacific Classic; Grade 2 victor Imperative; Mystery Train, a multiple Group 1 winner from Argentina who will be making his U.S. debut; and Cougar third-placer Ice Cream Truck, who is cross-entered to the Del Mar H.

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Pacific Classic brings together Shared Belief, Game On Dude

Shared Belief has yet to be seriously tested in five career starts (Vassar Photography)

Shared Belief versus Game On Dude. That's the main storyline behind Sunday's Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic, the signature event of the Del Mar summer meeting.

It's a match-up between a young, rising star and the seasoned veteran who is being forced to prove that he still belongs at the highest level.

Shared Belief missed the Triple Crown season due to an injury, but the unbeaten two-year-old champion came back in late spring with a gusto, recording an impressive allowance victory at Golden Gate Fields before a scintillating display of superiority in the July 5 Los Alamitos Derby. Mike Smith has opted to ride the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained gelding over Game On Dude.

An earner of more than $6.4 million, Game On Dude remains very dangerous in a title defense. The seven-year-old gelding posted a superb victory in the Santa Anita H. earlier this season and will be seeking a measure of redemption following a subpar fourth in the June 28 Gold Cup at Santa Anita. Martin Garcia, who substituted for last year's 8 1/2-length romp in the Pacific Classic, regains the mount for Bob Baffert.

Eleven horses were entered for the 1 1/4-mile event on Polytrack, but any result that doesn't feature either Shared Belief or Game On Dude in the winner's circle will be considered an upset.

Shared Belief opened his racing career with a seven-length romp on Golden Gate's Tapeta last October. He was sold and transferred to Hollendorfer afterward and promptly rewarded his new connections with a 7 3/4-length thrashing in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue in mid-November. He concluded his juvenile campaign with another dominant performance, rolling to a 5 3/4-length score in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity on December 14, and was named champion at the Eclipse Award ceremonies a month later.

Pegged as the winter-book Kentucky Derby favorite, Shared Belief sustained a foot injury training at Santa Anita in January and was sidelined for more than six months before returning in late May. He showed his versatility capturing the Los Alamitos Derby on dirt in his second start back, but the son of Candy Ride should appreciate the switch to Polytrack given that he captured his first four outings on synthetic tracks.

Shared Belief registered a career-best 105 BRIS Speed rating last time and can assert himself as a serious contender for both Horse of the Year and champion three-year-old male with a victory over elders Sunday. He's been installed as the 5-2 favorite on the morning line and will break from the far outside post.

Game On Dude rolled home a convincing winner last year (Benoit Photo)

Game On Dude capped a six-race winning streak in last year's Pacific Classic, making amends for a close second in the 2012 edition, but he won't bring the same credentials into this year's running. He defeated a top-class field in the aforementioned Big 'Cap in March, but the son of Awesome Again has dropped his other three starts this year, including a pair of unplaced finishes.

Baffert believes Game On Dude still has something to offer -- the classy gelding shows a nice series of six works on Del Mar's Polytrack -- and the front-runner's speed makes him extremely dangerous, especially if Game On Dude can get away with an uncontested advantage during the early stages. Listed as the 3-1 second choice on the morning line, he breaks from post No. 5.

Majestic Harbor, a 6 1/4-length upset winner of the Gold Cup, is pegged as the 9-2 third favorite. The well-traveled son of Rockport Harbor was a non-descript performer last year for Paul McGee, recording unplaced finishes in his lone stakes attempts, the New Orleans H. and Texas Mile, before being transferred back to Sean McCarthy this season. He earned his first stakes victory in the Tokyo City in late March, scoring by three lengths at 1 1/2 miles, and followed with a close third in the May 31 Californian.

The six-year-old romped at 14-1 last time and will keep Tyler Baze in the saddle.

Irish Surf, who earned his first stakes success with an 8 1/2-length thrashing in the July 25 Cougar II at Del Mar, comes next on the morning line at 8-1 along with multiple Grade 2 hero Clubhouse Ride. The front-running Irish Surf is cross-entered to Saturday's Del Mar H. on turf and Elvis Trujillo will be up if he runs in the Pacific Classic. Clubhouse Ride exits a second in the Gold Cup and retains the services of Joe Talamo.

Toast of New York, a convincing winner of this year's U.A.E. Derby over a synthetic track, will make his second start stateside for trainer Jamie Osbourne following a sixth in the deep Belmont Derby on turf. Victor Espinoza picks up the assignment.

Rounding out the field are Grade 2 winner Frac Daddy, fourth as the favorite in the July 26 San Diego; San Diego third-placer You Know I Know, who also finished third in last year's Pacific Classic; Grade 2 victor Imperative; Mystery Train, a multiple Group 1 winner from Argentina who will be making his U.S. debut; and Cougar third-placer Ice Cream Truck, who is cross-entered to the Del Mar H.

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Obviously aims for Del Mar Mile three-peat; Fed Biz defends Pat O'Brien title

Obviously is two-for-two this campaign, but must concede weight all around as the 126-pound highweight (Benoit Photos)
Before the much-anticipated Pacific Classic, Del Mar will stage two other major stakes on Sunday's card -- the Del Mar Mile Handicap on turf, featuring two-time defending champion Obviously and Eddie Read hero Tom's Tribute, and the seven-furlong Pat O'Brien on the Polytrack, highlighted by last year's top two, Fed Biz and Goldencents, along with Bing Crosby winner Big Macher. Both Grade 2 events, the Del Mar Mile and Pat O'Brien each carry a purse of $250,000.

Obviously first burst onto the scene as a dangerous front-running miler here in the summer of 2012. The course record-setter when winning his first Del Mar Mile in 1:32.10, he capped his breakthrough season with a victory in the Arroyo Seco Mile (now the City of Hope Mile) and a fine third to Wise Dan and Animal Kingdom in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

Obviously was in sparkling form last summer as well. The Choisir gelding rolled to daylight scores in the American Handicap and Shoemaker Mile, but had to dig deep to fend off He Be Fire N Ice in the 2013 Del Mar Mile. That workmanlike effort turned out to be a harbinger of a decline in form, as Obviously folded to fourth when trying to repeat in the City of Hope and fifth in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

Freshened over the winter, Obviously returned good as new in the May 17 American Handicap at Santa Anita. In his debut for retired trainer Mike Mitchell's protege, Phil D'Amato, he went wire to wire by 5 1/2 lengths. The six-year-old made it two in a row with a successful title defense in the June 14 Shoemaker, in its new home at Santa Anita.

Obviously will play his catch-me-if-you-can game from the rail with regular rider Joe Talamo. Although he looms as the speed, he must concede weight all around (from four to 13 pounds) as the 126-pound highweight.

D'Amato will also send out the deep closer Lil Bit O'Fun, who is two-for-two since joining the barn. Claimed for $40,000 by Mitchell out of a victory sprinting down the hill at Santa Anita in October, he rallied to a convincing success over the same course on June 14. Lil Bit O'Fun extended his streak in the July 23 Wickerr at this track and trip, and he boasts back class from his days with Tom Proctor. As a three-year-old in 2011, he landed the Oliver at Indiana Downs and missed by a neck in the La Jolla.

Tom's Tribute, however, is the likeliest candidate to dethrone Obviously. A progressive type who has taken time to learn his craft, the Jim Cassidy trainee was still a work in progress when a belated third to Obviously in the Shoemaker Mile. But Tom's Tribute got into the game much earlier last time in the July 20 Eddie Read, and he kicked on strongly to notch a Grade 1 laurel. The Lion Heart colt keeps Hall of Famer Mike Smith in the saddle, suggesting that a similar stalking trip is in the offing.

He Be Fire N Ice, who was on the upswing at this time last season, is returning from a nine-month layoff for new trainer Cliff Sise. Formerly trained by John Sadler, the California-bred son of Unusual Heat captured the California Dreamin' and just came up a half-length short of Obviously in the Del Mar Mile. A fast-closing second once again in the City of Hope, He Be Fire N Ice was last seen checking in eighth in the Breeders' Cup Mile. Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux picks up the mount on the confirmed closer.

Rock Me Baby, runner-up to He Be Fire N Ice in the 2013 California Dreamin,' bolted to a 3 1/4-length victory in the off-the-turf renewal on July 27. The Craig Dollase charge was due for some good luck, considering his boxed-in seventh in last September's Eddie D. on Santa Anita's downhill turf and his troubled third in the July 3 Bertrando at Los Alamitos. Now with the overdue taste of stakes success, the West Point colorbearer hopes to keep his momentum going beneath a returning Corey Nakatani.

Completing the field are Tigah, last year's San Francisco Mile winner; Grade 2 veteran Handsome Mike, currently riding a 13-race losing streak; and the ambitiously placed Alpha Bullet, who is likely to flash speed with Elvis Trujillo.

Fed Biz ran down Goldencents in the 2013 Pat O'Brien (Benoit Photos)
Four races later, the Pat O'Brien serves as a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. It has lured reigning Dirt Mile winner Goldencents, but defending champ Fed Biz is the one to beat. Fed Biz's Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert, has also been mulling whether to ship to Saratoga for the Forego -- a chance at a Grade 1 coup -- on August 30.

But Fed Biz is a bona fide "horse for the course" at Del Mar. Unbeaten in three tries over the local Polytrack, the blueblood by Giant's Causeway also owns two track records. When storming from well back to run down Goldencents in the 2013 Pat O'Brien, Fed Biz established the seven-furlong mark in 1:21.12. He broke another record in his comeback in the July 26 San Diego Handicap, wiring the field by 5 1/4 lengths and finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:41. Martin Garcia, who was aboard for both, will guide the bay from post 2.

Goldencents, in contrast, has developed a case of seconditis at the seaside track. Narrowly beaten by ill-fated champion Points Offthebench in the 2013 Bing Crosby before being nailed by Fed Biz in the Pat O'Brien, he was again just denied in the July 27 renewal of the Bing Crosby by Big Macher. Goldencents can boast high-class form on dirt, as exemplified by his 2 3/4-length conquest of the Dirt Mile at Santa Anita (in which Fed Biz was only sixth), and his terrific second to Palace Malice off the bench in the June 7 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont. The Doug O'Neill colt has to beat Fed Biz on the latter's preferred surface here, but jockey Rafael Bejarano may be able to work out the right trip.

Big Macher, the 123-pound co-highweight along with Goldencents, has emerged as a leader in the Southern California sprint ranks this season. After capturing his stakes debut in the January 25 Cal Cup Sprint at Santa Anita, the late bloomer missed by a half-length to Sahara Sky in the March 8 San Carlos and came right back to prevail in a photo in the April 12 Potrero Grande. A quarter-crack then cost him time, but trainer Richard Baltas patiently awaited the Bing Crosby, and Big Macher responded with a gritty performance over Goldencents.

A new face to this division is Silentio, who has compiled a solid career as a turf miler for Gary Mandella. The hero of the 2012 Sir Beaufort and 2013 Citation, he has placed in a trio of Grade 1 events, including last November's Breeders' Cup Mile and the Shoemaker Mile last out. Rather than tackle Obviously again in the Del Mar Mile (in which Silentio was third last year), he is shortening up and trying synthetic. The Wertheimer et Frere homebred has been training sharply on the Polytrack, and it's worth remembering that his sire, Silent Name, made an eerily similar switch to win the 2007 Commonwealth at Keeneland, also for Gary Mandella.

The others look in deep. The sophomore Indexical has been holding his own against older sprinters, finishing third in the June 28 Triple Bend and fourth in the Bing Crosby, but needs to step up his game to threaten. The other three-year-old, Diamond Bachelor, is still trying to find his niche after failing as a router on both dirt and turf. But the War Front colt has loads of speed, and fired a five-furlong bullet in :56 3/5 on August 13 as a reminder. The sparingly-raced Color of Courage exits a last-of-three effort in the May 26 Los Angeles, and Syndicated appears to have class concerns.

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Obviously aims for Del Mar Mile three-peat; Fed Biz defends Pat O'Brien title

Obviously is two-for-two this campaign, but must concede weight all around as the 126-pound highweight (Benoit Photos)
Before the much-anticipated Pacific Classic, Del Mar will stage two other major stakes on Sunday's card -- the Del Mar Mile Handicap on turf, featuring two-time defending champion Obviously and Eddie Read hero Tom's Tribute, and the seven-furlong Pat O'Brien on the Polytrack, highlighted by last year's top two, Fed Biz and Goldencents, along with Bing Crosby winner Big Macher. Both Grade 2 events, the Del Mar Mile and Pat O'Brien each carry a purse of $250,000.

Obviously first burst onto the scene as a dangerous front-running miler here in the summer of 2012. The course record-setter when winning his first Del Mar Mile in 1:32.10, he capped his breakthrough season with a victory in the Arroyo Seco Mile (now the City of Hope Mile) and a fine third to Wise Dan and Animal Kingdom in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

Obviously was in sparkling form last summer as well. The Choisir gelding rolled to daylight scores in the American Handicap and Shoemaker Mile, but had to dig deep to fend off He Be Fire N Ice in the 2013 Del Mar Mile. That workmanlike effort turned out to be a harbinger of a decline in form, as Obviously folded to fourth when trying to repeat in the City of Hope and fifth in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

Freshened over the winter, Obviously returned good as new in the May 17 American Handicap at Santa Anita. In his debut for retired trainer Mike Mitchell's protege, Phil D'Amato, he went wire to wire by 5 1/2 lengths. The six-year-old made it two in a row with a successful title defense in the June 14 Shoemaker, in its new home at Santa Anita.

Obviously will play his catch-me-if-you-can game from the rail with regular rider Joe Talamo. Although he looms as the speed, he must concede weight all around (from four to 13 pounds) as the 126-pound highweight.

D'Amato will also send out the deep closer Lil Bit O'Fun, who is two-for-two since joining the barn. Claimed for $40,000 by Mitchell out of a victory sprinting down the hill at Santa Anita in October, he rallied to a convincing success over the same course on June 14. Lil Bit O'Fun extended his streak in the July 23 Wickerr at this track and trip, and he boasts back class from his days with Tom Proctor. As a three-year-old in 2011, he landed the Oliver at Indiana Downs and missed by a neck in the La Jolla.

Tom's Tribute, however, is the likeliest candidate to dethrone Obviously. A progressive type who has taken time to learn his craft, the Jim Cassidy trainee was still a work in progress when a belated third to Obviously in the Shoemaker Mile. But Tom's Tribute got into the game much earlier last time in the July 20 Eddie Read, and he kicked on strongly to notch a Grade 1 laurel. The Lion Heart colt keeps Hall of Famer Mike Smith in the saddle, suggesting that a similar stalking trip is in the offing.

He Be Fire N Ice, who was on the upswing at this time last season, is returning from a nine-month layoff for new trainer Cliff Sise. Formerly trained by John Sadler, the California-bred son of Unusual Heat captured the California Dreamin' and just came up a half-length short of Obviously in the Del Mar Mile. A fast-closing second once again in the City of Hope, He Be Fire N Ice was last seen checking in eighth in the Breeders' Cup Mile. Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux picks up the mount on the confirmed closer.

Rock Me Baby, runner-up to He Be Fire N Ice in the 2013 California Dreamin,' bolted to a 3 1/4-length victory in the off-the-turf renewal on July 27. The Craig Dollase charge was due for some good luck, considering his boxed-in seventh in last September's Eddie D. on Santa Anita's downhill turf and his troubled third in the July 3 Bertrando at Los Alamitos. Now with the overdue taste of stakes success, the West Point colorbearer hopes to keep his momentum going beneath a returning Corey Nakatani.

Completing the field are Tigah, last year's San Francisco Mile winner; Grade 2 veteran Handsome Mike, currently riding a 13-race losing streak; and the ambitiously placed Alpha Bullet, who is likely to flash speed with Elvis Trujillo.

Fed Biz ran down Goldencents in the 2013 Pat O'Brien (Benoit Photos)
Four races later, the Pat O'Brien serves as a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. It has lured reigning Dirt Mile winner Goldencents, but defending champ Fed Biz is the one to beat. Fed Biz's Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert, has also been mulling whether to ship to Saratoga for the Forego -- a chance at a Grade 1 coup -- on August 30.

But Fed Biz is a bona fide "horse for the course" at Del Mar. Unbeaten in three tries over the local Polytrack, the blueblood by Giant's Causeway also owns two track records. When storming from well back to run down Goldencents in the 2013 Pat O'Brien, Fed Biz established the seven-furlong mark in 1:21.12. He broke another record in his comeback in the July 26 San Diego Handicap, wiring the field by 5 1/4 lengths and finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:41. Martin Garcia, who was aboard for both, will guide the bay from post 2.

Goldencents, in contrast, has developed a case of seconditis at the seaside track. Narrowly beaten by ill-fated champion Points Offthebench in the 2013 Bing Crosby before being nailed by Fed Biz in the Pat O'Brien, he was again just denied in the July 27 renewal of the Bing Crosby by Big Macher. Goldencents can boast high-class form on dirt, as exemplified by his 2 3/4-length conquest of the Dirt Mile at Santa Anita (in which Fed Biz was only sixth), and his terrific second to Palace Malice off the bench in the June 7 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont. The Doug O'Neill colt has to beat Fed Biz on the latter's preferred surface here, but jockey Rafael Bejarano may be able to work out the right trip.

Big Macher, the 123-pound co-highweight along with Goldencents, has emerged as a leader in the Southern California sprint ranks this season. After capturing his stakes debut in the January 25 Cal Cup Sprint at Santa Anita, the late bloomer missed by a half-length to Sahara Sky in the March 8 San Carlos and came right back to prevail in a photo in the April 12 Potrero Grande. A quarter-crack then cost him time, but trainer Richard Baltas patiently awaited the Bing Crosby, and Big Macher responded with a gritty performance over Goldencents.

A new face to this division is Silentio, who has compiled a solid career as a turf miler for Gary Mandella. The hero of the 2012 Sir Beaufort and 2013 Citation, he has placed in a trio of Grade 1 events, including last November's Breeders' Cup Mile and the Shoemaker Mile last out. Rather than tackle Obviously again in the Del Mar Mile (in which Silentio was third last year), he is shortening up and trying synthetic. The Wertheimer et Frere homebred has been training sharply on the Polytrack, and it's worth remembering that his sire, Silent Name, made an eerily similar switch to win the 2007 Commonwealth at Keeneland, also for Gary Mandella.

The others look in deep. The sophomore Indexical has been holding his own against older sprinters, finishing third in the June 28 Triple Bend and fourth in the Bing Crosby, but needs to step up his game to threaten. The other three-year-old, Diamond Bachelor, is still trying to find his niche after failing as a router on both dirt and turf. But the War Front colt has loads of speed, and fired a five-furlong bullet in :56 3/5 on August 13 as a reminder. The sparingly-raced Color of Courage exits a last-of-three effort in the May 26 Los Angeles, and Syndicated appears to have class concerns.

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Full field of 12 entered in Longacres Mile

Stryker Phd, runner-up in last year's race and unbeaten thus far this year in two starts, heads a full field of 12 older runners entered in Sunday's 79th running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs. The 12-horse field marks the sixth time in eight years a full field will start in the Northwest's premier horse race.

Stryker Phd is the 5-2 favorite on Rob Rao's morning-line, followed by Prohibition at 3-1 and Title Contender at 9-2.

Those three horses reflect the eclectic nature of The Mile, as Stryker Phd is Emerald Downs' top older horse while Title Contender has been the best older horse at Hastings Racecourse.

Prohibition, meanwhile, has been racing in New York and makes his first start for owners Dr. Mark Dedomenico and North American Thoroughbred Racing Co., who acquired the four-year-old Lawyer Ron gelding privately after a fourth-placing in the Commentator Handicap at Belmont Park.

Trainer Mike Puhich will be the busiest man in the walking ring, saddling three of the 12 runners on Sunday. Puhich, who won the race in 2012 with Taylor Said, sends out Prohibition, Mr. Bowling and Jebrica, the latter acquired in a track-record tying $50,000 claim on August 2.

Most eyes, however, will be on Stryker Phd, a stretch-running Bertrando five-year-old who set stakes records in both starts this year -- winning the one-mile Budweiser Handicap in 1:34.15 and the 1 1/16-mile Mt. Rainier Handicap in 1:40.20 -- as he bids to become the first local horse and Washington-bred winner since Noosa Beach in 2010.

Leslie Mawing, the meet's leading rider and stakes rider, has the mount on the co-highweight at 121 pounds.

"I'm very happy with the post," trainer Larry Ross said after Stryker Phd drew the No. 9 post during Wednesday's Longacres Mile Draw Breakfast. "It looks like most of the speed is on the inside, so that's good for us.

"He should be able to get into a good position. Being on the outside, Leslie (Mawing) can look in and monitor the pace. You couldn't really ask for anything better with his training. I think he's really good right now, for sure. I think his racing schedule will be an advantage. They say third time out of the box is the peak race."

Stryker Phd will see numerous familiar faces in the Longacres Mile.

Don'tmesswithkitten finished second in the Mt. Rainier and sixth in the Budweiser behind the bay; Disruption was fourth in the Mt. Rainier; Jebrica ran fifth in the Mt. Rainier and fourth in the Budweiser; Mr. Bowling filled the sixth spot in the Mt. Rainier but was runner-up two races prior in the Budweiser; Shooting Jacket came in fourth and third in the respective Mt. Rainier and Budweiser; and Twistgrips claimed fifth in the Budweiser.

Two races later, Stopshoppingdebbie will try to extend her unbeaten eight-for-eight mark in the $65,000 Emerald Distaff against four rivals.

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Full field of 12 entered in Longacres Mile

Stryker Phd, runner-up in last year's race and unbeaten thus far this year in two starts, heads a full field of 12 older runners entered in Sunday's 79th running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs. The 12-horse field marks the sixth time in eight years a full field will start in the Northwest's premier horse race.

Stryker Phd is the 5-2 favorite on Rob Rao's morning-line, followed by Prohibition at 3-1 and Title Contender at 9-2.

Those three horses reflect the eclectic nature of The Mile, as Stryker Phd is Emerald Downs' top older horse while Title Contender has been the best older horse at Hastings Racecourse.

Prohibition, meanwhile, has been racing in New York and makes his first start for owners Dr. Mark Dedomenico and North American Thoroughbred Racing Co., who acquired the four-year-old Lawyer Ron gelding privately after a fourth-placing in the Commentator Handicap at Belmont Park.

Trainer Mike Puhich will be the busiest man in the walking ring, saddling three of the 12 runners on Sunday. Puhich, who won the race in 2012 with Taylor Said, sends out Prohibition, Mr. Bowling and Jebrica, the latter acquired in a track-record tying $50,000 claim on August 2.

Most eyes, however, will be on Stryker Phd, a stretch-running Bertrando five-year-old who set stakes records in both starts this year -- winning the one-mile Budweiser Handicap in 1:34.15 and the 1 1/16-mile Mt. Rainier Handicap in 1:40.20 -- as he bids to become the first local horse and Washington-bred winner since Noosa Beach in 2010.

Leslie Mawing, the meet's leading rider and stakes rider, has the mount on the co-highweight at 121 pounds.

"I'm very happy with the post," trainer Larry Ross said after Stryker Phd drew the No. 9 post during Wednesday's Longacres Mile Draw Breakfast. "It looks like most of the speed is on the inside, so that's good for us.

"He should be able to get into a good position. Being on the outside, Leslie (Mawing) can look in and monitor the pace. You couldn't really ask for anything better with his training. I think he's really good right now, for sure. I think his racing schedule will be an advantage. They say third time out of the box is the peak race."

Stryker Phd will see numerous familiar faces in the Longacres Mile.

Don'tmesswithkitten finished second in the Mt. Rainier and sixth in the Budweiser behind the bay; Disruption was fourth in the Mt. Rainier; Jebrica ran fifth in the Mt. Rainier and fourth in the Budweiser; Mr. Bowling filled the sixth spot in the Mt. Rainier but was runner-up two races prior in the Budweiser; Shooting Jacket came in fourth and third in the respective Mt. Rainier and Budweiser; and Twistgrips claimed fifth in the Budweiser.

Two races later, Stopshoppingdebbie will try to extend her unbeaten eight-for-eight mark in the $65,000 Emerald Distaff against four rivals.

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Competitive fields assembled for inaugural 'Saratoga Showcase Day'

Highlighted by six stakes races worth $1.15 million, nearly 100 New York-breds will be competing on a special 11-race card for the inaugural "Saratoga Showcase Day" on Sunday at Saratoga.

Captain Serious and Empire Dreams, the winners of the first two legs of the Big Apple Triple, will meet in the $250,000 Albany for three-year-olds. The 1 1/8-mile Albany completes the series, which is also contested at Belmont Park (Mike Lee) and Finger Lakes (New York Derby).

Captain Serious won his first three starts, all against New York-breds, before placing in a pair of graded contests in July. The Successful Appeal gelding made is stakes bow in the seven-furlong Mike Lee and led gate-to-wire for a three-length score over Empire Dreams on May 31. He set the pace again in Belmont's 1 1/16-mile Dwyer before giving way late to Kid Cruz, who prevailed by three-quarters of a length, and most recently pressed the pace when third in the 6 1/2-furlong Amsterdam at Saratoga.

Trainer Michael Hushion said the Albany's 1 1/8-mile distance and lucrative purse were the primary reasons why he entered Captain Serious in the Albany instead of taking on graded competition again.

"It was an opportunity to find out how far he'll go, and it's $250,000," the horseman explained. "He's a gelding, so we don't have to try to establish him as a stallion."

Hushion added that getting Captain Serious to relax will be important in the Albany, his first start around two turns.

"I'll leave it up to the rider, wherever he finds him," he said. "With the two turns, I just want him to have him in his hands a little bit and get him comfortable."

After finishing second in the Mike Lee, Empire Dreams won his route and two-turn debut in the New York Derby by 2 1/4 lengths last out on July 12. Prior to that, his accomplishments also include a score in the Great White Way division of the New York Stallion Stakes from last November at Aqueduct.

"He settled and he had a good position," trainer Tom Albertrani remarked. "There was a lot of crowding at the start, but it didn't really affect him. He just sat off the leaders and finished up strongly the last eighth of a mile.

"Stretching him out, he really seemed to benefit from the two turns. He really seems to appreciate the extra ground. We always wanted to stretch him out, but we never had the chance to do it sooner."

Grade 1 victress Discreet Marq headlines a probable field of five for the $150,000 Yaddo sending distaffers 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf. Trainer Chad Brown has entered Dayatthespa into the Yaddo, but is expected to run the mare in the Grade 2, $250,000 Ballston Spa on the Travers Day undercard.

Discreet Marq, however, will be taking a step down in class after making six of her last seven starts in Grade 1 stakes, including a win in the Del Mar Oaks last August. Trained by Christophe Clement, the four-year-old daughter of Discreet Cat was most recently third in the July 19 Diana at Saratoga, finishing two necks behind the winner.

"She's raced in four Grade 1s in a row," Clement said. "I wanted to get an easier race for her. The Yaddo will be a little easier than the Ballston Spa on Saturday. She's doing great; I'm excited to see her run.

"It won't be an easy race, but hopefully an easier race," he added. "And then she can go from there, maybe to the Grade 1, ($600,000 Flower Bowl at Belmont Park on September 27)."

Discreet Marq, who will break from post position 5, will be challenged by Effie Trinket from the barn of Richard Violette. That Freud four-year-old miss has faced graded company in four of her last five starts, including a second-place finish in the Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs last fall. Most recently, Effie Trinket finished sixth in the Dr. James Penny Memorial Handicap at Parx on July 8.

"She's coming off a subpar effort at Parx, which was probably my fault," Violette noted. "She's kind of refreshed up here and she's training great. If she's back to her very genuine self, then I think we'll have some fun. It's a small field, but I think it's a pretty talented bunch."

A field of salty older turf horses is set to run 1 1/16 miles in the $150,000 West Point, which will feature the return of graded winner King Kreesa.

Now under the care of David Donk, King Kreesa was previously trained by Jeremiah Englehart to five stakes victories, including the Poker last July, and five stakes placings, including the 2012 Jamaica Handicap. The five-year-old gelded son of King Cugat has been remarkably consistent in his career, hitting the board in 12 of 17 turf starts and earning more than $650,000.

King Kreesa has not run since contesting the December 8 Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin, in which he faded to 12th after dictating the early pace.

"(Hong Kong) racing just wasn't his style," Donk asserted. "He's a really nice horse, and Jeremiah did a phenomenal job with him. It's not going to be an easy spot -- there's a lot of good New York-breds in that division -- but I've got to start somewhere."

The West Point was not originally on Donk's radar, but changed his mind after some eye-catching works leading up to the race.

"I really didn't have this as an objective until three weeks ago; he worked really well and galloped out really well," the trainer explained. "He's a little further along than I thought he might be. I pointed in this direction, and he's had three really solid works."

Clement will send out another very consistent turfer in Lubash, who has compiled a superlative record of 10-7-4 in 32 starts, with earnings upward of $800,000.

Now a seven-year-old, the bay son of Freud has showed no signs of slowing down. He began his year with a victory in a statebred optional claimer, missed by a length in the Kingston in his next start, and then took a statebred allowance by 2 1/4 lengths on July 13 at Belmont Park in his latest outing.

"My horse is a very fun horse; he's been amazingly consistent over the years," Clement noted. "He's always there and he's very reliable. I would not trade with anybody. Let's go."

Winner of the Bowling Green Handicap in his most recent start, Hangover Kid will go out for trainer Jason Servis in the West Point. The Lemon Drop Kid six-year-old won last year's West Point by a length, and nearly captured the Red Smith last fall at Aqueduct.

Hangover Kid will be making a significant cut back in distance for the 1 1/16-mile West Point, as he is exiting the 12-furlong Bowling Green.

"I think he likes going longer," Servis said. "He ran hard the last few races; he hasn't bounced back completely to his old self. He's had a tough few races but he's all right, so we'll take a shot."

Winner of state-bred stakes at Aqueduct and Finger Lakes, Flipcup will make her Saratoga debut in the $200,000 Fleet Indian for three-year-old fillies going 1 1/8 miles on the main track.

Flipcup began her career in Canada before arriving in New York last December, winning the East View in her stateside debut. Runner-up in the Busanda to open her 2014 campaign, the Bill Mott-trained Milwaukee Brew filly captured the New York Oaks going 1 1/16 miles by a neck on July 12, returning to Woodbine to run second by a half-length in the Eternal Search on August 2.

Alwaysinstilletos and Jcs American Dream, who ran second and fourth, respectively, in the New York Oaks, will try to turn the tables on Flipcup in the Fleet Indian.

Rounding out the stakes is a pair of races for two-year-olds, the $200,000 Funny Cide and the $200,000 Seeking the Ante for fillies. Both are at 5 1/2 furlongs.

Heading the field for the Funny Cide is the Michael Mareina-trained Bustin It, the lone stakes winner in the field of five. The Bustin Stones colt, second in his debut on June 13 at Belmont Park, returned a month later and posted a front-running, seven-length win in the restricted Rockville Centre going six furlongs.

With a graded start on her resume, Evrybdymstgetstonz will face five others in the Seeking the Ante. Trained by Gary Contessa, the daughter of Bustin Stones was a six-length winner at odds of 23-1 in her first start on July 2 at Belmont Park, then returned on opening day at Saratoga to finish fourth in the Schuylerville after getting squeezed back at the start.

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Competitive fields assembled for inaugural 'Saratoga Showcase Day'

Highlighted by six stakes races worth $1.15 million, nearly 100 New York-breds will be competing on a special 11-race card for the inaugural "Saratoga Showcase Day" on Sunday at Saratoga.

Captain Serious and Empire Dreams, the winners of the first two legs of the Big Apple Triple, will meet in the $250,000 Albany for three-year-olds. The 1 1/8-mile Albany completes the series, which is also contested at Belmont Park (Mike Lee) and Finger Lakes (New York Derby).

Captain Serious won his first three starts, all against New York-breds, before placing in a pair of graded contests in July. The Successful Appeal gelding made is stakes bow in the seven-furlong Mike Lee and led gate-to-wire for a three-length score over Empire Dreams on May 31. He set the pace again in Belmont's 1 1/16-mile Dwyer before giving way late to Kid Cruz, who prevailed by three-quarters of a length, and most recently pressed the pace when third in the 6 1/2-furlong Amsterdam at Saratoga.

Trainer Michael Hushion said the Albany's 1 1/8-mile distance and lucrative purse were the primary reasons why he entered Captain Serious in the Albany instead of taking on graded competition again.

"It was an opportunity to find out how far he'll go, and it's $250,000," the horseman explained. "He's a gelding, so we don't have to try to establish him as a stallion."

Hushion added that getting Captain Serious to relax will be important in the Albany, his first start around two turns.

"I'll leave it up to the rider, wherever he finds him," he said. "With the two turns, I just want him to have him in his hands a little bit and get him comfortable."

After finishing second in the Mike Lee, Empire Dreams won his route and two-turn debut in the New York Derby by 2 1/4 lengths last out on July 12. Prior to that, his accomplishments also include a score in the Great White Way division of the New York Stallion Stakes from last November at Aqueduct.

"He settled and he had a good position," trainer Tom Albertrani remarked. "There was a lot of crowding at the start, but it didn't really affect him. He just sat off the leaders and finished up strongly the last eighth of a mile.

"Stretching him out, he really seemed to benefit from the two turns. He really seems to appreciate the extra ground. We always wanted to stretch him out, but we never had the chance to do it sooner."

Grade 1 victress Discreet Marq headlines a probable field of five for the $150,000 Yaddo sending distaffers 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf. Trainer Chad Brown has entered Dayatthespa into the Yaddo, but is expected to run the mare in the Grade 2, $250,000 Ballston Spa on the Travers Day undercard.

Discreet Marq, however, will be taking a step down in class after making six of her last seven starts in Grade 1 stakes, including a win in the Del Mar Oaks last August. Trained by Christophe Clement, the four-year-old daughter of Discreet Cat was most recently third in the July 19 Diana at Saratoga, finishing two necks behind the winner.

"She's raced in four Grade 1s in a row," Clement said. "I wanted to get an easier race for her. The Yaddo will be a little easier than the Ballston Spa on Saturday. She's doing great; I'm excited to see her run.

"It won't be an easy race, but hopefully an easier race," he added. "And then she can go from there, maybe to the Grade 1, ($600,000 Flower Bowl at Belmont Park on September 27)."

Discreet Marq, who will break from post position 5, will be challenged by Effie Trinket from the barn of Richard Violette. That Freud four-year-old miss has faced graded company in four of her last five starts, including a second-place finish in the Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs last fall. Most recently, Effie Trinket finished sixth in the Dr. James Penny Memorial Handicap at Parx on July 8.

"She's coming off a subpar effort at Parx, which was probably my fault," Violette noted. "She's kind of refreshed up here and she's training great. If she's back to her very genuine self, then I think we'll have some fun. It's a small field, but I think it's a pretty talented bunch."

A field of salty older turf horses is set to run 1 1/16 miles in the $150,000 West Point, which will feature the return of graded winner King Kreesa.

Now under the care of David Donk, King Kreesa was previously trained by Jeremiah Englehart to five stakes victories, including the Poker last July, and five stakes placings, including the 2012 Jamaica Handicap. The five-year-old gelded son of King Cugat has been remarkably consistent in his career, hitting the board in 12 of 17 turf starts and earning more than $650,000.

King Kreesa has not run since contesting the December 8 Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin, in which he faded to 12th after dictating the early pace.

"(Hong Kong) racing just wasn't his style," Donk asserted. "He's a really nice horse, and Jeremiah did a phenomenal job with him. It's not going to be an easy spot -- there's a lot of good New York-breds in that division -- but I've got to start somewhere."

The West Point was not originally on Donk's radar, but changed his mind after some eye-catching works leading up to the race.

"I really didn't have this as an objective until three weeks ago; he worked really well and galloped out really well," the trainer explained. "He's a little further along than I thought he might be. I pointed in this direction, and he's had three really solid works."

Clement will send out another very consistent turfer in Lubash, who has compiled a superlative record of 10-7-4 in 32 starts, with earnings upward of $800,000.

Now a seven-year-old, the bay son of Freud has showed no signs of slowing down. He began his year with a victory in a statebred optional claimer, missed by a length in the Kingston in his next start, and then took a statebred allowance by 2 1/4 lengths on July 13 at Belmont Park in his latest outing.

"My horse is a very fun horse; he's been amazingly consistent over the years," Clement noted. "He's always there and he's very reliable. I would not trade with anybody. Let's go."

Winner of the Bowling Green Handicap in his most recent start, Hangover Kid will go out for trainer Jason Servis in the West Point. The Lemon Drop Kid six-year-old won last year's West Point by a length, and nearly captured the Red Smith last fall at Aqueduct.

Hangover Kid will be making a significant cut back in distance for the 1 1/16-mile West Point, as he is exiting the 12-furlong Bowling Green.

"I think he likes going longer," Servis said. "He ran hard the last few races; he hasn't bounced back completely to his old self. He's had a tough few races but he's all right, so we'll take a shot."

Winner of state-bred stakes at Aqueduct and Finger Lakes, Flipcup will make her Saratoga debut in the $200,000 Fleet Indian for three-year-old fillies going 1 1/8 miles on the main track.

Flipcup began her career in Canada before arriving in New York last December, winning the East View in her stateside debut. Runner-up in the Busanda to open her 2014 campaign, the Bill Mott-trained Milwaukee Brew filly captured the New York Oaks going 1 1/16 miles by a neck on July 12, returning to Woodbine to run second by a half-length in the Eternal Search on August 2.

Alwaysinstilletos and Jcs American Dream, who ran second and fourth, respectively, in the New York Oaks, will try to turn the tables on Flipcup in the Fleet Indian.

Rounding out the stakes is a pair of races for two-year-olds, the $200,000 Funny Cide and the $200,000 Seeking the Ante for fillies. Both are at 5 1/2 furlongs.

Heading the field for the Funny Cide is the Michael Mareina-trained Bustin It, the lone stakes winner in the field of five. The Bustin Stones colt, second in his debut on June 13 at Belmont Park, returned a month later and posted a front-running, seven-length win in the restricted Rockville Centre going six furlongs.

With a graded start on her resume, Evrybdymstgetstonz will face five others in the Seeking the Ante. Trained by Gary Contessa, the daughter of Bustin Stones was a six-length winner at odds of 23-1 in her first start on July 2 at Belmont Park, then returned on opening day at Saratoga to finish fourth in the Schuylerville after getting squeezed back at the start.

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Four Grade 1 winners highlight outstanding Travers field

Bayern served notice that he'll be a force to be reckoned with when dominating the Haskell on the front end (Carl J. Sari/Equi-Photo)

A quartet of Grade 1 winners will square off in Saturday's 145th running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course and the 1 1/4-mile race could have serious championship implications in the three-year-old division.

Live coverage of the Travers will be part of NBC Sports Network's national telecast from 4:30 to 6 p.m. (EDT). The Travers has a scheduled post time of 5:46 p.m.

The strong 10-horse field is headed by the up-and-coming Bayern, who broke through with his first official graded stakes victory (disqualified from a narrow win in the Derby Trial) when capturing the seven-furlong Woody Stephens by a resounding 7 1/2-length margin on the June 7 Belmont Stakes undercard.

The Bob Baffert-trained colt prove to be no one-turn wonder when stretching back out to a route in the July 27 Haskell Invitational, romping by 7 1/4 lengths in the prestigious 1 1/8-mile test at Monmouth Park, and Bayern will now attempt to carry his speed an extra furlong Saturday.

Favored at 2-1 on the morning line, the son of Offlee Wild drew well on the inside for his front-running style (post No. 2) and Martin Garcia retains the mount.

"The Haskell was pretty impressive," Baffert said of Bayern, who made his career debut on January 4 and has earned more than $1 million while winning four of seven starts. "Will he take a step backward? I don't' know, but he looks good.

"He's not a really big horse, but he's fast. He's a handy horse, and he's got a lot of speed. I'm not totally convinced he can go a mile and a quarter, but he's pretty fast. You just have to let him go and what happens, happens. You can't worry about it. When you have a horse with that kind of brilliant speed, you have to use it."

Wicked Strong thrived with the addition of blinkers in the Jim Dandy while Tonalist may have been a race short in second (NYRA/Coglianese Photo/Chelsea Durand)

The Travers marks the third stakes match-up between Tonalist and Wicked Strong, who have split their past meetings and are listed as the respective 3-1 and 7-2 second and third choices on the morning line.

Tonalist made his stakes debut a winning one in the May 10 Peter Pan, scoring by four easy lengths in the slop at Belmont Park, and the Tapit colt followed with an excellent tally in the final jewel of the Triple Crown, gamely capturing the Belmont Stakes by a head with Wicked Strong two lengths back in fourth. Tonalist was favored at 4-5 in his Travers prep, the July 26 Jim Dandy, but wound up finishing second, 2 1/4 lengths behind Wicked Strong.

Joel Rosario rides the classic winner for trainer Christophe Clement.

"From (post) 5 on up, that was good for us," assistant trainer Christophe Lorieul said after Tonalist received post 6. "We didn't want to get stuck on the inside. He has tactical speed, but it really is his game being close up and behind horses. He wants to be in the clear. He has a very long stride.

"(Bayern) probably will go for it. We've got Wicked Strong outside of us (in post 7), and he might go a little bit, too. It could be a good set-up. We don't want to be as wide as we were in the Jim Dandy, so (Rosario) will have to tuck him in a bit more. It's an extra furlong (compared to the Jim Dandy), but I think the horse needed the race last time. He's had two good works since then."

Wicked Strong added blinkers for the Jim Dandy and raced more forwardly than his previous starts. A close third when concluding his juvenile campaign in the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct, the Hard Spun colt returned this year with a pair of disappointing efforts at Gulfstream Park. He rebounded back in New York, taking the TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial by 3 1/2 lengths, but experienced a troubled trip finishing fourth in the Kentucky Derby.

Mr Speaker (right) accelerated on the inside to deny a classy Adelaide in the $1.25 million Belmont Derby (NYRA/Coglianese Photo/Chelsea Durand)

After a fourth in the Belmont Stakes, Jimmy Jerkens stated his disappointment, noting that Wicked Strong ran only in spots, and the trainer decided to add blinkers for the Jim Dandy. Wicked Strong closely tracked the pacesetter in second before seizing control at the conclusion of the far turn, and proceeded to easily repel the rally of Tonalist in midstretch.

"It definitely made him get on the bit," Jerkens said of the decision to add blinkers. "Rajiv (Maragh) sent him away from there a little bit, too, so I think it was a little bit of both. I don't think they made him rank by any means. It was a combination of blinkers and Rajiv sending him from there because he wanted to get a nice spot going into the turn that made him close to the pace.

"I don't think it's going to make him rank by any means. I can't deny that he does seem to run straighter and truer with them on, no question."

Wicked Strong is attempting to become the 11th horse since 1960 and sixth in the last 12 years to complete the Jim Dandy-Travers double. Seven of the past 10 Travers winners have exited the Jim Dandy, most recently done by Alpha, who dead-heated with Golden Ticket in 2012. 

Maragh was pleased post 7.

"I think it's a great post. It gives us some options," the jockey said. "We're posted outside most of the speed horses, and it seems like a very ideal situation. I would think that Tonalist might show a little more speed; he was pretty close to the lead in the Belmont. The No. 7 post gives me a lot of options to see how the race unfolds and pick a good spot. We'll play it by ear and see how the race is going.

"The great thing with Wicked Strong is you can adjust with him; he doesn't have one specific running style. He's won close to the lead like last time and also has won from pretty much off the pace. Our hands aren't tied to doing anything specific."

Rice believes Kid Cruz will move forward off his Jim Dandy third (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photo)

Mr Speaker will be seeking his first win on dirt following a terrific turf victory in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby, defeating Irish invader Adelaide by a length. He was flattered when that rival came back to capture last Saturday's Grade 1 Secretariat at Arlington as the heavy favorite.

By Pulpit and out of an Unbridled mare, Mr Speaker is bred to relish the main track. But his successes have come strictly on turf and synthetics so far, including a four-length triumph in the Lexington on Keeneland's Polytrack. He didn't run well when trying Gulfstream Park's main track earlier this season, finishing a well-beaten seventh in the Holy Bull, but Shug McGaughey is hopeful that his charge will show more on Saratoga's dirt track.

"It's just a matter of whether he takes to the dirt or not," McGaughey said. "He'll be fine if he takes to the dirt. You never know on the dirt when you turn their head loose and ask them to run what they're going to do or if the dirt gets to hitting them. I don't think that will be a problem. If he takes to it and does fine, I think we'll be in the ballgame."

The Hall of Famer McGaughey is one of only eight trainers with three victories in the Mid-Summer Derby, having won with Easy Goer (1989), Rhythm (1990) and Coronado's Quest (1998).

Mr Speaker shows a couple of fast works on the Saratoga main track this month and will break from the far outside post Saturday with Jose Lezcano.

Jerkens, who won with his only other Travers starter, Afleet Express, in 2010, will also send out V. E. Day in the Travers. The chestnut son of grass champion English Channel has won three straight starts, including the 1 1/8-mile Curlin Stakes at Saratoga on the eve of the Jim Dandy.

Four-time stakes hero Kid Cruz will look to improve upon his third-place effort in the Jim Dandy. A sharp winner of the Grade 3 Dwyer and the Easy Goer in his two previous outings at Belmont Park, the late-running son of Lemon Drop Kid will keep Irad Ortiz Jr. in the saddle.

"He's coming in great," trainer Linda Rice said of Kid Cruz, who was claimed for $50,000 from his second career start in late November. "We struggled this spring with him with a shoulder and a pinched nerve at the base of his neck. We missed the Wood Memorial and went to the (April 19) Tesio (at Pimlico) instead.

"The Preakness went poorly but frankly he's coming into this race very well. Despite the fact that the Jim Dandy was kind of an ugly race for us, the goal was to get to the Travers. Hopefully, we'll be ready."

Kid Cruz, who can provide Rice with the first Travers victory by a female trainer, raced closer than normal during the early stages of the Jim Dandy, dropped back going down the backstretch, and came again late for third.

Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve, fourth in the Jim Dandy, is also entered. The Dallas Stewart trainee breaks from the innermost post with Shaun Bridmohan.

Rounding out the Travers field are Charge Now and Viva Majorca, the second- and fourth-place finishers in the Curlin; and Jim Dandy fifth-placer and Grade 3 runner-up Ulanbator.

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Four Grade 1 winners highlight outstanding Travers field

Bayern served notice that he'll be a force to be reckoned with when dominating the Haskell on the front end (Carl J. Sari/Equi-Photo)

A quartet of Grade 1 winners will square off in Saturday's 145th running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course and the 1 1/4-mile race could have serious championship implications in the three-year-old division.

Live coverage of the Travers will be part of NBC Sports Network's national telecast from 4:30 to 6 p.m. (EDT). The Travers has a scheduled post time of 5:46 p.m.

The strong 10-horse field is headed by the up-and-coming Bayern, who broke through with his first official graded stakes victory (disqualified from a narrow win in the Derby Trial) when capturing the seven-furlong Woody Stephens by a resounding 7 1/2-length margin on the June 7 Belmont Stakes undercard.

The Bob Baffert-trained colt prove to be no one-turn wonder when stretching back out to a route in the July 27 Haskell Invitational, romping by 7 1/4 lengths in the prestigious 1 1/8-mile test at Monmouth Park, and Bayern will now attempt to carry his speed an extra furlong Saturday.

Favored at 2-1 on the morning line, the son of Offlee Wild drew well on the inside for his front-running style (post No. 2) and Martin Garcia retains the mount.

"The Haskell was pretty impressive," Baffert said of Bayern, who made his career debut on January 4 and has earned more than $1 million while winning four of seven starts. "Will he take a step backward? I don't' know, but he looks good.

"He's not a really big horse, but he's fast. He's a handy horse, and he's got a lot of speed. I'm not totally convinced he can go a mile and a quarter, but he's pretty fast. You just have to let him go and what happens, happens. You can't worry about it. When you have a horse with that kind of brilliant speed, you have to use it."

Wicked Strong thrived with the addition of blinkers in the Jim Dandy while Tonalist may have been a race short in second (NYRA/Coglianese Photo/Chelsea Durand)

The Travers marks the third stakes match-up between Tonalist and Wicked Strong, who have split their past meetings and are listed as the respective 3-1 and 7-2 second and third choices on the morning line.

Tonalist made his stakes debut a winning one in the May 10 Peter Pan, scoring by four easy lengths in the slop at Belmont Park, and the Tapit colt followed with an excellent tally in the final jewel of the Triple Crown, gamely capturing the Belmont Stakes by a head with Wicked Strong two lengths back in fourth. Tonalist was favored at 4-5 in his Travers prep, the July 26 Jim Dandy, but wound up finishing second, 2 1/4 lengths behind Wicked Strong.

Joel Rosario rides the classic winner for trainer Christophe Clement.

"From (post) 5 on up, that was good for us," assistant trainer Christophe Lorieul said after Tonalist received post 6. "We didn't want to get stuck on the inside. He has tactical speed, but it really is his game being close up and behind horses. He wants to be in the clear. He has a very long stride.

"(Bayern) probably will go for it. We've got Wicked Strong outside of us (in post 7), and he might go a little bit, too. It could be a good set-up. We don't want to be as wide as we were in the Jim Dandy, so (Rosario) will have to tuck him in a bit more. It's an extra furlong (compared to the Jim Dandy), but I think the horse needed the race last time. He's had two good works since then."

Wicked Strong added blinkers for the Jim Dandy and raced more forwardly than his previous starts. A close third when concluding his juvenile campaign in the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct, the Hard Spun colt returned this year with a pair of disappointing efforts at Gulfstream Park. He rebounded back in New York, taking the TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial by 3 1/2 lengths, but experienced a troubled trip finishing fourth in the Kentucky Derby.

Mr Speaker (right) accelerated on the inside to deny a classy Adelaide in the $1.25 million Belmont Derby (NYRA/Coglianese Photo/Chelsea Durand)

After a fourth in the Belmont Stakes, Jimmy Jerkens stated his disappointment, noting that Wicked Strong ran only in spots, and the trainer decided to add blinkers for the Jim Dandy. Wicked Strong closely tracked the pacesetter in second before seizing control at the conclusion of the far turn, and proceeded to easily repel the rally of Tonalist in midstretch.

"It definitely made him get on the bit," Jerkens said of the decision to add blinkers. "Rajiv (Maragh) sent him away from there a little bit, too, so I think it was a little bit of both. I don't think they made him rank by any means. It was a combination of blinkers and Rajiv sending him from there because he wanted to get a nice spot going into the turn that made him close to the pace.

"I don't think it's going to make him rank by any means. I can't deny that he does seem to run straighter and truer with them on, no question."

Wicked Strong is attempting to become the 11th horse since 1960 and sixth in the last 12 years to complete the Jim Dandy-Travers double. Seven of the past 10 Travers winners have exited the Jim Dandy, most recently done by Alpha, who dead-heated with Golden Ticket in 2012. 

Maragh was pleased post 7.

"I think it's a great post. It gives us some options," the jockey said. "We're posted outside most of the speed horses, and it seems like a very ideal situation. I would think that Tonalist might show a little more speed; he was pretty close to the lead in the Belmont. The No. 7 post gives me a lot of options to see how the race unfolds and pick a good spot. We'll play it by ear and see how the race is going.

"The great thing with Wicked Strong is you can adjust with him; he doesn't have one specific running style. He's won close to the lead like last time and also has won from pretty much off the pace. Our hands aren't tied to doing anything specific."

Rice believes Kid Cruz will move forward off his Jim Dandy third (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photo)

Mr Speaker will be seeking his first win on dirt following a terrific turf victory in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby, defeating Irish invader Adelaide by a length. He was flattered when that rival came back to capture last Saturday's Grade 1 Secretariat at Arlington as the heavy favorite.

By Pulpit and out of an Unbridled mare, Mr Speaker is bred to relish the main track. But his successes have come strictly on turf and synthetics so far, including a four-length triumph in the Lexington on Keeneland's Polytrack. He didn't run well when trying Gulfstream Park's main track earlier this season, finishing a well-beaten seventh in the Holy Bull, but Shug McGaughey is hopeful that his charge will show more on Saratoga's dirt track.

"It's just a matter of whether he takes to the dirt or not," McGaughey said. "He'll be fine if he takes to the dirt. You never know on the dirt when you turn their head loose and ask them to run what they're going to do or if the dirt gets to hitting them. I don't think that will be a problem. If he takes to it and does fine, I think we'll be in the ballgame."

The Hall of Famer McGaughey is one of only eight trainers with three victories in the Mid-Summer Derby, having won with Easy Goer (1989), Rhythm (1990) and Coronado's Quest (1998).

Mr Speaker shows a couple of fast works on the Saratoga main track this month and will break from the far outside post Saturday with Jose Lezcano.

Jerkens, who won with his only other Travers starter, Afleet Express, in 2010, will also send out V. E. Day in the Travers. The chestnut son of grass champion English Channel has won three straight starts, including the 1 1/8-mile Curlin Stakes at Saratoga on the eve of the Jim Dandy.

Four-time stakes hero Kid Cruz will look to improve upon his third-place effort in the Jim Dandy. A sharp winner of the Grade 3 Dwyer and the Easy Goer in his two previous outings at Belmont Park, the late-running son of Lemon Drop Kid will keep Irad Ortiz Jr. in the saddle.

"He's coming in great," trainer Linda Rice said of Kid Cruz, who was claimed for $50,000 from his second career start in late November. "We struggled this spring with him with a shoulder and a pinched nerve at the base of his neck. We missed the Wood Memorial and went to the (April 19) Tesio (at Pimlico) instead.

"The Preakness went poorly but frankly he's coming into this race very well. Despite the fact that the Jim Dandy was kind of an ugly race for us, the goal was to get to the Travers. Hopefully, we'll be ready."

Kid Cruz, who can provide Rice with the first Travers victory by a female trainer, raced closer than normal during the early stages of the Jim Dandy, dropped back going down the backstretch, and came again late for third.

Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve, fourth in the Jim Dandy, is also entered. The Dallas Stewart trainee breaks from the innermost post with Shaun Bridmohan.

Rounding out the Travers field are Charge Now and Viva Majorca, the second- and fourth-place finishers in the Curlin; and Jim Dandy fifth-placer and Grade 3 runner-up Ulanbator.

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Wildcat Red reverts in distance for King's Bishop

Wildcat Red hasn't competed at less than 1 1/16 miles since taking the Hutcheson in February (Lauren King/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Wildcat Red hasn't competed at less than 1 1/16 miles in five races since taking the February 1 Hutcheson at Gulfstream Park, but on Saturday will show his versatility by cutting back to seven furlongs for the Grade 1, $500,000 King's Bishop on the Travers Day undercard at Saratoga.

The Jose Garoffalo trainee nearly swept the three major sophomore stakes at Gulfstream Park over the spring, taking the seventh-furlong Hutcheson by 4 3/4 lengths and the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth by a head, but just missed when a neck second in the nine-furlong Florida Derby. He would go on to suffer his only unplaced run when 18th following a troubled trip in the Kentucky Derby on May 3, and was given some time off following that effort.

Wildcat Red proved ready for action when returning June 28 with a 10-length romp in the Quality Road at Gulfstream, then shipped to Monmouth Park for a third-place run in the Haskell Invitational last out. The bay sophomore has been getting familiar with Saratoga's track, clocking a half-mile in :49 2/5 last Saturday, and keeps Luis Saez in the saddle for the King's Bishop.

"I think the King's Bishop is the best spot to put him," Garoffalo explained about opting for this spot instead of the Travers later on the program. "The Travers is going to be tough, and I want to refresh him a little bit. The mile and a quarter is too long for him now.

"In this race, if we run good we still have a chance to go to (the Grade 2, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on September 20) or somewhere else. It all depends on the result and how the horse comes back."

Amsterdam winner Coup de Grace will renew his rivalry with... (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Coup de Grace is seeking his third straight stakes win for trainer Larry Jones after posting a three-length victory in the July 26 Amsterdam, the major local prep for the King's Bishop.

The Tapit chestnut entered that contest off a neck score in the Oh Say at Delaware Park just 21 days earlier in what was his first start for Jones after being conditioned by Chad Brown in his first five lifetime races. During that period of time, Coup de Grace sandwiched a win in the seven-furlong Bay Shore at Aqueduct between unplaced efforts in the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull and seven-furlong Woody Stephens.

"We ran him at Delaware to get a feel for him before we tackled everyone in Saratoga," Jones explained. "He's still moving forward and is comfortable training here.

"His running style depends on the length of the race," the trainer added. "In sprint races he comes out relaxed and settles off the pace, but in routes he has shown more speed. There's a lot of speed in the King's Bishop, which should be comfortable for him. He's used to coming from off the pace in sprints."

Rosie Napravnik was aboard Coup de Grace for the Amsterdam and retains the mount in this spot.

...Amsterdam runner-up C. Zee in the King's Bishop (Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography)

C. Zee earned his shot at the King's Bishop after running second in the Amsterdam last out. Transferred from Stanley Gold to Nick Zito when shipped to Saratoga, the Florida-bred son of Elusive Bluff finished second in the Hutcheson and 10th in the Fountain of Youth behind Wildcat Red. He would go on to take the Sir Bear and Cherokee Run Stakes at Gulfstream while placing in a pair of listed events at Tampa Bay Downs and Calder.

C. Zee was making his first start outside of Florida in the Amsterdam, and has really taken to the Spa's main track, turning in a bullet, best-of-106, half-mile in :46 2/5 last Saturday.

"I think what happens is the weather is cooler than Florida and (horses) seem to really do well when they get up here," Zito said. "For some reason, he's got a lot of speed up here; a lot of speed. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a very tough race. The King's Bishop every year is getting tougher and tougher. It's a great race. I hope everything goes good. We're looking forward to it. He's a very good horse."

Joel Rosario has the call on C. Zee in the King's Bishop.

Stakes debuters The Big Beast and Fast Anna are something of a puzzle in the race after taking their past pair of races by huge margins.

The Big Beast faces a stern test in his stakes debut (NYRA/Susie Raisher/Adam Coglianese Photography)

The Big Beast broke his maiden and captured an allowance, both at six furlongs, by a combined 10 1/2 lengths in his last two. The Tony Dutrow charge's most recent win, which came at Saratoga, earned him a 102 BRIS Speed rating, tying Wildcat Red's number earned in the Quality Road as a field best. The Yes It's True colt is taking a big step up in class for the King's Bishop but brings along jockey Javier Castellano to help him successfully navigate untried stakes waters.

"My horse is doing fantastic and I have lots of confidence in my horse," Dutrow stated. "I know it's going to be a tough race, but I'm going to leave it at that. My horse is doing great, and I'm really confident he's going to go over there and run good. And, I respect the competition.

"He's really, in my opinion, pulled it together tremendously in the last two months. He's very confident in himself. I think he feels like he's the real thing. I'm feeling really good about the horse coming together right at the right time for the King's Bishop."

The lightly raced Kathy Ritvo trainee Fast Anna is unbeaten in two Gulfstream starts, which he scored by a combined 15 1/4 lengths. Though the Medaglia d'Oro colt didn't break the triple-digit Speed rating mark for the two wins, he did earn a respectable 95 for each. John Velazquez will be aboard for the first time in the King's Bishop.

"This horse just seems to get better all the time," Ritvo asserted. "We're going to take a big swing, but he's doing so good there's no reason not to run him. I don't think it's going to make a big difference, the traffic or the people or anything that happens. He's professional. He's smart. He couldn't be doing any better."

Myositis Dan, Noble Cornerstone and Noble Moon complete the field for the King's Bishop. The former triumphed in a pair of seven-furlong all-weather allowances at Keeneland and Arlington, with a head third in the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs tucked in between. New York-bred Noble Cornerstone is exiting a pair of victories against state-bred rivals, while Grade 2 hero Noble Moon will be going less than a mile for the first time since taking his maiden debut last September.

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Wildcat Red reverts in distance for King's Bishop

Wildcat Red hasn't competed at less than 1 1/16 miles since taking the Hutcheson in February (Lauren King/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Wildcat Red hasn't competed at less than 1 1/16 miles in five races since taking the February 1 Hutcheson at Gulfstream Park, but on Saturday will show his versatility by cutting back to seven furlongs for the Grade 1, $500,000 King's Bishop on the Travers Day undercard at Saratoga.

The Jose Garoffalo trainee nearly swept the three major sophomore stakes at Gulfstream Park over the spring, taking the seventh-furlong Hutcheson by 4 3/4 lengths and the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth by a head, but just missed when a neck second in the nine-furlong Florida Derby. He would go on to suffer his only unplaced run when 18th following a troubled trip in the Kentucky Derby on May 3, and was given some time off following that effort.

Wildcat Red proved ready for action when returning June 28 with a 10-length romp in the Quality Road at Gulfstream, then shipped to Monmouth Park for a third-place run in the Haskell Invitational last out. The bay sophomore has been getting familiar with Saratoga's track, clocking a half-mile in :49 2/5 last Saturday, and keeps Luis Saez in the saddle for the King's Bishop.

"I think the King's Bishop is the best spot to put him," Garoffalo explained about opting for this spot instead of the Travers later on the program. "The Travers is going to be tough, and I want to refresh him a little bit. The mile and a quarter is too long for him now.

"In this race, if we run good we still have a chance to go to (the Grade 2, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on September 20) or somewhere else. It all depends on the result and how the horse comes back."

Amsterdam winner Coup de Grace will renew his rivalry with... (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Coup de Grace is seeking his third straight stakes win for trainer Larry Jones after posting a three-length victory in the July 26 Amsterdam, the major local prep for the King's Bishop.

The Tapit chestnut entered that contest off a neck score in the Oh Say at Delaware Park just 21 days earlier in what was his first start for Jones after being conditioned by Chad Brown in his first five lifetime races. During that period of time, Coup de Grace sandwiched a win in the seven-furlong Bay Shore at Aqueduct between unplaced efforts in the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull and seven-furlong Woody Stephens.

"We ran him at Delaware to get a feel for him before we tackled everyone in Saratoga," Jones explained. "He's still moving forward and is comfortable training here.

"His running style depends on the length of the race," the trainer added. "In sprint races he comes out relaxed and settles off the pace, but in routes he has shown more speed. There's a lot of speed in the King's Bishop, which should be comfortable for him. He's used to coming from off the pace in sprints."

Rosie Napravnik was aboard Coup de Grace for the Amsterdam and retains the mount in this spot.

...Amsterdam runner-up C. Zee in the King's Bishop (Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography)

C. Zee earned his shot at the King's Bishop after running second in the Amsterdam last out. Transferred from Stanley Gold to Nick Zito when shipped to Saratoga, the Florida-bred son of Elusive Bluff finished second in the Hutcheson and 10th in the Fountain of Youth behind Wildcat Red. He would go on to take the Sir Bear and Cherokee Run Stakes at Gulfstream while placing in a pair of listed events at Tampa Bay Downs and Calder.

C. Zee was making his first start outside of Florida in the Amsterdam, and has really taken to the Spa's main track, turning in a bullet, best-of-106, half-mile in :46 2/5 last Saturday.

"I think what happens is the weather is cooler than Florida and (horses) seem to really do well when they get up here," Zito said. "For some reason, he's got a lot of speed up here; a lot of speed. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a very tough race. The King's Bishop every year is getting tougher and tougher. It's a great race. I hope everything goes good. We're looking forward to it. He's a very good horse."

Joel Rosario has the call on C. Zee in the King's Bishop.

Stakes debuters The Big Beast and Fast Anna are something of a puzzle in the race after taking their past pair of races by huge margins.

The Big Beast faces a stern test in his stakes debut (NYRA/Susie Raisher/Adam Coglianese Photography)

The Big Beast broke his maiden and captured an allowance, both at six furlongs, by a combined 10 1/2 lengths in his last two. The Tony Dutrow charge's most recent win, which came at Saratoga, earned him a 102 BRIS Speed rating, tying Wildcat Red's number earned in the Quality Road as a field best. The Yes It's True colt is taking a big step up in class for the King's Bishop but brings along jockey Javier Castellano to help him successfully navigate untried stakes waters.

"My horse is doing fantastic and I have lots of confidence in my horse," Dutrow stated. "I know it's going to be a tough race, but I'm going to leave it at that. My horse is doing great, and I'm really confident he's going to go over there and run good. And, I respect the competition.

"He's really, in my opinion, pulled it together tremendously in the last two months. He's very confident in himself. I think he feels like he's the real thing. I'm feeling really good about the horse coming together right at the right time for the King's Bishop."

The lightly raced Kathy Ritvo trainee Fast Anna is unbeaten in two Gulfstream starts, which he scored by a combined 15 1/4 lengths. Though the Medaglia d'Oro colt didn't break the triple-digit Speed rating mark for the two wins, he did earn a respectable 95 for each. John Velazquez will be aboard for the first time in the King's Bishop.

"This horse just seems to get better all the time," Ritvo asserted. "We're going to take a big swing, but he's doing so good there's no reason not to run him. I don't think it's going to make a big difference, the traffic or the people or anything that happens. He's professional. He's smart. He couldn't be doing any better."

Myositis Dan, Noble Cornerstone and Noble Moon complete the field for the King's Bishop. The former triumphed in a pair of seven-furlong all-weather allowances at Keeneland and Arlington, with a head third in the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs tucked in between. New York-bred Noble Cornerstone is exiting a pair of victories against state-bred rivals, while Grade 2 hero Noble Moon will be going less than a mile for the first time since taking his maiden debut last September.

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Better Lucky, Filimbi star on Travers undercard

Better Lucky (blue cap) faces My Miss Aurelia (yellow cap) and seven others in the Ballerina (Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Better Lucky earned a stellar reputation as a leading turf miler at ages three and four, but has begun to show her versatility in main track sprints this year at age five. The Darley homebred will seek to win one of the latter division's more lucrative events, the Grade 1, $500,000 Ballerina, at Saratoga on Saturday.

Best known for victories in the 2012 Matriarch at Hollywood Park and 2013 First Lady at Keeneland, the Darley's homebred five-year-old Ghostzapper mare has made two of her three starts this season on non-turf surfaces. The first was a solid, rallying second to Judy the Beauty in the Madison at Keeneland over Polytrack. The most recent, in the $95,000 Shine Again over the Ballerina's seven-furlong course and distance July 21, resulted in Better Lucky overcoming a 12-length deficit to defeat Grace Hall by a head.

"We felt like we've accomplished enough with her on the grass -- she's won two Grade 1s -- that if she takes back to the dirt as we saw in the Shine Again, the Ballerina would be a logical race to try her back," trainer Tom Albertrani said. "She's been training as well as I've ever seen her."

Also exiting the Shine Again is My Miss Aurelia, the 2011 champion juvenile filly, who was making her first start that day following a 16-month absence. She finished third, beaten a half-length, in what was her first outing since moving from the barn of Steve Asmussen to the Todd Pletcher stable. My Miss Aurelia is winless in four outings since taking the Cotillion at Parx in September 2012.

"I think (the Shine Again), hopefully, will move her forward," Pletcher said. "I thought she ran hard that day. It was a long time since she'd run, and the complexion of the race forced us to get her involved early. I think she needed that run, so I've been pleased with the way she's trained. I thought her last breeze was particularly good and, hopefully, an indication she's in top form for this."

La Verdad is one of four New York-breds in the field and the most likely pacesetter in the Ballerina. She's used her blazing speed to good use winning several state-bred stakes in addition to the April 19 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct, but a tardy break from post 1 in last month's Honorable Miss Handicap resulted in a non-threatening, fifth-place effort as the 6-5 favorite.

"Everything went poorly, and she still wound up beaten only three lengths, so we'll forgive her," trainer Linda Rice said. "I think that seven-eighths may not be her best distance. I rather it be six or 6 1/2, but she's come out of the race very well and she breezed excellently the other day. How many Grade 1s do you have for fillies and mares sprinting?"

Also representing the Empire State's breeding program are Artemis Agrotera, last year's Frizette winner and the only three-year-old in the field. Up the track in her season debut, the June 7 Acorn, she rebounded to defeat state-bred rivals by more than 10 lengths in a course-and-distance allowance July 23.

"I just decided that, in my opinion, she fits very well in the race, and for a Grade 1 for all that money, it's time to go while she's good," trainer Michael Hushion said. "If she wasn't rounding out to her old-time form, I don't think she would have run as well as she did no matter who she was running against."

Other locally born contenders are Hot Stones, photo-finish winner of the Bed o' Roses Handicap two back and third in the nine-furlong Shuvee Handicap last time, and the six-year-old Willet, a multiple stakes winner who was Grade 2-placed in the Go for Wand Handicap in late 2012.

The Ballerina field is rounded out by Kipling's Joy, Voodoo Tales, and Geeky Gorgeous.

Filimbi has won two of three starts in the U.S., including the De La Rose (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Filimbi, who made a favorable impression taking the $100,000 De La Rose in her U.S. stakes debut August 2, is the likely favorite to repeat in the Grade 2, $250,000 Ballston Spa, a 1 1/16-mile test for fillies and mares on the inner turf.

A Listed winner in France for owner-breeder Juddmonte Farms, Filimbi was a rough-trip second to multiple graded stakes winner Somali Lemonade in her stateside debut at Keeneland in April. Rebounding next out at the same level at Belmont, she showed a strong late kick to take De La Rose by 1 3/4 lengths while under hand urging from Joel Rosario.

Second in the August 2 De La Rose while making her first start since December was Dayatthespa, the Grade 1-winning New York-bred who was meeting defeat for the first time over the Saratoga turf. The Chad Brown trainee figures stronger in her second start back, and will take some catching in a race lacking much in the way of pace.

"I think she got a lot of her last race," Brown said. "The fractions were a little strong, especially coming off a layoff, but we'll be much fitter this time around. She came out of the race well and has been training great."

Dayatthespa may opt to run in the Yaddo for New York-breds on Sunday, according to Brown, who will assess both fields before making a decision.

Another Grade 1 veteran, Centre Court, appeared to shake out of her doldrums when taking the Honey Fox at Gulfstream in March, but reversed form in the spring when only fifth in the Jenny Wiley and Churchill Distaff Turf Mile.

"She had a little trouble at the start (of the Distaff Turf Mile), but she blew a shoe when that happened," trainer Rusty Arnold said. "She ran with one shoe off and bore out most of the way, so it was disappointing, but I feel we have an excuse. We had to give her some time to get it all fixed up, and she's in good shape now."

In better form of late is Grade 3 winner Abaco, who has rallied to place in three of five starts this year, including a half-length loss in the Jenny Wiley. Last time, in the nine-furlong Diana, the six-year-old mare still trailed a field of 10 at the eighth pole before making a belated wide kick to finish fourth, 1 1/2 lengths behind Somali Lemonade.

Strathnaver, a Grade 3 winner over 12 furlongs, successfully cut back to a mile when a nose second in the Just a Game two back, but did not enjoy a clean trip when sixth in the Diana last time.

"I was a little disappointed (in her Diana) but more frustrated," trainer Graham Motion said. "She had an awkward trip, getting bumped coming out of the gate and did not get a good set-up. She wasn't beaten very far. It was frustrating; with a better trip I think she's right there."

The Ballston Spa field is rounded out by 2013 Virginia Oaks winner Nellie Cashman, who was cross-entered to the Violet at Monmouth Park on Saturday, and the overmatched Night Song.

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Better Lucky, Filimbi star on Travers undercard

Better Lucky (blue cap) faces My Miss Aurelia (yellow cap) and seven others in the Ballerina (Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Better Lucky earned a stellar reputation as a leading turf miler at ages three and four, but has begun to show her versatility in main track sprints this year at age five. The Darley homebred will seek to win one of the latter division's more lucrative events, the Grade 1, $500,000 Ballerina, at Saratoga on Saturday.

Best known for victories in the 2012 Matriarch at Hollywood Park and 2013 First Lady at Keeneland, the Darley's homebred five-year-old Ghostzapper mare has made two of her three starts this season on non-turf surfaces. The first was a solid, rallying second to Judy the Beauty in the Madison at Keeneland over Polytrack. The most recent, in the $95,000 Shine Again over the Ballerina's seven-furlong course and distance July 21, resulted in Better Lucky overcoming a 12-length deficit to defeat Grace Hall by a head.

"We felt like we've accomplished enough with her on the grass -- she's won two Grade 1s -- that if she takes back to the dirt as we saw in the Shine Again, the Ballerina would be a logical race to try her back," trainer Tom Albertrani said. "She's been training as well as I've ever seen her."

Also exiting the Shine Again is My Miss Aurelia, the 2011 champion juvenile filly, who was making her first start that day following a 16-month absence. She finished third, beaten a half-length, in what was her first outing since moving from the barn of Steve Asmussen to the Todd Pletcher stable. My Miss Aurelia is winless in four outings since taking the Cotillion at Parx in September 2012.

"I think (the Shine Again), hopefully, will move her forward," Pletcher said. "I thought she ran hard that day. It was a long time since she'd run, and the complexion of the race forced us to get her involved early. I think she needed that run, so I've been pleased with the way she's trained. I thought her last breeze was particularly good and, hopefully, an indication she's in top form for this."

La Verdad is one of four New York-breds in the field and the most likely pacesetter in the Ballerina. She's used her blazing speed to good use winning several state-bred stakes in addition to the April 19 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct, but a tardy break from post 1 in last month's Honorable Miss Handicap resulted in a non-threatening, fifth-place effort as the 6-5 favorite.

"Everything went poorly, and she still wound up beaten only three lengths, so we'll forgive her," trainer Linda Rice said. "I think that seven-eighths may not be her best distance. I rather it be six or 6 1/2, but she's come out of the race very well and she breezed excellently the other day. How many Grade 1s do you have for fillies and mares sprinting?"

Also representing the Empire State's breeding program are Artemis Agrotera, last year's Frizette winner and the only three-year-old in the field. Up the track in her season debut, the June 7 Acorn, she rebounded to defeat state-bred rivals by more than 10 lengths in a course-and-distance allowance July 23.

"I just decided that, in my opinion, she fits very well in the race, and for a Grade 1 for all that money, it's time to go while she's good," trainer Michael Hushion said. "If she wasn't rounding out to her old-time form, I don't think she would have run as well as she did no matter who she was running against."

Other locally born contenders are Hot Stones, photo-finish winner of the Bed o' Roses Handicap two back and third in the nine-furlong Shuvee Handicap last time, and the six-year-old Willet, a multiple stakes winner who was Grade 2-placed in the Go for Wand Handicap in late 2012.

The Ballerina field is rounded out by Kipling's Joy, Voodoo Tales, and Geeky Gorgeous.

Filimbi has won two of three starts in the U.S., including the De La Rose (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Filimbi, who made a favorable impression taking the $100,000 De La Rose in her U.S. stakes debut August 2, is the likely favorite to repeat in the Grade 2, $250,000 Ballston Spa, a 1 1/16-mile test for fillies and mares on the inner turf.

A Listed winner in France for owner-breeder Juddmonte Farms, Filimbi was a rough-trip second to multiple graded stakes winner Somali Lemonade in her stateside debut at Keeneland in April. Rebounding next out at the same level at Belmont, she showed a strong late kick to take De La Rose by 1 3/4 lengths while under hand urging from Joel Rosario.

Second in the August 2 De La Rose while making her first start since December was Dayatthespa, the Grade 1-winning New York-bred who was meeting defeat for the first time over the Saratoga turf. The Chad Brown trainee figures stronger in her second start back, and will take some catching in a race lacking much in the way of pace.

"I think she got a lot of her last race," Brown said. "The fractions were a little strong, especially coming off a layoff, but we'll be much fitter this time around. She came out of the race well and has been training great."

Dayatthespa may opt to run in the Yaddo for New York-breds on Sunday, according to Brown, who will assess both fields before making a decision.

Another Grade 1 veteran, Centre Court, appeared to shake out of her doldrums when taking the Honey Fox at Gulfstream in March, but reversed form in the spring when only fifth in the Jenny Wiley and Churchill Distaff Turf Mile.

"She had a little trouble at the start (of the Distaff Turf Mile), but she blew a shoe when that happened," trainer Rusty Arnold said. "She ran with one shoe off and bore out most of the way, so it was disappointing, but I feel we have an excuse. We had to give her some time to get it all fixed up, and she's in good shape now."

In better form of late is Grade 3 winner Abaco, who has rallied to place in three of five starts this year, including a half-length loss in the Jenny Wiley. Last time, in the nine-furlong Diana, the six-year-old mare still trailed a field of 10 at the eighth pole before making a belated wide kick to finish fourth, 1 1/2 lengths behind Somali Lemonade.

Strathnaver, a Grade 3 winner over 12 furlongs, successfully cut back to a mile when a nose second in the Just a Game two back, but did not enjoy a clean trip when sixth in the Diana last time.

"I was a little disappointed (in her Diana) but more frustrated," trainer Graham Motion said. "She had an awkward trip, getting bumped coming out of the gate and did not get a good set-up. She wasn't beaten very far. It was frustrating; with a better trip I think she's right there."

The Ballston Spa field is rounded out by 2013 Virginia Oaks winner Nellie Cashman, who was cross-entered to the Violet at Monmouth Park on Saturday, and the overmatched Night Song.

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Thirteen entered for Del Mar Handicap

Fire With Fire discovered his best form at age 6 this season for trainer Neil Drysdale (Benoit Photo)

The main course happens Sunday, when Del Mar will offer three graded stakes, including the signature $1 million Pacific Classic, but Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Del Mar H. serves as a tantalizing appetizer with a contentious field of 13 entered for the 1 3/8-mile affair on turf.

Only 12 will be allowed to run over the Jimmy Durante course and pair of horses -- Irish Surf and also-eligible Ice Cream Truck -- have been cross-entered to the Pacific Classic a day later.

Fire With Fire is a top draw in his first outing since capturing the Charles Whittingham Memorial on May 24. Trained by Hall of Famer Neil Drysdale, the gelding posted another Grade 2 tally earlier this season, the San Luis Rey in late March, and his only setback from four starts this year was a head second in the Last Tycoon two starts back.

A son of Dynaformer, Fire With Fire has come on at age six and the 11-furlong distance is right in his wheelhouse. Regular rider Tyler Baze will be up on the 123-pound highweight.

Irish Surf merits respect if his connections opt for the Del Mar H. over the Pacific Classic. A two-time winner on turf, the four-year-old Giant's Causeway colt registered a career-best performance when switching back to Polytrack last time, running away on the front end to an 8 1/4-length score in the 1 1/2-mile Cougar II. The Dan Hendricks charge registered a career-best 105 BRIS Speed rating for his first stakes win and is scheduled to receive a rider switch to Victor Espinoza.

Grade 1 winner Unbridled Command is a logical contender in his third start of the season. Winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in late 2012, the five-year-old horse made only one start stateside last year, finishing third behind Point of Entry and Animal Kingdom in the Gulfstream Park H. He's recorded two unplaced finishes for new trainer Peter Miller but exits a decent fifth in the Grade 1 Eddie Read, and fitness should no longer be a concern for the honest gray horse, who capped a five-race win streak in the aforementioned Hollywood Derby.

Elvis Trujillo, who also rode Irish Surf last time, sticks with Unbridled Command and the New York-bred adds first-time blinkers Saturday.

Big John B will make his stakes bow in fine form for Phil D'Amato, reeling off a pair of sharp wins, including a 7 1/4-length score over allowance/optional claiming foes at Del Mar on July 30. The five-year-old Hard Spun gelding will retain the services of Hall of Famer Mike Smith.

Grade 2 winner Bright Thought will make his first start for D'Amato. Third when making his debut over Del Mar's turf in the July 23 Wickerr, the five-year-old ridgling fits well at this level and will keep Rafael Bejarano in the saddle.

Drysdale is also responsible for the filly Topic, who exits a good second in the Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park. The four-year-old daughter of Discreet Cat recorded her lone stakes victory over the Del Mar turf last year, romping by a 3 1/4-length margin over listed competition. Fernardo Perez picks up the mount.

Other contenders include Last Tycoon winner Quick Casablanca; multiple Grade 2-placed Si Sage; and stakes victor Cogito.

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Thirteen entered for Del Mar Handicap

Fire With Fire discovered his best form at age 6 this season for trainer Neil Drysdale (Benoit Photo)

The main course happens Sunday, when Del Mar will offer three graded stakes, including the signature $1 million Pacific Classic, but Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Del Mar H. serves as a tantalizing appetizer with a contentious field of 13 entered for the 1 3/8-mile affair on turf.

Only 12 will be allowed to run over the Jimmy Durante course and pair of horses -- Irish Surf and also-eligible Ice Cream Truck -- have been cross-entered to the Pacific Classic a day later.

Fire With Fire is a top draw in his first outing since capturing the Charles Whittingham Memorial on May 24. Trained by Hall of Famer Neil Drysdale, the gelding posted another Grade 2 tally earlier this season, the San Luis Rey in late March, and his only setback from four starts this year was a head second in the Last Tycoon two starts back.

A son of Dynaformer, Fire With Fire has come on at age six and the 11-furlong distance is right in his wheelhouse. Regular rider Tyler Baze will be up on the 123-pound highweight.

Irish Surf merits respect if his connections opt for the Del Mar H. over the Pacific Classic. A two-time winner on turf, the four-year-old Giant's Causeway colt registered a career-best performance when switching back to Polytrack last time, running away on the front end to an 8 1/4-length score in the 1 1/2-mile Cougar II. The Dan Hendricks charge registered a career-best 105 BRIS Speed rating for his first stakes win and is scheduled to receive a rider switch to Victor Espinoza.

Grade 1 winner Unbridled Command is a logical contender in his third start of the season. Winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in late 2012, the five-year-old horse made only one start stateside last year, finishing third behind Point of Entry and Animal Kingdom in the Gulfstream Park H. He's recorded two unplaced finishes for new trainer Peter Miller but exits a decent fifth in the Grade 1 Eddie Read, and fitness should no longer be a concern for the honest gray horse, who capped a five-race win streak in the aforementioned Hollywood Derby.

Elvis Trujillo, who also rode Irish Surf last time, sticks with Unbridled Command and the New York-bred adds first-time blinkers Saturday.

Big John B will make his stakes bow in fine form for Phil D'Amato, reeling off a pair of sharp wins, including a 7 1/4-length score over allowance/optional claiming foes at Del Mar on July 30. The five-year-old Hard Spun gelding will retain the services of Hall of Famer Mike Smith.

Grade 2 winner Bright Thought will make his first start for D'Amato. Third when making his debut over Del Mar's turf in the July 23 Wickerr, the five-year-old ridgling fits well at this level and will keep Rafael Bejarano in the saddle.

Drysdale is also responsible for the filly Topic, who exits a good second in the Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park. The four-year-old daughter of Discreet Cat recorded her lone stakes victory over the Del Mar turf last year, romping by a 3 1/4-length margin over listed competition. Fernardo Perez picks up the mount.

Other contenders include Last Tycoon winner Quick Casablanca; multiple Grade 2-placed Si Sage; and stakes victor Cogito.

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In brief

California Chrome drilled a bullet in his third work back from vacation (Courtesy of Los Alamitos via Twitter)
California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) worked a half-mile in a bullet :47 2/5, the best of 15 at the distance, Friday morning at Los Alamitos with jockey Victor Espinoza up. "California Chrome was impressive this morning," Espinoza said. "He was not breathing hard at all after the work." The Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness S. (G1) winner, off since finishing in a dead heat for fourth in the Belmont S. (G1), will return to racing September 20 in the Pennsylvania Derby (G2)...

George and Lori Hall's Bern Identity (Bernstein), hero of the 2012 Sanford (G2) and third in the Hopeful (G2), made a triumphant return to Saratoga in Friday's $100,000 Tale of the Cat S. The Kelly Breen charge was coming off a resounding score in his comeback in the August 2 My Frenchman, which was rained off the turf at a sloppy Monmouth, and he caught another off track here. Breaking like a shot for Paco Lopez, the 8-5 favorite sped right to the lead and rattled off fractions of :22 2/5, :45 4/5 and :57 3/5. Bern Identity had 1 1/2 lengths to spare at the wire while clocking 1:10 for six furlongs on the muddy, sealed oval. "We know that he likes the mud," Breen said. "A little bit of coming here was that he likes Saratoga. Obviously, he won the (Sanford) here. On the plane ride home, I'm sure George (Hall) and I will try to look at a couple of races where (we might) go next. He's just such a nice horse. I hope I get to showcase him, to show his talent, because he's really a class act." Bern Identity concluded his freshman campaign at Delta Downs, rallying to a three-length verdict in the Jean Lafitte and finishing second to Goldencents (Into Mischief) in the Jackpot (G3). Fifth in the 2013 Holy Bull (G3) next time, he missed the remainder of his three-year-old season and didn't resurface until the My Frenchman, but promptly rolled home by 4 1/4 lengths. His scorecard now stands at 9-5-2-1, $722,200...

Two races later at the Spa, Pick of the Litter (Kitten's Joy) just wore down comebacker Cigar Street (Street Sense) in the final yards of the 5TH race. Cigar Street, who had not raced since capturing the Skip Away (G3) on March 30, 2013, was bet down to 4-5 favoritism in this 1 1/8-mile allowance/optional claimer, and he nearly pulled off a wire-to-wire victory. Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez carefully nursed out his speed through fractions of :24 4/5, :49 2/5 and 1:13 3/5 in the mud. Pick of the Litter prompted throughout, but Cigar Street appeared to be holding him safe until passing the mile mark in 1:38 1/5. Then inside the final furlong, Cigar Street began to labor, drifting out a tad and brushing with Pick of the Litter, whose resolute attitude served him well. Under Robby Albarado, Pick of the Litter shrugged off the contact, kept his momentum, and overtook the longtime leader by a half-length. By stopping the clock in 1:51, the 5-1 chance handed trainer Dale Romans his first win of the 2014 meet. Pick of the Litter, the third-place finisher in the 2013 Lexington (G3), was most recently fourth in the July 27 Monmouth Cup (G2). Owned by Crossed Sabres Farm, he improved his record to 16-4-4-2, $265,955...

In addition to Kid Cruz (Lemon Drop Kid) going in Saturday's $1.25 million Travers (G1) at Saratoga, trainer Linda Rice has another major player in a Grade 1 contest on the undercard with La Verdad (Yes It's True) in the $500,000 Ballerina, a seven-furlong sprint for fillies and mares and a "Win and You're In" event for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. In her most recent start, the six-furlong Honorable Miss (G2) on July 28 at the Spa, La Verdad was down on the inside over a sloppy track, and jockey Jose Ortiz chose to take back off the pace set by the speedy R Free Roll (Rockport Harbor). The strategy did not pay off as R Free Roll went gate-to-wire and La Verdad, despite fighting hard, finished fifth, beaten 3 1/4 lengths. La Verdad drew post 6 for the Ballerina and Rice has a simple plan for the race: go. "I think that after our last experience, Jose and I would jump her away from there and let her get clear," Rice explained. "She has rated before a little bit, both in the Barbara Fritchie ([G2] this past winter at Laurel Park) and another race where she ran a mile in the Critical Eye (at Belmont Park). It's not that she's unratable but, frankly, being on the outside will be an advantage. I would think we're going to be on the lead or stalking in second." La Verdad won the Distaff H. (G2) this past April at Aqueduct and also has feasted on New York-bred sprinting fillies and mares. She is 9-for-12 lifetime with earnings of $612,700. Rice has had the Ballerina on her radar all year. "There are few Grade 1s for fillies and mares sprinting, especially on the East Coast," Rice said. "You never know how you're going to ship to California for the Breeders' Cup. For us, we had to have our eye, as a Grade 2 winner, on a Grade 1, and this was the race."...

Big Blue Kitten (Kitten's Joy), whose Grade 1 victories include the 2013 United Nations at Monmouth Park, is the one to beat as he makes his second start of 2014 in Sunday's $100,000 Cliff Hanger (G3). Sidelined nine months following an eighth in the Breeders' Cup Turf, the six-year-old horse returned with a nice performance in the August 2 Lure at Saratoga, closing stoutly to win going away by nearly a length. Regular rider Joe Bravo will be up on the Chad Brown trainee and Big Blue Kitten will face six rivals at 1 1/8 miles on Monmouth's turf. Guys Reward (Grand Reward) enters on the upswing for Dale Romans, capturing the July 27 Oceanport (G3) locally by a length, and the Todd Pletcher-trained Winning Cause (Giant's Causeway) has placed in both the Monmouth (G2) and Red Bank (G3) this season and was beaten only a length when fourth in the United Nations two starts back...

Northern Passion (First Samurai), Spring in the Air (Spring at Last) and Toasting (Congrats) were the respective third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishers in the Ontario Matron (Can-G3) last out on July 26, and on Sunday will line back up against one another in the C$150,000 Seaway (Can-G3) at Woodbine. Northern Passion entered the Ontario Matron off a nice win in the Sweet Briar Too over the same seven Polytrack furlongs of the Seaway and is actually two-for-two at the distance, having also captured the Zadracarta last season. Spring in the Air was honored as Canada's 2012 champion two-year-old filly and captured the Hendrie (Can-G3) in late May prior to fourths in her last two. Grade 1-placed stakes winner Toasting will be making her seventh start of the year in the Seaway while trying Woodbine's synthetic for just the second time. Also in with a chance are a pair of current Canadian champions in Leigh Court (Grand Slam), unraced since running a close fourth in last October's Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland, and defending Seaway heroine Youcan'tcatchme (The Daddy)...

Starstruck (Galileo) and Irish Mission (Giant's Causeway) ran one-two, respectively, in the Matchmaker (G3) at Monmouth Park on July 27, and on Saturday the pair will line back up against one another in the $100,000 Violet S. (G3) over the same turf course and nine-furlong distance. Starstruck proved best by 1 1/4 lengths to defend her title in the Matchmaker in what was a first win since her 2013 victory in the same race. In the six races between those two races, the five-year-old chestnut also ran fourth in the Rodeo Drive (G1) and Cardinal H. (G3) as well as third in the Marie G. Krantz Memorial H. and Bayou H. Kerwin Clark retains the mount for trainer Larry Jones. Irish Mission took the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Breeders' S., as well as the Woodbine Oaks in 2012 en route to being named the Canadian champion turf female and three-year-old filly for that year. Those two are her only stakes wins, but the chestnut mare would go on to place in the Queen's Plate, Nassau (Can-G2) and Orchid (G3) for trainer Mark Frostad. She was transferred to Christophe Clement for her five-year-old season and has thus far placed in the Sheepshead Bay (G2) and Belmont Gold Cup Invitational as well as the Matchmaker. Irish Mission is primed for a return to the winner's circle and gets Julian Pimentel in the irons on Saturday. Others in with a chance in the Violet include last-out Dance Smartly (Can-G2) heroine Overheard (Macho Uno), Grade 3 victress Nellie Cashman (Mineshaft) and Eatontown (G3) runner-up Triple Arch (Arch)...

Daring Kathy (Wildcat Heir) tops a 10-filly field entered at Woodbine for Saturday's C$150,000 Ontario Colleen (Can-G3) going a mile on the turf. The David Fawkes trainee had a three-race win streak, including a pair of stakes wins in the Honey Ryder and Starfish Bay, snapped when third last out in the Lake George (G2) at Saratoga on July 23. The three-year-old bay is 4-3-0-1 on turf thus far and gets Justin Stein in the irons for Saturday's test. A competitive group of sophomore fillies has been assembled for the Ontario Colleen, and Executive Allure (Bold Executive) is just one of them. The dark bay miss will attempt to keep her current three-race win streak, including a last-out win in the July 12 Passing Mood, going with Eurico Da Silva aboard. Beaumont (G2) heroine Ready to Act (More Than Ready) enters the Ontario Colleen off her first loss of the year when third in the Penn Oaks on May 31 while Bison City runner-up Hot and Spicy (Tale of the Cat) returns to the turf for the first time since taking her maiden debut in March at Gulfstream Park. Earlier on Woodbine's Saturday program, seven turf distaffers will line up in the C$100,000 Flaming Page at 1 1/2 miles on the green, including Savvy Hester (Heatseeker), third by a head most recently in the Dance Smartly (Can-G2)...

Stanley Gold has been a dominant force during the summer meeting at Gulfstream Park, saddling the winners of $459,315 in purses -- more than $200,000 higher than the earnings of his closest rival in the trainer standings. The private trainer of Jacks or Better Farm has been particularly prominent in stakes competition during the summer months, sending out four winners and three second-place finishers from 12 starters. Gold will attempt to continue his success in Saturday's $75,000 Forty Niner S., a 1 1/16-mile turf race for three-year-olds, with Best Plan Yet (Hear No Evil), a colt with a history of stakes success, just not recently. After establishing dominance in the Florida Stallion Stakes last year with a victory in the In Reality division, the bay has been winless in six starts this year, although the first three races were against some of the top three-year-olds in the country in the Gulfstream Derby, Holy Bull (G2) and Fountain of Youth (G2). With his pedigree, Gold has good reason to think that Best Plan Yet's future may well be in turf racing; he made his turf debut at Tampa Bay Downs in April with an encouraging third-place finish against stakes company. "I thought he ran well in that race, that's why I was so disappointed with his next race," Gold said. The bay returned in the June 14 English Channel two back but could only manage a wide-running sixth over the good going. "Sometimes they just don't perform. We're going to throw it out and try again," Gold stated. "Hindsight might tell you after this race (if he didn't handle the softer turf). Sometimes they don't like a particular turf course." Best Plan Yet went back to the main track on June 28, finishing a distant fourth behind Wildcat Red (D'wildcat) in the Quality Road S., and has been training sharply for his return to turf in the Forty Niner. He's slated to meet Ex Pirate (Malibu Moon) defeated Best Plan Yet in his turf debut but hasn't visited the winner's circle in two tries since. The Kirk Ziadie-trained gelding just returned to competition with a well-beaten sixth earlier this month at Gulfstream following a three-month break. Multiple stakes winner Bolita Boyz (Act of Duty) and dual stakes-placed Breitling Flyer (Ghostzapper) are also in with a chance...

Hall of Fame rider Kent Desormeaux commented on his win aboard Texas Red (Afleet Alex) in Wednesday's 6TH race, which provided his brother J. Keith Desormeaux with his 500th career victory as a trainer. "Every race is a little different winning for your brother," Kent said. "But to be able to do that, with a horse that we're really hoping can be a special horse -- when things go the way you're expecting them to, it's a really good feeling inside. We were expecting it and it happened."...

The strength of the New York-Bred racing and breeding program has generated record entries for The Saratoga Fall Sale, which Fasig-Tipton has expanded to two days. A total of 430 horses will be cataloged and offered in two sessions, on October 6-7. The Monday session, getting underway at 2:00 p.m. (EDT), will comprise broodmares, broodmare prospects and horses of racing age. The Tuesday session, beginning at 10:00 a.m., will feature approximately 193 weanlings and 107 yearlings. Catalogs will be available online and in print from September 10. "When you combine our facilities in Saratoga and the attractions of this area in the fall, this is the ideal time and place to focus on important components of the expanding New York-Bred program," Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning said. "A number of complementary events and seminars are planned around the sale. It will be a great opportunity to buy and sell at a high-profile Thoroughbred venue."...

Andrea Atzeni will take over for Jamie Spencer as the new retained first jockey for Qatar Racing. Spencer announced Thursday that he would be retiring at the end of the current season to take up a new management role in Sheikh Fahad's operation. The Italian-born Atzeni was widely tipped for the role of Spencer's replacement, being odds-on when bookmakers opened betting. Oisin Murphy, the rising star of the apprentice ranks, has also been appointed as a retained jockey for Qatar Racing after Harry Bentley's two-year contract expires at the end of 2014. Their positions will come into effect January 2015. "With Jamie retiring and Harry concluding his two-year contract, Sheikh Fahad is delighted to have secured the services of Andrea and Oisin for Qatar Racing," said David Redvers, racing and bloodstock manager to Qatar Racing. "He has also asked me to reiterate his gratitude to both Jamie and Harry for all of their hard work, skill and professionalism. While Jamie comes into the Qatar Racing management team, Harry will continue to ride for us when the opportunities allow. Harry is a gifted horseman and his results for us and others over the last two seasons have more than repaid Sheikh Fahad's faith that he is destined for the very top. We wish him continued luck and success."...

Jay Hovdey, Daily Racing Form's Eclipse Award-winning columnist, will sign copies of his latest book "Long Rein: Tales from the World of Horse Racing," on Sunday at Del Mar, starting at 11:30 a.m. (PDT) just inside the Clubhouse entrance.

In brief

California Chrome drilled a bullet in his third work back from vacation (Courtesy of Los Alamitos via Twitter)
California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) worked a half-mile in a bullet :47 2/5, the best of 15 at the distance, Friday morning at Los Alamitos with jockey Victor Espinoza up. "California Chrome was impressive this morning," Espinoza said. "He was not breathing hard at all after the work." The Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness S. (G1) winner, off since finishing in a dead heat for fourth in the Belmont S. (G1), will return to racing September 20 in the Pennsylvania Derby (G2)...

George and Lori Hall's Bern Identity (Bernstein), hero of the 2012 Sanford (G2) and third in the Hopeful (G2), made a triumphant return to Saratoga in Friday's $100,000 Tale of the Cat S. The Kelly Breen charge was coming off a resounding score in his comeback in the August 2 My Frenchman, which was rained off the turf at a sloppy Monmouth, and he caught another off track here. Breaking like a shot for Paco Lopez, the 8-5 favorite sped right to the lead and rattled off fractions of :22 2/5, :45 4/5 and :57 3/5. Bern Identity had 1 1/2 lengths to spare at the wire while clocking 1:10 for six furlongs on the muddy, sealed oval. "We know that he likes the mud," Breen said. "A little bit of coming here was that he likes Saratoga. Obviously, he won the (Sanford) here. On the plane ride home, I'm sure George (Hall) and I will try to look at a couple of races where (we might) go next. He's just such a nice horse. I hope I get to showcase him, to show his talent, because he's really a class act." Bern Identity concluded his freshman campaign at Delta Downs, rallying to a three-length verdict in the Jean Lafitte and finishing second to Goldencents (Into Mischief) in the Jackpot (G3). Fifth in the 2013 Holy Bull (G3) next time, he missed the remainder of his three-year-old season and didn't resurface until the My Frenchman, but promptly rolled home by 4 1/4 lengths. His scorecard now stands at 9-5-2-1, $722,200...

Two races later at the Spa, Pick of the Litter (Kitten's Joy) just wore down comebacker Cigar Street (Street Sense) in the final yards of the 5TH race. Cigar Street, who had not raced since capturing the Skip Away (G3) on March 30, 2013, was bet down to 4-5 favoritism in this 1 1/8-mile allowance/optional claimer, and he nearly pulled off a wire-to-wire victory. Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez carefully nursed out his speed through fractions of :24 4/5, :49 2/5 and 1:13 3/5 in the mud. Pick of the Litter prompted throughout, but Cigar Street appeared to be holding him safe until passing the mile mark in 1:38 1/5. Then inside the final furlong, Cigar Street began to labor, drifting out a tad and brushing with Pick of the Litter, whose resolute attitude served him well. Under Robby Albarado, Pick of the Litter shrugged off the contact, kept his momentum, and overtook the longtime leader by a half-length. By stopping the clock in 1:51, the 5-1 chance handed trainer Dale Romans his first win of the 2014 meet. Pick of the Litter, the third-place finisher in the 2013 Lexington (G3), was most recently fourth in the July 27 Monmouth Cup (G2). Owned by Crossed Sabres Farm, he improved his record to 16-4-4-2, $265,955...

In addition to Kid Cruz (Lemon Drop Kid) going in Saturday's $1.25 million Travers (G1) at Saratoga, trainer Linda Rice has another major player in a Grade 1 contest on the undercard with La Verdad (Yes It's True) in the $500,000 Ballerina, a seven-furlong sprint for fillies and mares and a "Win and You're In" event for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. In her most recent start, the six-furlong Honorable Miss (G2) on July 28 at the Spa, La Verdad was down on the inside over a sloppy track, and jockey Jose Ortiz chose to take back off the pace set by the speedy R Free Roll (Rockport Harbor). The strategy did not pay off as R Free Roll went gate-to-wire and La Verdad, despite fighting hard, finished fifth, beaten 3 1/4 lengths. La Verdad drew post 6 for the Ballerina and Rice has a simple plan for the race: go. "I think that after our last experience, Jose and I would jump her away from there and let her get clear," Rice explained. "She has rated before a little bit, both in the Barbara Fritchie ([G2] this past winter at Laurel Park) and another race where she ran a mile in the Critical Eye (at Belmont Park). It's not that she's unratable but, frankly, being on the outside will be an advantage. I would think we're going to be on the lead or stalking in second." La Verdad won the Distaff H. (G2) this past April at Aqueduct and also has feasted on New York-bred sprinting fillies and mares. She is 9-for-12 lifetime with earnings of $612,700. Rice has had the Ballerina on her radar all year. "There are few Grade 1s for fillies and mares sprinting, especially on the East Coast," Rice said. "You never know how you're going to ship to California for the Breeders' Cup. For us, we had to have our eye, as a Grade 2 winner, on a Grade 1, and this was the race."...

Big Blue Kitten (Kitten's Joy), whose Grade 1 victories include the 2013 United Nations at Monmouth Park, is the one to beat as he makes his second start of 2014 in Sunday's $100,000 Cliff Hanger (G3). Sidelined nine months following an eighth in the Breeders' Cup Turf, the six-year-old horse returned with a nice performance in the August 2 Lure at Saratoga, closing stoutly to win going away by nearly a length. Regular rider Joe Bravo will be up on the Chad Brown trainee and Big Blue Kitten will face six rivals at 1 1/8 miles on Monmouth's turf. Guys Reward (Grand Reward) enters on the upswing for Dale Romans, capturing the July 27 Oceanport (G3) locally by a length, and the Todd Pletcher-trained Winning Cause (Giant's Causeway) has placed in both the Monmouth (G2) and Red Bank (G3) this season and was beaten only a length when fourth in the United Nations two starts back...

Northern Passion (First Samurai), Spring in the Air (Spring at Last) and Toasting (Congrats) were the respective third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishers in the Ontario Matron (Can-G3) last out on July 26, and on Sunday will line back up against one another in the C$150,000 Seaway (Can-G3) at Woodbine. Northern Passion entered the Ontario Matron off a nice win in the Sweet Briar Too over the same seven Polytrack furlongs of the Seaway and is actually two-for-two at the distance, having also captured the Zadracarta last season. Spring in the Air was honored as Canada's 2012 champion two-year-old filly and captured the Hendrie (Can-G3) in late May prior to fourths in her last two. Grade 1-placed stakes winner Toasting will be making her seventh start of the year in the Seaway while trying Woodbine's synthetic for just the second time. Also in with a chance are a pair of current Canadian champions in Leigh Court (Grand Slam), unraced since running a close fourth in last October's Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland, and defending Seaway heroine Youcan'tcatchme (The Daddy)...

Starstruck (Galileo) and Irish Mission (Giant's Causeway) ran one-two, respectively, in the Matchmaker (G3) at Monmouth Park on July 27, and on Saturday the pair will line back up against one another in the $100,000 Violet S. (G3) over the same turf course and nine-furlong distance. Starstruck proved best by 1 1/4 lengths to defend her title in the Matchmaker in what was a first win since her 2013 victory in the same race. In the six races between those two races, the five-year-old chestnut also ran fourth in the Rodeo Drive (G1) and Cardinal H. (G3) as well as third in the Marie G. Krantz Memorial H. and Bayou H. Kerwin Clark retains the mount for trainer Larry Jones. Irish Mission took the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Breeders' S., as well as the Woodbine Oaks in 2012 en route to being named the Canadian champion turf female and three-year-old filly for that year. Those two are her only stakes wins, but the chestnut mare would go on to place in the Queen's Plate, Nassau (Can-G2) and Orchid (G3) for trainer Mark Frostad. She was transferred to Christophe Clement for her five-year-old season and has thus far placed in the Sheepshead Bay (G2) and Belmont Gold Cup Invitational as well as the Matchmaker. Irish Mission is primed for a return to the winner's circle and gets Julian Pimentel in the irons on Saturday. Others in with a chance in the Violet include last-out Dance Smartly (Can-G2) heroine Overheard (Macho Uno), Grade 3 victress Nellie Cashman (Mineshaft) and Eatontown (G3) runner-up Triple Arch (Arch)...

Daring Kathy (Wildcat Heir) tops a 10-filly field entered at Woodbine for Saturday's C$150,000 Ontario Colleen (Can-G3) going a mile on the turf. The David Fawkes trainee had a three-race win streak, including a pair of stakes wins in the Honey Ryder and Starfish Bay, snapped when third last out in the Lake George (G2) at Saratoga on July 23. The three-year-old bay is 4-3-0-1 on turf thus far and gets Justin Stein in the irons for Saturday's test. A competitive group of sophomore fillies has been assembled for the Ontario Colleen, and Executive Allure (Bold Executive) is just one of them. The dark bay miss will attempt to keep her current three-race win streak, including a last-out win in the July 12 Passing Mood, going with Eurico Da Silva aboard. Beaumont (G2) heroine Ready to Act (More Than Ready) enters the Ontario Colleen off her first loss of the year when third in the Penn Oaks on May 31 while Bison City runner-up Hot and Spicy (Tale of the Cat) returns to the turf for the first time since taking her maiden debut in March at Gulfstream Park. Earlier on Woodbine's Saturday program, seven turf distaffers will line up in the C$100,000 Flaming Page at 1 1/2 miles on the green, including Savvy Hester (Heatseeker), third by a head most recently in the Dance Smartly (Can-G2)...

Stanley Gold has been a dominant force during the summer meeting at Gulfstream Park, saddling the winners of $459,315 in purses -- more than $200,000 higher than the earnings of his closest rival in the trainer standings. The private trainer of Jacks or Better Farm has been particularly prominent in stakes competition during the summer months, sending out four winners and three second-place finishers from 12 starters. Gold will attempt to continue his success in Saturday's $75,000 Forty Niner S., a 1 1/16-mile turf race for three-year-olds, with Best Plan Yet (Hear No Evil), a colt with a history of stakes success, just not recently. After establishing dominance in the Florida Stallion Stakes last year with a victory in the In Reality division, the bay has been winless in six starts this year, although the first three races were against some of the top three-year-olds in the country in the Gulfstream Derby, Holy Bull (G2) and Fountain of Youth (G2). With his pedigree, Gold has good reason to think that Best Plan Yet's future may well be in turf racing; he made his turf debut at Tampa Bay Downs in April with an encouraging third-place finish against stakes company. "I thought he ran well in that race, that's why I was so disappointed with his next race," Gold said. The bay returned in the June 14 English Channel two back but could only manage a wide-running sixth over the good going. "Sometimes they just don't perform. We're going to throw it out and try again," Gold stated. "Hindsight might tell you after this race (if he didn't handle the softer turf). Sometimes they don't like a particular turf course." Best Plan Yet went back to the main track on June 28, finishing a distant fourth behind Wildcat Red (D'wildcat) in the Quality Road S., and has been training sharply for his return to turf in the Forty Niner. He's slated to meet Ex Pirate (Malibu Moon) defeated Best Plan Yet in his turf debut but hasn't visited the winner's circle in two tries since. The Kirk Ziadie-trained gelding just returned to competition with a well-beaten sixth earlier this month at Gulfstream following a three-month break. Multiple stakes winner Bolita Boyz (Act of Duty) and dual stakes-placed Breitling Flyer (Ghostzapper) are also in with a chance...

Hall of Fame rider Kent Desormeaux commented on his win aboard Texas Red (Afleet Alex) in Wednesday's 6TH race, which provided his brother J. Keith Desormeaux with his 500th career victory as a trainer. "Every race is a little different winning for your brother," Kent said. "But to be able to do that, with a horse that we're really hoping can be a special horse -- when things go the way you're expecting them to, it's a really good feeling inside. We were expecting it and it happened."...

The strength of the New York-Bred racing and breeding program has generated record entries for The Saratoga Fall Sale, which Fasig-Tipton has expanded to two days. A total of 430 horses will be cataloged and offered in two sessions, on October 6-7. The Monday session, getting underway at 2:00 p.m. (EDT), will comprise broodmares, broodmare prospects and horses of racing age. The Tuesday session, beginning at 10:00 a.m., will feature approximately 193 weanlings and 107 yearlings. Catalogs will be available online and in print from September 10. "When you combine our facilities in Saratoga and the attractions of this area in the fall, this is the ideal time and place to focus on important components of the expanding New York-Bred program," Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning said. "A number of complementary events and seminars are planned around the sale. It will be a great opportunity to buy and sell at a high-profile Thoroughbred venue."...

Andrea Atzeni will take over for Jamie Spencer as the new retained first jockey for Qatar Racing. Spencer announced Thursday that he would be retiring at the end of the current season to take up a new management role in Sheikh Fahad's operation. The Italian-born Atzeni was widely tipped for the role of Spencer's replacement, being odds-on when bookmakers opened betting. Oisin Murphy, the rising star of the apprentice ranks, has also been appointed as a retained jockey for Qatar Racing after Harry Bentley's two-year contract expires at the end of 2014. Their positions will come into effect January 2015. "With Jamie retiring and Harry concluding his two-year contract, Sheikh Fahad is delighted to have secured the services of Andrea and Oisin for Qatar Racing," said David Redvers, racing and bloodstock manager to Qatar Racing. "He has also asked me to reiterate his gratitude to both Jamie and Harry for all of their hard work, skill and professionalism. While Jamie comes into the Qatar Racing management team, Harry will continue to ride for us when the opportunities allow. Harry is a gifted horseman and his results for us and others over the last two seasons have more than repaid Sheikh Fahad's faith that he is destined for the very top. We wish him continued luck and success."...

Jay Hovdey, Daily Racing Form's Eclipse Award-winning columnist, will sign copies of his latest book "Long Rein: Tales from the World of Horse Racing," on Sunday at Del Mar, starting at 11:30 a.m. (PDT) just inside the Clubhouse entrance.

Carryover Watch

For Saturday or Next Raceday

WOODBINE:   High 5 -- $213,520
GULFSTREAM:   Pick 6 -- $50,000

Results

NORTH AMERICAN NON-GRADED STAKES RESULTS

TALE OF THE CAT S., SAR, $100,000, 3YO/UP, 6F, 8-22.
6—BERN IDENTITY, c, 4, Bernstein--Maddalena, by Good and Tough. ($43,000 '11 KEEJAN; $75,000 '11 KEESEP). O-Hall, George and Lori, B-Galleria Bloodstock, Crosshaven Bloodstock, Petaluma Bloodstock et al (KY), T-Kelly J. Breen, J-Paco Lopez, $60,000.
4—Mewannarose, g, 4, Bwana Charlie--Darby Rose, by Red Bullet. ($10,000 '11 OBSAUG). O-William B Fuccillo, B-Heiligbrodt Racing Stable (FL), $20,000.
3—Bahamian Squall, h, 5, Gone West--Midway Squall, by Storm Bird. O-Donald R Dizney, B-Donald R Dizney (FL), $10,000.
Also Ran: Traffic Light, Tenango, Royal Currier.
Winning Time: 1:10 (my)
Margins: 1HF, 6HF, NK.
Odds: 1.70, 10.80, 4.30.

Features

HANDICAPPING INSIGHTS

AUGUST 22, 2014

by Dick Powell

The Travers Stakes (G1) will be contested for the 145th time this Saturday at Saratoga Race Course. Run at 1 1/4 miles on the main track, its purse has been raised to $1.25 million and this year's renewal has attracted a field of 10.

Adding intrigue to the proceedings this year will be the speedy Bayern BAYERN (Offlee Wild) who shipped to Saratoga from California on Wednesday. My opinion was that Bob Baffert would keep the Haskell (G1) winner on the West Coast and wait for the Pennsylvania Derby (G2) on September 20. The good news is that it seems that Baffert was looking for a reason to not ship but when everything went well after the Haskell, he decided to ship him East.

After failing in the Preakness, Baffert brought Bayern back in the Woody Stephens (G2) on Belmont Stakes day and he romped by seven lengths in fast time. It looked, at that point, that if he ran on Travers Day, it would be in the seven-furlong King's Bishop (G1) but Baffert, as is his habit, shipped Bayern to Monmouth Park where he thoroughly dominated the nine-furlong Haskell.

The question that he needs to answer is Bayern a legitimate two-turn horse or did the speed-favoring Monmouth Park racing strip carry him home? Yes, he should have the lead in the Travers all to himself so there is always the danger of lone, uncontested speed. Can Bayern go to the front and never look back in a 10-furlong race?

The Travers will be the fourth time that Tonalist (Tapit) and Wicked Strong (Hard Spun) have met. The first time was in a key allowance race on February 22 down at Gulfstream Park, which was won by the immensely talented Constitution (Tapit). Second that day was Tonalist and fourth was Wicked Strong.

It was Tonalist's third career start and Wicked Strong clearly disliked the Gulfstream Park main track. They met again in the Belmont when Tonalist gamely won in a wide trip. Wicked Strong got very hot before the race as the big crowd seemed to set him off.

They met for a third time in the Jim Dandy (G2) and Wicked Strong turned the tables on his rival with blinkers added, receiving an aggressive ride from Rajiv Maragh . He went up after the lead around the clubhouse turn and closely stalked the early pace. When Tonalist made a run at him turning for home, Wicked Strong fought off the challenge and drew off to a 2 1/4- length win.

Since the Jim Dandy, Wicked Strong seems to have trained better than ever. Tonalist, who wore a bar shoe in his training going into the Belmont, has two five-furlong breezes here, the second one way faster than the first. Not sure what it means but it seems that Wicked Strong is continuing to maintain his form, which has been solid since his win in the TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial (G1).

Commanding Curve (Master Command) turned out to be the key horse in the Kentucky Derby (G1) when he rallied for second at 37-to-1 odds. He failed in the Belmont and might have ran a sneaky good race in the Jim Dandy when he raced closer to the pace than normal. He has a huge late kick when he's right and I expect that he will race farther back than he did in the Jim Dandy and make one run. As good as he was in the Derby, he's still eligible for first-level allowance company.

V. E. Day (English Channel) was dismissed as a turf horse based on his breeding but he won the Curlin Stakes here going nine furlongs on the main track. He gets a race over the track but has to pick up seven pounds. As long as the seven pounds includes Javier Castellano, it should not be a problem.

Kid Cruz (Lemon Drop Kid) had some buzz around him when he won back-to-back stakes races down in Maryland. When he ran poorly in the Preakness, it looked like he would be back on the "B" circuit of three-year-old stakes races but he was a fast winner of a listed event on Belmont Stakes day and then came back to win the Dwyer (G2) going 1 1/16 miles.

The colt exits a good third in the Jim Dandy and while never threatening the top two, and visually it looked like he was just in it as a prep race. Like Commanding Curve, I expect that Kid Cruz will take back and make one run. In his favor is the hottest jockey at Saratoga will be in the irons, Irad Ortiz, who wins at 25 percent with his route mounts.

For many years, the Haskell was just as good a prep race for the Travers as the Jim Dandy. But, beginning in 2005, seven Jim Dandy winners have won the Travers compared to only one Haskell winner. The race over the track seems to be the key factor and we will see if it is in play on Saturday as Haskell winner Bayern represents a formidable challenge to Jim Dandy supremacy.

Results

NORTH AMERICAN ALLOWANCE RESULTS

SAR, 5TH, AOC, $93,000, 3YO/UP, 1 1/8M, 8-22.
5—PICK OF THE LITTER, c, 4, Kitten's Joy--Eagle Sound, by Fusaichi Pegasus. ($150,000 '11 KEESEP). O-Crossed Sabres Farm, B-Gabriel Duignan, Crosshaven Bloodstock &Vision Thoroughbreds (KY), T-Dale L. Romans, J-Robby Albarado, $55,800.
4—Cigar Street, h, 5, Street Sense--Arcadiana, by Deputy Minister. ($130,000 2011 KEEAPR). O-Ballis, Jake and Lewis, Rashard, B-Marvin Delfiner, Ted Folkerth & Brookdale (KY), $18,600.
3—Awesome Vision, h, 5, Awesome Again--Blind Canyon, by Valley Crossing. ($65,000 '10 FTNAUG). O-West Point Thoroughbreds, B-Kaz Hill Farm & Adena Springs (NY), $9,300.
Winning Time: 1:51 (my)
 
SAR, 8TH, AOC, $90,000, 3YO/UP, 1 1/8M, 8-22.
9—AWAY GAME, r, 3, Lemon Drop Kid--Tasha's Delight, by Afternoon Deelites. ($10,000 '12 KEESEP; $75,000 2013 OBSAPR). O-Ralph M Evans, B-Gaillardia, LLC (KY), T-Richard A. Violette, Jr., J-Michael J. Luzzi, $54,000.
4—Sinistra, g, 4, Stonesider--Margin for Error, by Dixie Brass. O-Chevalier Stable, B-Edward L Shapoff (NY), $18,000.
7—Perfect Title, c, 4, Perfect Soul (IRE)--Title Seeker, by Monarchos. O-Charles E Fipke, B-Charles Fipke (KY), $9,000.
Winning Time: 1:50 4/5 (my)
 
DMR, 7TH, ALW, $82,620, 3YO/UP, 1 3/8MT, 8-21.
1—BROTHER PETE, c, 4, Broken Vow--Andrea Gail, by Storm Bird. ($280,000 2012 OBSMAR). O-Hronis Racing LLC, B-Craig L Wheeler (FL), T-John W. Sadler, J-Corey S. Nakatani, $46,200.
6—Christopher Street, g, 4, Unusual Heat--Papoose Bay, by Meadowlake. ($21,000 '11 BESJAN). O-Emily Wygod, B-George Krikorian (CA), $20,020.
3—Bailoutbobby, g, 4, Mizzen Mast--Ride Her Out, by Stormy Atlantic. ($10,000 '11 KEEJAN). O-Calara Farms, Great Friends Stable, Jewgieniew, K, Keh, S and R3 Racing, B-Kirk Wycoff & Deby Wycoff (KY), $9,240.
Winning Time: 2:14 4/5 (fm)
 
WO, 2ND, ALW, $62,872, 2YO, F, 7FT, 8-22.
4—DON'T LEAVE ME, f, 2, Lemon Drop Kid--See How She Runs, by Maria's Mon. O-Pin Oak Stable, B-Pin Oak Stud, LLC (KY), T-Malcolm Pierce, J-Eurico Rosa Da Silva, $36,410.
3—Scindia, f, 2, Cool Coal Man--Shannons Debut, by Stormy Atlantic. O-Beclawat Stable, B-Beclawat Stable (KY), $12,137.
2—Unhindered, f, 2, Stormy Atlantic--Sakura Song, by Unbridled's Song. ($50,000 '13 FTKOCT). O-Magers, Ron and Marcocchio, Bob, B-Betz, Nines Enough, Lamantia & Kidde (KY), $6,675.
Winning Time: 1:24 1/5 (gd)
 
WO, 8TH, AOC, $59,584, 3YO/UP, F/M, 6 1/2FT, 8-22.
4—SKY TREASURE, f, 4, Sky Mesa--Preemptive Attack, by Smart Strike. ($60,000 '11 FTKJUL; $175,000 2012 KEEAPR). O-John C Oxley, B-Edward A Seltzer (KY), T-Mark E. Casse, J-Patrick Husbands, $34,162.
5—Ginger Swirl, f, 3, Hard Spun--Ginger Bay, by Golden Missile. ($30,000 '11 KEENOV; $15,000 '12 KEESEP; $72,000 2013 OBSMAR). O-James Perron Racing Stable, B-Mr & Mrs Oliver S Tait (KY), $11,387.
2—Thats Our Princess, f, 4, Curlin--Princess Ruckus, by Bold Ruckus. O-Gustav Schickedanz, B-Gustav Schickedanz (ON), $7,520.
Winning Time: 1:16 (gd)
 
WO, 7TH, ALW, $45,972, 3YO/UP, F/M, 6 1/2F, 8-22.
2—BAMBARRA BOLD, f, 3, Jiggs Coz--Bold Course, by Trajectory. O-Unger, John and Shopiro, Murray, B-John Unger (ON), T-Barbara J. Minshall, J-Eurico Rosa Da Silva, $26,046.
5—I'm Just Sayin, f, 3, Bear's Kid--Always Elated, by Geiger Counter. (C$5,000 '12 ONTSEP). O-Natural Eight Stable and TC Racing Inc, B-Phillip W Lanning & Doris Carey (ON), $8,682.
12—Natural Blonde, f, 4, Mobil--Blonde Wisdom, by Whiskey Wisdom. (C$32,000 '11 ONTSEP). O-C E C Farms, B-Paul Buttigieg (ON), $4,775.
Winning Time: 1:17 (ft)
 
IND, 3RD, AOC, $38,880, 3YO/UP, 6F, 8-22.
2—EL GRANDE ROJO, g, 6, Bowman's Band--Theheartofdixie, by Crafty Prospector. ($2,500 '09 KEESEP). O-Nebraska Racing Partners, B-Nicole Zitani & Ramon Rangel (KY), T-Marvin A. Johnson, J-Fernando De La Cruz, $21,600.
3—Sucess Is Racing, g, 4, Major Success--Lady Benchmark, by Benchmark. O-Watt, Charles and Willowbrook Stables, Ltd (Neiman), B-Everett Hammond (IN), $10,080.
6—Amarish, g, 4, Scat Daddy--Issues, by Awesome Again. ($30,000 '11 FTKOCT; $200,000 2012 OBSMAR). O-Jerry Durant, B-Crown Bloodstock & Chelsea Bloodstock (KY), $3,600.
Winning Time: 1:09 2/5 (ft)
 
GP, 3RD, ALW, $38,000, 3YO/UP, 1MT, 8-22.
7—GRAND TITO, c, 4, Candy Ride (ARG)--Golden Arches (FR), by Common Grounds (GB). ($225,000 '11 KEESEP). O-Grupo 7C Racing Stable, B-Hargus Sexton, Sandra Sexton & Ben P Walden Jr (KY), T-Antonio Sano, J-Jesus M. Rios, $22,800.
4—Midnight Cello, g, 4, Midnight Lute--Mocella, by Johannesburg. O-Crossed Sabres Farm, B-Carolyn Vogel (KY), $7,980.
1—Burn the Mortgage, h, 5, Kitten's Joy--Mortgage the House, by Chester House. ($18,000 2011 OBSAPR). O-Michael J Maker, B-Kenneth L Ramsey & Sarah K Ramsey (KY), $4,180.
Winning Time: 1:34 1/5 (fm)
 
GP, 9TH, ALW, $36,200, 3YO/UP, F/M, 6F, 8-22.
1—DREAMINOFAUNTDIANE, f, 3, Bluegrass Cat--American Queen, by Quiet American. O-Thoroughbred Acquisition Group and Joseph, Saffie, B-Ann Fostock (KY), T-Saffie A. Joseph, Jr., J-Arny E. Fontanez, $21,000.
8—Corner the Market, f, 3, With Distinction--Legacy's Silver, by Robyn Dancer. O-Sandra New, B-Kelly Warhurst (FL), $7,800.
3—Look of a Star, f, 3, Exclusive Quality--November Moon, by Regal Classic. O-Westbury Stables LLC, B-Alfonso Figliolia (FL), $3,900.
Winning Time: 1:10 2/5 (ft)
 
AP, 5TH, AOC, $35,968, 3YO/UP, 5F, 8-22.
5—RUGGED, g, 4, Distorted Humor--Composure, by Touch Gold. O-Ragnar Korthase, B-Darley (KY), T-Jon M. Cowan, J-Emmanuel Esquivel, $19,200.
6—Richies Sweetheart, f, 3, Bring the Heat--Make An Offer, by Officer. O-Ravin, Richard, Patricia's Hope LLC and Rivelli, Larry, B-Larry Rivelli & Richard Ravin (IL), $8,960.
1—Radiant Day, g, 5, Five Star Day--Radiant Rocket, by Peteski. O-Team Block, B-Team Block (IL), $4,928.
Winning Time: :58 (ft)
 
MTH, 9TH, AOC, $35,776, 3YO/UP, 1 1/16M, 8-22.
1—TREASURY BILL, c, 4, Lemon Drop Kid--Wow Me Free, by Menifee. ($230,000 '11 FTKJUL). O-West, Gary and Mary, B-Edward A Seltzer & Beverly Anderson (KY), T-Wayne M. Catalano, J-Eddie Castro, $21,546.
9—Cousin Michael, g, 5, Greeley's Galaxy--Distinctive Flag, by Distinctive Pro. O-Drawing Away Stable and Jacobson, David, B-Sugar Maple Farm (NY), $7,560.
3—Sharp Omar, c, 4, Sharp Humor--Best Feature, by El Gran Senor. ($13,000 '11 KEESEP). O-Andrew Sulley, B-Lonnie R Owens & William L S Lande (KY), $3,780.
Winning Time: 1:44 2/5 (ft)
 
RP, 8TH, ALW, $35,775, 3YO/UP, F/M, 7 1/2FT, 8-21.
1—ONEMOREFASTDANCE, f, 3, Brego--I Knew You When, by J. P. Brother. O-Michael Richard Schiesel, B-John M Lowder (OK), T-Jade Lowder, J-Curtis Kimes, $21,921.
8—Battle Tale, f, 3, Dunkirk--Casseopia, by Tale of the Cat. ($23,000 '12 KEEJAN; $35,000 '12 KEESEP). O-Stockseth, Norma Lee and Dunn, Todd, B-Gaines-Gentry Thoroughbreds (KY), $5,932.
4—Bringinginthelute, f, 4, Midnight Lute--Starry Pie, by Pioneering. O-C R Trout, B-C R TROUT (OK), $4,913.
Winning Time: 1:29 4/5 (fm)
 
CBY, 6TH, ALW, $34,415, 3YO/UP, 6F, 8-21.
4—CEEYA TUESDAY, g, 5, Intidab--Crafty and Kind, by Crafty Prospector. O-David D McShane, B-Sand and Cee Stables (MN), T-David D. McShane, J-Lori Keith, $21,000.
3—Benny's Glory, g, 3, Benny the Bull--Lauriefullofglory, by Honour and Glory. O-Raymond Sauerwein, B-Alliance Bloodstock (MN), $7,000.
6—Great River Skier, g, 4, Appealing Skier--Graygert, by Wa Bert. O-Henry Hanson, B-Henry Hanson (MN), $3,850.
Winning Time: 1:11 3/5 (ft)
 
TIM, 8TH, ALW, $34,092, 3YO/UP, A6 1/2F, 8-22.
6—INDIAN BUCKS, c, 4, Indian Charlie--In the Green, by Mt. Livermore. O-Howard M Bender, B-Sondra D Bender & Howard M Bender (MD), T-Lawrence E. Murray, J-Luis Garcia, $20,762.
1—Sterling's Maximus, g, 3, Grand Slam--Kemly, by Tiznow. ($10,000 '12 KEESEP). O-Patrick Dooher, B-Joseph Federico (KY), $6,510.
4—Channel Changer, g, 4, English Channel--Babae (CHI), by Barkerville. ($5,000 '11 FTKOCT). O-Salzman, Jr, John E, Divver, Danny and Wasserloos, Fred, B-Bluegrass Hall, LLC (KY), $3,410.
Winning Time: 1:21 1/5 (ft)
 
PEN, 1ST, AOC, $31,616, 3YO/UP, 1 1/16MT, 8-22.
8—YARI, g, 5, First Samurai--Message Red, by Cryptoclearance. ($95,000 '10 KEESEP). O-Lake Lonely Racing, B-Lansdon B Robbins (KY), T-Jonathan E. Sheppard, J-Andrew Wolfsont, $18,240.
3—Airgead, g, 4, Badge of Silver--Air Adair, by Storm Cat. ($2,000 '11 FTMOCT). O-Tim Woolley, B-George Strawbridge Jr (PA), $7,296.
6—Virginia Cavalier, g, 6, Down the Aisle--Runaway Martha, by Polish Numbers. O-Albert P Coppola, B-Albert Coppola (VA), $3,344.
Winning Time: 1:43 (fm)
 
TIM, 6TH, ALW, $30,380, 3YO/UP, 4F, 8-22.
1—SNIPER (GB), c, 3, Dubawi (IRE)--Anayid (GB), by A.P. Indy. (140,000gns 2013 TATHIT). O-David A Ross Racing Stable, LLC, B-Qatar Bloodstock Ltd (GB), T-Hugh I. McMahon, J-J. D. Acosta, $17,670.
3—Quality Harbor, h, 5, Rockport Harbor--Slew's Quality, by Elusive Quality. ($19,000 '10 OBSAUG; $42,000 2011 OBSJUN). O-Mark E Nunnally, B-Best A Luck Farm LLC & John Casse (KY), $6,510.
4—Forastero, g, 4, Free Thinking--Malinalco, by Vindication. O-St George Stable LLC, B-St George Stables LLC (FL), $3,410.
Winning Time: :46 2/5 (wf)
 
CT, 7TH, ALW, $27,300, 3YO/UP, 7F, 8-21.
3—HELP A BROTHER, g, 5, Windsor Castle--Kom Kim Lass, by Seacliff. O-Lewis E Craig, Jr, B-Lewis Craig (WV), T-Lewis E. Craig, Jr., J-Jesus Sanchez, $16,200.
8—Strawberry Cupcake, g, 6, Luftikus--Short Cake Lass, by Goldminers Gold. O-Taylor Mountain Farm LLC, B-James W Casey (WV), $5,400.
6—Here Am I, g, 5, Peak Dancer--Valentine's Chime, by Chimes Band. O-Horseplay Racing, B-N Eddie Householder (WV), $2,700.
Winning Time: 1:26 (ft)
 
CT, 5TH, ALW, $26,300, 3YO/UP, F/M, 7F, 8-21.
4—SYDNEYS ASTRAL HAT, f, 4, Garnered--Ava Hathor, by Avery. O-Hasty Rebel Stables, B-Jane Anderson Harper & Eleanor Adams (WV), T-Jack L. Harper, J-Gustavo Larrosa, $15,600.
9—Morningisbreaking, f, 3, Fiber Sonde--Miss Grey Dawn, by Southern Halo. O-Cynthia E O'Bannon, B-Cynthia O'Bannon (WV), $5,200.
10—Moonlight Run, f, 3, El Corredor--Sudden Desire, by Hennessy. O-Coleswood Farm Inc and Smart Angle, B-Coleswood Farm, Inc & Dan Ryan (WV), $2,600.
Winning Time: 1:28 (ft)
 
CT, 6TH, ALW, $26,000, 3YO/UP, F/M, 6 1/2F, 8-21.
6—CHERIE'S A. P., f, 3, A. P. Warrior--Cherie, by Afleet. O-Matthew Schera, B-Charles Fipke (KY), T-James L. Lawrence, II, J-Travis L. Dunkelberger, $15,600.
5—Kluvyabye, f, 4, Windsor Castle--Up and Again, by Awesome Again. O-Michael G Atkins, B-Michael G Atkins (WV), $5,200.
3—Miss Helen B, m, 5, Medallist--Helen's Bid, by Loustrous Bid. O-Sherwood F Bryant, B-Sherwood Bryant (VA), $2,600.
Winning Time: 1:19 2/5 (ft)
 
LAD, 2ND, ALW, $24,140, 2YO, 6F, 8-22.
6—SHARON'S BOY, g, 2, Scrimshaw--Boogie Time, by Secret Claim. O-Klein Ex's, B-Klein Ex's Schultz, Pierce, Judd (LA), T-Robert D. Schultz, J-Juan A. Larrosa, $14,700.
2—Salute the C, g, 2, Salute the Sarge--Alix M, by End Sweep. O-Whispering Oaks Farm LLC, B-Southern Equine Stables, LLC (LA), $4,900.
8—Kylie's Cutie, f, 2, Private Vow--Beat the Street, by Corinthian. ($4,000 '13 ESLSEP). O-Phyllis J Hodges, B-Time Will Tell LLC (LA), $2,695.
Winning Time: 1:13 (ft)
 
TDN, 6TH, ALW, $23,600, 3YO/UP, F/M, 6F, 8-22.
4—D'LOVELY DANUTA, f, 3, Cat Dreams--Laabity Bluebelle, by Laabity. O-Borchetta, Mike, Pearlstein, Howard, Silver, Martin and Borchetta, Martha, B-Monica Wells (OH), T-Kenneth W. Marshall, J-Luis Antonio Gonzalez, $14,160.
1—Gypsy Be Wild, f, 3, Offlee Wild--My Stray Cat, by Chimes Band. O-Hannah J Tak, B-Eric Heyman (OH), $4,720.
3—Holiday Weekend, f, 3, City Weekend--Holiday Rates, by Concorde's Tune. O-Mast Thoroughbreds LLC, B-R Gorham & Mast Thoroughbreds LLC (OH), $2,360.
Winning Time: 1:12 2/5 (ft)
 
FL, 7TH, ALW, $23,200, 3YO/UP, 1 1/16M, 8-22.
2—FOX RULES, g, 5, Roman Ruler--Shesastonecoldfox, by Foxhound. O-Langpap Stables, B-Dennis Petrisak & DeborahPetrisak (NY), T-M. Anthony Ferraro, J-Pedro A. Rodriguez, $13,920.
1—Baime, g, 4, Star Dabbler--Lady Rapper, by Grand Slam. O-Barry K Schwartz, B-Barry K Schwartz (NY), $4,640.
4—Peter's Project, g, 4, Anasheed--Hurricane Betsy, by Quiet American. O-Diamond in the Sky Racing Stable, B-Stonewall Farm (NY), $2,320.
Winning Time: 1:43 4/5 (ft)
 
LAD, 6TH, ALW, $21,180, 3YO/UP, F/M, 1M 70Y, 8-22.
3—GINGER STONE, f, 3, Elite Squadron--Philosophers Stone, by Meadowlake. O-Charles W Brown, B-University of Kentucky (KY), T-Patrick Mouton, J-Donald Edward Simington, $12,300.
1—Peggy Joe, f, 4, Dixieland Heat--Smoke Pit, by Valid Expectations. O-Hester, Jay and Gibbins, Samuel R, B-Sammy R Gibbins Jr (TX), $4,100.
2—Imperial Queen, f, 4, Imperialism--No More Tax, by Artax. O-Toshita Antwine, B-Mark Allen Toothaker (LA), $2,695.
Winning Time: 1:45 4/5 (ft)
 
FL, 4TH, ALW, $18,200, 3YO/UP, 6F, 8-22.
6—BASS RIVER ROAD, g, 3, Noonmark--Lulu's Number, by Numerous. O-Patricia A Generazio, B-Patricia Generazio (NY), T-Beth Miller-Saul, J-Jose Baez, $10,920.
4—Crackerjack Jones, g, 4, Smarty Jones--Confidently, by Storm Cat. O-Broman, Sr, Chester and Mary, B-Chester Broman & Mary R Broman (NY), $3,640.
7—Kid Kaos, g, 5, Medallist--Merriweather, by Opening Verse. ($4,500 '10 FTMOCT). O-Stephen Jacobs, B-Dr & Mrs Thomas Bowman & Brooke Bowman (PA), $1,820.
Winning Time: 1:10 2/5 (ft)
 
BTP, 4TH, ALW, $16,500, 3YO/UP, F/M, 6F, 8-22.
5—ALGONQUIN POSSE, m, 6, Posse--Lasqueti Island, by Cure the Blues. ($18,000 '09 OBSAUG). O-William Stiritz, B-Lee Rattray (IL), T-Scott Becker, J-Rafael Manuel Hernandez, $10,725.
6—Lead Me Not, m, 5, Speightstown--Into Temptation, by Kris S.. O-Alban, Dave and Floyd, Morris B, B-Morris B Floyd, Pat Farrah, Dan Tsujioka & Dave Alban (KY), $3,300.
1—Ceylon Sapphire, m, 5, Macho Uno--Parque, by El Corredor. ($2,500 '10 KEESEP). O-Lori Grace, B-Liberation Farm & Brandywine Farm (KY), $1,650.
Winning Time: 1:09 4/5 (my)

Spot Plays/Highlights/Weather

SPOT PLAYS

For Saturday

TRACK   (RACE) HORSE, MORNING LINE
Arlington Park   (2nd) Nobiz Like Sue Biz, 9-2
    (5th) Fear the Kitten, 3-1
Belterra Park   (3rd) Enforcer, 4-1
    (5th) Luz Del Norte, 7-2
Canterbury Park   (1st) Royal Bluff, 3-1
    (2nd) Fiona Cat, 4-1
Charles Town   (4th) Pure Sweetness, 7-2
    (7th) Pure Habit, 5-1
Del Mar   (1st) Backwood Belle, 8-1
    (7th) Mindfully, 7-2
Delaware Park   (2nd) Tiger Distinction, 7-2
    (8th) Sportswriter, 4-1
Ellis Park   (4th) Ariadna, 3-1
    (9th) Basone, 7-2
Emerald Downs   (6th) War Wizard, 6-1
    (8th) Stoneman, 7-2
Evangeline Downs   (3rd) Blaze Dancer, 6-1
    (7th) McGary, 8-1
Finger Lakes   (2nd) Lions Summit, 6-1
    (5th) John's Sharp Humor, 7-2
Golden Gate Fields   (2nd) Stormin Along, 3-1
    (4th) Sandy's Journey, 3-1
Gulfstream Park   (7th) This is She, 5-1
    (9th) Jamie's Dancer, 6-1
Indiana Downs   (1st) C J's Brahms, 7-2
    (8th) Rhinestone Justice, 3-1
Louisiana Downs   (6th) Primetime Dreamer, 4-1
    (8th) Petionville Ridge, 9-2
Monmouth Park   (7th) Kildare, 8-1
    (10th) Chubaroni, 4-1
Mountaineer   (3rd) Bissectrisa, 3-1
    (7th) Cuco Trejo, 9-2
Parx Racing   (2nd) Just Irish, 3-1
    (7th) Regal Strike, 5-1
Penn National   (4th) Page McKenney, 5-1
    (5th) Gold Man, 3-1
Remington Park   (1st) Run for Stormy, 4-1
    (8th) Dreams Cut Short, 7-2
Saratoga   (5th) Palace Dreams, 7-2
    (6th) Giant Fox, 4-1
Suffolk Downs   (6th) Island Blossom, 4-1
    (8th) Professor Palmer, 9-2
Thistledown   (5th) Galakazoo, 7-2
    (7th) Raffie's Delight, 8-1
Woodbine   (1st) Eire's Last Dance, 6-1
    (9th) Divine Dance, 8-1

North American Maiden Winners
Awesome of Course--American Essence by Essence of Dubai; AWESOME AMERICAN, f, 2, GP, Mcl 35000, 8-22, 6f, 1:13 1/5. B-Jacks or Better Farm Inc. (FL.). $10,000 '12 OBSOCT; $16,000 2014 OBSJUN.
Decarchy--Ashley's Folly by Urgent Request (IRE); ASHLEY'S SASSY, f, 2, DMR, Msw, 8-21, 6f, 1:12 4/5. B-Estate of Alesia, BranJam Stables & Ciaglia Racing, LLC (CA.).
Forefathers--Twice a Deelite by Afternoon Deelites; CATHERINE'S DREAM, f, 2, LAD, Msw, 8-22, 6f, 1:13. B-William D. Pickett (LA.). $13,000 '13 ESLSEP.
Ghostzapper--Seeking the Silver by Grindstone; PAULASSILVERLINING, f, 2, SAR, Msw, 8-22, 6f, 1:11 2/5. B-Vince Scuderi (KY.). *1/2 to Conga Bella ($439,362) *1/2 to Dads Caps (G1$557,650).
Izzie's Halo--Twin Cat by Twining; SUN GATE, g, 2, EVD, Mcl 25000, 8-21, 1m, 1:43. B-Sandra E New (LA.).   ***FIRST WINNER FOR SIRE
Jet Phone--Red Thread by Devil His Due; RED PHONE, f, 2, RP, Msw, 8-21, 5 1/2f, 1:04 4/5. B-Wayne Sanders & Larry Hirsch (TX.).
Jump Start--Last Puff by Smoke Glacken; START PUFFING, f, 2, TIM, Mcl 10000, 8-22, 4f, :48 2/5. B-Two Sisters Farm (PA.). $10,000 '13 FTMSEP.
Jump Start--Dearie Be Good by Scrimshaw; GREAT START, f, 2, TIM, Msw, 8-22, 4f, :46 3/5. B-Hillwood Stables, LLC (MD.).
Midnight Lute--Legion of Merit by Danzig; KNOW IT ALL ANNA, f, 2, SAR, Mcl 50000, 8-22, 6f, 1:12 . B-Liberation Farm & Brandywine Farm (KY.). $8,000 '12 KEENOV; $87,000 '13 KEESEP.
Mineshaft--Keeneland Kat by Hennessy; JACKIE O'MINE, f, 2, MTH, Mcl 30000, 8-22, 1m, 1:40 1/5. B-K & G Stables (KY.).
Munnings--Madrone by Doneraile Court; HEART OF VALOR, c, 2, RP, Msw, 8-21, 5 1/2f, 1:04 4/5. B-Haymarket Farm LLC (KY.). $30,000 '12 FTKNOV; $100,000 '13 FTKJUL.
Sky Mesa--Perfect Story by Tale of the Cat; PAIGE, f, 2, ELP, Msw, 8-22, 6f, 1:09 4/5. B-John C. Oxley (KY.). $125,000 '13 FTKJUL; $75,000 2014 OBSAPR. *1/2 to Street Story (G3$253,210).
Street Boss--Classy Credentials by Golden Missile; STREET LAW, c, 2, TDN, Msw, 8-22, 5 1/2f, 1:06 2/5. B-Adena Springs (KY.). $31,000 '13 KEESEP.
Super Saver--Coli Bear (G1P$474,362), by Formal Dinner; LIL SUPER BEAR, f, 2, RP, Msw, 8-21, 5 1/2f, 1:05 2/5. B-WinStar Farm, LLC (KY.). $52,000 '13 KEESEP; $85,000 2014 OBSAPR.
Talent Search--Dancing Fluer by Pilgrim; NOSE JOB, c, 2, PEN, Msw, 8-21, 5 1/2f, 1:06 3/5. B-Scott Lake & Barry McCarty (PA.).
Weather Warning--Rio Roja by Prospector Jones; ROJA CALIENTE, f, 2, RUI, Mcl 10000, 8-22, 5 1/2f, 1:08 . B-William Tandy & Debra Walker (NM.).
Yes It's True--Dinner With D C by Dixie Union; WHY OH YOU, f, 2, MTH, Mcl 40000, 8-22, 5f, :58 1/5. B-K & G Stables (KY.).
Cowboy Cal--Marys Prospect by Prospectors Gamble; COWBOY SKINY KENNY, g, 3, ALB, Mcl 8000, 8-22, 5 1/2f, 1:05 4/5. B-Sheltowee Farm & Gilman Hallenbeck (KY.). $12,500 '12 KEESEP.
Delta Miner--Lena's Song by St. Valentine; LEAN ON LEXI, f, 3, PID, Mcl 7500, 8-21, 1m, 1:41 2/5. B-Double D Farm Corp. (PA.).
Discreet Cat--Score Four by Grand Slam; GRAND CAT, f, 3, GP, Mcl 30000, 8-22, 1 1/16mT, 1:43 3/5. B-Extern Developments LTD. (KY.). $2,500 '12 FTKOCT; $22,000 2013 OBSJUN.
Giant Gizmo--Live in Sin by Runaway Groom; TAMMY'S CHOICE, f, 3, WO, Mcl 8000, 8-22, 5f, :58 4/5. B-Hope Stock Farm (ON.). C$13,000 '12 ONTSEP. *1/2 to Smiling Jordan (SP$455,201).
Indian Charlie--Race Artist (G3), by Mr. Prospector; RUNNING WILD, f, 3, SAR, Msw, 8-22, 6 1/2f, 1:18 . B-Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds, LLC (KY.). *1/2 to Cherokee Artist (MG1P$895,475).
Kitten's Joy--No Deadline by Skywalker; TURF KITTEN, g, 3, EVD, Msw, 8-21, 1m, 1:41 4/5. B-Kenneth L. Ramsey & Sarah K. Ramsey (KY.). $110,000 '12 OBSAUG. *1/2 to Cannonball (MG1P$636,448).
Kitten's Joy--Talking Treasure (MSW$361,737), by Catienus; MANOFMANYVIRTUES, c, 3, WO, Msw, 8-22, 7fT, 1:23 1/5. B-Kenneth L. Ramsey & Sarah K. Ramsey (KY.). $200,000 '12 KEESEP.
Kodiak Kowboy--Little Miss Deb by Valid Wager; TALLEY ME UP, f, 3, LAD, Mcl 5000, 8-21, 5 1/2f, 1:07 3/5. B-Roy Zuppardo (LA.).
Macho Uno--Unusual Spring by Unusual Heat; ONE HOT SPRING, f, 3, TDN, Mcl 4000, 8-22, 5 1/2f, 1:07. B-Mast Thoroughbreds LLC (IN.). *1/2 to Az Ridge (MSW$300,750).
Maimonides--Red Cognac by Hennessy; GRIDLOCK, c, 3, ELP, Mcl 5000, 8-22, 6f, 1:11 3/5. B-Zayat Stables (FL.).
Medaglia d'Oro--Flashing (MG1$633,226), by A.P. Indy; MAKE IT SNAPPY, f, 3, PID, Msw, 8-21, 1m 70y, 1:43. B-Darley (KY.).
Medaglia d'Oro--She's a Winner by A.P. Indy; SAVVY STAR, f, 3, SAR, Msw, 8-22, 6 1/2f, 1:18. B-WinStar Farm, LLC (KY.). *1/2 to Lord of the Game (G2$543,730) *1/2 to Bluegrass Cat (G1$1,761,280).
Northern Afleet--She's Yummy by Greatness; SCRUMPDILICIOUS, g, 3, AP, Mcl 25000, 8-22, 5f, :58 4/5. B-Phillip S. Maas (KY.).
Northern Afleet--Trill by Bernstein; TRILLIFIC, g, 3, RP, Mcl 20000, 8-21, 5 1/2f, 1:05 . B-Dream Walkin Farm (OK.).
Porto Foricos--Katilac Ofthestars (G3), by Katowice; SWANKYDO, f, 3, EVD, Mcl 7500, 8-21, 7f, 1:29 4/5. B-Oak Tree Stables, LLC (LA.).
Pure Prize--Coquettish by Not for Love; PURELY DUNN, c, 3, TIM, Msw, 8-22, a6 1/2f, 1:23 2/5. B-Cynthia Polk (KY.).
Singletary--High Prices by High Brite; HOT MARKET, g, 3, DMR, Mcl 20000, 8-21, 6 1/2f, 1:17 . B-Harris Farms (CA.).
Stephen Got Even--Silenzia by Quiet American; LOADHERUPLETHERRIP, f, 3, CBY, Mcl 6250, 8-21, 5 1/2f, 1:07 . B-M. LaDona Hudson (KY.). $16,000 '12 KEESEP.
Street Sense--Bluegrass Sara by Tabasco Cat; SCONNIE NATION, g, 3, ELP, Mcl 30000, 8-22, 1m, 1:36 4/5. B-Hubert Vester (KY.). $180,000 '12 KEESEP.
Sweet Return (GB)--Press Kit by Editor's Note; PAPARAZZI GIRL, f, 3, MTH, Mcl 10000, 8-22, 1m, 1:40 4/5. B-Red Oak Stable (FL.).
Where's the Ring--Oh My Surprise by Tethra; WHEREISTHESURPRISE, g, 3, PEN, Mcl 10000, 8-21, 6f, 1:12 3/5. B-Danny Zita (ON.). C$7,500 '12 ONTSEP.
Zanjero--Final Flag by Northern Flagship; GRACIE ANN, f, 3, ELP, Mcl 10000, 8-22, 1mT, 1:40 3/5. B-Bill West (KY.).
Cherokee's Boy--Pretty Princess by Partner's Hero; ATHABASKAN HERO, g, 4, TIM, Mcl 5000, 8-22, 4f, :48 . B-James Steele Jr. (MD.).
Datsdawayitis Paul--Lucky Wood by Bound by Honor; KARTER'S INTENT, g, 4, BTP, Mcl 15000, 8-22, 1m, 1:40 4/5. B-L. D. Anglin (KY.).   ***FIRST WINNER FOR SIRE
David's Way--Trusting Soul by Devil Begone; TRUSTING WAYS, f, 4, RUI, Mcl 7500, 8-22, 5 1/2f, 1:06 1/5. B-Rolande Bassett (NM.).
Disco Rico--Sandy Lass by Line in the Sand; SANDY'S LASS DANCE, f, 4, FL, Mcl 5000, 8-22, 6f, 1:14 2/5. B-Aaron Schroeder (NY.).
Discreet Cat--Bonita Chica (MSW$299,522), by Turkoman; DISCREET MALENA, f, 4, FL, Msw, 8-22, 1m, 1:42 2/5. B-Gallaghers Stud (NY.). *1/2 to Borrowing Base (MSW$515,421).
Firejack--Mutakolette by Mutakddim; TOBY JOE NICODEMAS, c, 4, RUI, Mcl 7500, 8-22, 7 1/2f, 1:38 4/5. B-O E Floyd (NM.).
Friends Lake--Struttin' by Gulch; CHUCKMATE, g, 4, BTP, Mcl 7500, 8-22, 6f, 1:11 1/5. B-Bill Wahl LLC (KY.).
Smart Strike--Martinique by Pleasant Colony; WILDCARD, g, 4, CBY, Msw, 8-21, 1 1/16m, 1:46 4/5. B-G. Watts Humphrey, Jr. (KY.). $170,000 '11 KEESEP. *Full to Communique (MG3$594,841).
Street Sense--Penny Perfect by Alydeed; DOWNTOWN, g, 4, WO, Mcl 16000, 8-22, 6f, 1:10 2/5. B-Anderson Farms (Ontario) Inc. &Rod Ferguson (ON.). $195,000 '11 KEESEP; $27,000 2013 KEENOV.
With Distinction--Kate's Sweetheart by Whywhywhy; DISTINCTLY SWEET, f, 4, GP, Mcl 12500, 8-22, 1m, 1:39 3/5. B-The Big Stable Inc (FL.).
Dixie's Wild Again--Germanna Colonies by Allen's Prospect; UNTAMED DIXIE, m, 5, CT, Msw, 8-21, 4 1/2f, :53 2/5. B-Hendrickson Farms, LLC (NC.).
Honor Defend--Too Sassy for U by Captain Skiff; SASSY DEFENDER, g, 5, MTH, Mcl 20000, 8-22, 1 1/16m, 1:47 4/5. B-Menotti Lembo (NJ.).
Primary Suspect--Wings of the Night by Dispersal; PRIMARY WINGS, m, 5, EVD, Mcl 7500, 8-21, 7f, 1:29 3/5. B-Don Allen (LA.). $4,000 '10 LTBSEP.

Features

HANDICAPPING INSIGHTS

AUGUST 22, 2014

by Dick Powell

The Travers Stakes (G1) will be contested for the 145th time this Saturday at Saratoga Race Course. Run at 1 1/4 miles on the main track, its purse has been raised to $1.25 million and this year's renewal has attracted a field of 10.

Adding intrigue to the proceedings this year will be the speedy Bayern BAYERN (Offlee Wild) who shipped to Saratoga from California on Wednesday. My opinion was that Bob Baffert would keep the Haskell (G1) winner on the West Coast and wait for the Pennsylvania Derby (G2) on September 20. The good news is that it seems that Baffert was looking for a reason to not ship but when everything went well after the Haskell, he decided to ship him East.

After failing in the Preakness, Baffert brought Bayern back in the Woody Stephens (G2) on Belmont Stakes day and he romped by seven lengths in fast time. It looked, at that point, that if he ran on Travers Day, it would be in the seven-furlong King's Bishop (G1) but Baffert, as is his habit, shipped Bayern to Monmouth Park where he thoroughly dominated the nine-furlong Haskell.

The question that he needs to answer is Bayern a legitimate two-turn horse or did the speed-favoring Monmouth Park racing strip carry him home? Yes, he should have the lead in the Travers all to himself so there is always the danger of lone, uncontested speed. Can Bayern go to the front and never look back in a 10-furlong race?

The Travers will be the fourth time that Tonalist (Tapit) and Wicked Strong (Hard Spun) have met. The first time was in a key allowance race on February 22 down at Gulfstream Park, which was won by the immensely talented Constitution (Tapit). Second that day was Tonalist and fourth was Wicked Strong.

It was Tonalist's third career start and Wicked Strong clearly disliked the Gulfstream Park main track. They met again in the Belmont when Tonalist gamely won in a wide trip. Wicked Strong got very hot before the race as the big crowd seemed to set him off.

They met for a third time in the Jim Dandy (G2) and Wicked Strong turned the tables on his rival with blinkers added, receiving an aggressive ride from Rajiv Maragh . He went up after the lead around the clubhouse turn and closely stalked the early pace. When Tonalist made a run at him turning for home, Wicked Strong fought off the challenge and drew off to a 2 1/4- length win.

Since the Jim Dandy, Wicked Strong seems to have trained better than ever. Tonalist, who wore a bar shoe in his training going into the Belmont, has two five-furlong breezes here, the second one way faster than the first. Not sure what it means but it seems that Wicked Strong is continuing to maintain his form, which has been solid since his win in the TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial (G1).

Commanding Curve (Master Command) turned out to be the key horse in the Kentucky Derby (G1) when he rallied for second at 37-to-1 odds. He failed in the Belmont and might have ran a sneaky good race in the Jim Dandy when he raced closer to the pace than normal. He has a huge late kick when he's right and I expect that he will race farther back than he did in the Jim Dandy and make one run. As good as he was in the Derby, he's still eligible for first-level allowance company.

V. E. Day (English Channel) was dismissed as a turf horse based on his breeding but he won the Curlin Stakes here going nine furlongs on the main track. He gets a race over the track but has to pick up seven pounds. As long as the seven pounds includes Javier Castellano, it should not be a problem.

Kid Cruz (Lemon Drop Kid) had some buzz around him when he won back-to-back stakes races down in Maryland. When he ran poorly in the Preakness, it looked like he would be back on the "B" circuit of three-year-old stakes races but he was a fast winner of a listed event on Belmont Stakes day and then came back to win the Dwyer (G2) going 1 1/16 miles.

The colt exits a good third in the Jim Dandy and while never threatening the top two, and visually it looked like he was just in it as a prep race. Like Commanding Curve, I expect that Kid Cruz will take back and make one run. In his favor is the hottest jockey at Saratoga will be in the irons, Irad Ortiz, who wins at 25 percent with his route mounts.

For many years, the Haskell was just as good a prep race for the Travers as the Jim Dandy. But, beginning in 2005, seven Jim Dandy winners have won the Travers compared to only one Haskell winner. The race over the track seems to be the key factor and we will see if it is in play on Saturday as Haskell winner Bayern represents a formidable challenge to Jim Dandy supremacy.

Spot Plays/Highlights/Weather

HIGHLIGHTS

For Saturday

CHARLES TOWN (7:00): $50,000 Frank Gall Memorial S., 3&up, 7f (8TH).
DEL MAR (5:00): $200,000 Del Mar H. (G2), 3&up, 1 3/8mT (8TH).
GULFSTREAM PARK (1:15): $90,000 Forty Niner S., 3yo, 1 1/16mT (10TH).
MONMOUTH PARK (12:50): $100,000 Violet S. (G3), 3&up, f&m, 1 1/8mT (11TH).
PARX RACING (12:25): $75,000 Turning for Home S., 3&up, 1 1/16mT (11TH).
PENN NATIONAL (6:00): $75,000 Robellino S., 3&up, 1 1/16mT (4TH).
REMINGTON PARK (8:00): $75,000 Edward J. DeBartolo Memorial H., 3&up, 1 1/16mT (8TH).
SARATOGA (11:35): $1,250,000 Travers S. (G1), 3yo, 1 1/4m (12TH); $500,000 King's Bishop S. (G1), 3yo, 7f (10TH); $500,000 Ballerina S. (G1), 3&up, 7f (11TH); $250,000 Ballston Spa S. (G2), 3&up, f&m, 1 1/16mT (9TH).
WOODBINE (1:00): $150,000 Ontario Colleen S. (Can-G3), 3yo, f, 1mT (8TH); $100,000 Flaming Page S., 3&up, f&m, 1 1/2mT (4TH).

*all times Eastern

HANDICAPPER'S EDGE is compiled by Bloodstock Research Information Services. This newsletter may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Copyright 2011, Bloodstock Research Information Services. Information as to the races, race results and earnings was obtained from Equibase Company LLC and is utilized herein with the permission of the copyright owner, Equibase Company LLC.

Announcements

Help Wanted

A horse racing website is currently hiring for part-time positions as a Customer Service Representative in Lexington, Kentucky. Must be available nights and weekends. Some weekdays may also be available. Computer literacy required, horse racing knowledge and customer service experience a plus. To schedule an interview, email or send your résumé to the following: Nancy.Kanaval@brisnet.com, P.O. Box 4097, Lexington, KY 40544.

Racing Highlights

For Saturday

CHARLES TOWN (7:00): $50,000 Frank Gall Memorial S., 3&up, 7f (8TH).
DEL MAR (5:00): $200,000 Del Mar H. (G2), 3&up, 1 3/8mT (8TH).
GULFSTREAM PARK (1:15): $90,000 Forty Niner S., 3yo, 1 1/16mT (10TH).
MONMOUTH PARK (12:50): $100,000 Violet S. (G3), 3&up, f&m, 1 1/8mT (11TH).
PARX RACING (12:25): $75,000 Turning for Home S., 3&up, 1 1/16mT (11TH).
PENN NATIONAL (6:00): $75,000 Robellino S., 3&up, 1 1/16mT (4TH).
REMINGTON PARK (8:00): $75,000 Edward J. DeBartolo Memorial H., 3&up, 1 1/16mT (8TH).
SARATOGA (11:35): $1,250,000 Travers S. (G1), 3yo, 1 1/4m (12TH); $500,000 King's Bishop S. (G1), 3yo, 7f (10TH); $500,000 Ballerina S. (G1), 3&up, 7f (11TH); $250,000 Ballston Spa S. (G2), 3&up, f&m, 1 1/16mT (9TH).
WOODBINE (1:00): $150,000 Ontario Colleen S. (Can-G3), 3yo, f, 1mT (8TH); $100,000 Flaming Page S., 3&up, f&m, 1 1/2mT (4TH).

*all times Eastern

HANDICAPPER'S EDGE is compiled by Bloodstock Research Information Services. This newsletter may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Copyright 2011, Bloodstock Research Information Services. Information as to the races, race results and earnings was obtained from Equibase Company LLC and is utilized herein with the permission of the copyright owner, Equibase Company LLC.

Announcements

Help Wanted

A horse racing website is currently hiring for part-time positions as a Customer Service Representative in Lexington, Kentucky. Must be available nights and weekends. Some weekdays may also be available. Computer literacy required, horse racing knowledge and customer service experience a plus. To schedule an interview, email or send your résumé to the following: Nancy.Kanaval@brisnet.com, P.O. Box 4097, Lexington, KY 40544.