July 23, 2018

Always Dreaming headed to WinStar Farm for a break after Travers loss

Eventual winner West Coast leads the field past the stands for the first time in the 148th running of the Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on Saturday, August 26, 2017 (c) NYRA/Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography

Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Always Dreaming is set for a break at WinStar Farm near Versailles, Kentucky following his ninth-place finish in Saturday’s Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga.

Trainer Todd Pletcher reported the Bodemeister colt will leave New York on Monday and have a physical before beginning his vacation.

“After he arrives, he’ll get a complete physical at Rood and Riddle (Equine Hospital),” Pletcher said. “We’ll make a determination on the next steps after that once we get the information back.”

Always Dreaming was looking for his first win in the Travers since taking the Kentucky Derby on May 6 at Churchill Downs. Since then, the dark bay sophomore has been eighth in the Preakness Stakes (G1) and third in the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2).

While Always Dreaming is on hiatus, stablemate and Belmont Stakes (G1) victor Tapwrit will target either the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G1) on September 23 at Parx Racing or face older runners for the first time in the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational (G1) at Belmont Park on October 7.

Tapwrit ran fourth in Saturday’s Travers, beaten eight lengths on the wire, in his first start since capturing the Belmont Stakes by two lengths on June 10.

“We’ll spend the next couple of weeks processing how he comes back before we decide on which race,” Pletcher explained.

“We got the trip we wanted with both horses; Always Dreaming just didn’t fire and I thought Tapwrit ran well. It just seemed like it was a hard track to make up a lot of ground down the stretch,” Pletcher added. “When (Tapwrit) came off the turn, I thought he was in the right position and finished steadily but couldn’t make up any real ground.”

This year’s Travers featured all three winners from the Triple Crown races, and Tapwrit finished best of the trio.

Preakness Stakes (G1) scorer Cloud Computing was eighth on Saturday, 5 3/4 lengths in front of Always Dreaming. Trainer Chad Brown said his charge was doing well one day after the “Mid-Summer Derby.”

“Cloud Computing is OK, (he) just didn’t fire over the surface,” Brown reported. “We’re going to have to reevaluate. I’m hoping it’s just a surface issue. There’s nothing wrong with the horse right now he looks fine. Saratoga’s just not for him.”

Gunnevera, seventh in the Kentucky Derby and fifth in the Preakness, entered the Travers off a five-length triumph in the Tangelo Stakes at Gulfstream Park on August 6. He parlayed that win into a runner-up effort on Saturday, circling nearly the entire field after running in the rear and proving best of the rest at 24-1.

The Antonio Sano pupil was looked after at Saratoga by trainer Pat Kelly, whose younger brother Larry Kelly was scheduled to drive Gunnevera back to South Florida beginning Sunday evening.

“The horse goes to North Carolina, rests half a day, and then comes right back to Florida,” Sano said. “He’s very happy today. Everything is good.

“The fractions were very easy up front. It was very slow,” Sano commented on the race. “I thought West Coast would battle with Always Dreaming but there was no speed in the race, so it was easy for West Coast. When (jockey Edgard) Zayas decided to make his move with my horse, it was an excellent idea. He told me the horse was going very easy. He made a nice move.”

Sano indicated that he’ll train Gunnevera up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on November 4 at Del Mar, but left open the option of another race.

“Right now the plan is to maybe go directly to the Breeders’ Cup, (but) we might look to race again if the horse is very good,” he said. “It was a good race and he came back good, which is very important.

“I am excited and proud for my horse. The result is very good for me,” he added. “In his last race, he won only breezing. In the Travers, I hoped to win but being second for me against those horses…he was outside horses, he got a little bump at the five-eighths (pole), a little bump at the start, and still only got beat a few lengths.”

The only one Gunnevera had beat through the first half-mile in the Travers was Good Samaritan, who entered the contest off a 4 3/4-length romp in the Jim Dandy on July 29 at the Spa. That Bill Mott-conditioned son of Harlan’s Holiday rallied from 12th and last to be fifth, just a length behind Tapwrit, on the wire Saturday.

“Would I have preferred to have him up a little closer? Yes,” Mott shrugged. “He ran a big race. He beat everybody he beat in the Jim Dandy. Those new shooters, we’ve got to keep them out of town I guess. He came with a big run. Was it the same as the other day? I don’t know. I got to look at all the figures I guess.”

Mott, who said there are no plans for Good Samaritan’s next start yet, thinks the three-year-old champion male division is wide open.

“Now you’ve got four or five major winners there, yesterday now there’s another one,” he pointed out. “You’ve got five to choose from. Add the winner in the mix I guess, the Triple Crown winners and the Haskell (G1) winner.”

Fayeq, a sophomore half-brother to Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, was making his stakes bow in the Travers but was eased in the stretch to be last under the wire. He walked off the track.

“We don’t know what happened,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “We’ll throw it out. He scoped fine and seems OK, so we’ll hope that’s the case.”

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