Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin sent out Fayeq to blaze the half-mile bullet in :47.36 over Saratoga’s fast Oklahoma training track on Friday, and following the move said the well-bred Malibu Moon colt is targeting the $1.25 million Travers Stakes (G1) at the Spa on August 26.
A half-brother to 2009 Horse of the Year and Hall of Famer Rachel Alexandra, Fayeq worked in company with jockey Luis Saez in the irons. He was caught galloping out five furlongs in 1:01.20.
“He worked fabulous and galloped out great,” McLaughlin said. “We’re pointing for the Travers.”
Fayeq will be making his stakes debut in the Travers off a pair of easy wins in New York. After beginning his career with third- and fifth-place runs at Gulfstream Park during the spring, the bay colt joined McLaughlin’s New York string and proceeded to break his maiden at Belmont Park by 2 3/4 lengths on June 11. He returned July 26 at Saratoga to run away with an allowance by 3 1/2 lengths.
Saez was aboard for Fayeq’s two wins, which came despite the colt not switching leads in the stretch. McLaughlin was encouraged with the way the sophomore responded to his rider during Friday’s work.
“We just wanted (Saez) to sit on him because he doesn’t switch leads in the afternoon, but he does in the morning,” McLaughlin explained. “So, we were wanting them to get together and somehow (get him to) switch in the afternoon.”
The Travers came into play for Fayeq thanks to upset wins from Girvin in the Haskell Invitational (G1) on July 30 at Monmouth Park and Good Samaritan in the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) at Saratoga one day prior. That, coupled with three different winners in the Triple Crown races, has left the sophomore division wide open.
“We have to take a chance because of his pedigree and because he’s a really nice horse,” McLaughlin said. “We want to give him a try. It’s a big step up, but we feel like he deserves the chance. It’s tough, there’s some good horses out there but we want to try it.
“He’s well-bred, a brother to Rachel Alexandra. He’s a beautiful horse with a great mind. And if we can get him to switch leads, that would help us a lot.”