Monday, July 28, 2014

Saratoga Race Course Notes: July 28, 2014

The New York Racing Association, Inc.

Monday, July 28, 2014


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Saratoga Race Course Notes


  • Baffert considering G1 Travers for G1 Haskell hero Bayern
  • Wildcat Red, third in Haskell, possible for G1 Travers or G1 Ketel One King's Bishop
  • Romansh remains on course for G1 Whitney despite postponing Monday breeze
  • McLaughlin eyeing G1 Personal Ensign with G3 Shuvee Handicap winner Antipathy
  • Competitive field set for Wednesday's $100,000 Coronation Cup
  • Willet finds softer spot in Wednesday allowance


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Dominant Grade 1 Haskell Invitational winner Bayern flew from New Jersey to California early Monday afternoon, but Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is eyeing a trip back east for the Offlee Wild colt's next start.


Baffert said the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers at Saratoga Race Course on August 23 is on the radar for Bayern, impressive in taking the Haskell by 7 ¼ lengths in front-running fashion.


"I'm looking at the Travers or the Pennsylvania Derby," said Baffert by phone on Monday. "A lot will have to do with his energy and how taxing the race was on him. It's cooler here and it's relaxing, so we'll get him back here and see how he's doing. He looks great."


The Grade 2, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby is September 20 at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pa.


Baffert has won the 1 ¼-mile Travers once in four tries, with eventual Horse of the Year Point Given in 2001. He was third with Roman Ruler in 2005, 10th with 2011 Haskell winner Coil, and ninth with Liaison in 2012.


"It takes a good one [to win the Travers]," said Baffert. "We'll know in a couple weeks. We'll give him a couple weeks and see how he's doing."


Owned by Kaleem Shah, Bayern has four wins from six starts this year, including a 7 ½-length victory in the seven-furlong Grade 2 Woody Stephens at Belmont Park on June 7. He finished ninth of 10 after a rough trip in the Grade 1 Preakness and was disqualified from a win in the Grade 3 Derby Trial and placed second for interference.

In the Haskell, Bayern broke on top and led through fractions of 23.54 seconds for a quarter-mile, 47.66 for the half and six furlongs in 1:11.16 before hitting the wire in 1:47.82.


"He really showed me a lot," said Baffert, who won the Haskell for the seventh time. "I was expecting a good race out of him, but he just kept on kicking and showed me that two turns isn't going to be a problem. He showed us a lot early on, and then he took a couple steps backward, and I was losing a little confidence in him.


"When he ran in the Derby Trial I lost a little confidence in him and in the Preakness he got completely wiped out and never had a chance. The Belmont race was off the charts. He's got two off-the-charts races in a row and I just want to keep him in that mindset. I don't want to rush him."


*           *           *


Multiple graded stakes winner Wildcat Red, third in Sunday's Grade 1 Haskell Invitational, may make his next appearance at Saratoga Race Course.


Trainer Jose Garoffalo said Monday morning that the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers at 1 ¼ miles and the Grade 1, $500,000 Ketel One King's Bishop at seven furlongs, both on August 23, are among the races being considered for Wildcat Red.


"We're still thinking about it," said Garoffalo by phone from New Jersey. "I'm going to check the horse today and tomorrow and then we'll see what we're going to do. The horse came back so far in good shape. He tried. He did his job. He's a hell of a horse."


Owned by Honors Stable Corp., Wildcat Red has been off the board once in 10 lifetime starts when he finished 18th in the Kentucky Derby. At Gulfstream Park this winter, he won the Grade 3 Hutcheson at seven furlongs and Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at 1 1/16 miles 20 days apart, and was second by a neck to Constitution in the 1 1/8-mile Grade 1 Florida Derby.


Breaking from post eight of nine under jockey Luis Saez in the Haskell, the son of Grade 1-winning sprinter D'wildcat stalked eventual winner Bayern in second before being passed in deep stretch and finishing a length behind runner-up Albano.


"He did a great job," Garoffalo said. "I think it could have been better. I think that Saez should have been a little bit more aggressive with the horse the first part of the race. We could have gone maybe faster and maybe the result would have been different; at least, we would have finished second. But, it was good. I'm happy with the race and the horse."


*           *           *


Grade 3 Excelsior winner Romansh remains on track for Saturday's Grade 1, $1.5 million Whitney despite missing a scheduled work Monday morning due to the weather.


Trainer Tom Albertrani had planned to give the 4-year-old Bernardini colt a final breeze for the 1 1/8-mile Whitney but decided to put it off after heavy overnight rain soaked the track.


"The horse is ready to go," said Albertrani. "Coming down to the last work, it shouldn't make a whole lot of difference at this point. It's just a matter of maintenance. We've still got a couple of days coming up."


Owned by Godolphin Racing, Romansh had his lone Saratoga work on July 20, going four furlongs in 49.96 seconds on the main track. Albertrani breezed Romansh at Belmont Park four days before a fifth-place finish behind Zivo in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap on July 4.


"If we could just get an easy breeze in him before Wednesday even, we've still got time to do it," said Albertrani. "I'm not really concerned about it. At this point, he's fresh and ready to go."


Romansh opened his 2014 campaign finishing last of 11 in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap but bounced back to win the Grade 3 Excelsior at Aqueduct. He followed up by running third in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, beaten 1 ½ lengths by Whitney contender Palace Malice, prior to the Suburban.


"He's kind of been a little bit inconsistent all through his career, but hopefully this is the one he bounces back in," said Albertrani.


*           *           *


Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Godolphin Racing's Antipathy exited her win in the Grade 3 Shuvee Handicap on Sunday in good shape and confirmed that the 4-year-old could make her next start in the Grade 1, $500,000 Personal Ensign at 1 1/8 miles on August 22.


The Shuvee was the first graded stakes win for Antipathy, who entered the race eligible for the second allowance condition. In her only other stakes try, she was third, beaten a neck, in a deep renewal of the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on June 7 at Belmont Park.


Antipathy is by A.P. Indy and a half-sister to Grade 1 Champagne and Grade 1 Florida Derby winner Scat Daddy.


"She has continued to train well and improve," McLaughlin said of Antipathy's recent development. "She's a beautiful filly, so it's great to get the graded stakes win and a Grade 1 [placing] behind her."


McLaughlin added that Cavorting, a Stonestreet Stables filly who debuted an 11-length winner on July 3, is on target for the Grade 2 Adirondack, a 6 ½-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies on August 10.


*           *           *


A field of evenly matched 3-year-old fillies will line up for the $100,000 Coronation Cup at 5 ½ furlongs on turf on Wednesday.


Four of the nine fillies entered will be trying the surface for the first time, including the Lisa Lewis-trained Isabelle (8-1).


Isabelle began her career last year at Saratoga as the 2-1 favorite in a New York-bred maiden race but failed to run to her backing, finishing fourth, beaten 11 lengths. The daughter of Successful Appeal returned in 2014 an improved animal, finishing second behind Grade 1 Mother Goose runner-up Princess Violet in her seasonal debut before logging back-to-back victories in an off-the-turf maiden race and the seven-furlong Bouwerie Stakes, both for New York-breds.


In her latest start, Isabelle tested graded stakes company in the Grade 3 Victory Ride at Belmont, but failed to make an impact on the finish, checking in sixth, beaten 11 ½ lengths.


Another filly that will be making her first turf start on Wednesday is Fat Kat (10-1), trained by Robert Reid, Jr. for Glenn Bennett. Fat Kat proved to be a terror at Parx Racing this spring, winning three straight at the track by a combined 22 ¼ lengths. The Pennsylvania-bred filly also contested the Victory Ride in her latest start, when she finished a nose behind Isabelle after tracking a scalding pace.


Trainer Todd Pletcher will send out Elena Strikes (4-1), who will be making her turf debut. The Smart Strike filly took an optional claimer by 2 ¼ lengths in her latest outing and finished third in the Jersey Girl two starts ago.


The morning-line favorite, Recoupe (7-2), has made three turf starts in her career and won all three. The Mike Trombetta-trained filly most recently won an optional claimer against older rivals at Penn National.


Stars Above Me (5-1) will make her North American debut in the Coronation Cup for trainer Graham Motion. The bay filly has a win, two seconds, and a third-place finish to her credit from five starts - four of which came against males - while racing exclusively in England.


Rounding out the field are Ruslana (12-1), Burn Control (6-1), Hot Squeeze (12-1) and Scatcapade (5-1).


*           *           *


With La Verdad running in the Grade 2 HRTV Honorable Miss Handicap today, Willet will get class relief when she competes on Wednesday in a six-furlong no-conditions allowance race for New York-bred fillies and mares.


Willet, a 6-year-old, has won four New York-bred stakes in her career, but in two of her past four starts she has had the misfortune of running into graded stakes winners Cluster of Stars and La Verdad. She won the Touch of Love stakes in December at Aqueduct in her 2013 finale and was second, beaten 1 ¾ lengths by La Verdad, in her lone start this year, the Dancin Renee on July 3 at Belmont


"She's had one race in eight months, which was by design," said trainer Jimmy Iselin, who owns Willet in partnership with Charlotte Assoulin and Eli Gindi. "We give her the winters off, and when she returned she had to run against La Verdad. I thought Willet acquitted herself well against La Verdad. Linda Rice said it was a tougher race than she expected for La Verdad."


Iselin, who will be based at Belmont for the duration of the Saratoga meet, hopes the Wednesday allowance will help him decide Willet's next start and prepare her for a return to stakes competition.


"It's her second race of the layoff, but in horse racing you can never count your chickens until they hatch," said Iselin. "That said, if she runs well we'll look at the Union Avenue, and if she runs really well we might shoot for the stars and run in the Ballerina. If she doesn't run well, we'll wait for something else."



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