SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Grade 2 Jim Dandy winner Laoban has emerged from his breakthrough maiden victory in good order, trainer Eric Guillot reported Sunday morning.
“Everything’s good. He ate up almost everything – he left a little bit which is normal for him, especially as late as it was,” said Guillot. “He’s not tired, he’s doing great.”
Laoban made history as the first maiden to win the Jim Dandy when he and jockey Jose Ortiz led wire-to-wire to win by 1 ¼ lengths as the longest shot on the board at odds of 27-1. Guillot added that the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers on August 27 would be the ostensible target for the strapping son of Uncle Mo.
“It’s the horseracing business, you’ve always got to go day-to-day with these animals, but that’s my long-term plan,” said the Louisiana native, who saddled Moreno to graded stakes victories at 3, 4 and 5 years old, including a 10-1 upset of the Grade 1 Whitney in 2014.
“That’s why I get up at 4:30 in the morning. I get up for the big dances, not to run in maiden races,” he said. “That’s what I like to do and I’m good at it.”
Flintshire returns in fine fettle; Brown lays out upcoming plans
With three winners on yesterday’s card catapulting him to leading trainer of the meet with nine wins, Chad Brown spoke this morning on yesterday’s winning performance from his international star Flintshire,as well his upcoming plans for multiple graded stakes winner Camelot Kitten.
Brown secured his second Grade 2 Bowling Green win in four years when Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Flintshire cruised past the post in 2:18.24 with an impressive turn of foot outside of the eighth pole and gained a three-quarter length victory over Grand Tito. It was Flintshire’s third victory since coming to the U.S., having won the Grade 1, $1 million Sword Dancer Invitational last year at Saratoga and the Grade 1 Manhattan at Belmont on June 11.
Bred in England, the 6-year-old son of Dansili is out of Group 2 winner Dance Routine by Sadler’s Wells.
“He came back good. I’m impressed with his effort yesterday,” said Brown. “Hopefully all goes well this month and we can run him again in the Sword Dancer [on August 27].”
Camelot Kitten, fourth in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational last time out, remains on target for the Grade 2, $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame on Friday.
G1 Travers still possible for Mohaymen following disappointing Jim Dandy
Beaten as the favorite in Saturday’s Grade 2 Jim Dandy, Shadwell Stable’s Mohaymen emerged from the race in good order, said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who admitted he was still puzzled by the multiple Grade 2 winner’s third straight defeat.
The 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy was Mohaymen’s first start since a closing fourth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby May 7. Previously he was a non-threatening fourth in the Grade 1 Florida Derby April 2 at Gulfstream Park, his first loss after four straight victories.
“We’re disappointed and don’t have a lot of excuses. He took dirt a long way and was in tight all the way,” McLaughlin said. “The first four races of his life he always moved out away and finished strong. His last three he hasn’t quite been that way. The Kentucky Derby he finished very well. Yesterday, you’d like to say he might have needed the race but he doesn’t blow at all and only took three or four sips of water. It’s just frustrating. We’re going to try to think about what to do going forward.”
McLaughlin spoke by phone Sunday morning with Rick Nichols, Shadwell’s American-based vice president and general manager, and left the Grade 1 Travers August 27 in play.
“He said as long as he looks OK, we can look at the Travers. But, he has to be OK and keep going,” McLaughlin said. “He’s just been a little disappointing and a bit of a puzzle for us to try to figure out. That’s what we’re going to try to do. He looked good this morning.”
Mohaymen stumbled and nearly went to his nose at the break, but gathered himself under regular rider Junior Alvarado and settled in mid-pack along the rail for a half-mile behind pacesetting winner Laoban. They made a belated run after getting outside after turning for home but wound up beaten 5 ¾ lengths.
“[The stumble] didn’t help, but looking at races as often as we do he recovered quickly,” McLaughlin said. “We had talked before the race about trying to get him out into the clear. [Alvarado] said to me, ‘What do you think?’ and I said the rail hasn’t been great, if you could just tip out and be in the two or three path. He didn’t really have an opportunity to do that. He was in pretty tight all the way. It’s just the way it went. Sometimes horses don’t like that dirt in their face that long.”
Pletcher looks ahead for the “Todd Squad”
As a steady rain fell this morning, Todd Pletcher took refuge in his office and looked back at Saturday’s events along with an eye to next week.
The highlight yesterday proved to be Theory, a poorly kept secret who won his six-furlong debut in a brisk 1:09.60. Theory is the second winner – and the first colt – for freshman sire Gemologist, who won five of seven starts for Pletcher including the Grade 1 Wood Memorial. A filly, Morganite, won at Del Mar.
The word was out on Theory, who made $3.30 seem like a relative bonanza after reporting home by 5 ½ lengths.
“Very pleased, the colt had been training very well and we were expecting a good debut,” said Pletcher, who picked up his sixth win at the meet. “For a nice-sized horse he’s got good tactical speed and is maybe even a little more precocious than Gemologist was. But Gemologist also came out and ran well in his first few starts, so it’s nice to see him get off to a promising start as a stallion. I would think [the Grade 1 Hopeful on September 5] would be the logical target off that race assuming he comes back and trains accordingly.”
Destin, edged for second by Governor Malibu in yesterday’s Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes, came out of his third-place finish in good order and remains on schedule for the Grade 1 Travers Stakes August 27.
“He seemed to come out of the race well,” said Pletcher. “I think we got the trip that we wanted. Javier [Castellano] still seems to think he’s figuring things out a little bit. He felt like he was kind of just clocking that horse [Laoban] in front of him and kind of had a little difficulty getting him to focus in and go by that horse, and kind of re-engaged when Governor Malibu came up on the inside of him. It’s something we’ve been working on, playing with his equipment and blinkers and this and that, but part of it is just experience and hopefully learning how to polish off the race. I don’t think we’ll take the blinkers off; we might play with a shadow roll or something like that, but haven’t decided yet. We’ll probably experiment a little bit in his breezes.”
Anchor Down, sixth in yesterday’s Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap after some bumping from the rail at the break, will regroup and point to the Grade 1, $700,000 Priority One Forego Stakes August 27.
“We knew we were in a post position that he didn’t love, and we just never could work ourselves out into a trip to get him out in the clear and just the way the race unfolded didn’t allow him to do that,” said Pletcher. “The seven-eighths of the Forego suits him a little better.”
Plans remain flexible for Far From Over and Comfort, who are under consideration for next Saturday’s Grade 1 Whitney Stakes or perhaps the Alydar Stakes the following day. Far From Over, who is three for three, and Comfort, who has won his last three starts, worked five furlongs together over the main track yesterday and they came out of the move nicely.
“I’m not 100 percent sure, I need to have some discussions with some owners, but Far From Over I would say would be leaning to the Alydar,” said Pletcher. “They both worked well.”
Pletcher aded that three-time graded stakes winner Protonico is nearing his 5-year-old debut but is “not quite ready” for the Alydar.
“He’s a hard horse to place, he’s got no conditions left and it’s tough to run a mile and an eighth off a layoff,” he said. “He’s not really a sprinter, either, so we’ll have to figure something out,” he said.
Mother Goose winner Off the Tracks, who worked a half-mile in 52.12 seconds on the main track Friday, will likely cut back to seven furlongs in next Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Test Stakes.
“We didn’t feel like we needed a lot of training,” said Pletcher. “She ran very well in the Acorn and Mother Goose without having to breeze, so we wanted to [have her] go alone and not overdo it – hopefully have her fresh for the Test. Right now at this moment, it’s a little more logical play than waiting on the mile and a quarter [of the Alabama].”
Pletcher also mentioned Kinsley Kisses – third in the Beaumont, Black Eyed Susan and Delaware Oaks – as a possibility for the Test.
G1 Sword Dancer on radar for Twilight Eclipse following Bowling Green
West Point Thoroughbreds’ Grade 1 winner Twilight Eclipse was in good spirits Sunday morning following his third-place finish behind Flintshire in Saturday’s Grade 2 Bowling Green.
The 1 3/8-mile Bowling Green was the 34th career start for the 7-year-old Purim gelding and his return to graded company following an allowance victory July 8 at Belmont Park.
“We’ll see how he is in a couple of days, get him back on the track and see how much energy he’s got but he looked good this morning,” trainer Tom Albertrani said. “He’s 7 years old now and I still think he’s got a big one in him. He shows it every morning when he goes out to the track. He’s no different than he was four years ago.”
Twilight Eclipse brushed the starting gate at the break and trailed the four-horse field in the Bowling Green, though never farther than three lengths from the front. He was tipped out by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez at the three-eighths pole to challenge pacesetting leader Grand Tito but neither were a match for Flintshire’s late kick.
“I thought he ran well yesterday under the circumstances. He broke a little sluggishly. I expected him to be on the lead or right behind Grand Tito so it worked out where we were back farther than we were expecting, especially on a slow pace,” Albertrani said. “He finished well. He lost a lot of ground but Flintshire is a top horse. I was happy enough with our horse. He ran his race.”
A winner of more than $1.9 million in purse earnings, Twilight Eclipse could make a fourth straight start in the Grade 1, $1 million Longines Sword Dancer August 27. He ran third in 2015 behind Flintshire and 2014 to Main Sequence, and was second to Big Blue Kitten in 2013.
“He’s run against the top turf horses over the last several years,” Albertrani said. “Depending on where our next race is go into be, it could be the Sword Dancer or it could be Kentucky Downs in early September. It just depends on him and where we want to go. If all goes well we very well could be back in the Breeders’ Cup again.”
Albertani said multiple stakes winner Giant Run continues to train forwardly for his next scheduled start in the Grade 3 Hall of Fame on August 5. Second in the Grade 3 Palm Beach and third in the Grade 3 Penn Mile this year, he is seeking his first graded triumph.
“He couldn’t be any better. He’s training very aggressively right now which I like to see. He’s really into the bit and I’m really happy how he’s coming up to this race,” he said. “He’s run some really good races. He’s always been right there. I think he’s a horse that you’re going to see improve with a little bit of age.”
Albertrani is also looking at options for Grade 2 winner Ready for Rye, winless in five starts this year. The 4-year-old multiple stakes winner is being pointed to the Grade 1 Forego going seven furlongs August 27 but could have a prep in the six-furlong, $100,000 Tale of the Cat on August 12.
“We’re kind of thinking about running him in the Tale of the Cat or going right into the Forego with him,” he said. “In a couple weeks we’ll decide.”
Tencendur returns from layoff on Monday
Tencendur will make his first start in 13 months when the George Weaver-trained 4-year-old faces allowance-level competition in Race 2 on Monday at Saratoga Race Course.
The bay colt came in second in the 2015 Grade 1 Wood Memorial before running in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby one month later. Tencendur was being pointed toward the Grade 2 Jim Dandy and possibly the Grade 1 Travers last year before breaking the sesamoid bone near his left front hoof.
After more than a year-long layoff from his second-place finish in the Ohio Derby in June 2015, Tencendur will now go 1 1/8 miles on the main track as he works his way back to potentially facing graded stakes competition again.
“It’s been a long time off but we figured this is a good place to get him started back and hopefully he gets back to what we thought he could do before,” Weaver said. “He really is a two-turn horse. Running him seven-eighths of a mile would probably be a little more difficult because he doesn’t have that early gate speed. We figured the mile and an eighth fit him better. He’s a big, rangy colt.”
Tencendur breezed on July 24, going six furlongs in 1:13.55 on Saratoga’s main track. He galloped on Friday and Weaver said he came out of it fine.