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Atigun, Stealcase Ready for Travers

Travers 2012 logo

Shortleaf Stable’s Atigun was among the Grade 1 Travers contenders that worked out Sunday morning at Saratoga, breezing five furlongs in 59.67 seconds over the main track after the renovation break.

 

“He worked super,” said trainer Ken McPeek. “I was a little worried he went off a little fast, but for the most part it was a very good work. It looks like he’s cooling out happy.”

 

Notable about the work was that the 3-year-old son of Istan was wearing blinkers, a piece of equipment that he has not raced with.

 

“[Jockey] Mike Smith and I were talking about it yesterday, and he is concerned that the blinkers might make him rank, and he might be right,” McPeek said. “I don’t know, we’ll see. If he has a blinker on, it will either be a small one or none at all.”

 

Atigun was third to Union Rags and Paynter in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes on June 9, and most recently checked in sixth, beaten seven lengths, in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy.

 

McPeek acknowledges that Atigun won’t be among the favorites for the 1 ¼ mile Travers but knows the distance won’t be a question mark.

 

“Our race has got to be well-timed, and he will have to run the race of his life, but it is certainly a distance he can handle,” the trainer said.

 

McPeek added that Sonofasamurai, impressive winner of a turf maiden race at Saratoga on Saturday, will be pointed for the Grade 2, $200,000 With Anticipation on Thursday, August 30.

 

“He ran super and he is going to run in the With Anticipation,” McPeek said. “He didn’t run on any Lasix, and I think that means he can come back a little quicker. I have four colts which might run in there: Sonofasamurai, He’s So Fine, Java’s War, and Midas Dancer. The last two are in Kentucky still.”

 

*          *          *

 

Looking poised and relaxed, Stealcase turned in his final work for Saturday’s $1 million Travers with a five-furlong breeze on the main track Sunday morning.

 

Under regular rider Shaun Bridgmohan, the chestnut son of Lawyer Ron was timed in 1:00.74 by NYRA clockers.

 

“He looked really slow,” said Norm Casse, son and assistant to trainer Mark Casse. “Then we saw the time and how well he went, and that’s usually a good indication that they worked really well. He looked like he was just going easy, and that was the plan.”

 

Sunday’s work came six days after a six-furlong breeze in 1:12.53, also on Saratoga ’s main track for Stealcase, who most recently ran third to Paynter in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park .

 

“Last week, we worked him really hard and made him gallop out real strong,” Casse said. “It was a real strong work. We came back this weekend and we were really shooting for 1:01 or 1:02, but he worked really well.”

 

Bridgmohan, aboard for five of Stealcase’s nine career starts, will have the mount in the Travers. Stealcase is still seeking his first stakes victory, having run second in the Grade 3 Matt Winn and third in the Grade 3 Derby Trial this year, both at Churchill Downs.

 

“He’s definitely a lot more mature,” Casse said of Stealcase. “Shaun pointed out today that he didn’t turn a hair. Shaun knows the horse as well as any of us. He’s worked the horse his whole life, really. He said he’s maturing, so that could be a really good sign.”

 

 

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