Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm’s Cease worked a moderate half-mile on the main track in 49.04, breezing, Monday morning in preparation for the Grade 1 Woodward.
The work was overseen by trainer Al
Stall, who had one eye on Hurricane Isaac, which was bearing down on his
hometown of New Orleans.
“He went an easy half-mile by himself –
49 flat, last eighth [of a mile] in 11 4/5,” said Stall, who has had a
strong Saratoga meet (six wins and 15 in-the-money finishes from 21
starters). “We didn’t need to do much with him. He had a hard work over
the track last week in company.”
Cease, a 5-year-old gelded son of War
Chant, has never competed in a Grade 1 race, but his credentials on dirt
are strong. He has hit the board in six of his seven most recent dirt
starts, with the only time out of the money being a fifth in the Grade 2
Breeders’ Cup Marathon last November at Churchill Downs.
In April, he ran into the beastly Wise
Dan in the Grade 3 Ben Ali on the Polytrack at Keeneland and then
finished fifth in the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap on turf in May at
Churchill Downs. When Stall switched Cease back to dirt the first week
of the Saratoga meet, he scored smartly at 1 1/8 miles, earning a Beyer
Speed Figure of 95.
“If you draw a line through the turf and
Polytrack, and the 1 ¾ miles in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon, he’s been
pretty solid,” Stall said. “He broke his maiden on Polytrack and our
home course is Keeneland; Claiborne has a barn there. It made sense to
try that and Wise Dan freaked that day. [Jockey] Miguel Mena came back
and said he strode better on dirt than Poly. We knew the [allowance]
would be a huge purse up here [at Saratoga], so we kept that in mind.”
That success led Stall to take a shot at the Woodward.
“We know we’re stepping up, but he acts
like it’s his home track,” Stall said. “This is where his best numbers
and races are.”
Stall also expressed his happiness with Sign, a 2-year-old Pulpit filly who debuted an 11 ¾-length winner Sunday under jockey Rosie Napravnik.
Sign, 10-1, left the gate towards the
rear and after fighting her rider early, moved off the rail at the
three-eighths pole and mowed down the leaders to easily pull away in the
stretch, completing the six furlongs in 1:10.37.
“She showed us a good turn of foot,” said
Stall, who likely will point Sign to the Grade 2 Pocahontas in October
at Churchill Downs. “We said, ‘Let’s get her up here and get one race
in her.’ I liked the way she turned for home and instead of getting a
little wobbly, she leaned in and turned for home and whoosh!”