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Guillot Targets PA Derby for Moreno

Moreno was bright and doing well after his gallant second by a nose to Will Take Charge on Saturday in the Grade 1 Travers.

 

Trainer Eric Guillot revealed Sunday morning that the gelded son of Ghostzapper raced with a large abscess near his throat.

 

"That's an abscess that started Monday," said Guillot, while a stable hand jogged Moreno in a straight line outside the barn for the trainer's inspection. "I think the worst day was yesterday. We started compressing it. We're good to go now, but I thought I was going to have to scratch on Monday. We don't know what caused it - I think an ingrown hair, maybe, or he jerked back on the chain. It got infected and went the wrong way. You don't want to pack it and work on it too hard and too fast. Yesterday, we iced it. I gave him a lot of anti-inflammatories."

 

While Guillot said the abscess had no impact on Moreno's performance, the strap from his blinkers wrapped around the abscess. He is treating the wound with silver sulfadiazine, a topical antibacterial.

 

Travers Day was an emotional one for the colorful Guillot, who told anyone who would listen that the horse named after owner Michael Moreno was one of the best in the 3-year-old division.

 

"Everyone thought I was talking trash," Guillot said. "He just beat the Derby winner, the Haskell winner and the Belmont winner, right? "

 

Guillot had predicted the key to Moreno's success would be internal fractions, and Moreno got away on the lead with an opening quarter-mile in 24.48 seconds and a second quarter in 24.55, which put him up by two lengths.

 

On the turn for home, Moreno was in full flight and had plenty left to turn back a bold challenge by Kentucky Derby winner Orb, only to get caught at the wire by Will Take Charge.

 

"That's what we wanted," Guillot said of the manageable fractions. "That's why he got beat a whisker. It was a tough loss. It left me all emotional. I walked down to the track by myself. I wished everybody, 50,000 people, just evaporated. I wanted to be by myself for a few minutes. Then I realized, 'I just got beat a whisker at 30-1 against the best of the best.' It's horse racing. If his name was Guillot, he would have won by 20.

 

"I tried to not get all emotional and teared up, but I had to. I couldn't do it. I didn't see [owner] Michael [Moreno]; he was up in the box. I was in there 10 minutes later, and we were both crying."

 

Guillot said he plans to leave Moreno at Saratoga to train up to the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on September 21 at Parx Racing and then, if all goes well, he will run in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita.

 

"We'd run him right out of his stall," Guillot said, referring to his home base. "It's my back yard. I've got to take that on."

 

 

 

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