On a gorgeous Saturday morning at the Spa, six contenders
for what appears will be a big field for the 141st
running of the
Grade 1, $1 million Travers had their final works for the 1 ¼ mile race.
With jockey Calvin Borel aboard, Kentucky Derby winner Super
Saver breezed five furlongs in 1:01.13 in company with The Roundhouse on
the main track.
“I wanted to keep him focused down the lane, and having a
target early on kept him focused,” said trainer Todd Pletcher of the WinStar
Farm color-bearer. “Calvin [asked him] at the top of the lane, and he really
While Super Saver normally goes out later in the morning,
Pletcher sent him out early because he wanted Borel, who was flying to Oklahoma to ride this
afternoon, to get “refamiliarized” with the Maria’s Mon colt.
“Calvin was going to leave last night, but he rearranged his
schedule so he could be on the horse this morning,” said Pletcher. “I wanted
Calvin to have a feel for him and he seemed to be pleased with the way he was
The trainer said he expected an improved performance in the
Travers from Super Saver, who following his Derby win was eighth in the
Preakness and then fourth, beaten 4 ¾ lengths, by Lookin At Lucky in the
Haskell on August 1.
“I think he’s going to run an improved race from the
Haskell,” he said. “Having that race under his belt has helped him. If you look
at his form this year, he ran decently in Tampa
[third in the Tampa Bay Derby], moved forward with a better race in Arkansas [second in the
Arkansas Derby], and then another move forward, so I think he’s going to
respond the same way.”
With as many as 14 under consideration for the Travers – in
addition to those named in the first bullet point above, Trickmeister,
Miner’s Reserve, Ice Box, Admiral Alex, Pleasant Prince, Afleet Again and Steinbeck
are potential starters – Pletcher said he felt that could benefit Super Saver,
who outran 19 in the Derby.
“He’s maneuvered through a big field before,” said Pletcher.
“An honest pace allows him to settle the way he did at Churchill, and it looks
as if there should be plenty of pace early.”
Also turning in his final breeze for the Travers on Saturday
was the New York-bred Friend Or Foe, who covered five furlongs over the
main track in 1:00.60, according to the NYRA clockers.
Sent out shortly after 6 a.m., Chester Broman Sr.’s colt was
piloted by jockey Rajiv Maragh, who will ride him in the Travers and who guided
him to a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy here on July 31, Friend
Or Foe’s first start around two turns.
“I told I told Rajiv we were trying to shoot for around a
minute,” said trainer John Kimmel. “The track was a little bit on the dry side
this morning, and I got him in a 1:00.53, out in 1:13 and 4/5. He actually
picked up a horse in the middle of the breeze and used him as a target maybe
for an eighth of a mile until he passed him. Rajiv said he felt absolutely
great underneath him and he came back and was cooled off in a matter of just
minutes. It was about as comfortable a breeze as you could want.”
With the breeze behind him, Friend Or Foe’s major
preparations for the race are now complete.
“I think that’s really all we’re going to do,” Kimmel said.
“We’ll school a little bit in the paddock this week and stand him at the gate.
Maybe on Thursday I’ll let him go through the lane a little bit with his
regular exercise rider. We’ll let the cards fall where they may as far as the
draw is concerned. I’m excited about the fact that we’ve got a horse who has two-turn
experience under his belt, I think he’s got a legitimate chance to improve off
the [Jim Dandy]. We just have to see what happens as far as the race next
Saturday, but he’s coming in as well as I could expect him to.”
After taking to the Oklahoma Training Track at 7:30 this
morning with Jose Lezcano aboard, Travers prospect Fly Down drilled four
furlongs in 48.40 seconds, handily, fourth-fastest of 26 workouts at the
“There were a lot of horses working over there this morning,
so we went over earlier,” said his trainer, Nick Zito.
The Hall of Famer hopes Fly Down, winner of the Grade 2
Dwyer and runner-up in the Grade 1 Belmont, will have a cleaner trip than the
one he experienced in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy, in which he finished fifth.
“He’s a terrific, consistent horse,” said Zito. “I don’t
think he had a good post last time. A mile and a quarter is different, but that
mile and eighth last time when he had post nine Jose did a good job of getting
him over. But the next thing you know, nothing worked out for him.”
Grade 2 Jim Dandy winner A Little Warm, with exercise
rider Tess Bischa up, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.58.
“I am super-duper happy with him,” said Tony Dutrow of A Little
Warm, whom he trains for Edward P. Evans. “My horse went around excellently.
It’s so rare and so special to feel this good about a horse with such a big
race in front of him.”
The homebred son of Stormin Fever goes into the Travers off
winning efforts following a three-month break, having taken an optional claimer
at Delaware Park on June 29 prior to his Jim Dandy
win. A Little Warm is looking to become the ninth colt to complete the Jim
Dandy-Travers double, most recently accomplished by Street Sense in 2007.
With exercise rider Kelvin
Pahal aboard, Gainesway Farm’s Afleet Express breezed six furlongs in
1:13.06. He started the first three furlongs in 36 seconds before galloping out
seven furlongs in 1:26 4/5 and a mile in 1:42 4/5.
“We’re satisfied with the work.
That’s all we wanted from him,” said trainer James Jerkens, who will saddle his
first Travers starter in Afleet Express. “He came back to the barn in great
shape. He wasn’t blowing hard. Since he has shipped up here, he has been doing
Afleet Express made two
allowance starts at Gulfstream Park this winter, finishing second and fifth, before
returning to win an allowance at Belmont, as
well as the Grade 3 Pegasus at Monmouth
Park en route to a
third-place finish in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy.
First Dude, third in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes on
June 5, worked over the sloppy main track at Churchill Downs on Saturday
morning, negotiating five furlongs in 1:01.40 in his final move for the Travers.
“He worked well this morning – the track was sloppy, but he
seemed to handle it fine,” trainer Dale Romans said by phone from Chicago.
First Dude is expected to arrive at Romans’ Saratoga barn on Tuesday afternoon. He
finished third in his most recent start, the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at
Monmouth on August 7.
Mill House’s Trappe Shot breezed five furlongs over
the main track this morning in preparation for next Saturday’s Grade 1, 1
¼-mile Travers or Grade 1, seven-furlong King’s Bishop.
Working with stablemate Yankee Fourtune, Trappe Shot
traveled the distance in 1:01.92, ranked 14th among 29 moves.
“Alan Garcia felt like the track was a little dull and deep,
so he had him out in the four path,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “He
galloped out strong in 1:14 4/5, and we’re happy. We just have to figure out
which race we’re going to enter.”