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Woodward Likely Next Target for Cross Traffic

Whitney Invitational winner Cross Traffic emerged from his first Grade 1 victory "very well," trainer Todd Pletcher reported Sunday morning, with the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward on August 31 likely as his next major target.

 

"He looked good this morning and seemed to take the race really well," said Pletcher. "The Woodward is certainly a possibility, and if we decide we need more time, the [Grade 1] Jockey Club Gold Cup [September 28, Belmont Park] is a back-up plan."

 

The win was important for a number of reasons, said Pletcher, not just to validate Cross Traffic's efforts in the Grade 3 Westchester and the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, but also for his future at stud. The 4-year-old colt is by Unbridled's Song, who died last week, and out of the stakes-winning mare Stop Traffic, a daughter of Cure the Blues who won the Grade 1 Ballerina at the Spa in 1998.

 

"I think when you take a tough beat like he did in the Met, one side of you thinks, 'Well, we'll get one of these,'" said Pletcher. "The other side is, when you blow an opportunity, sometimes you never get it again. I was happy for the horse; he ran two winning races at Belmont and lost by five inches. So, it was nice to get a Grade 1 win for him. He's got a real stallion's pedigree, and that's what you have to do, win races like that to take it to the next level."

 

In the Whitney, Cross Traffic led through an opening quarter-mile in 24.17 seconds, ran the second quarter in 23.11 and the third quarter in 22.96, with the race unfolding just as Pletcher and Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez had hoped.

 

"That's pretty impressive," said Pletcher. "You don't see that many sub-23's internally, especially in a dirt race.

 

"He put himself into the race right away," he added. "Every time they turned up the pressure, he was able to turn it up another notch. It was a perfect trip, but it was a self-produced perfect trip."

 

With the Whitney part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" series, Cross Traffic now has an all-fees-paid entry into the Breeders' Cup Classic at 1 ¼ miles, a distance Pletcher thinks is within the colt's scope.

 

"What I liked about the race yesterday, it looked like those horses were gaining on him, but then you look at the gallop-out, and he's cleared them again," he said. "It's all a function of pace and he showed yesterday he's ratable, even though he was on the front end. The first quarter showed he has speed, but he's not headstrong."

 

On Sunday morning, Pletcher sent out dual Grade 1 winner Princess of Sylmar for a half-mile breeze in 49.60 seconds over the main track. The winner of the Coaching Club American Oaks and the Kentucky Oaks could make her next start in the Grade 1 Alabama on August 17.

 

"Princess of Sylmar worked dynamite this morning," he said. "I'm really, really happy with her. We're hoping she maintains form for a couple more weeks."

 

 

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