Hofburg could aim for Saratoga's Woodward; who else is in?

August 13, 2019 02:46pm
Hofburg could aim for Saratoga's Woodward; who else is in?
Photo: Courtesy of NYRA

Garrett O’Rourke, general manager for Juddmonte Farms, didn’t anticipate a “huge performance” from Hofburg in the colt’s 4-year-old debut.

“We just wanted to see that he has the ability and the enthusiasm,” O’Rourke said, “and I think that was there.”

Hofburg is back on the work tab after his come-backing victory July 18, when he drove to a 2 3/4-length victory at Saratoga going nine furlongs in allowance optional claiming company. On Monday, the son of Tapit breezed a half mile in 50.34 seconds over the Oklahoma training track.

O’Rourke said he was relieved to see Hofburg return in such a fashion and called Saratoga’s Aug. 31 Woodward Stakes (G1), also at 1 1/8 miles, “an option” for his next start.

“It was a lovely first step,” O’Rourke said of the return win, in which Hofburg bided his time off the pace, tipped out in the stretch and finished up with jockey Jose Ortiz hand riding through the final sixteenth. “Now he’s got to start getting more serious.”

The Woodward, Saratoga’s next Grade 1 event for older horses, follows the Aug. 3 Whitney (G1) won by McKinzie.

The second through fourth finishers of that race — Yoshida, Vino Rosso and Preservationist — could all meet again in the Woodward. Meanwhile, exiting other races are Alydar Stakes winner Tom’s d’Etat; Evan Shipman winner Mr. Buff; and Catholic Boy, who was second in Belmont Park’s Suburban (G2).

There’s also a question of whether Thunder Snow, scratched the morning of the Whitney with a temperature, will try the Woodward. Initial reports indicated he'd remain in the U.S. to train up to it, but trainer Saeed bin Suroor told The Thoroughbred Daily News on Tuesday that Godolphin's two-time Dubai World Cup (G1) winner has shipped back to England.

“The Breeders’ Cup is obviously the plan, and I’d like to get a race in somewhere," bin Suroor told The TDN. "But until we can start training him again, we don’t know where that will be. It was just unlucky. Before the race, he had been training really well, and he would have had a good chance in the race.”

Bill Mott trains Hofburg, a Juddmonte homebred who went from maiden winner in March of 2018 to running second in the Florida Derby (G1), seventh in the Kentucky Derby and third in the Belmont Stakes. He became a stakes winner in Saratoga’s Curlin but struggled after that, finishing out of the money in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) and again when facing older in Keeneland’s Fayette (G2).

A foot bruise forced Hofburg to miss works earlier this summer and derail hopes of showing up for the Whitney. Beyond the Woodward, there’s the Sept. 28 Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont Park to consider ahead of the Nov. 2 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park.

2019 Woodward (G1)


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