King for a Day auditions for Travers Stakes role in next race

June 24, 2019 03:57pm

Since registering a one-length victory over Maximum Security in the June 16 Pegasus Stakes, King for a Day has relocated to and resumed galloping at Saratoga, where he’ll soon be back on the work tab.

What’s next on the schedule remains undetermined. But two starts from now, connections envision themselves with a chance at Saratoga’s Aug. 24 Travers Stakes (G1).

“We and Todd are of the opinion that the farther the better,” said Rick Sacco, racing manager for the Red Oak Stable homebred. “The mile and a quarter is going to be in his wheelhouse.”

Sacco said either Monmouth Park’s $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1) on July 20 or Saratoga’s $600,000 Jim Dandy (G2) on July 27 are options for King for a Day’s next start, and “we’ll play it by ear” in choosing a target. Both races run at 1 1/8 miles.

“I’m going to go up over the weekend and see the horse breeze an easy — whatever Todd wants to do, probably a half,” Sacco said. “Whether the horse runs in the Haskell or the Jim Dandy, we just don’t know yet.”

King for a Day registered a 102 Beyer Speed Figure while pressuring and ultimately passing Maximum Security, the Florida Derby (G1) winner controversially disqualified from a Kentucky Derby victory, in Monmouth's Pegasus.

The Uncle Mo colt also owns a race over the track at Saratoga, where he debuted last September, finishing third behind eventual graded stakes winners Complexity and Harvey Wallbanger.

“He trained well there and really liked the track,” Sacco said. “We just had an unfortunate situation where a horse clipped heels in front of him in his first start.”

King for a Day broke his maiden second out, then ran fourth in Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2), exiting the race with what Sacco called “2-year-old issues.” Given time off, roughly six months later he came off the bench to win Pimlico’s Sir Barton Stakes. Next time, King for a Day will go third off the bench.

Pletcher has other colts under consideration for Saratoga’s series of 3-year-old races, with Spinoff (sixth) and Intrepid Heart (eighth) both exiting the Belmont Stakes. Either could also run a day before the Jim Dandy in the $100,000 Curlin Stakes, which also measures nine furlongs but carries a fraction of the purse money.

King for a Day’s emergence continues a welcome trend for the Red Oak team led by Stephen Brunetti, son of the late John Brunetti. Five years ago, the team sent a broodmare band to Kentucky, where the journey begins before horses are sent to Florida.

“We get them to be five, six months old, and they’d wean, go down to Red Oak Farm,” Sacco said. “So the horses are a product of our program — our feed program, our breeding program, our training program.”

In addition to King for a Day, this crop of Red Oak 3-year-olds includes the Grade 1 winner Mind Control and Bal Bay Drive, who broke his maiden by 6 1/4 lengths earlier on the Pegasus Stakes card at Monmouth Park. A son of First Samurai, Bal Bay Drive could make his stakes debut July 14 in Laurel Park’s $100,000 Concern Stakes going seven furlongs.


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