Palace Malice & Verrazano Complete Travers Preparations

Trainer Todd's Pletcher dynamic duo of Palace Malice and Verrazano took to the main track right after the renovation break Sunday morning for their final serious works leading up to Saturday's 144th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Travers at Saratoga Race Course.


An eager Palace Malice went first under exercise rider Jake Nelson, breezing through a half-mile in 48.21 seconds, the 17th fastest of 70 at the distance. A few moments later, Verrazano, with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez in the irons and working in company, went a half-mile in 48.65 seconds, ranking 25th of 70 at the distance.


Pletcher said he was very pleased with the way both Palace Malice, winner of the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes in June and the Grade 2 Jim Dandy on July 27 at Saratoga, and Verrazano, triumphant in the Grade 1 Haskell on July 28 at Monmouth Park, look six days out from the 1 ¼-mile "Mid-Summer Derby."


"Palace Malice is feeling good," Pletcher said of the Dogwood Stable color-bearer. "He's feeling great, actually, so we were happy to get him on the track. He seems to be thriving. The more he does, the better he gets. With both horses, it's rare that you go through these Triple Crown prep series, run in the Derby - and in Palace Malice's case, the Belmont - and seem to get bigger and stronger and better as you're doing it. I think the key to the really good ones is they're able to withstand those types of campaigns and flourish while doing it."


Verrazano, owned by the partnership of Let's Go Stable, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, worked in company with Capo Bastone, who is unraced since a seventh-place finish in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens presented by NYRA Rewards on June 8 at Belmont Park.


"Verrazano always goes in company," said Pletcher. "He's a little different personality than the other horse. I thought he went very well. His gallop-out was very good. We kind of flip-flopped their gallop-outs from last week. Palace Malice last week was a little bit stronger, so we wanted to do a little more on the day with Verrazano. We got what we were looking for."


The Travers will be the colts' second race at 1 ¼ miles. While Palace Malice faded to 12th after a setting a torrid pace in the Kentucky Derby, he went on to prove victorious in the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes. Following his 14th place finish in the Derby, Verrazano went on to win the Grade 3 Pegasus at 1 1/16 miles and the 1 1/8-mile Haskell.


"With the way the racetrack came up that day in the Haskell, I think any horse that could handle a mile and an eighth and finish up as strongly as he did that day can handle a mile and a quarter at Saratoga," said Pletcher of Verrazano. "That was a very deep, demanding track that day. I think a mile and a quarter shouldn't be an issue."


Pletcher noted that Verrazano, a son of More Than Ready, and Palace Malice, by Curlin, have similar pace-pressing running styles.


"Hopefully, [that won't create complications]," said Pletcher. "It will come down to post positions and Johnny [Velazquez] and Mike [Smith] are going to have to make decisions on where they want to be. Hopefully, they don't get in each other's way, but each of them will have to run their own race to try and win. We'll talk about strategies for each individual horse, and those guys will have to sort it out."


Pletcher said he and Ed Stanco of King of Prussia Stable haven't decided whether Grade 1 Alabama winner Princess of Sylmar will compete again in 2013, and, if she does, where she will make her next start.


"We just need to see how she comes back, how she trains, how her weight is, her disposition, attitude, and all the other things you evaluate horses with," said Pletcher. "She's run two very powerful races in four weeks time."


In her two starts prior to the Alabama, Princess of Sylmar posted a 38-1 upset in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks in May at Churchill Downs, and captured the Grade 1 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks in July at Saratoga.


If Pletcher and Stanco are content with how Princess of Sylmar exits the Alabama, she could make her next start in the Grade 1 Cotillion for 3-year-old fillies on September 21 at Parx Racing or the Grade 1 Beldame Invitational for fillies and mares on September 28 at Belmont Park.


"If we don't go in the Cotillion and she runs again, then the Beldame would be the next possibility," said Pletcher.  "I don't think we're under any time crunch. We can give her a normal three days off and go back to the track, and play it by ear over the next couple of weeks."


Pletcher said Stanco intends to race Princess of Sylmar as a 4-year-old and maybe even as a 5-year-old.


"There are plenty of reasons to stop on a lot of these [horses] as you go along, so you hate to stop on one when there's not a reason to," said Pletcher. "At the same time, she's been running all year and there's a lot of races next year, and even possibly as a 5-year-old, so you don't want to get greedy. That's what we'll have to evaluate."


Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap winner Cross Traffic recorded his first published work since his victory on August 3, zipping four furlongs in 47.83 seconds in company with Forty Tales over the main track.


Cross Traffic, a 4-year-old son of Unbridled's Song, is being pointed toward the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward, a 1 1/8-mile race on August 31.


"He's been showing us pretty good energy here since the Whitney," Pletcher said of Cross Traffic, who also finished second by a nose to Sahara Sky in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap this year. "I actually feel like he's training better coming out of it than he was going into it, so we're trying to make sure the Woodward is the right spot. Certainly, the way he worked this morning indicated that he's coming out of the Whitney in good shape."


Pletcher is trying to figure out the best path to take to get Cross Traffic to the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic on November 2. There is a chance Cross Traffic could be held back for the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 28 at Belmont Park.


"So, that's the decision we have to make, whether to run back here or in the Jockey Club," Pletcher said. "Based on what we're seeing, it would be pretty hard not to run him back."


Forty Tales, winner of three straight stakes - the Grade 3 Derby Trial, the Grade 2 Woody Stephens, and the Grade 2 Amsterdam - is on track for a run in the Grade 1, $500,000 Foxwoods King's Bishop at seven furlongs on August 24.


"It was an exceptional work for Forty Tales, who's not, generally, a very good work horse," Pletcher said. "Today, I thought he was really good."


Pletcher also worked 2012 juvenile champion Shanghai Bobby in company with Graydar, winner this year of the Grade 1 Donn Handicap, who hasn't been out since taking the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap in March.


Both were recorded as traveling four furlongs in 49.02 seconds on the main track.


"Both were in a similar situation in terms of fitness level, so I thought it worked out really well," Pletcher said.




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Older Comments about Palace Malice & Verrazano Complete Travers Preparations...

Not sure how everyone thinks 3YO will be decided if PM wins the Travers. Only way it is definitely decided is if Verrazano wins. If Orb wins and Verrazano takes another graded stake, or the BCC he will definitely take 3YO honors over Orb.
I hope ORB has a work Monday that will convince Shug he is a Travers starter. 3 year old champion to be decided 8/24 barring an upset.

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