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Tri-Bone Stable's Effinex was on the main track for his first post-Suburban workout, going five furlongs in 1:00.65 seconds under exercise rider Kelvin Pahal. The son of Mineshaft remains on target for Grade 1, $1.25 million Whitney Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.
Earlier this month at Belmont Park, the Jimmy Jerkens-trained Effinex became the first horse to win back-to-back Suburbans since Devil His Due, who was trained by his late father Allen Jerkens. Mike Smith, aboard for Effinex's last three wins, including the Grade 1 Clark Handicap, rode Devil His Due to victory in the 1994 Suburban.
While Jerkens was en route to Belmont Park after training hours, his wife Shirley reported all signs are Effinex bounced out of the Suburban nicely. "Beautiful - a great work today, and we were very happy," she said.
Among New York-breds, Effinex is currently third on the all-time earnings with $2,962,950. A Whitney win would be worth $670,000, a sum that would vault him past current leader Funny Cide ($3,529,412) and A Shin Forward ($3,421,360), who raced exclusively in Japan.
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Trainer John Terranova was very enthusiastic following El Kabeir's final work for the Whitney.
Working in company on the main track with stablemate Not Taken, a 3-year-old allowance filly, El Kabeir was credited by New York Racing Association clockers with a time of 59.66 seconds fur five furlongs. Exercise rider Simon Harris was up for the move, and jockey Ricardo Santana, who will ride El Kabeir in the 1 1/8-mile Whitney, was aboard Not Taken.
"They went off nice, finished nice, galloped out nice - everything is good to go," Terranova said.
Zayat Stables' El Kabeir, who won his second career start in a 2014 maiden race at Saratoga by 10 3/4 lengths, is seeking his first win since capturing the City of Laurel Stakes in Maryland last November.
After finishing fourth at Santa Anita in December in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes, El Kabeir ran back at Santa Anita and finished seventh in the Grade 2 San Antonio in February. A turf try followed in May at Pimlico and yielded a seventh-place finish. But El Kabeir's fourth in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster in his most recent race, where he was beaten just two lengths, was an effort that pleased his team.
"He ran a great race in the Stephen Foster," Terranova said. "He was coming at the end, and he blew by them all galloping out. He was full of run. He came out of that race fantastic, and he has been training really, really well since. I've been looking forward to the Whitney since then."
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John C. Oxley's Noble Bird had his second work this morning since arriving at Saratoga, going a half-mile in 48.20 seconds beneath Julien Leparoux, who piloted the son of Birdstone to a lengthy triumph in the Pimlico Special two starts back.
Looking to rebound after setting a fast early pace in the Met Mile, Noble Bird will be stretching back out to 1 1/8 miles in the Whitney - a distance at which he recorded a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 108 winning last year's Grade 1 Stephen Foster.
"He went super, he went beautiful," said trainer Mark Casse. "I had him (galloping) out in a minute and four-fifths."
This will be a busy week for Casse. After the Whitney drawevening, the seven-time Sovereign Award winner as Canada's Outstanding Trainer will be jetting north to the Mississauga Convention Centre, where he will be inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame along with Wise Dan and Dahlia, among others.
"I was going to leave, but I'd like to stay for the [Whitney] draw," he said. "I think I can leave morning and still be okay."
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Samraat's five-furlong work Saturday morning on the main track has kept him in consideration for the Whitney, according to trainer Rick Violette, who clocked the New York-bred in .
"He certainly worked well enough to run, but he didn't push me either way today - yet he did enough to keep me in limbo," Violette said with a laugh. "I'm very concerned coming backoff a lifetime race. Mr. Riggio is of the same mind, so I will talk to him and see what his thoughts are, and go from there.
"The other thing is that we are backing up from a mile and a half, to a mile and a quarter, to a mile and an eighth," he added. "His speed will be somewhat diminished because the pace will be faster. We're not going to be on the lead. We'll look at that dynamic, too, and see if we're giving up too much of an edge."
In his last start, New York-bred Samraat finished second, beaten a neck, in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park July 9. He earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 103 in the Suburban.
Should he run in the Whitney, Samraat, who is a homebred for Leonard Riggio's My Meadowview Farm, will be ridden by Jose Ortiz.
The Violette-trained Upstart is a definite for the Whitney.
Source: NYRA Communications