09/01/2010 3:52PM

Afleet Again likely headed to Pennsylvania Derby


OCEANPORT, N.J. – The Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 25 will likely be the next spot for Afleet Again following a fourth-place finish in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

“He came out of the race great,” trainer Butch Reid said on Wednesday. “He went back to the track this morning at Philadelphia Park. He galloped a strong mile and a quarter, and looked good doing it.”

The Travers was a solid bid, considering the big gray was hung wide around both turns. The rallying trip, with Cornelio Velasquez aboard, was exactly what Reid hoped for.

“I told the jock to take a nice little hold of him for the first part and just wait as long as you possibly could,” Reid said. “That’s this horse’s forte. He’s got about a three-eighths of a mile run. If you use it too early, he’ll flatten out like he did in the Haskell.

“I thought Cornelio did a really nice job. Unfortunately, when you do it like that, you get swung wide in a big field. I think that cost him a little bit. All in all, it was a good race.”

The winner of the Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct in April, Afleet Again spent most of his summer at Monmouth, where he ran three times in stakes. His best moment here was a closing second to Afleet Express in the Grade 3 Pegasus. He missed by less than a length in the Spend a Buck and ran fifth in the Haskell.

And he’s still learning.

He’s still not a focused as we’d like him to be,” Reid said. “We might change up his equipment maybe one more time and close up those blinkers a little bit. He’s been running with a pretty open set, so maybe we can sharpen his focus with that.”

Breen looking for more turf spots

It’s certainly not sour grapes. Not after trainer Kelly Breen ran 1-3 in Monmouth’s Junior Champion Stakes on Sunday with A Brilliant Idea and Sleepless Dixie.

Breen would still like to see Monmouth offer some prep opportunities for 2-year-olds to run on the grass here before thrusting them into the Junior Champion for fillies or the Continental Mile for colts, both at one mile on turf.

“We don’t know if they’ll like to run on it here, or if they just like to eat it,” Breen said before the race.

Turns out, they both settled in just fine on Monmouth’s lawn.

A Brilliant Idea had run twice before the Junior Champion, getting thirds on the turf at Belmont Park and on the main track here.

Sleepless Dixie was 1 for 3 going in, all main track sprints at Monmouth.

“For the first time ever being on the grass, Sleepless Dixie performed quite well,” Breen said. “Considering Monmouth doesn’t offer a prep, she ran a pretty good race. That takes nothing away from A Brilliant Idea, who ran a great race.”

A Brilliant Idea will likely make her next start in either Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont on Oct. 3 or the Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 14 with an eye toward the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Pair for Sapling

Breen entered both Nacho Saint and Brother in Arms for the Grade 3, $150,000 Sapling Stakes for 2-year-olds on Saturday.

Nacho Saint, a maiden who has run seconc in all three starts, could win up here or in the Grade 1 Hopeful, the closing-day feature on Monday at Saratoga.

The Sapling field also includes Vengeful Wildcat, 2 for 2 at the meet including the Tyro Stakes, and Maybesomaybenot, the front running winner of the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga.