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Afleet Express tunes up for Jim Dandy
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Afleet Express completed his major preparation for a start in next Saturday’s $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes by working seven furlongs in 1:25.60 on Friday morning over Saratoga’s main track.
Breaking off midway around the clubhouse turn under exercise rider Kelvin Pahal, Afleet Express worked an opening quarter in 24.60 seconds and continued through splits of 36.60, 49.45, 1:00.90, and 1:12.60. He galloped out a mile in 1:38.62, according to Daily Racing Form .
“Nice and even all the way,” trainer Jimmy Jerkens said. “I wanted him to go far and I wanted him to go pretty good.”
Due to concerns over breezing on a wet track, Jerkens moved the work up to Friday from Saturday. Light rain was falling at the time that Afleet Express was working, but the main track was still fast.
Afleet Express, who comes off a 1 3/4-length victory in the Grade 3 Pegasus, figures to vie for favoritism in the Jim Dandy with A Little Warm, runner-up in the Louisiana Derby and a recent allowance winner at Delaware Park, as well as Fly Down, the Dwyer winner and Belmont Stakes runner-up.
Aikenite, Friend or Foe, and the Aidan O’Brien-trained Steinbeck are expected to run. Steinbeck, who is 1 for 4 with all starts on turf, is set to arrive Wednesday in New York, where he will do a quarantine period before vanning here the day of the race.
Tony Dutrow, trainer of A Little Warm, said Winslow Homer is possible for the Jim Dandy or the Curlin the following day.
Migliore starts racing partnership
Recently retired jockey Richard Migliore was a visitor to the Saratoga backstretch Friday morning and understandably had mixed emotions on opening day, the first one he’s missed in about 30 years.
“There’s no place you’d rather be than Saratoga on opening day, the atmosphere is great it’s something that never gets old,” Migliore said. “Thirty-some-odd years I’ve been coming here, it’s always that anticipation and excitement in the air, you feel it. The fact you can’t jump on one of these [horses], it’s mixed emotions. But I’m here and I’m getting to catch up with people.”
Migliore announced his retirement in June after suffering fractured vertebrae in his neck following a spill during the winter. He was forced to wear a brace for two months following surgery in May, but was walking around brace-free Friday.
Migliore has become the managing partner of a racing partnership called Pantheon Stables. Currently, the group has a pair of 2-year-old fillies with trainer Carlos Martin, but soon hopes to add more horses and utilize trainers David Figureoa – a long-time friend of Migliore’s – and Robert Reinacher.
Migliore and one of his business partners, Dr. Tom Qualtier, will hold a cocktail reception 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Jacob and Anthony’s, a restaurant at 38 High Rock in Saratoga, to talk about the new venture.
“Our idea is to minimize everybody’s risk – we can’t guarantee everybody’s going to make money – and maximize their experience,” Migliore said. “We want them to have a great time and introduce racing to as many people as we can in a positive way and hope that they’re in the game 20 years or 30 years from now, whether they’re with us or not.”
Warrior’s Reward targets Forego
After a month’s vacation following his sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, Warrior’s Reward returned to the work tab Friday morning, breezing four furlongs in 51.86 seconds over Saratoga’s main track.
Trainer Ian Wilkes said he’s hoping to get the Carter Handicap winner to the Grade 1 Forego here Sept. 4.
Wilkes said he turned Warrior’s Reward out for 30 days following the Met Mile and brought him back into training at the beginning of July.
“He came back feeling good, he’s a lot stronger and he looks good,” Wilkes said.
Wilkes blamed himself for Warrior’s Reward’s bad performance, saying he had Calvin Borel keep Warrior’s Reward closer to the pace than he prefers in attempt to beat Quality Road.
“I tried to beat Quality Road, instead of letting my horse try to beat him,” Wilkes said. “I never gave him a chance to do it.”
Wilkes said Bearpath, beaten two lengths by Gio Ponti when fourth in the Man ’o War, will be pointed to the Sword Dancer here Aug. 14.
Whatsthescript adjusting quickly
It’s not uncommon for horses to spend a year or more at stud and then return to the track to resume their racing careers, although rarely does such a career change result in a great deal of success. But trainer Gary Contessa believes Whatsthescript could prove an exception.
Whatsthescript spent the 2010 breeding season at owner Tommy Stull’s Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, where he was bred to 26 mares before returning to the racetrack with Contessa late this spring. The multiple Grade 2 winner turned in a strong effort when launching his comeback with a third-place finish in Monmouth Park’s Battlefield Stakes on July 10 and is currently being pointed to the Grade 2 Fourstardave here Aug. 2.
“Most horses just aren’t the same when they come back to the track from stud,” Contessa said shortly after Whatsthescript worked seven furlongs in 1:26 over the turf course at the Oklahoma training track Friday. “Bertrando and Around the Cape are two examples who come to mind. And I think the main reason for this is that these horses are just too high strung and, to put it simply, too studdish to train properly after what they’d been through and experienced on the breeding farm.”
But Contessa says Whatsthescript has been nothing but a perfect gentleman since joining his stable.
“The first day I sent him to the track, we got him out there about five minutes before it closed when he was about the only horse out there and he behaved perfectly,” Contessa said. “Gradually, I started sending him out earlier and earlier, and he’s never given any indication of being a problem. This morning, there were 50 horses going in every direction out on the turf course when he worked and he never messed a hair. Naturally, we do keep him away from fillies, but he’s just been such a pleasure to train and he’s fast becoming one of my favorites. I really love this horse.”
Contessa also is confident Whatsthescript will move forward off his performance in the Battlefield.
“He ran his eyeballs out the first time back at Monmouth,” Contessa said. “He worked well this morning, finished up very strong, and I believe he’s going to prove very formidable in the Fourstardave.”
◗ The 2-year-old Boys at Tosconova, who earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure winning a maiden race by 12 lengths at Belmont on July 2, worked a pedestrian five furlongs in 1:05.02 over Saratoga’s main track under jockey Ramon Dominguez on Friday morning.
Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said he wasn’t looking for a quick work from Boys at Tosconova, who is being pointed to the Grade 1 Hopeful on Sept. 6.
Meanwhile, at Aqueduct, Dutrow’s I Want Revenge worked a bullet four furlongs in 46.60 seconds. I Want Revenge is being pointed to the Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park on Aug. 21.
– additional reporting by Mike Welsch