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Allowance sprint race fits Trippi's needs
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Plagued by foot problems for the first half of the year, Trippi looks to start the second half of his season on a winning note when he heads a five-horse field entered in a classified allowance race at six furlongs on Saturday at Saratoga.
It will be Trippi's first start since May 28, when he finished sixth in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap. Trainer Todd Pletcher is hoping to use Saturday's allowance as a prep for the Grade 1 Forego Handicap here on Sept. 1.
Trippi, a multiple graded-stakes winner at 3, has hit hard times at 4. Leaving the starting gate in the Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Sprint Championship - his first start of the year - Trippi grabbed a quarter while finishing second to Hook and Ladder.
In his next start, Trippi ran over the rock-hard main track at Churchill Downs and finished seventh in the Churchill Downs Handicap. He despised the Belmont mud in the Met Mile.
Trippi missed the Tom Fool on the Fourth of July while grabbing a quarter during a workout the week before and missed the Alfred G. Vanderbilt when a quarter crack had yet to be satisfactorily patched.
"We need to get a start into him," Pletcher said. "We felt we just got a quarter crack patch on him. We didn't have him ready [for the Vanderbilt]. The timing of this was better than the timing of that."
Pletcher seems pleased with Trippi's progress over the last week, as the horse shows two excellent workouts leading up to this assignment. Trippi, who breaks from post 5 under Jerry Bailey, should get a good stalking trip off likely pacesetter Bet Me Best.
"I think we got his feet in good shape, " Pletcher said. "He's got glue-on shoes in front, and where the quarter crack's patched it looks good. "
Others entered in the $52,000 race are graded stakes winners Big E E and Brutally Frank, and Honorifico.
Heavyweight Champ fires bullet
Heavyweight Champ, the third-place finisher in the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes here on July 26, drilled five furlongs in 1:00.45 over Saratoga's main track Thursday in preparation for next Wednesday's Grade 2 Saratoga Special. The work was the fastest of 17 moves at the distance.
"He worked real good. It was a solid work for him, " trainer John Terranova said. "I don't think the track was fast. It's been slow the past couple of mornings. "
Heavyweight Champ was compromised in the Sanford by taking a left-hand turn out of the gate when he broke from the rail. Terranova said if Heavyweight Champ drew the rail for the Saratoga Special, he might consider waiting three more days and run him in the Sapling at Monmouth Park.
Meanwhile, Jump Start, who won his maiden at first asking for trainer D. Wayne Lukas at Churchill Downs, went five furlongs in 1:00.44 over the Oklahoma training track. It was the fastest of seven moves at the distance. While Lukas has three nominated to the Saratoga Special, Jump Start, a son of A.P. Indy, is his most likely starter.
Harrisand joins Travers fray
Unimpressed with what he saw in the major 3-year-old races of last weekend, trainer Bobby Frankel said Thursday he plans to run Harrisand in the $1 million Travers Stakes on Aug. 25. Frankel does not have a confirmed rider, but said Edgar Prado was scheduled to work the horse next week.
Harrisand, a French-bred son of Marchand de Sable, has won 3 of 6 career starts. In two starts in this country, he finished fifth in the Hill Prince Stakes on June 16 at Belmont and third in the Kent Breeders' Cup Handicap on July 22 at Delaware.
"I'm not very impressed with the 3-year-olds that ran over the weekend and he trains really good on the dirt, " Frankel said. "It's as good a time as ever to try him. He's never run on the dirt, but he's won at a mile and a quarter. "
As of Thursday, the definite starters for the Travers were Scorpion, E Dubai, A P Valentine, Dollar Bill, Volponi, This Fleet is Due, and Harrisand. Point Given, Win City, and Balto Star are possible. If Point Given does not run, Gary Stevens is expected to ride Scorpion. With Pat Day committed to ride This Fleet is Due, Jorge Chavez will pick up the mount on Dollar Bill.
Prado to ride Flute
With Jerry Bailey committed to ride Hap in the Arlington Million, Edgar Prado has picked up the mount on Flute for next Saturday's Grade 1 $750,000 Alabama Stakes, Frankel said.
Frankel said he had no problem with Bailey choosing to ride out-of-town that day.
"I don't get upset about those things, " Frankel said. "He's going for Billy [Mott], he's got other races to ride. I get the best I can get; Prado is no slouch. "
Fleet Renee, Flute's main rival in the Alabama, was credited with a half-mile breeze in 53.40 seconds Thursday over trainer Michael Dickinson's all-weather track at Tapeta Farm in Maryland. Dickinson, who was in Saratoga on Thursday afternoon, said he was pleased with the move. Dickinson said he has not yet finalized shipping arrangements for Fleet Renee.
Refunds issued to bettors in ninth race
The New York Racing Association had to refund $481,444 in wagers on Thursday's last race after Mercy Be was declared a non-starter because he was unprepared for the start. Mercy Be, who had thrown jockey Javier Castellano in the gate, was in the hands of the assistant starter when the gates sprung. Mercy Be was 4-1 on the tote board before being declared a non-starter.
The race was won by longshot Glitter Lad, giving apprentice jockey Lorenzo Lezcano his first North American victory. The pick four, combining Crafty Runner ($7.40), Spectaculaireontap ($22.40), Royal Sting ($34.20), and Glitter Lad ($42) returned $187,069. That topped the previous NYRA record of $179,370 set last Saturday.
Praise the Prince romps
Praise the Prince lived up to his 3-5 odds by taking command entering the stretch the second time, clearing the final fence with ease, and drawing clear to a 4 1/4-length victory in the $81,350 A.P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase Handicap at Saratoga.
Aggro Crag finished second, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Spring Salute, who necked out Al Skywalker for third. Popular Gigalo finished fifth while Quel Senor and Indispensable both fell.
It was the sixth win in the last eight steeplechase races for Praise the Prince, a 6-year-old New Zealand-bred gelding owned by George Strawbridge's Augustin Stable and trained by Sanna Neilson.
Praise the Prince won carrying 158 pounds, spotting the field six to 16 pounds under Gus Brown.
"This is a super-consistent horse, " Neilson said. "He's very workmanlike and very hard to fault. To do what he did today - spotting weight in his first start against open horses - is not an easy task. I was concerned with the heat, especially with him carrying all that weight. But he handled it great. "
Praise the Prince ($3.30) covered the 2 1/16 miles in 3:39.36 over firm turf. Neilson plans to point Praise the Prince to the Grade 1 $100,000 New York Turf Writers' Cup at 2 3/8 miles here on Aug. 30.
Jockey Joseph Delozier III escaped serious injury after his mount, Indispensable, fell over the second fence. Delozier was taken off the course on a stretcher and was transported via ambulance to Saratoga Hospital. X-rays on Delozier's neck and shoulder were negative and he was released.
Roger Horgan was also unseated when his mount, Quel Senor, fell over the eighth fence. Horgan was not hurt.
Neither horse was injured.
* Less than 24 hours after he was released from Saratoga Hospital due to chest pains, Cordero was back in Thursday morning with stomach problems. He was treated and released early Thursday afternoon.