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Updated on 09/18/2011 1:42AM
Bluegrass Cat, Bright One likely for Travers
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - While both Haskell winner Bluegrass Cat and West Virginia Derby winner Bright One will most likely end up running in the $1 million Travers on Aug. 26, the connections of both horses on Monday wanted a little more time before declaring their horses definite.
Todd Pletcher, trainer of Bluegrass Cat, and Dale Romans, trainer of Bright One, both said they are concerned about having to face Preakness and Jim Dandy winner Bernardini on just 20 days' rest. Bernardini will have four weeks between races.
Bluegrass Cat won the Haskell by a stakes record seven lengths and earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 106. He did run second in the Kentucky Derby just three weeks after running in the Blue Grass Stakes, but he didn't run very well in the Blue Grass.
"He ran a big race," said Pletcher of Bluegrass Cat's Haskell. "That's always your concern; you want to give them plenty of time, if possible. That's what we'll spend the next 18 days sorting out. We're going to do what's best for the horse. That'll be the first priority. The Travers is only run once."
Pletcher did say that he believes Bluegrass Cat's Haskell performance was as good a race as any 3-year-old has run this year.
"I think it was just as impressive as Barbaro's Derby or Bernardini's Jim Dandy," said Pletcher. "It seemed like a dominating-type performance."
Bluegrass Cat arrived back in Saratoga on Monday morning.
Pletcher is pointing High Cotton to the Travers. He won last year's Travers with Flower Alley.
Bright One captured his first graded event by going gate to wire in the West Virginia Derby, winning by 5 3/4 lengths. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 105. Bright One returned to Churchill Downs on Monday.
"Right now, we're pointing to the Travers," Romans said. "But if he acts tired or there's any problems, then we will go to plan B."
With the Pennsylvania Derby being canceled this year, a possible plan B would be the $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 23.
John Ward said Strong Contender, Minister's Bid, and Dr. Pleasure are all under consideration for the Travers. Strong Contender finished third in the Haskell in what Ward described as a tough trip.
"My horse fought up into holes I didn't think the sucker could get in," he said. "He ran a really gutsy effort in my mind. Down the backside and all through the first turn, we had a horse outside of us that kept on slamming us. I think it makes a tremendous amount of difference how the Travers is run if Bluegrass Cat runs back. That makes a lot of difference to what we do."
Kelly Breen, trainer of Haskell runner-up Praying for Cash, said he is not ruling out running in the Travers.
"I wouldn't say yea or nay," Breen said. "We're keeping all our options open right now. The horse is catching on that he doesn't have to run off. He showed the ability [Sunday] to go a distance of ground."
Trainer Nick Zito said he is considering running Hesanoldsalt and Hemingway's Key in the Travers.
Invasor to Jockey Club Gold Cup
Whitney Handicap winner Invasor will make his next start in the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup on Oct. 7 at Belmont Park rather than the Woodward here on Sept. 2, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin said he spoke with Sheikh Hamdan of Shadwell Stable on Sunday and wanted more time between the Whitney and Invasor's next start.
"He thought timing-wise it was better," McLaughlin said. "I thought so, too. The only thing is we're not looking forward to hooking Bernardini anytime, but you have to. They're probably not looking forward to hooking us either. It works both ways."
Invasor earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 113 in the Whitney, to go along with his 111 in the Suburban and 108 in the Pimlico Special.
"He fought on and showed some real gameness the other day that we hadn't had to see yet," McLaughlin said. "Stumbling [at the start] and weaving in between and having to worry about Flower Alley for three-eighths of a mile and then shaking loose and then having to fight off Sun King was quite an effort."
Trainer Nick Zito was still smarting from Sun King's nose loss in the Whitney, but looked forward.
"I feel like John Veitch for a year," said Zito, referring to the trainer of Alydar, who finished second to Affirmed in all three Triple Crown races in 1978. "It was a sign of how courageous Sun King is and how good [Invasor] is, too. A foot after the wire, he's in front."
Zito said he was undecided whether Sun King would run back in the Woodward or in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.
Flower Alley, who finished seventh in the Whitney, appears to have come back fine, pending the results of some blood work taken Monday. The Whitney was his second race this year.
"We pulled some blood work on him today, which we'll have the results of tomorrow and see if that reveals anything," Pletcher said. "I think the track is very demanding right now. I think that maybe one race just wasn't enough to have him dead on for a peak effort in that kind of race. All I know to do is prepare him for the Woodward. With that race under his belt, and two or three more works, we'll find out."
Pletcher said that West Virginia, third in the Whitney, would likely run back in the Woodward.
The Green Monkey sidelined
The Green Monkey, the 2-year-old who sold for a world-record $16 million at auction in February, has a pulled left hind gluteal muscle and will not not make his debut at Saratoga, trainer Todd Pletcher said.
Pletcher said the injury likely occurred last week, when The Green Monkey worked five furlongs in 1:03.44.
"He's going to jog for about two weeks," Pletcher said. "I would say he is unlikely to make a start at Saratoga. It had to happen after the last work. He was a bit sore the day after, the second day. I'd say he could be back on the work tab in two to three weeks."
Many options for Swap Fliparoo
The previous two Test winners trained by Allen Jerkens, November Snow and Society Selection, both came back to win the Grade 1 Alabama at 1 1/4 miles three weeks later. Jerkens's most recent Test winner, Swap Fliparoo, could make her next start in the $600,000 Alabama on Aug. 19.
Jerkens said he would also consider the Grade 1 Ballerina at seven furlongs on Aug. 27 or the Grade 1 $250,000 Gazelle Stakes at Belmont Park on Sept. 9.
"She's not too short-bred in her breeding," Jerkens said. "We're keeping our options open."
Jerkens said Any Limit, who finished sixth in the Test, is likely to run back in the $100,000 Victory Ride Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs on Aug. 24.
Masseuse okay after injury
Masseuse was pulled up by Edgar Prado just a few strides out of the gate as the 6-5 favorite in the Matchmaker on Saturday at Monmouth Park, and was found to have a sore left hind stifle, trainer Jimmy Toner said.
Toner said Masseuse should be fine and able to make it back to the races soon.
"I haven't spoken to Edgar yet, but you can't question anything he did," Toner said. "She takes a lot of warming up, and for some reason they had a very short post parade, and I don't think she had a lot of time to warm up."
Toner said he had flashbacks to the Preakness when he saw Prado pulling Masseuse up. Prado was also aboard Barbaro when he pulled him up one furlong into the running of the Preakness.
"I'm looking at Barbaro in my head - 'Don't do this to me,' " Toner said. "Fortunately, she should be okay in a couple of days."
* Trainer Nick Zito said Noble Causeway, who finished last in Sunday's Fourstardave Handicap, came out of the race with a chip in his right front ankle and will be sidelined for a few months. Last year, Noble Causeway missed the second half of his 3-year-old season because of a chip in his left front ankle.