08/12/2009 11:00PM

Charitable Man on fence for Travers

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is trying to decide whether to keep Charitable Man racing with the upper echelon of the 3-year-old division or search for easier company. On Thursday, the horse had his say by working a sharp half-mile in 47.88 seconds over Saratoga's main track.

The move, Charitable Man's first since his third-place finish as the favorite in the Jim Dandy here on Aug. 1, was the fastest of 26 works at the distance.

"He worked great," said McLaughlin, who was actually expecting a little slower time.

McLaughlin said he needed to talk with owner William Warren to decide if Charitable Man should forge on to the $1 million Travers here on Aug. 29 or wait for the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park on Sept. 7. The Travers is 1 1/4 miles, whereas the Pennsylvania Derby is at 1 1/8 miles, the distance of Charitable Man's Peter Pan victory.

The Travers is expected to draw Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird, Florida Derby winner Quality Road, and possibly the superstar filly Rachel Alexandra.

"He's a nice horse," McLaughlin said. "He might not be up to those other ones, but we're going to talk to Mr. Warren about whether we duck these heavy heads and go elsewhere."

Charitable Man finished fourth in the Belmont Stakes, but was shortening up to 1 1/8 miles in the Jim Dandy, where he was sent off the favorite. He was wide around both turns and was bumped a time or two by a rank Convocation around the far turn. He tried to make a run at Kensei and Warrior's Reward, but ended up third, beaten 2 1/2 lengths.

"It was an eventful trip for us, small field, and [Convocation] moved up inside of us and bumped us into the turn a couple of times," McLaughlin said.

On Thursday, McLaughlin also worked the 2-year-old Fearless Cowboy in preparation for a start in next Thursday's Grade 2 Saratoga Special. Fearless Cowboy, who has made all four of his starts on Woodbine's synthetic surface, went five furlongs in 1:03.12 in company with the unstarted 2-year-old Double O Uno.

Indian Blessing sizzles in Ballerina work

Horses like Indian Blessing are the primary reason that you can now call Bob Baffert a Hall of Fame trainer. On Thursday, Indian Blessing gave an indication she is back to the form that may earn her those honors some day down the line.

Indian Blessing, a two-time champion filly, worked five furlongs in 58.95 seconds over the Oklahoma training track Thursday morning, a move that signaled to Baffert she is "back to her old self."

"She smoked, man," said Baffert, who was to be inducted into Thoroughbred racing's Hall of Fame on Friday. "She looked awesome. She needed to look awesome - she's going to have to run hard. She's a machine, boy."

Indian Blessing, champion 2-year-old filly in 2007 and female sprinter in 2008, is being pointed to the Grade 1 Ballerina on Aug. 29, where she will face the Grade 1 winner Informed Decision, among others. Indian Blessing finished second against males in the Dubai Golden Shaheen in March before finishing fourth in the Desert Stormer Stakes at Hollywood Park on June 14, a race from which she emerged with a hind leg infection.

Baffert scratched Indian Blessing from the Princess Rooney at Calder on July 11 because he had treated the infected area with penicillin, which contains procaine, a substance prohibited from being in a horse's system on race day. Baffert feared that the substance might still show up in the filly's system for that race.

Mine That Bird's brother debuts Saturday

Brother Bird, a 2-year-old half-brother to Kentucky Derby winner Mine that Bird, will make his career debut in Saturday's second race, a six-furlong event. A son of Yonaguska, who was a first-out winner as well as a dead-heat Hopeful winner, Brother Bird is owned by Dogwood Stable and trained by Todd Pletcher.

Dogwood has won with two first-time starters at this meet including Aikenite, who is trained by Pletcher. However, Pletcher said he thinks Brother Bird may need a race.

"He's been training steadily, but he gives us the impression that he's going to want more distance and might need a race or two to get it all together," he said. "We've done everything we can do in the mornings, so it's time to go over there and start the process."

The race drew a field of nine, though Bulldogger, trained by Baffert, is expected to scratch because he is sick. Among the more well-bred runners are Liston, a Darley-owned colt by Storm Cat who is a half-brother to the multiple Grade 1-winning 2-year-old Country Star, and World Record, a son of Awesome Again out of the Grade 1 winner Finder's Fee.

Cat Moves had an excuse

Trainer Tony Dutrow finally found a reason for Cat Moves's disappointing third-place finish in the Grade 1 Test on Aug. 8. She popped an abscess in her left front foot.

Dutrow said the abscess popped two days after the Test, and it gives him a new appreciation for the fact she was even able to finish third, beaten 1 3/4 lengths. Dutrow said that when he watched the race live, he didn't think Cat Moves was traveling as well as she had in her other races.

"At the three-eighths pole I thought she was in big trouble," Dutrow said. "It was her class and being that kind of a filly that allowed her to do what she did in the stretch."

Dutrow said Cat Moves, who won the Grade 1 Prioress in her third career start, has not yet been back to the track, and the trainer sounded as if he's in no hurry to get her there.

"I'd be happy to forget about things for a while," he said.

* Hoping to cash in on the success trainer Wesley Ward had this year at Royal Ascot, Nick Smith, the head of communications and international racing for Ascot Racecourse, is on the grounds on a recruiting mission. He will be here through Sunday. Next year's Royal Ascot meet runs June 15-19.

* Jockeys Ron Turcotte and Calvin Borel will participate in an autograph session this weekend at the Secretariat.com booth adjacent to the jockey silks display. Turcotte will be there both days from 11 a.m. to noon, while Borel will be available on Sunday. Turcotte will be joined by Jim Gaffney, one of Secretariat's exercise riders.