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Fleet Renee out of Alabama; Flute stands out
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The great showdown will have to wait.
Fleet Renee, winner of the Ashland and Mother Goose, will miss Saturday's Grade 1 Alabama and a meeting with Kentucky Oaks winner Flute because of an unspecified injury, according to owner Verne Winchell.
"[It's] not enough to be anything permanent," Winchell said Wednesday afternoon from his Las Vegas home. "It's nothing serious. She'll be back for the next one."
The most likely next spot for Fleet Renee would be the Grade 1 Gazelle at Belmont on Sept. 8 at nine furlongs. The Breeders' Cup Distaff will be run at Belmont at the same distance on Oct. 27. Fleet Renee won the Mother Goose, a nine-furlong race at Belmont in June.
Winchell would not reveal the nature of the injury, referring further inquiries to trainer Michael Dickinson. Dickinson did not return phone calls seeking comment about the injury. Earlier in the day, Dickinson had not mentioned an injury, only saying that he would pick out another race and point for the Breeders' Cup Distaff. "She's fine, she's just not running," Dickinson said.
Fleet Renee's defection did not come as unwelcome news to Bobby Frankel, trainer of Flute, who now figures to be sent off a prohibitive favorite in the Alabama.
"That doesn't make me feel bad," Frankel said. "I wish there were about five or six other ones that weren't coming. I don't wish [Fleet Renee] anything bad."
Others expected to run include Dancethruthedawn, Exogenous, Real Cozzy, Tweedside, and Two Item Limit. With the defection of Flute, trainers Neil Howard and Mark Hennig may consider entering horses in the race. Howard would consider Unbridled Lassie, while Hennig has Mystic Lady and Unrestrained nominated.
Unshaded bows tendon
Unshaded, winner of the 2000 Travers, has sustained a bowed tendon in his left foreleg and will be out of action indefinitely, trainer Carl Nafzger said Wednesday.
A bowed tendon is a strain to the tendon so named because of the appearance of a bow shape due to swelling. It is an injury that requires plenty of time off and usually forces horses - especially those of Grade 1 quality - to be retired. But because Unshaded is a gelding, his connections will attempt a surgical procedure that may allow Unshaded to return to the races next year.
"We got the mechanical features in place to try it, so why don't we try it?" trainer Carl Nafzger said. "He'll never get sold; he'll never run in a claiming race."
Unshaded suffered a similar tendon injury last year following his scintillating head win over Albert the Great in the Travers. Following surgery, he returned to the races in May to win a classified allowance race at Churchill Downs. He ran in three graded stakes thereafter and could finish no better than fifth. In his last start, Unshaded finished sixth, beaten five lengths in the Grade 1 Whitney.
Nafzger said that Unshaded suffered the injury while galloping on the track on Aug. 5.
Mayakovsky works toward Hopeful
Mayakovsky, who set a track record for 5 1/2 furlongs here on opening day, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.21 over Saratoga's main track Wednesday in preparation for the Grade 1 Hopeful here on Sept. 1.
Jockey Edgar Prado was aboard for the workout, his first time on Mayakovsky since he won his maiden by 1 1/4 lengths while covering the distance in 1:03.32.
"He went real good," Prado said. "He's a very nice horse to ride. He's pretty much the same horse he was [when he won]. He only did what I asked him to do and when he came back he couldn't blow out a match."
Trainer Patrick Biancone said he believes Mayakovsky has filled out some since his maiden win.
Perfect Cat, Gander target Cup
After knocking heads with the likes of Albert the Great and Lido Palace lately, both Perfect Cat and Gander should find things a bit easier when they run in Sunday's $300,000 Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap.
Both Albert the Great and Lido Palace are pointing to the Woodward at Belmont Park on Sept. 8 and weren't nominated to Sunday's Grade 2 race.
The last time Perfect Cat ran in a race without Albert the Great, he won the Grade 3 William Donald Schaefer Handicap at Pimlico on Preakness Day. He ran a respectable second behind Albert the Great in the Brooklyn before finishing fourth in both the Suburban and Whitney handicaps.
"He's run hard every race he's been in," trainer Mark Hennig said. "He's always coming, it seems. In the Suburban, especially the last 50 yards, I thought he showed some courage by still running to the wire."
Richard Migliore will ride Perfect Cat under 115 pounds, seven fewer than Aptitude, the 122-pound highweight.
Gander, who is closing in the on the $1 million mark in earnings, will be running for only $200,000 because he is not an original Breeders' Cup nominee. Trainer John Terranova had the option to ship to Monmouth for the $350,000 Iselin Handicap on Aug. 26, but cited Ganders' 3-0-2 record at Saratoga as a primary reason why he elected to stay here.
"He loves Saratoga. We're just going to keep him doing what he likes doing," Terranova said.
Shaun Bridgmohan, who rode Gander in the Whitney, will ride back on Sunday.
Other definites for the race include A Fleets Dancer, Pleasant Breeze, Top Official, and Bare Outline.
Million-dollar baby wins debut
Another Storm, a million-dollar yearling purchase, won her debut Wednesday, taking a maiden turf race by 3 1/4 lengths.
"I thought she showed she's really special," Bond said. "She had a little bit of a rough trip, a little greenness. It looks like she's gong to be a champion like her momma."
Another Storm is by Gone West and the first foal out Storm Song, the champion 2-year-old filly of 1996.
In the next race, Bond sent out Transcendental to a 6 1/4-length win in a second-level allowance win. He was vanned off, but was found to be fine back at the barn.
"Edgar felt she took a bad step," Bond said. "If anything, she's maybe a little weak in the back area. She cooled out very well, she's very comfortable. I'm happy."
* In Wednesday's fifth race, Brocco Gold Strike was bet down to 9-5 favoritism in his first start off a six-month layoff. A few strides out of the gate, he stumbled and grabbed the quarter of his right front foot and was pulled up by jockey Bridgmohan.