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New client, 15 horses to Orseno
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Owner Michael Dubb, who has campaigned stakes winners Alysweep and Tom's Thunder with trainer Pat Reynolds, has transferred 15 horses from Reynolds to trainer Joe Orseno.
Dubb, 47, declined to be specific on why he made the change, other than to say, "I did what I thought was best for the horses.''
Tom's Thunder, claimed for $75,000 on Dec. 1, 2002, gave Dubb his first stakes winner four weeks later when he won the Dec. 28 Alex M. Robb for New York-breds. Alysweep, claimed for $75,000 last Dec. 15, won the ungraded Fred "Cappy'' Capossela Stakes in January and the Grade 3 Gotham in March. He also finished second in the Withers and Peter Pan, both graded stakes races.
"Those were horses that I specifically claimed, not Pat,'' Dubb said from Long Island, where he is a partner in the Beechwood Organization, a large real estate developer on Long Island. "He was the trainer, but they were my claims.''
Alysweep, who finished sixth in the Riva Ridge on Belmont Stakes Day, is being freshened on a farm and is due to join Orseno in the fall, according to Dubb.
Dubb, who was a major contributor to the Belmont Park childcare facility, said he chose Orseno because he has outfits at different tracks and has developed Preakness winner Red Bullet and Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Macho Uno.
"I think the fact that Joe has an operation in Delaware, he has an operation in Florida in the winter, and he's developed some Triple Crown horses, which is of course something we as owners all hope to have,'' Dubb said.
According to statistics provided by the New York Racing Association, Dubb's horses compiled a record of 17-19-15 from 117 starters in 2002-03 under Reynolds's tutelage. His horses earned $859,679.
Reynolds said he was a bit surprised when Dubb pulled his horses, because he felt he did well with them.
"There's no one thing that caused it. We had different ideas,'' Reynolds said. "We parted on good terms. I wish I could get as lucky for every client as I did for him. It's a bit of a hit, but you don't stay here if you have a thin skin.''
Shug shows patience with 'Team'
Despite another strong performance turned in by A Great Team on Thursday, trainer Shug McGaughey will not rush him into the $1 million Travers on Aug. 23.
"He's not running in the Travers,'' said McGaughey, who hopes to have a Travers runner in Congrats, who is entered in Sunday's Jim Dandy.
A Great Team, who is a full brother to Grade 1 winners Our Emblem, Traditionally, and Miner's Mark, won a first-level allowance race on Wednesday by 4 3/4 lengths. He has now won two straight after he lost his first two starts.
"I was very pleased,'' McGaughey said. "It was his first time around two turns, it looks like that's what he wants to do; get a little pace in front of him, drop out of it and Johnny [Velazquez] said when he pulled him to the outside and said go he was there.''
McGaughey said he would look for a second-level allowance race for A Great Team, but would also nominate him to the $500,000 Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park on Sept. 1.
Meanwhile, McGaughey provided an update on his top two 3-year-old fillies. Storm Flag Flying, last year's juvenile filly champion, remains on the farm recovering from a slight hind leg fracture. "I got a couple of pictures on my computer [Thursday], and she couldn't look any better,'' McGaughey said. "On September 1 we'll re-X-ray her, I'm sure she'll be fine, and we'll start back up then.''
Yell, who finished a well-beaten fourth in the Coaching Club American Oaks, worked three furlongs Friday in the mud at Oklahoma training center in preparation for the Grade 1 Gazelle Handicap on Sept. 6. Yell was not credited with a time for her workout.
Improving Romero spending the meet here
Former jockey Randy Romero is spending the summer at Saratoga and had some encouraging news regarding his lengthy battle with liver and kidney ailments.
"I'm doing better,'' Romero said while standing outside trainer Shug McGaughey's barn Thursday morning. "I got my last liver shot last week, and I get to stay off it for six months. They got it under control right now.''
Romero said he will see his doctor again in November to see if the hepatitis-C virus that was in his liver has come back. If it hasn't, he will be able to get a liver and kidney transplant.
"I'm very lucky, there's a new drug that has helped me out a lot,'' said Romero, who expressed his gratitude to all the people in the industry who helped him during his sickness. "I'm spending the meet here, relaxing and enjoying this beautiful weather.''
It was 15 years ago that Romero won the Whitney Handicap with Personal Ensign, who defeated Gulch and King's Swan in a three-horse race.
"I let them get themselves all beat up, and I whipped around there at the five-sixteenths pole and it was history,'' Romero said. "She ran big that day, but she was push-button. Shug prepared her very well. All I had to remember was to keep her out of trouble.''
Romero retired in 1999 with 4,294 victories and was among the three finalists on the Hall of Fame ballot. Mike Smith will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Monday.
Lukas Hopeful with Hasslefree
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas was singing the praises Friday morning of Hasslefree following the juvenile colt's impressive first-level allowance victory here the previous afternoon.
Hasslefree, a son of Forestry owned by Bob and Beverly Lewis, withstood an early speed duel to draw off to an easy 4 3/4-length victory in his Saratoga debut. His final time of 1:03.80 seconds was only three-fifths off the 5 1/2-furlong track record set by Mayokovsky two years ago.
"He's really been one of our favorites but was unfortunate in several of his earlier starts and got some bad racing breaks," Lukas said. "[Thursday] he was hooked every step of the way but took the pressure and showed some real quality."
Hasslefree had finished third in both the Tremont and Tyro stakes despite being unlucky beginning in both races. He also finished second behind the undefeated Chapel Royal in the Grade 3 Flash Stakes at Belmont.
"We've already had 14 2-year-old maiden winners, and I'll try to orchestrate a plan to sort them out a bit although Hasslefree's performance stamped him as one we'll have to take a serious look at for the Hopeful," Lukas said.
Lukas is also looking forward to the return of Nothing to Lose, whose 3-year-old campaign came to an abrupt halt after he suffered a displaced condylar fracture shortly after winning the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 21. Nothing to Lose has won
4 of 6 starts and is undefeated on grass.
"He should be ready to come back any day now," Lukas said. "He'll go to Churchill Downs, where we'll get him ready for a Florida campaign next winter."
Hennie's Song bought privately
Hennie's Song, a winner of all five career starts, has been sold privately by Steve Klesaris and Phillip Cohen to the Jumeirah Stable and has been turned over to trainer Tom Albertrani.
Hennie's Song began her career racing for a $62,500 claiming tag at Gulfstream Park. She won the Go for Wand and Susan's Girl Breeders' Cup Handicap in her last two starts.
"She had an ulcer in her eye when she came in earlier this week which is why she was scratched from the Delaware Oaks," Albertrani said. "It's healing nicely, but she won't go back in training until it's safe to do so. She looks like a filly with a lot of potential and an interesting prospect. We'll look towards a fall campaign, and hopefully can turn her into a graded stakes winner somewhere down the line."
- Mineshaft, winner of the Pimlico Special and Suburban Handicap, worked an easy half-mile in 53.74 seconds Friday over a good Saratoga main track. Trainer Neil Howard said Mineshaft would have another easy work on Wednesday before getting more serious the following week. Mineshaft is being pointed to the Grade 1 Woodward on Sept. 6 at Belmont Park.
- The New York State Racing and Wagering Board on Friday passed an emergency rule that allows for trifecta wagering in graded stakes races whose field is reduced to five betting interests. In all other races, trifecta wagering is canceled if the number of betting interests falls under six. As an emergency rule, it is only valid for 90 days. The board will consider making the rule permanent at its August meeting.
- additional reporting by Mike Welsch