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Option kept open for Take D' Tour
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer David Fawkes opted to leave Take D' Tour at Saratoga following her disappointing fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Go for Wand, not to run back in Friday's 1 1/4-mile Personal Ensign, but to prepare her for the 1 1/16-mile Ruffian Stakes at Belmont on Sept. 9.
But after Take D' Tour worked a half-mile in 47.09 seconds under regular rider Cornelio Velasquez here Monday, Fawkes said he is not counting her out of the Personal Ensign just yet.
"I've talked it over with the owner and we're still considering the Personal Ensign," Fawkes said from Florida late Monday morning, referring to owner Alice Muller. "Obviously, our horse is much better around one turn than two, which is why originally we planned on passing the Personal Ensign. But it looks like the race is going to come up with a very short field, so for now we're going to keep our options open and possibly even enter before making a final decision."
As of Monday, only Balletto and Fleet Indian were listed as definite for the Personal Ensign. Other potential starters include India Halo, Silver Highlight, Soul Search, and Yolanda B. Too. Take D' Tour easily defeated Balletto in both the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps and Grade 2 Shuvee handicaps, before Balletto turned the tables in the Go for Wand, finishing second, 10 lengths ahead of Take D' Tour.
"My other main concern is having another speed horse like Fleet Indian in the Personal," said Fawkes. "We could ultimately set the race up for Balletto if we both start."
Trainer Rick Violette is considering the Personal Ensign for Yolanda B. Too, who worked an easy half-mile in 51.04 on Monday. Yolanda B. Too is also nominated for Sunday's seven-furlong Ballerina, which, like the Personal Ensign, carries Grade 1 status.
"This morning was just a little maintenance move," said Violette. "She'll run in one of the two races. Right now I'm probably leaning towards the Personal Ensign, since it looks like it will come up a short field and it's around two turns."
Caller One returns to Big Apple
The last time Caller One ran in New York was on Oct. 27, 2001, when he finished third behind Squirtle Squirt at Belmont in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Nearly five years later, at age 9, Caller One returns to New York to compete in Wednesday's co-featured third race, a $61,000 allowance at six furlongs that also drew Voodoo, Safsoof, and Around the Cape.
Caller One has banked more than $3 million in a career that includes two wins in the Dubai Golden Shaheen. Originally retired after suffering a fractured sesamoid during the summer of 2002, Caller One returned in 2004 in Calder's two-furlong Rocket Man Stakes. He also started in the 2005 and 2006 editions of the Rocket Man. Those three starts had been his only appearances since he launched his comeback, until he shipped to Mountaineer Park earlier this month and finished fourth in a 4 1/2-furlong stakes.
"I bet nobody ever thought they'd see him back in New York again, myself included," said trainer James Chapman. "But he's doing really well, is still a handful in the morning, and he really needed those first two starts this year."
Chapman also worked Malibu Mint four furlongs in 50.40 with jockey Fernando Jara aboard Monday in preparation for the Ballerina. A stretch-running filly, Malibu Mint finished a fast-closing second behind Stormy Kiss in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss here Aug. 4, just three weeks after upsetting the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder.
"She's as good as she's ever been," said Chapman.
Jose Arce was aboard Malibu Mint in both the Honorable Miss and Princess Rooney, but Chapman said either Jara or Garrett Gomez will ride her in the Ballerina.
Flower Alley gets serious for Woodward
Flower Alley, seeking to bounce back from a seventh-place showing in the Whitney Handicap, worked six furlongs in 1:13.04 Monday morning over Saratoga's main track. Angel Cordero Jr. was aboard for the move, which was timed in fractions of 12.16 seconds, 24.20, 36.16, 48.32, and 1:00.21. Flower Alley galloped out seven furlongs in 1:26.36.
Since he was working by himself, Flower Alley wore blinkers for the work.
"I liked his work this morning," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "It was a good, solid work on a track that, at least compared to some of the times that our horses worked in, didn't appear to be a really fast track. Watching the races [Sunday] I thought it might be a little faster."
Pletcher said he plans to give Flower Alley one more work next Sunday, six days before the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodward.
"With one more work, I think we can go into the Woodward with confidence that we should be at the fitness level which gives him the chance to run his best race," Pletcher said.
Cotton Blossom, the Schuylerville winner, worked a slow five furlongs in 1:04.43 in preparation for the Grade 1 Spinaway on Sept. 3.
"It was a little slower than I wanted, but it was the right kind of slow," said Pletcher. "It was a steady slow where she was 13's all the way around there. She was nice and relaxed and galloped out pretty well. I would have liked to have gone in 1:02. It was just a little bit of an err on the side of caution. We get one more work. We'll probably put her in company for her next work."
West Virginia, third in the Whitney, worked four furlongs in 49.48 seconds for a possible start in the Woodward. West Virginia could also run in the Brooklyn Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sept. 16.
Wonder Lady Anne L gets break
Wonder Lady Anne L, the Coaching Club American Oaks winner who finished sixth in Saturday's Alabama, will be turned out for a period of 30 to 45 days, trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said Monday.
"She lost weight. She doesn't like it here," Dutrow said Monday morning outside his Saratoga barn. "We'll kick her out for about 30 days, let her run around and eat some grass. She's been going strong since early in her 2-year-old year. I think it's a good time to turn her out. She's already won a Grade 1."
It was unclear whether Wonder Lady Anne L will return to the races this year.
"When the boy tells me at the farm she looks good, put weight back on, we'll pick her back up and let her lead the way," Dutrow said.
Dutrow, who recently returned from a trip to Paris, was on hand Monday morning to oversee workouts for his stakes stars Silver Train and Rebel Rebel.
Silver Train, pointing to the Grade 1 Forego on Sept. 2, worked five furlongs in 1:00.07, and Rebel Rebel, who is likely to run next in the Woodbine Mile, worked six furlongs in 1:14.04 in company with Congo King.
Of Silver Train, Dutrow said, "He's doing great, he's on his game. I really like what's happening with that horse."
Schedule changes for Travers Week
Horsemen should be aware of a change to the entry schedule for Travers Week. The racing office will take entries Wednesday for both Friday's card and Saturday's Travers Day 12-race card. Entries for Sunday will be taken Thursday, and entries for Monday will be taken Friday. There will be no entries taken on Travers Day.
Also, horsemen are reminded that New York Racing Association chairman Steve Duncker and NYRA president and CEO Charlie Hayward will meet with trainers, breeders, and jockeys on Thursday at 11 a.m. in the Saratoga paddock to provide an update on current issues and answer questions about the future.
- additional reporting by David Grening