08/25/2010 4:51PM

Our Dark Knight fits well in Pleasant Colony

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Our Dark Knight goes in the Pleasant Colony for trainer Nick Zito, who already has three in the Travers.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.– With three horses already in the Travers, trainer Nick Zito was able to take the easier route with another of his promising 3-year-olds Our Dark Knight, who will be among the top choices in Friday’s $75,000 Pleasant Colony at Saratoga. Our Dark Knight won three times and was stakes-placed in Monmouth’s Spend a Buck before finishing seventh while making his graded stakes debut in the Grade 1 Haskell earlier this month.

“They’re going to have to beat him,” Zito said of Our Dark Knight. “He’s very, very talented. He was a little bit too ambitiously placed in his last start. At this point in time, we’ll let him go through the preliminaries and maybe he’ll step up to the plate.”

Our Dark Knight figures to vie for favoritism in the 1 1/8-mile Pleasant Colony with Trickmeister, who will bring a 3-for-3 record into the race. Trickmeister was purchased privately by IEAH Stables following his wire-to-wire win in the Barbaro at Delaware Park on July 10 and was originally pointed for the Travers before his connections decided to take a more conservative approach and run in the Pleasant Colony.

“It was the owners’ decision to skip the Travers and run him in this race,” said trainer Rick Dutrow. “He’s training well and we’re hoping this will be a stepping-stone to better things later in the year.”

Modern Cowboy, an entry-level allowance winner at Monmouth on Aug. 1; Regal Warrior, fourth behind Trickmeister in the Barbaro; and Westshore, a distant second to Winslow Homer in the Curlin earlier in the meet, complete the lineup.

Driven by Success tries to rebound

Most trainers would try to come up with an excuse when their horse gets beat as the 2-5 favorite in any race, let alone a stakes, as was the case when Driven by Success finished a well-beaten second behind Endless Circle in the John Morrissey here on Aug. 5. But trainer Todd Pletcher refused to go the conventional route when asked what happened to the graded stakes-placed New York-bred earlier this month.

“He just got outrun,” said Pletcher. “He couldn’t clear that other horse and he got beat. I don’t think he loved the sloppy track. He’s better suited to a fast track, but that isn’t an excuse.”

Despite the setback as the odds-on favorite in the John Morrissey, Driven by Success will likely be the heavy choice once again when he returns in Friday’s $70,000 Vic Ziegel Memorial. Driven by Success captured his two previous starts on a fast track by a combined 9 1/4 lengths while posting triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures on each occasion and a repeat of either effort would put him back in the winner’s circle.

“It looks like he’s the controlling speed in this race so we’re going to put him on the lead and see if we can regain his confidence,” said Pletcher.

The seven-furlong Vic Ziegel attracted a field of eight New York-breds, including Groomedforvictory, beaten a neck by Giant Moon despite trouble in the nine-furlong Evan Shipman one month earlier; Mineswept, who has won back-to-back races against lesser opposition into the race; and millionaire Naughty New Yorker, who seeks his first victory since February 2008.

Naughty New Yorker is coming off a sixth-place finish in the Morrissey, a race which began with the old veteran trying to take a bite out of Icabad Crane shortly after the start.

“He’s done it three times in a row now,” said trainer Pat Kelly. “Each time he’s gotten brushed and kind of reached over to the outside reacting to the horse pinching him off. It’s the weirdest thing. He’s not really studdish at all even though he’s still a stud. The good thing is there will be nobody breaking to his outside on Friday and hopefully we’ll get some pace and be able to wake the old guy up.”

Injured exercise rider improves

Trainer Doug Fout reported that the condition of exercise rider Ben Garner, who was seriously injured when his horse Scheming flipped and fell on him while returning from the racetrack after galloping on Tuesday, had improved dramatically overnight.

“The improvement since midnight to now is huge,” Fout reported late Wednesday morning. “He’s conscious, there is no more bleeding on his brain, they’ve taken him off the ventilator. He’s able to breathe on his own, he’s able to talk and move his extremities and there are no fractures of any kind.”

Fout said doctors would be able to make a better analysis of the injury and prognosis after results from the latest CAT scan were available.

“The doctors said he suffered massive bruising around his brain but the bruise is diffusing itself now and there is no more leakage,” said Fout. “At the moment the prognosis appears to be good and hopefully we really dodged a huge bullet here.”

Fout received bad news of another kind when X-rays revealed that his horse Dark Equation had an injury that would force him to be scratched from Thursday’s Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Steeplechase Handicap, a race the 9-year-old gelding won two years ago.

“The X-rays revealed that the stress fracture he got in the A.P. Smithwick here last year is spreading and he’ll have to come out of this race,” said Fout. “It really hasn’t been a very good 24 hours around this barn.”

Yawkey Way takes Ann Clare

Yawkey Way overcame some early traffic to storm to a 3 3/4-length victory in Wednesday’s $70,000 Ann Clare Stakes for New York-bred juvenile fillies. Watkins Glen, who set the pace, held second by a length over Queen’s Harbor.

Rosa Salvaje and Readygetsgold completed the order of finish.

Jockey Javier Castellano had to steady Yawkey Way in traffic entering the far turn, but he was able to split horses three-wide at the five-sixteenths pole and powered to the lead under right-handed encouragement.

Yawkey Way, a daughter of Grand Slam owned by Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence and trained by Chad Brown, covered six furlongs in 1:11.79 and returned $3.20. Yawkey Way is now 2 for 2, with both wins coming at this meet.

Lisa’s Booby Trap set for turf debut

Lisa’s Booby Trap is headed to the turf for her next start, but on Wednesday the undefeated filly worked four furlongs in 48.49 seconds over Saratoga’s main track under jockey Kent Desormeaux.

Lisa’s Booby Trap is being pointed to the $70,000 Riskaverse Stakes at one mile on the turf here on Sept. 2.

“She worked great, the jock just loves her,” said owner/trainer Tim Snyder, who noted that Lisa’s Booby Trap galloped out in a minute. “She probably didn’t need to breeze but I couldn’t keep her in the barn.”

Lisa’s Booby Trap won her first three races at Finger Lakes before taking the Loudonville Stakes here by six lengths on Aug. 6. Though all of Lisa’s Booby Trap’s races have come on dirt, Snyder wants to run her on the turf in the Riskaverse and then possibly come back 16 days later in the Grade 1 Garden City at Belmont Park, also on the turf.

◗ Though Desormeaux was well enough to work horses Wednesday morning, he was not well enough to ride in the afternoon. According to his agent, Mike Sellitto, Desormeaux was not feeling well due to some Cajun food he ate on Tuesday night. “He wasn’t doing too good when he worked that horse,” Sellitto said.

– additional reporting by David Grening