09/19/2013 3:35PM

Pennsylvania Derby: Fury Kapcori adds to Travers rematch

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Fury Kapcori enters the Pennsylvania Derby on Saturday off a runner-up finish in the El Cajon Stakes at Del Mar last month.

Like last year, the story line entering the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby is a rematch of two Travers horses. And like last year, the story line coming out of Saturday’s $1 million Pennsylvania Derby could be about a California shipper who stole the money.

Will Take Charge and Moreno, separated by a nose when first and second in the Grade 1 Travers on Aug. 24, will deservedly get most of the headlines and most of the betting money in the Pennsylvania Derby. Those looking to upset the top two could do worse than Fury Kapcori, an 8-1 morning-line prospect from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

Last year, California shipper Handsome Mike won the Pennsylvania Derby at 19-1, upsetting Travers dead-heat winners Golden Ticket and Alpha.

Fury Kapcori, a son of Tiznow, won twice as a 2-year-old, once sprinting at Golden Gate Fields and once going a mile at Fresno. However, he ended his 2-year-old campaign with runner-up finishes in the Real Quiet Stakes and the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity, both at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Training for his 3-year-old debut, Fury Kapcori developed a chip in his right knee that needed to be removed. Fury Kapcori didn’t run until August, when he finished fourth in an allowance race going six furlongs and second, beaten a head by Holy Lute, in the El Cajon Stakes going a two-turn mile at Del Mar.

[PENNSYLVANIA DERBY: Get PPs, watch Saturday's full Parx card live]

In the El Cajon, Fury Kapcori rated off the pace and just got outfinished by Holy Lute. In his previous good races, Fury Kapcori had shown a need to be right on the pace.

“He can be real tactical if we want him to be, lay back off the pace or show some speed if we want him to,” said Hollendorfer, who has Mike Smith named to ride.

Though Fury Kapcori has never run the Pennsylvania Derby’s distance of 1 1/8 miles, Hollendorfer simply said, “If I didn’t think he was ready to go a mile and an eighth, I wouldn’t have sent him.”

Fury Kapcori is in with 117 pounds, seven fewer than Will Take Charge and five fewer than Moreno.

Moreno figures to play out as the primary speed under Jose Ortiz. In the Travers, Moreno, benefitting from a poor start by Palace Malice and a no-show effort from Verrazano, got away with easy fractions before being run down by Will Take Charge in the final strides.

Moreno, a son of Ghostzapper, was shipped to Belmont immediately following the Saratoga meet and had a terrific five-furlong work in 59.82 seconds there Sunday.

“He’s doing very well; he’s better than he’s ever been,” said Eric Guillot, trainer of Moreno.

Following the Travers, Guillot and Moreno’s owner, Michael Moreno, filed a complaint with the New York Gaming Commission alleging that Luis Saez, the rider of Will Take Charge, had used an electrical device, commonly called a battery, on Will Take Charge in the Travers.

It remains an “ongoing investigation,” according to a spokesman for the New York Gaming Commission, which is being assisted by the New York State Police in the investigation.

“When it comes down to the machine, I’ll leave that up to New York state,” Guillot said. “I moved on. I think he’s a good horse getting good at the right time. Whether he likes that surface, who knows? I wouldn’t trade places with any of them.”

Saez, who rode Will Take Charge for the first time in the Travers, said Thursday he has not been affected by the accusations, which he flatly denies.

“No, I’m okay,” Saez said. “I don’t have a problem. I’m clear. I never used nothing in my life.”

Saez said he will be focused on Moreno, whom he figures to have to run down at some point in the Parx stretch.

“That day I rode [Will Take Charge] in Saratoga, I followed Verrazano, and Verrazano was way out,” Saez said. “That’s why I started riding way out. This time, the only speed is the same horse [Moreno]. I think I’m going to be closer.”

Java’s War won the Grade 1 Blue Grass on a synthetic track and is a two-time winner on turf. In three starts on dirt, his best result was a second-place finish to Verrazano in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby. Java’s War is making his first start for trainer Barclay Tagg after being transferred from Ken McPeek by owner Charles Fipke.

“He’s a Grade 1 winner on the Poly, he ran well in the Tampa Bay Derby, [and Fipke’s] looking for dirt horses,” Tagg said. “He’s been training very well on the dirt.”

Romansh and Transparent comprise a Godolphin Racing entry. Romansh finished fifth in the Travers, and Transparent was last. Transparent gets Lasix for the first time Saturday.

Speak Logistics and Battier, second and fourth in the Grade 3 Smarty Jones Stakes over a sloppy Parx track Sept. 2, complete the field.

The Pennsylvania Derby goes as race 11 on a 12-race card that begins at 12:25 p.m. Eastern and includes the Grade 1, $1 million Cotillion for 3-year-old fillies and the Grade 3, $300,000 Gallant Bob Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters. All three races will be shown live on Comcast SportsNet during a 90-minute broadcast that begins at 4:30 p.m.