Updated on 09/15/2011 12:52PM

Point Given fires warning shot

Michael J. Marten/Horsephotos
Point Given cools down after working Monday morning at Del Mar. In a move that solidified his status for Saturday's Travers Stakes at Saratoga, Point Given worked five furlongs in 59.20 under regular exercise rider Dana Barnes.

DEL MAR, Calif. - The sharp training pattern that Point Given had displayed in the past two weeks continued Monday morning at Del Mar, when he worked a brilliant five furlongs to solidify his starting status in Saturday's $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

Point Given for the past two weeks had been giving every indication that he had bounced back in top shape from his victory in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth on Aug. 5. Barring a poor work, Point Given was set to go to the Travers, and he did nothing Monday to dissuade his connections from flying him to New York on Tuesday.

Point Given came out just after 9 a.m., following a renovation break, with his regular exercise rider, Dana Barnes, aboard. After backtracking clockwise to the finish line, Point Given turned around and was eager to do more, tossing his head in anticipation of the workout.

He finally broke off at the five-furlong pole, spotting a Bob Baffert-trained workmate, Divine Spirit, several lengths. Point Given cruised along under Barnes, then cut into Divine Spirit's lead on the turn. At the top of the stretch, Point Given was even with his workmate, and he flew past Divine Spirit without any encouragement. Point Given was striding out impressively when he hit the wire in 59.20 for five furlongs.

The work was a significant improvement from anything Point Given had done in training preceding the Haskell.

"He's a lot different horse than before his last race," said Richard Mulhall, the racing manager for Prince Ahmed Salman's The Thoroughbred Corporation, which owns Point Given. "He's that way. When he's off awhile, his first race can be dull if he hasn't been trained that hard. He loses a lot of his edge. But he's awakened since then. He's been tough to gallop."

Point Given just did get up in the final strides to beat Touch Tone and Burning Roma in the Haskell. It was his first start in two months, since his victory in the Belmont Stakes. Since then, he has trained like he did prior to the Belmont.

"He seemed to snap right back out of it," Mulhall said. "He's an amazing athlete. A normal horse, you'd have to give them more time, but he comes right out of it."

Point Given continues to wear a bar shoe on his left rear hoof. He had a new shoe put on last week.

Mulhall said Point Given was scheduled to be flown to Saratoga on Tuesday. Baffert is going to Saratoga on Thursday, and both Mulhall and Prince Ahmed will arrive Friday.

This Fleet Is Due out

The confirmation that Point Given would run in the Travers came a day after This Fleet Is Due, the fourth-place finisher in the Haskell, was withdrawn after popping a splint in his left foreleg. As of Monday, the Travers field stood at eight: Point Given, A P Valentine, Scorpion, Free of Love, Dollar Bill, E Dubai, Volponi, and Harrisand.

The defection of This Fleet Is Due left Pat Day without a mount, although only briefly. He was scooped up by trainer Rick Violette to ride Jim Dandy runner-up Free of Love.

With Point Given now confirmed, trainer D. Wayne Lukas must find a new rider for Jim Dandy winner Scorpion. Jerry Bailey, who rode Scorpion in the Jim Dandy, is riding E Dubai. Lukas had hoped to get Gary Stevens if Point Given didn't run. Mark Guidry is expected to pick up the mount on Scorpion.

Lukas said he welcomed Point Given to the race, although he still is not convinced Point Given will run.

"I'm glad he's coming; it's going to make for a great weekend and a great race," Lukas said. "But, he's not in the gate yet."

Scorpion was one of five Travers horses to put in their final workouts at Saratoga Sunday. Working over the Oklahoma training track, Scorpion went four furlongs in 48.67 seconds, the fastest of 30 works at the distance.

On the main track, Volponi posted the most impressive work of the morning, covering six furlongs in 1:11.07 under jockey Richard Migliore. The work, the fastest of five at the distance, came immediately after the renovation break when the track was freshly harrowed and watered.

Migliore hopped off Volponi and went to work Free of Love, whom he had ridden in the Jim Dandy. At 9:45, when the track was chewed up and dry, Free of Love went six furlongs in 1:12.02. Also working Sunday at Saratoga were Harrisand, who went six furlongs in 1:13.46, and Dollar Bill, who went five furlongs in 1:00.83.

On Monday, A P Valentine, fourth in the Jim Dandy, went five furlongs at Saratoga in 1:00.72 over the main track in company with two stablemates. A P Valentine, under jockey Norberto Arroyo, broke alongside It's So Simple, and both of them broke eight lengths behind Panner.

A P Valentine and It's So Simple quickly inhaled Panner and worked together until midstretch, when A P Valentine drew clear by two lengths with hardly any urging.

Although John Velazquez will ride A P Valentine in the Travers, Zito said he used Arroyo Monday morning because "I love the way he works horses."

Zito said he simulated race conditions in Monday's workout so that A P Valentine would be focused. Zito said he felt A P Valentine was not focused and appeared uncomfortable with the track surface in the Jim Dandy.

- additional reporting by David Grening

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