08/20/2012 2:08PM

Saratoga: Albany win could put Willy Beamin into Travers

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Willy Beamin, with Mike Luzzi riding, wins the Mike Lee just four days after an allowance victory.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The Albany Stakes may never have been used as a prep race for the Grade 1 Travers, but that could be the case this year if Willy Beamin runs as expected on Wednesday.

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said he plans to enter Willy Beamin in Saturday’s Travers even before his red-hot former claimer starts as the heavy favorite in Wednesday’s $150,000 Albany. Willy Beamin, claimed for $25,000 by owner James Riccio early this spring at Aqueduct, will enter the 1 1/8-mile Albany having won his last four starts by an average margin of almost five lengths, a streak that includes an easy four-length decision in the seven-furlong Mike Lee at Belmont Park on June 24.

“If he runs big, we’ll probably run him back in the Travers,” Dutrow said matter-of-factly on Monday. “I plan to enter him in the Travers before he races on Wednesday, but he’s still got to get by the first hurdle before we think about Saturday.”

[Complete Travers coverage at Saratoga: News, video]

Running horses back on short rest is nothing new to Dutrow or Willy Beamin, who won the Mike Lee just four days after capturing a one-mile optional claiming race at Belmont. Dutrow said he opted to skip the second leg of the three-race summer series for New York bred 3-year-olds, the 1 1/16-mile New York Derby at Finger Lakes on July 21, to give his horse a little break.

“I was never really in love with the idea of shipping and running him up there,” said Dutrow. “He had run a big number in the stakes, and as a result I felt it would be too quick to bring him back. But he’s been doing really well lately, and I really like this spot we’ve got him in here.”

Fox Rules took advantage of Willy Beamin’s absence to post a wire-to-wire, 6 1/2-length victory over his home track in the New York Derby. The win was the third in the last four starts for Fox Rules, who will share high weight of 124 pounds with Willy Beamin under the allowance conditions of the Albany.

Zivo is an up-and-coming 3-year-old, and trainer Chad Brown said he is confident the lightly raced colt is ready for his best race yet on Wednesday. Zivo has won his last two starts including a first-level allowance race decided at the same nine-furlong distance as the Albany here on July 29.

“The horse has really progressed nicely,” said Brown. “He’s such a big, beautiful, scopey horse that we always thought long term for him, getting him to those mile-and-one-eighth races, and now that we’ve got him there I expect him to run his best. It’s a big step, but my horse is proven at this track at the distance, and I’m optimistic he is going to show up.”