Updated on 08/23/2012 3:37PM

Saratoga: Baffert figures prominently in Test, King's Bishop

Tom Keyser
Gun Boat will be wearing blinkers for the second time when he runs in the King's Bishop.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Bob Baffert will not only have one of the major players, Liaison, in the Travers, he also figures to have a large say in the two Grade 1 races that precede the main event on Saturday’s 13-race card.

Baffert will send out Contested as the odds-on favorite in the $500,000 Test Stakes. He could also have one of the sleepers in the $500,000 King’s Bishop in Gun Boat, whose local debut in the Grade 2 Amsterdam virtually ended as soon as it began after he stumbled badly and went to his nose after the break.

Contested drew post 8 in a field of 10 3-year-old fillies drawn Wednesday for the Test. Contested turns back to seven furlongs after having her four-race win streak snapped when tiring badly to finish fifth and last in the 1 1/16-mile Mother Goose on June 23. She appears to stand out over her nine rivals in the Test if she reverts to the form that saw her dominate the Grade 3 Eight Belles at seven furlongs and Grade 1 Acorn at a mile earlier this season.

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“It rained pretty hard the night before the Mother Goose and that had a lot to do with her last performance, along with the fact the race was 1 1/16 miles,” said Baffert’s assistant Jim Barnes. “I think she’s probably most effective at distances at a mile or under.”

Aubby K, who finished a distant third in the Acorn, also shortens up to seven furlongs after failing to handle two turns in the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks. She will break from post 2 in the Test, just inside the up-and-coming Book Review, who makes her stakes debut on Saturday.

The remainder of the field includes Well Kept, Yara, Beautiful But Blue, Jazzy Idea, Gypsy Robin, Ullapool, and Aime’s Dini.

Gun Boat, will be equipped with blinkers for the second time in the King’s Bishop. He finished a tiring sixth after setting the early pace while also racing with blinkers in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Affirmed at Betfair Hollywood Park on June 3.

Gun Boat returned to the gate to work a crisp five furlongs in 58.21 seconds under exercise rider Simon Harris here Sunday.

“His last start is just one of those races you draw a line through and enter back again,” said Barnes. “We’re not sure what happened but it appeared the ground just broke out from under him the second jump out of there. The work from the gate the other day was a nice wake-up, Bob will do that from time to time. I always thought he was better with blinkers. The first time he wore them was in a longer race, and Simon has also suggested he should try them again too.”

Gun Boat will break from post 2 for the King’s Bishop, one slot inside Currency Swap, who won the Amsterdam for his third victory in as many starts at Saratoga. Currency Swap figures to vie for favoritism with his arch-rival Trinniberg, who may have an advantage having drawn outside in post 9 in the field of 10 3-year-olds.

Willy Beamin was the only real surprise at the King’s Bishop draw. Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. had originally indicated his intent to enter Willy Beamin in the Travers and make a decision on his starting status after he competed here Wednesday in the Albany Stakes.

Willy Beamin will break from the rail, if he runs in the King’s Bishop. The remainder of the field in post position order consists of Fort Loudon; Laurie’s Rocket; Spin Out; Ever So Lucky; Unbridled’s Note, and Doctor Chit.

Carried Interest possible for Hopeful

Trainer Rick Violette said Wednesday that Carried Interest, part of his potent one-two punch in the 2-year-old division along with Spurious Precision, remains a possible starter for the Grade 2 Hopeful on Sept. 1.

Carried Interest was a game winner of his only start when besting the highly regarded Palace Malice at Belmont Park. Carried Interest was scheduled to makes his stakes debut in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special but had to be withdrawn from consideration the week of the race due to a minor shin issue.

“He two-minute licked this week. He’ll probably breeze this weekend and then we’ll make a decision about the Hopeful,” said Violette. “I’m not going to do anything to stir up the shin issue. If I get any indication of that, I’ll go back in the jogging mode. I am being a little conservative but we do need to set him down, although I don’t want to do anything that will jeopardize the Futurity a month later.”

Violette said he plans on keeping his two top juveniles apart as long as he can during the fall. The Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont on Oct. 6 will be the next stop for Spurious Precision, who deputized for Carried Interest with an easy victory in the Special.