Updated on 08/30/2013 9:18AM

Saratoga: Cross Traffic skips deep Woodward, will run in Jockey Club Gold Cup

Barbara D. Livingston
Whitney winner Cross Traffic will have one more race before the Breeders' Cup Classic - the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on Sept. 28.

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The news that Cross Traffic did not enter Saturday’s $750,000 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga was met with mixed emotions from several of the trainers who did enter their horses in the Grade 1 race.

While the talented Cross Traffic would more than likely have been the favorite coming out of his victory in the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational four weeks ago, his presence in the Woodward would have assured an honest pace. Trainer Todd Pletcher decided Wednesday morning to bypass the Woodward and point to the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on Sept. 28 at Belmont Park because he felt it was a better way to get the horse to the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.

“Getting a race at a mile and a quarter five weeks out puts us in a better position for the Classic than a mile-and-an-eighth race nine weeks out,” Pletcher said.

“I wish he was there, only because of the speed; the more speed, the better,” said Charles LoPresti, the trainer of Successful Dan, the runner-up to Cross Traffic in the Whitney and the possible Woodward favorite. “It’s not that I think I can beat him; I just wish he was there.”

Successful Dan drew post 2 under Julien Leparoux and was installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite for the Woodward, run at 1 1/8 miles over the main track. The Woodward will share top billing along with the Grade 1 Forego and the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch on a 12-race card.

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Fort Larned, the front-running winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic and the fifth-place finisher in the Whitney, figured to benefit from the absence of the speedy Cross Traffic in the Woodward. Still, trainer Ian Wilkes was looking forward to the rematch.

“Once you get beat by him, you’d like to have a second chance to beat him,” Wilkes said.

Fort Larned will break from post 3 under Brian Hernandez Jr.

Bill Mott, the trainer of closers Ron the Greek and Flat Out, also lamented the loss of Cross Traffic from a pace perspective.

“It’s a balancing act,” Mott said. “You’re losing the favorite, but you’re also losing some early speed. Hopefully, Mucho Macho Man and Fort Larned will take up that role.”

Bob Baffert, the trainer of Paynter, said he wasn’t surprised that Cross Traffic didn’t enter.

“In the back of my mind, I had a feeling he wasn’t going to run,” Baffert said. “It was coming up so tough.”

Paynter, who has battled back from life-threatening illnesses to run two solid races this year, will break from post 5 under Rafael Bejarano. He was scheduled to arrive at Saratoga early Wednesday evening after being flown Federal Express from Southern California to Newark, N.J., then vanning to Saratoga.

Mucho Macho Man was beaten a neck by the Mott-trained To Honor and Serve in last year’s Woodward. He is making his second start at this meet, having run third in the Whitney. He will break from post 6 under Edgar Prado.

John Velazquez, who was scheduled to ride Cross Traffic in the Woodward, picked up the mount on Alpha, who is seeking his first win since last year’s Travers. He finished sixth in the Whitney.

On Wednesday, Successful Dan blew out three furlongs in 37.15 seconds, though clocking was extremely difficult owing to heavy fog. Exercise rider Damien Rock had a ton of horse galloping down the backside, and he got his last furlong in 11.80.

“I told him, ‘Try not to get a roll to the pole,’ because he’ll go 35 if he had a roll to the pole,” LoPresti said. “I know going to that pole, he had a handful of horse.”

zerosumzen More than 1 year ago
Thanks Alpha! Nice job.
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
Was it me or was CT literally staggering at the end of the Whitney?
Albert More than 1 year ago
We might actually see a faster pace with Cross checking out of the race, because there will be more concern of a lone speed dictating things. Jockeys can be strange that way. Regardless, Fort Larned is coming off a bounce performance and probably won't get back to his best in this start. At 9 furlongs I see a pretty pat race with Mucho winning his first grade 1 at an advanced age.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Alpha no wins this year. MMM no wins this year, and no career grade ones. Successful Dan no career grade ones. Ron the Greek sunshine million winner that really big time, cant name five past winners of that race. Flat out cant run fast outside of Queens,NY. Paynter coming back from the dead and lost to kettle corn last race. Fort larned 1 win four starts. How is this a strong field. This is the field that would make Game on Dude retire from racing. East coast guys are so obsessed with last years breeders cup it is ridiculous. The two horses never even broke to the lead together to see who was the better horse. If it was a race like ghostzapper and roses in may I could see the obssesion. This is not a great field just a over hyper one.
Mark More than 1 year ago
5 grade one winners in the field and mmm ran a very close second in last years BC . The same BC your dude flopped like a bluegill out of water. November can't get here soon enough. Please tell me the top finisher from the west in the BC last year and his placing.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Nipping one water down grade 1....the Woodward has been weak for a decade....shortened to 9 furlongs for these mediocre horses.....
Mark More than 1 year ago
Oh and Drosslemeyer . Lmao.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Don't think dude has faced 5 different grade 1 winners all year combined.
Mike Bilinskas More than 1 year ago
this field is miles better than that joke of a Pacific Classic though
mikey More than 1 year ago
LMFAO....nah not really.....there is hardly any real true grade 1 races today....most of these so called grade 1s will have one good horse and the rest of the fields basically sucks.....
redboy More than 1 year ago
Pletchers no dummy,by running CT in the JCGC it give him another month to at least dream of CT getting the 1 1/4,it wouldnt be a good thing for his stable to have yet another of his top speedsters' no show at a 11/4 after the highly touted Verrazano basically no showed in the Travers the weekend before. Goodthing is his longshots have been saving him lately Princess at 30+/1 in the Oaks and Capone at28/1 in the Kings Bishop. Violence/DJ/Revolutionary/ where are they now? Next time i see a Pletcher horse at 30 to 1 Im all over it other wise i think ill pass
Mark More than 1 year ago
denali1 More than 1 year ago
Hell of a race coming this Saturday. Cross Traffic does not wanna face none of these proven 1 1/4 horses. Pletcher's no dummy he knows what this field brings to the table. The JGC will be alot easier probably.... than running upfront with Fort and maybe MMM let alone Paytner. Fat chance in my book Cross Traffic goes the distance anyhow especially up against this field. Hey Pletch... ya know the saying you can run but you cant hide. It will be interesting to see how the track here plays out for Saturday.
B More than 1 year ago
I really don't think it's all that hot of a race. Ft. Larned has had a bad year, Flat Out has never won a big one outside of Belmont, Alpha liked the track once, but will he again as he hasn't done much since, Ron the Greek is over the hill, MMM has never won a Grade 1. So, I guess that leaves me with only Successful Dan and Paynter and that comes down to either betting with your head or your heart.
B More than 1 year ago
Actually, I should have said I don't think it's that hot of a field. The race could be very competitive with no clear standouts, so it had the potential to be an interesting race.
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
Ian More than 1 year ago
who cares
Mark More than 1 year ago
Horse Jockey WGT Trainer Odds 1 Ron the Greek (FL) J Castellano 126 W I. Mott 12-1 2 Successful Dan (KY) J R. Leparoux 126 C LoPresti 5-2 3 Fort Larned (KY) B Hernandez, Jr. 126 I R. Wilkes 4-1 4 Flat Out (FL) J Alvarado 126 W I. Mott 7-2 5 Paynter (KY) R Bejarano 126 B Baffert 3-1 6 Mucho Macho Man (FL) E S. Prado 126 K Ritvo 6-1 7 Alpha (KY) J R. Velazquez 126 K P. McLaughlin 15-1
Mark More than 1 year ago
Fort Larned 4-1 ml 4th choice ! SD 5-2 ml favorite paynter 3-1 Flat Out 7-2 Nice!
B More than 1 year ago
Ft. Larned has not had a very good year. Just one win with two 5th place finishes and one 6th. I wouldn't bet on him, but if you're a supporter, you should get a decent price with his record this year.
Mark More than 1 year ago
He is sitting on a top effort which if he runs is a wining one.
Perl More than 1 year ago
let's get a sloppy track and a Ron The Greek win at odds of 6 or 8 to 1.
redboy More than 1 year ago
Thanks now i dont need a program..ROTFLOL
iknownothing114 More than 1 year ago
First of all mr pletcher is a business man not a trainer look at verrazano sold to coolmore after his second start by lets go stable which is the son of the owner of more than ready could give u guys more info but that's all for now. .....
iknownothing114 More than 1 year ago
Paynter cookie....alpha for the eggy