07/22/2012 3:28PM

Saratoga: Gemologist pointing for Travers via Jim Dandy or Haskell

Barbara D. Livingston
Gemologist, Javier Castellano aboard, works five furlongs in 58.67 at Saratoga on Sunday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The way he worked Sunday morning at Saratoga, Gemologist gave every indication he’s ready to return to the races next weekend.

His connections, however, on Sunday were not ready to decide where that return would take place. The choices are Saturday’s $600,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga or the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Sunday.

The ultimate goal is the $1 million Travers here on Aug. 25, and trainer Todd Pletcher and Elliott Walden, president of WinStar Farm, the owners of Gemologist, need to decide which race sets their 3-year-old up best for that 1 1/4-mile race.

Pletcher has won the Jim Dandy five times and two of those horses - Flower Alley and Stay Thirsty - came back to win the Travers. Pletcher has won the Haskell with both Bluegrass Cat and Any Given Saturday, both owned by WinStar Farm. Neither won the Travers.

Pletcher said there’s a chance that Gemologist could be entered in both races, allowing for more time to make a decision.

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On Sunday, Gemologist, unraced since suffering his first loss when 16th in the Kentucky Derby, drilled five furlongs 58.67 seconds over Saratoga’s main track. It was the fastest of 43 moves at the distance. He worked in company with 2011 Dwyer Stakes winner Dominus, who is also nearing a return to the races.

With Javier Castellano in the irons, Gemologist, working on the outside, went in splits of 12.02 seconds, 23.39, 34.70, and go his last quarter in 23.71. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.50.

“I thought he breezed as well this morning as he’s ever breezed, and he’s always been a good work horse,” Pletcher said. “But he was exceptionally good this morning.”

Gemologist won the first five starts of his career, including the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, before finishing 16th in the Derby. He emerged from that race with a bruised foot which forced him to miss some training time and the Belmont Stakes.

Among those pointing to the Jim Dandy are Alpha, Atigun, Neck ‘n Neck, Prospective and Teeth of the Dog.

Among those pointing to the Haskell are Belmont runner-up Paynter, Blue Grass winner Dullahan, Handsome Mike, Nonios and Stealcase.

Sunday, as usual, was a busy work day at Saratoga.

Among others to work was Zagora, last year’s Grade 1 Diana winner, who worked four furlongs in 49.79 seconds over the Oklahoma training track, in company with Thunderous Lady.

Afterward, trainer Chad Brown said that Zagora would attempt to defend her title in Saturday’s Grade 1, $600,000 Diana.

“I thought she worked great,” Brown said. “I’m going to go ahead and try to defend her title.”

Zagora has won a trio of Grade 3 stakes this year, including the Gallorette at Pimlico on May 19. She emerged from that race with a popped splint bone, and missed about two weeks of training. Sunday was her fourth breeze since she resumed training.

“She’s not a very big filly," Brown said. "She’s very athletic, though. She kept her fitness well. She has run right from the beginning of the year. Who knows? Maybe a little freshening actually worked to her advantage.”

Others pointing to the Diana include Dream Peace, Hungry Island, Law of the Range, Tapitsfly and Winter Memories.

Rule and Flat Out, the 1-2 finishers from the Monmouth Cup on July 7, both worked toward the Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Handicap on Aug. 4.

Rule, working on the main track in company with Palace Music, worked four furlongs in 48.11 seconds.

“He seems to have come out of the race in good order,” Pletcher said. “We’ll see how he does this week, breeze him back. Right now I’d say he’s a candidate for the Whitney.”

Flat Out, runner-up in last year’s Whitney and winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup, worked five furlongs in 1:02.61 over the Oklahoma training track. He went by himself and went his first quarter in 26.40 seconds and came home in 36.21 seconds.

“That’ll work,” trainer Bill Mott said afterward. “The horse is very sharp right now.”

Mott also reported that Royal Delta, winner of Saturday’s Delaware Handicap, arrived in Saratoga around 2:15 a.m. Sunday. She will be pointed to the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Invitational Handicap here on Aug. 26.

Fort Loudon, who upset Trinniberg in the Grade 3 Carry Back at Calder on July 7, worked four furlongs in 50.27 seconds over the training track. Trainer Nick Zito, who recently received the horse, said he would be most likely enter the horse in Sunday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam Stakes.

My Miss Aurelia, last year’s champion 2-year-old filly, worked five furlongs in 1:00.70 over the main track, getting her final quarter in 24.08 seconds.

My Miss Aurelia has not run since winning last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Trainer Steve Asmussen has yet to pick out a return spot for My Miss Aurelia.

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch