07/31/2013 4:18PM

Saratoga: McPeek aiming high with Java’s War

Barbara D. Livingston
Java’s War, with Danny Ramsey riding, trains at Saratoga on Wednesday, preparing for a Travers start.

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Last year, Ken McPeek took a swing for the fences and connected big-time when his Golden Ticket dead-heated with Alpha for first in the $1 million Travers Stakes.

It looks like McPeek is getting ready to step into the batter’s box again in this year’s Travers Stakes.

McPeek said Wednesday that Java’s War, most recently last of four in the Swaps at Hollywood Park, is being pointed to the Travers, where he is expected to meet Kentucky Derby winner Orb, Belmont and Jim Dandy winner Palace Malice, and Haskell winner Verrazano.

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McPeek, who trains Java’s War for owner Charles Fipke said, “Mr. Fipke wants to see him win a Grade 1 on dirt, and I’m going to give him every opportunity to try it.”

McPeek said he trained Java’s War a little differently for the Swaps, wanting to get him closer to the pace than he had been in previous races, including his victory in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes.

“We tried to get him to have a little more speed, and we’ve been doing gate work to add to that,” McPeek said. “It stepped him backward instead of forward. We’ll get him back to his old running style. He’s beaten Palace Malice, he was second to Verrazano. It’s a matter of getting him back on form. He’s not far off.”

Java’s War, a son of War Pass, defeated Palace Malice by a neck in the Blue Grass in April. Before that, he finished second, beaten three lengths by Verrazano, in the Tampa Bay Derby.

“That was his first race of the season,” McPeek said. “He was just getting going.”

McPeek said he had not yet finalized a jockey assignment for Java’s War, who has been ridden by Julien Leparoux in his last three starts.

Meanwhile, Golden Ticket, who won last Saturday’s Prairie Meadows Handicap by eight lengths, is being pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Classic with one more start beforehand, McPeek said.

“We’re taking the easiest route to get him to the Classic as possible,” McPeek said. “We don’t want to bang heads with any of the toughies until then. We’ll run him one more time somewhere, still undecided.”

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