08/19/2012 2:17PM

Saratoga: McPeek leery of adding blinkers for Atigun in Travers

Tom Keyser
Atigun, equipped with blinkers, sped four furlongs in 46.41 seconds Sunday in preparation for the Travers.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Though Atigun put in a fast workout Sunday morning at Saratoga, the manner in which it was done has trainer Ken McPeek reconsidering his plan to equip the 3-year-old with blinkers for the first time in Saturday’s $1 million Travers Stakes.

Atigun, wearing blinkers for the first time in a work out, zipped four furlongs in 46.41 seconds over Saratoga’s main track. He went his first quarter in 22.36 seconds and his second quarter in 24.05. He galloped out five furlongs in 59.69.

 McPeek said he is a bit concerned that the blinkers could make Atigun too keen in the 1 1/4 mile Travers, thus, he is leaning toward not using them in the race. Atigun has not raced in blinkers in any of his previous 11 starts.

[Complete coverage of the Travers Stakes at Saratoga: News and video]

“I’m a little bit reluctant to put them on him and if he wears them he’s going to wear a really small cup,” McPeek said following the work. “He was more aggressive than I really wanted him to be, but he worked well and he came back fine.”

 McPeek said Atigun “is more focused in his gallops” with blinkers on. McPeek said he may train Atigun this week with a smaller set of blinkers to see if that makes a difference.

 Atigun, third in the Belmont Stakes, finished sixth in the Jim Dandy under Julien Leparoux. Atigun was wrangled back off a pedestrian pace as Alpha went gate to wire. Mike Smith will replace Leparoux on Atigun in the Travers.

 “I just think the pace of the race was a disaster for the Jim Dandy and we were in the wrong place,” McPeek said. “We were too far back off a paceless race over a racetrack that favored speed. We had no chance.”

 Atigun was one of three Travers candidates to put in workouts just moments apart Sunday morning over the main track on a gorgeous morning. All three workers wore blinkers.

 Liaison, the third-place finisher in the Jim Dandy, worked five furlongs in 1:00.07. Working by himself under Simon Harris, Liaison went his first quarter in 24.98 seconds and got his final three-eighths in 35.09. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.79.

 “He looked fantastic,” said trainer John Terranova, who oversaw the work for Liaison’s trainer Bob Baffert. “He looked great. Simon said he worked even better than last week. Looks like he’s all there right now.”

 Last week, Liaison worked in company, and went six furlongs in 1:12.40. Sunday he worked by himself, but did not seem at all lackadaisical.

“I think the horse seems to be in a beautiful rhythm right now. He’s training well every day. Obviously we want to do enough but not too much being six days out,” Terranova said.

 Also working Sunday was Stealcase, the Haskell third-place finisher who went five furlongs in 1:00.56, with a final three eighths in 35.70 seconds under Shaun Bridgmohan.

 Others being pointed to the Travers are Alpha, Five Sixteen, Hansen, Neck n Neck, Nonios, and Street Life. Csaba, second in the off-the-turf Hall of Fame Stakes, is under consideration, according to trainer Phil Gleaves.

 - additional reporting by Mike Welsch



Formal Gold More than 1 year ago
"Atigun was wrangled back off a pedestrian pace as Alpha went gate to wire." "Wrangled back off a pedestrian pace" is the default setting of most riders these days. They just did it again in the Arlington Million, letting Dominguez walk on the lead. A pathetic spectacle for a G-1 race. So we find out Atigun can go :22.3; 46.4, but in the Jim Dandy, this chimp Leparoux decided he had to be strangled 7 lengths back off of a crawling :49 1/5 half mile. In Europe, these fools would be called on the carpet in front of the stewards, grilled and forced to explain why they failed to ride a competitive race. It raises issues of at least the appearance of cheating and damages pubic confidence. That semblance of integrity is what the stewards are supposed to preserve.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
With the addition of blinkers he will be forwardly placed. If he trains better in them I dont see a problem. He already proved he can get the distance. Mike a better pace rider. Look how blinkers have helped Neck n Neck.
John More than 1 year ago
He was working bullets before the blinkers so they must want more early speed. The Jim Dandy is a complete throw out IMO.
Ultimatehorselover More than 1 year ago
I think Atigun will be a non-factor in the Travers..
Mitch McMahon More than 1 year ago
Ought to be Leary of adding Antigun to the travers
Tiny Montgomery More than 1 year ago
Leary as in Timothy or Denis? I'm with ya on the anti-gun stance, the Travers is no place for firearms.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Don't know if it will be enough but it's a great move to get rid of Leap-a-Roo. 'Wrangled back off of pedestrian pace' says it all. What a mucksack...
myjockwon More than 1 year ago
You must not have a life every time i read an article on drf you respond with negitive comments an i mean every article.What a loooser you must be
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Thanks, now check your spelling. Leap-a-Roo is a mucksack and top grade Trainers know it too.
myjockwon More than 1 year ago
Really is that why Mott, Clement ,Asmussen, Pletcher ,Arnold, Brown,the chief, all use the two time eclipse award winner. Get a life Sad mc rory your a loooser
JT_OnTheSide More than 1 year ago
Are you sure it's an upgrade to Mike Smith? The guy has lost more key races this year than anyone - I forgive him on Bode's Derby race, but not the Preakness, and then he goes and blows Paynter in the Belmont (even he admitted), and then gets in a speed duel in the W Va. Derby, and of course blames Eddie Martin Jr. I don't understand why this guy is getting mounts in big races. I know he's a HOFer, but he's certainly not riding like one this year.