08/19/2012 1:17PM

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