08/22/2013 4:20PM

Saratoga: Moreno and his trainer swing for the fences in Travers

Barbara D. Livingston
Moreno trains at Saratoga for his Travers start.

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Win, lose, or draw in Saturday's $1 million Travers Stakes, trainer Eric Guillot is going to have a good time.

Sometimes funny, sometimes crude, but rarely boring, Guillot will bring his Type A personality and his speedy 3-year-old gelding Moreno to the Travers Stakes. Guillot has already made his presence felt with the pronouncement that he has a voodoo doll in the likeness of Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Travers favorites Verrazano and Palace Malice, and was planning a party at his barn Friday morning complete with a band.

When asked if he feels Moreno is a contender in the Travers, the 51-year-old Guillot says, "Do you think I get up at 4:30 in the morning, seven days a week to think I'm going to run second? When Babe Ruth pointed to the fences with his bat, do you think he was planning on a double?"

After losing his first nine starts, Moreno has begun to fulfill the potential Guillot saw that prompted him to have owner Michael Moreno rename this horse after himself. He was previously named Crawford the Crook, a horse Guillot does have entered on Saturday's card.

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It just took a while for Moreno to show himself in the afternoon. On the day Palace Malice won the Belmont Stakes, Moreno won a one-mile maiden race by 6 1/4 lengths. He came back in four weeks to win the Grade 2 Dwyer Stakes by seven lengths. Three weeks after that, Moreno ran third in the Jim Dandy after setting an honest early pace.

Guillot has loved the way his gelding has done since the Jim Dandy and likes the fact that all the horses running in this race are coming back on relatively the same rest.

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"This horse is going the right direction," Guillot said. "He's working good, he loves it here, he's acclimated."

Guillot knows the key to victory for Moreno is how fast he has got to run early. The softer the pace he can set, the more he will have left to finish.

"He fits to run against these," Guillot said. "Can he win it? Possibly. Will he win it? Who knows? It's horse racing: four legs, a tail and somebody whipping his [butt]. I'll tell the rider, ride him like he owns him and the posse is chasing him. Hit him everywhere but the bottom of his feet, and if you can hit him there then hit him there too."

Guillot will also be represented Saturday by Salutos Amigos in the Grade 1 King's Bishop and by Open Wager in Sunday's Grade 1 Personal Ensign Invitational.

If he comes up short in any or all of them, don't expect to see Guillot pout.

"People take this [stuff] too serious, to me it's a game, it's fun, said Guillot, a native of New Iberia, La., who spends most of the year in Southern California. "If I wanted a serious job I'd be a contractor. This is fun for me. Until someone comes from the other side and tells me it's better over there after this life, this one's going to be lived fun."