08/22/2013 3:20PM

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

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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."

Alberto Perotti More than 1 year ago
Yes this is a game? and in the mean time of having fun Mr Moreno has lost millions and millions and more millions of dollars. I'am scratching my head how Salute the sarge made all the way to be stallion when Guillot castrate 98% o his horses. Moreno is a good horse in another trainer hand and he may win today but not because Guillot help. In the end is not Guillot fault is Mr Moreno who still believe in all of the garbage that guillot said. Mr Moreno my best advice keep up with your business because Guillot will ended off taken you to leave under a California bridge o some where else.
JeanK More than 1 year ago
Hmmm... let's see, Awesome Again out of an A.P Indy mare. Classic distance written all over it. Oxbow by Awesome Again and liked the lead as well... . Moreno breaks maiden follows up with impressive Grade II win in Dwyer. Not sure blinkers did the trick and eventually I guarantee they'll be removed. However, we are here now facing the Travers, the top two are bounce candidates according to Pletcher. You might be rewarded by taking this joker and use him for a king of clubs. The Jim Dandy was pretty good considering he is not used to such company. He might get the hang of it before you realize what hit you in the pocket. He is a play in this race.
Steve More than 1 year ago
Guillot is an average trainer at best. How he got Moreno to spend all that money with him is mind-boggling. Very little return on investment so far. His jockeys shouldn't be allowed to carry whips if he feels like that. Boasted that Moreno was the best 3 year old in the country before being trounced in last race. Love his attitude about having fun and living life to the fullest, but that's about all
AZ Wildcat More than 1 year ago
Moreno would be deadly in the Kings Bishop. In the Travers he will set the pace and then drop dead at 8.5F. I guess playing Wheel of Fortune with your horses is Guillot's idea of training.
Rob More than 1 year ago
Being from Louisiana and growing up around the track all my life this guy sickens me. He makes everyone from Louisiana appear like a bunch of inbred, uneducated MO-RONS with statements like " Hit him everywhere but the bottom of his feet, and if you can hit him there then hit him there too." or "If he runs his race he will beat Palace Malice by 12" just to name a few of the many throughout the years. Please sir, you are at Saratoga, try and locate an ounce of class in that body of yours and represent your home state in a respectable manner !!!!!!!!!!!!
Ken Wiener More than 1 year ago
Lovely comment about hitting the horse everywhere. Just the kind of thoughtful remark that racing needs from a trainer.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Some folks disreguard the role we play in promoting the sport. Not a very bright thing to say.
R. Carlos Nanez More than 1 year ago
Another " Joker" in town.