08/03/2013 4:13PM

Saratoga notes: King Kreesa gears up to take on Wise Dan

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
King Kreesa, winner of the Poker, will take on the reigning Horse of the Year, Wise Dan, in Saturday’s Fourstardave.

This content is part of a free preview of DRF Plus. Click to learn more.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Jeremiah Englehart knows taking on Wise Dan is a tall task, but he also knows that his New York-bred King Kreesa deserves the opportunity to run in next weekend’s Grade 2, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga.

On Saturday, King Kreesa tuned up for his meeting with Wise Dan by working a strong half-mile in 47.15 seconds over the Oklahoma turf course. Under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., King Kreesa, who was prompted from behind by newly-claimed The Big Deluxe, worked an eighth in 12.61 seconds, a quarter in 24.60, and came home through the lane in 22.55 seconds. He galloped out five furlongs in 58.98.

Englehart said he wasn’t looking for a big move from his New York-bred son of King Cugat, but he liked the manner in which it was accomplished.

DRF Plus Preview

“He didn’t need to get a whole lot out of it, but it seemed like Irad was just sitting on him, which was pretty good,” Englehart said.

Englehart said he switched the work from the dirt to the turf because he wasn’t particularly happy with how King Kreesa was getting over the Oklahoma dirt training track.

“I worked him twice on the dirt here and it didn’t seem like he liked it as much as down at Belmont, so I changed plans,” Englehart said. “I wanted to go on the turf and get him in a good mindset and he was a lot happier today. I was glad I made that switch at the last minute.”

King Kreesa is coming off a win in the Kingston Stakes against New York-breds and, most recently, the Grade 3 Poker Stakes at Belmont, both in front-running fashion.

Englehart said he looks at it as a honor to run in the same race as Wise Dan, last year’s Fourstardave winner and reigning Horse of the Year.

“I think he’s earned it this year. He’s done everything right so far, I figured this is the time,” Englehart said. “It’s bad timing to have an Eclipse Award winner running at the peak of his game all the time, but it’s a horse race – anything can happen.”

Others pointing to the Fourstardave include Lea, Mr. Commons, Skyring, and Za Approval. Weights for the race were to be released on Sunday.

The Lumber Guy picking it up

As he attempts to bring The Lumber Guy back for a fall campaign, trainer Mike Hushion had John Velazquez put the New York-bred Horse of the Year through a five-furlong workout Saturday “to get Johnny a little exited about him,” Hushion said.

After guiding him through a five-furlong move in 1:00.98, Velazquez was indeed excited about the future.

“He worked really, really good,” Velazquez said. “He wanted to go a nice easy five-eighths in 1:02. I was careful with him the first eighth of a mile. As soon as he got to the half-mile pole I put my hands down and he picked it up in a hurry. Every sixteenth of a mile he got faster and faster. He’s probably way ahead of the game the way he worked today.”

The move was the sixth for The Lumber Guy since he returned from a freshening at owner Barry Schwartz’s Stonewall Farm in Granite Springs, N.Y.

The Lumber Guy has not run since finishing seventh in the San Carlos at Santa Anita in February when he was with Neil Drysdale.

“He always had a few different issues – no serious issues – just a few things going on,” Hushion said.

Hushion is hopeful of running in the Vosburgh – a race he won last year – on Sept. 28 at Belmont Park and then the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, a race in which he finished second last November at Santa Anita.

“I know you hear it all the time but everything’s gone right on the money,” Hushion said.

Big Blue Kitten to Sword Dancer

Trainer Chad Brown has chosen to run United Nations Handicap winner Big Blue Kitten in the Grade 1, $600,000 Sword Dancer Invitational here while opting to send Manhattan third-place finisher Real Solution to the Arlington Million. Both races are on Aug. 17.

Brown said that since Big Blue Kitten handled the 1 3/8 miles of the United Nations well, he wouldn’t mind stretching him out another furlong in the 1 1/2-mile Sword Dancer.

Brown said Real Solution ran a decent third in the Manhattan and came out of it with a minor issue that forced him to miss a little training time.

“He’s doing really well right now, and I’d rather keep him a mile and a quarter,” Brown said, referring to the distance of the Arlington Million.

Also, Brown said Big Blue Kitten would prefer firm ground and he believes the odds of getting that are better in Saratoga than Arlington.

On Saturday, Big Blue Kitten and Real Solution worked five furlongs together in 59.65 seconds, with a final quarter of 23.31 seconds. The pair galloped out six furlongs in 1:11.78.

“Real Solution is a better work horse, but he did work exceptional today,” Brown said. “Big Blue Kitten’s never been a big work horse, but he did well to stay with Real Solution.”

Uncle Mo’s brother debuts Monday

Souperfast, a 2-year-old half-brother to 2010 champion juvenile male Uncle Mo, makes his debut in Monday’s third race at seven furlongs.

Souperfast is by Broken Vow and was purchased for $500,000 as a yearling by Live Oak Plantation. He is trained by Bill Mott, who said Souperfast is a “big, leggy colt that’s going to be much better in the fall of the year,”

Souperfast drew the outside post in what was a seven-horse field. Chisholm, however, was to scratch after running on Saturday.

Mott said the outside post “hopefully will give him a chance to find a nice rhythm. I don’t think he has to win, but I think it’s important that he gets over there and races just for the experience. If he wins that’ll be a bonus.”

Uncle Mo won his debut by 14 1/4 lengths at Saratoga on Travers Day. He was trained by Todd Pletcher, who said he and owner Mike Repole did look at this colt at the yearling sale.

“I think [Repole] figured lightning wasn’t going to strike twice in the same spot,” Pletcher said.

Pletcher will send out King Cyrus, a son of Bellamy Road who he scratched Saturday to run in this spot.