08/20/2011 5:02PM

Saratoga: Poseidon’s Warrior preps for King’s Bishop


Trainer Butch Reid Jr. all but committed Poseidon’s Warrior to Saturday’s Grade  1 King’s Bishop at Saratoga after watching his steadily improving 3-year-old breeze an easy half-mile in 50.47 over a main track that was decidedly on the slow side before the renovation break on Saturday. With regular jockey Frank Pennington aboard, Poseidon’s Warrior went his opening quarter in 25.31 before finishing in 25.16 under little urging from Pennington.

Poseidon’s Warrior will make his graded stakes debut in the King’s Bishop after winning his last two starts by a combined margin of more than 16 lengths at Parx and Penn National.

“The way he worked this morning is a sign of his maturation,” said Reid. “That he could settle like that and go a half- mile in 50. Earlier in the year, he would just run off and work a half in 47 but he’s rating so much better now.
“Obviously this is a tough spot on Saturday but finding sprint stakes for 3-year-olds is not easy this time of year and the race fits our plans perfectly since we’re pointing him for the Gallant Bob next month, which is a $250,000 stakes right in our own backyard on the undercard for the Pennsylvania Derby.”
Caleb’s Posse goes slow and easy
Caleb’s Posse, winner of the Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes last out, was among the first horses to hit the track Saturday morning, working an easy five furlongs in 1:04.60 over the Oklahoma training track. Caleb’s Posse, trained by Donnie Von Hemel, is pointing to next Saturday’s King’s Bishop.
Exercise rider David Contreras was aboard for the move, in which Caleb’s Posse went his first three furlongs in 37.79 seconds and his final quarter in 24.81. He didn’t gallop out very strongly.

“The track is pretty deep, it’s hard to make a horse work faster than you want,” Contreras said. “He finished pretty good.”

Aviate tunes up for Ballston Spa

Trainer Bill Mott said he was pleased with the way both Aviate and To Honor and Serve worked on Saturday.

Aviate, fifth, beaten less than three lengths in the Grade 1 Diana on July 30, was given permission to work over the Oklahoma turf course, where she went five furlongs in 1:00.44 in company with stablemate Starformer. To Honor and Serve went five-eighths in 1:01.44 over the regular Oklahoma training strip, the fastest of 18 moves recorded at the distance during the course of the morning.

“I thought it was nice” was Mott’s reaction when asked about Aviate’s trial. “It was very useful and she finished up nicely”

Aviate will turn back a sixteenth of a mile to run in the Saturday’s Grade 2 Ballston Spa.

“She didn’t run a bad race in the Diana, she only got beat just over two lengths and she had a wide trip,” said Mott. “And a little shorter distance might suit her better.”

To Honor and Serve finished sixth after contesting the early pace in the Grade 2 Amsterdam on Aug. 1, his first start since his third-place finish in the Grade 1 Florida Derby four months earlier.

“He’s doing fine,” said Mott. “We ran him 6 1/2 furlongs the first time just to get him started and he showed speed but couldn’t keep that pace up. We knew he wasn’t cranked 100 percent. If he was we’d have run him in the Jim Dandy or Curlin.”

Mott said he has nothing specific picked out at this point for To Honor and Serve but that he would be nominated for races such as the Super Derby and Smarty Jones.

◗ When he guided Fox Rules ($47.20) to a half-length victory in Saturday’s second race, jockey John Grabowski won his first turf race since March 16, 2004, when he won a claiming race at Turf Paradise with Gold Bidder.

– additional reporting by David Grening