08/26/2012 1:26PM

Saratoga: Stay Thirsty appears best of three Woodward workers

Barbara D. Livingston
Mucho Macho Man, shown going to the track with trainer Kathy Ritvo watching on Aug. 20, worked a slow five furlongs Sunday in preparation for Saturday's Woodward.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Three of the five confirmed starters for this Saturday’s  Grade 1 Woodward  at Saratoga worked within minutes of one another shortly after sunrise on Sunday morning with their works a sharp study in contrast.

Trainer Todd Pletcher sent out his two Woodward hopefuls, Stay Thirsty and Rule, in company with Stay Thirsty the better of the pair. Stay Thirsty completed five furlongs in 1:00.13, finishing about a length clear of Rule while under less pressure coming to the wire. He also galloped out strongest of the team, going six furlongs in 1:13.25 and pulling up seven-eighths in 1:27.56.

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Mucho Macho Man, runaway winner of the Grade 2 Suburban in his last start, also went five furlongs in a slower 1:03.02, tiring through the latter stages of the work while also finishing out near the middle of the track.

Pletcher was pleased with the way both his Woodward contenders went on Sunday, especially in the progress Stay Thirsty has shown over the past several weeks. Pletcher opted to pass the Grade 1 Whitney earlier in the meet with Stay Thirsty to await the Woodward.

“They worked super,” said Pletcher. “Stay Thirsty has continually gotten better and better with each work so I think the extra time has paid off and he’s ready to go.”

Elliott Walden, president of WinStar Farm, confirmed Rule as a definite starter in the Woodward later Sunday morning.

“I thought he worked well.  He’s never a super work horse, but I thought he worked better than he did going into the Whitney,” said Walden.

Rule finished a well-beaten ninth after showing brief speed in the Whitney.

Walden also confirmed that Ramon Dominguez would ride Rule in the Woodward.

Mucho Macho Man, under exercise rider Nick Petro Jr.,  covered his opening three-eighths of a mile in  36.77 seconds, angled well off the rail leaving the final turn, and was weakening at the wire in his first work over the main track since sizzling five furlongs in  58.20 a week before the Suburban.

“He didn’t really get tired, he was just out in the deepest part of the racetrack,” trainer Kathy Ritvo said after Mucho Macho Man’s work. “We thought the rail might be a little too hard this morning and didn’t want him down there on it. We didn’t have another horse with us and I also told Nicky  not to use the stick either. I just didn’t want him going too fast six days before the race.”

Stay Thirsty, Rule, Mucho Macho Man, To Honor and Serve, and Cease are the only confirmed starters for the Woodward.

Pletcher, Walden,  and WinStar were back in action again after the renovation break with Gemologist, who breezed an easy half-mile in 48.04 in company with stablemate Welterweight. Gemologist galloped out five-eighths in 1:00.91 before pulling up six furlongs in 1:15.26. The work was the second for Gemologist since his disappointing effort in the Grade 1 Haskell.

“I thought Gemologist went well. We’re just sort of taking baby steps trying to get his confidence back,” said Walden. 

Walden said the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby remains “on the radar” as a possible option for Gemologist’s next start.

Trainer Steve Asmussen was also busy at the main track, sending out Eclipse Award winner My Miss Aurelia and his latest 2-year-old filly sensation, Teen Pauline, to work early Sunday morning. Both fillies are owned by Stonestreet Stables.

My Miss Aurelia, a winner of her only start at 3 earlier at the meet, looked good breezing five-eighths in 1:01.57, and  then galloped out a strong six furlongs in 1:14.89 while going easily throughout. Teen Pauline was also very sharp, completing five-eighths in 1:00.91 and galloping out six furlongs in 1:14.39 about 30 minutes earlier.       

John Moynihan, racing manager for Stonestreet, said later Sunday that Parx’s Cotillion on Sept. 22  and Belmont Park’s Beldam, vs. older fillies and mares  on Sept. 29, are among the options for My Miss Auerlia’s next start while confirming Teen Pauline as a starter for Sunday’s Spinaway.

Moynihan also said Stonestreet’s filly Dreaming of Julia would work Monday.  A decision would then  be made on her status for the Spinaway. Dreaming of Julia, an easy maiden winner in her only start, is trained by Pletcher.

So Many Ways, another likely Spinaway starter, also worked here Sunday, going five furlongs in 1:00.66 in company with stable mate Alexandra’s Grace. So Many Ways, with jockey Javier Castellano aboard, completed her final quarter in  24.23 while well within herself before galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.88.

So Many Ways is perfect in two starts and comes off a 1 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3 Schuylerville earlier in the meet.

The Oklahoma turf course was opened for stakes horses on Sunday with  Chad Brown the only trainer to take advantage of the opportunity. Brown worked Dayatthespa an easy half -mile inside the dogs in 48.80 and the team of Dream Peace and Samitar five-eighths in  58.61 with Dream Peace r galloping out best of the pair in 1:11.04 for six furlongs.

At the Greentree training center, Emcee worked a half-mile in 48.40 over the synthetic surface in preparation for Saturday’s Grade 1 Forego. Interestingly, Emcee worked clockwise instead of counter-clockwise, beginning at the half-mile pole and completing his breeze at the eighth pole.

“We started doing it just because we can,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “Most of the time horses going left-handed all the time come up with any kind of issues because they’re always going left-handed. So sometimes we change just to change it up and it’s worked out well.”

Emcee is coming off a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt.

- additional reporting by David Grening