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Saratoga: Travers coming into focus
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Preparations for the $1 million Travers Stakes picked up on Thursday, with two major contenders putting in workouts at Saratoga and the announcement of a significant jockey change on a West Coast-based contender.
Alpha, the Jim Dandy winner, and Street Life, the Curlin winner, each breezed on a steamy Thursday morning in Saratoga looking to beat the rain that is forecast for Friday and Saturday. Meanwhile, John Velazquez will replace Corey Nakatani aboard Haskell runner-up Nonios in the Travers.
Others pointing to the race as of Thursday were Neck ’n Neck, Liaison, and Five Sixteen. Possible starters included Haskell winner Paynter, who was expected to be released from a veterinary clinic on Friday, Fast Falcon, Stealcase, and Hansen.
Alpha, who would likely be the Travers favorite in the expected absence of Paynter, worked four furlongs in 48.47 seconds over the Saratoga main track. Under exercise rider Rob Massey, Alpha went his first quarter-mile in 23.62 seconds. Massey kept a tight hold of the reins coming through the lane. Alpha galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.23 and pulled up six furlongs in 1:16.96.
“He worked great, we’re happy,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said afterward. “He has been a little keen training since that race, he’s so happy. And we had to adjust because of weather.”
McLaughlin was planning to work on Saturday, but moved the work up in order to work on a dry and fast surface. McLaughlin said that Alpha would likely work again next Friday or Saturday.
Similarly, trainer Chad Brown moved up Street Life’s work out because of the forecast, but his breeze went a little slower than planned. Street Life, working in company with Vivo, went a half-mile in 50.93 seconds, going a first quarter in just under 26 seconds.
“The first part of the work got a little messed up because the workmate broke off too slow. The first quarter was not what I was looking for,” Brown said. “They made it to the half-mile pole at a gallop instead of already working. I was looking for 49 and they went in 51. But, the horse was moving really good through the stretch, he was on his correct lead, and I thought he galloped out very well.”
Brown said since he moved the breeze up by two days and since it was on the slow side, he would likely work Street Life two more times before the Travers instead of one.
“I’m planning on bringing him back on Wednesday and giving him a longer and stiffer work,” Brown said. “That will be his major work day, weather permitting. Then he’ll do something closer to the race that’s a little more of a maintenance move.”
Trainer Nick Zito worked his pair of 3-year-old routers Fast Falcon and Easter Gift a half-mile in company that was timed in 49.90 seconds over the Oklahoma training track. Easter Gift, fourth in the Curlin, is likely headed to the Smarty Jones at Parx on Sept. 3. Fast Falcon, seventh in the Jim Dandy, is possible for the Travers, Zito said.
Velazquez to ride Nonios
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said from California that Hall of Fame rider Velazquez, who won the 2005 Travers aboard Flower Alley, will replace Nakatani aboard Nonios in the Travers.
In the Haskell, Nakatani made an early move along the inside down the backstretch, before taking back and coming around in the stretch. He was beaten 3 3/4 lengths by Paynter.
“We didn’t think Corey rode a bad race. Our owner felt that if we could get John Velazquez we should go that way,” Hollendorfer said. “He rides there and he’s one of the best in the world.”
Hollendorfer was pleased with the Haskell performance put in by Nonios in his first start on dirt. Hollendorfer also believes Nonios, a son of Pleasantly Perfect, would like the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Travers.
“I think our colt is doing real good right now, it looks like he’s moving forward and he deserves a chance to run in a race like that and see what he can do,” Hollendorfer said. “We think we have a good horse.”
Nonios will ship to New York on Aug. 20, Hollendorfer said.
– additional reporting by Mike Welsch
PAYNTER IS OUT OF THE TRAVERS..
Who is the biggest star in American horseracing these days? Is there even a star? I suppose Wise Dan is a cool horse, but jeesh. I have never seen anything like this. The day before the Belmont, we had a triple crown on the line and life was ok. Then let's see, I'll Have Another was retired for dubious reasons. Then check out Belmont Day. The coolest horse on the grounds, Winter Memories, has been retired. The winner of the Manhattan has been retired. The winner of the Belmont...retired. Bodemeister, not seen since the Preakness. Expecting a retirement announcement any day now. Paynter, spikes a fever and is now dubious for a Travers that will feature nothing but glorified allowance horses. I hate to be the wet blanket, but jeepers the sport of Kings is under siege!
BTW, Mr. Grening & his colleages paychecks originate from the player as well . No player ,no paycheck for Mr. Grening. There are only two writer/ handicappers at DRF that can handicap their way out of a wet paper bag. Thats not an insult ,its a fact.
Tom Cook , If in fact you are an assistant trainer (i doubt that ) then yes indeed your pay check originates with the bettor as I've told you in the past. You have much disdain for the players that provide you a living. Take your horses and go run them in a field somewhere . See how well that pays your bills. Personally I don't care if we euthaniZe all the horses tomorrow & start racing Sasquacthes. I'll get along fine. You on the other hoof will be out of a job because you don't know anything about training Sasquatches and Sasquatches don't suffer fools lightly as can clearly be seen on any Jack links commercial. I pay your bills . I pay your boss's bills. Get that through that thick head of yours and stop insulting the intelligent people that pay your bills. Get back to mucking your stalls and leave the commentary to the people that know about racing. Anybody that can hold a rake can muck a stall.
Another horrible year for horseracing, with the three-year-old division in total shambles. Not sure who will win, but the final time will be 2:04 and change because nobody can get 10f anymore.
Paynter is fine. Trust me. After all. I am the only one who believes it here.
Wasn't there a 3yo called Paynter at the races this year?
Nonios, Neck N Neck, and Liason top 3 then Alpha.
I was at the Haskell and the two horses that looked really good in the paddock was Paynter and Nonios. I actually like him as a live longshot in the Travers. He would have to improve on his race but considering Paynter seems to be the horse to beat and since he's been sick if he does work and go he may not be 100%. Alpha seems to be over looked but I think he is a nice horse. It would be nice to see a big field for the Travers seems the past few years it's been 6 or 8 at tops. Should be interesting to see who goes and who doesn't.
Liaison has run two very good under te radar races. He has had nothing but sloooow pace in front of him. All that should change this time around and his price will be huge. He has a serious shot.