08/13/2012 4:05PM

Saratoga: Travers hopefuls Liaison and Stealcase put in solid works

Barbara D. Livingston
Liaison (right), with Simon Harris up, works five furlongs in 1:00.28 in company with Gun Boat on Monday at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – On the day that owner Ahmed Zayat finally came to terms with the fact his Haskell winner Paynter will not make the Travers Stakes – and officially declared him out of the race – three horses that figure to offer juicy odds in the Mid-Summer Derby put in workouts over Saratoga’s main track Monday morning.

Though Haskell third-place finisher Stealcase put in a fast five-furlong move in 59 seconds under jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, it was Jim Dandy third-place finisher Liaison who impressed more visually with a five-furlong breeze in 1:00.28, working in company with Gun Boat. Five Sixteen, the Curlin Stakes runner-up, worked five furlongs in 1:00.35, also in company.

Under exercise rider Simon Harris, Liaison broke off about two lengths in front of Gun Boat and sped three furlongs in 36.10 seconds. He opened up another length or two on Gun Boat in the stretch, getting his last quarter in 24.18, and galloped out well.

Trainer John Terranova oversaw the work for Liaison’s trainer, Bob Baffert, and said the move went according to plan.

“He gets a better workout when he’s in front,” Terranova said of Liaison. “When behind, he can be a little bit lazy breezing; [Baffert] wanted him a little bit out in front. He worked exceptional. The other horse worked good, and he needed the work, too.”

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Gun Boat, who stumbled badly at the start when finishing sixth in the Amsterdam on July 29, is being pointed to the Grade 1 King’s Bishop on Aug. 25.

Baffert, via text, confirmed that Rafael Bejarano would get back aboard Liaison for the Travers. Martin Garcia rode him in the Jim Dandy. Bejarano was aboard for Liaison’s Grade 1 win in the CashCall Futurity last December.

A few hours earlier, shortly after 6 a.m., Stealcase put in his breeze. Equipped with blinkers and with Bridgmohan up, Stealcase went his first three furlongs in 35.49. Bridgmohan was urging Stealcase, first with the reins and then with a tap of the whip to finish in the stretch, and he got his final quarter in 23.51.

“It was important that he had a good work,” said Norm Casse, assistant trainer to his father, Mark. “He didn’t have any company, so he was under a little mild encouragement, but that was by design. He’s always shown from this year and last year that he seems to like the racetrack. He only ran here one time as a 2-year-old, and he broke bad and his race was compromised right there.”

In the Haskell, Stealcase turned his head when the gates opened, causing him to break slowly.

“We weren’t going to beat Paynter that day, but we could have been a whole lot closer, possibly finished second had he not broke so bad,” Casse said.

Five Sixteen, second to Street Life in the Curlin, worked five furlongs in company with Live for Today. The pair went off very fast early and got noticeably tired late.

Others pointing to the Travers are Alpha, Street Life, Neck ’n Neck, Nonios, and Hansen.

Ray Smith More than 1 year ago
Listen here theze guys have been killing horses for years. When are they going to go after baffert. Hes much worse than ohters but he is so beloved. His horses never make it to far. Biggest doper on the trackside. Payn ter and bode are just the last two but there will be more. As for the travers you shouldve seen neck n neck whoaaa 11 second internal workout clips. Wait the the 10 days and cash your ticket.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
Bob Baffert and Mr. Zayat totally made the correct decision for Paynter. The Travers is a more prestigious race than the PA Derby, on paper. I'm sure they desired Paynter to run in that race and the fever Paynter came down with put an end to that dream immediately. It wouldn't benefit Paynter in any way to try to rush him into this race, and as a fan of Paynter's, I wouldn't want them to do so. Fans of Paynter know it's in Paynter's best interest to wait a little while and race him in optimum health in another stakes race down the road. A healthy Paynter will be formidable in the Pennsylvania Derby. For the Travers, I'm interested in several horses for exotics wagering. Only two horses are locks for my bets, the other horses in my exotics are still fluid until the last minute on race day. I want to see how the odds are going to play out. Nonios, of course, is sharp. He will be a chalk, though. I will consider him, but a little bit longer shots are needed to make this bettable for me. I, personally, would like to see Liaison improve. He was a part of that great Southern California block of horses pointed toward the Triple Crown races in 2012, and in the winter he was one of the most highly-regarded horses within his own barn and in the SC racing world. He got off-track in his progression while in competition with the fast peaking I'll Have Another, Creative Cause, Bodemeister, Paynter and Blueskiesnrainbows. He got lost in the shuffle as early as the Santa Anita Derby, when Paynter and Blueskiesnrainbows surpassed him in progress in his own barn. Liaison's needed lots of sharpening since the Kentucky Derby, and BB has been working with him. I'm glad he's focusing on Liaison's progress again. Liaison's coming along nicely, just as Paynter did right before the Belmont Stakes. I see promising progress, and Liaison has a chance in this race, at a price. IHA's half-brother, Neck 'n Neck, has looked great all year, he's talented in the same vein as I'll Have Another, he has a powerful closing kick, and I'm tabbing action on him. Alpha is flying a little under the radar too, which is I like. It will make his odds inviting. The Travers looks like a fun, interesting race, and I'm looking forward to seeing it and betting in it. Although Paynter will not be racing in it, which would have been exciting, it still has five or so horses in it that all have an excellent shot to win the race. Good luck to all in this very fine, wonderfully competitive race.
unmarx1 More than 1 year ago
anybody hear how Le Bernardin came out of WVD (last), sick or injured ? is he there at Spa ?
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Under NY Rules of Racing, who is listed as 'Trainer of Record' for Paynter?
richard montgomery More than 1 year ago
Unless you tap the phone lines between owners and trainers, don't act like you know where these horses will or won't be running.
TheAPIndy More than 1 year ago
Five Sixteen. LOL. Where is Unstoppable U?
Perl More than 1 year ago
Don't forget Guyana Star Dweej. He'll be a force! (if another 15 top three year olds reitre).
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
Good question. I was thinking about him and Atigun. Really haven't seen either up front since Preakness. What's up with them, Ken?
Jordan More than 1 year ago
The Travers and its 10 furlongs would seem an odd choice for a horse in Hansen that faded at 9 furlongs against grade 2 horses in his most recent. However, in the WV Derby Hero of Order was basically sent from the gate with the singular mission of making Hansen lose(which, as the horse to beat, was supposed to help Hero of Order's stablemate). I would think that if Hansen does go in the Travers, he will get an uncontested lead. And Hansen can get brave when he's able to relax early, although the distance would seem beyond his capacity. But weird things happen when the opposing jockeys ride under the belief that the lone speed WILL come back. At this stage, I think it's between Alpha, Neck n' Neck and Nonios. I believe Nonios has more upside, but this will be his second cross-country race in a month. Liaison should aslo be right there against these, but I don't like him for the win.
John More than 1 year ago
Liaison is a synthetic track horse, if Baffert keeps being a hard head about that fact, the horse will keep coming up short. Take a shot at the Arlington Million with him, nothing to lose. I'm ready to see Hansen again asap, the horse looked sharp at Prairie Meadows, I'm sure the doubters will say that he didn't beat anything there, which is partly true, but either way the horse looked ultra-sharp that night.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
I don't know if we can say just yet that Liaison is a synth horse. The evidence is not conclusive, in my opinion. Liaison clearly prefers Hollywood Park's Cushion Track to anything. And Baffert was vocal that the horse didn't like Santa Anita's dirt. However, Baffert commented that the horse perked up at Churchill, and he did finish ahead of Union Rags and Alpha among others when 6th in the Derby. His 3rd in the Jim Dandy was better than it appears at first glance because like Stealcase in the Haskell, Liaison stumbled at the start of the Jim Dandy, which put him near the back of the pack behind ridiculously slow fractions, all of which was compounded when he had to go wide on the far turn. Liaison has repeatedly shown that he can't beat the elite of the division, but I'm not sure he'll have to face a truly elite horse in the Travers. One concern is that Nonios beat him 2 straight races at Liaison's favorite track, Hollywood, and Nonios then transferred that form to Monmouth's dirt. All of which would suggest Nonios is the better horse.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Now that Paynter's owners finally did what's right by not forcing Baffert to run him the race looks like Neck n Neck's. Alpha has so much ability but he got the better trip in The Jim Dandy. Either way looks like these two. Can folks here give Paynter's connections some credit for doing what's right by their horse. It was obvious they wanted Paynter in The Travers but opted for Pennsylvania now that he missed training. As previously stated, this is a better looking race in a breeding catalogue not The Pennsylvannia Derby. And following with these two here... Stealcase is way overmatched in here. And Baffert doesn't have much luck in Saratoga reguardless of how well the horse worked.
Keith More than 1 year ago
Hansen is double nominated to the Travers, but also the King's Bishop, which just might be more feasible for that one. The defection of Paynter might lure him into the pace setters role again to see if he could then last by slowing it down sufficiently between the 6f and 1&1/8th calls, say, in the Travers. Noted, Dullahan put in a best of 20 5f work in a 1:00.1 5f at Churchill this weekend, and he is also showing on the nomination list for the Travers now, just out today. Big decision, his being the one of two lone survivors of the really top contenders along the triple crown trail. Send him back to face the Alpha and the new shooters in the Travers on dirt, or send him against some hardedened older horses in the Pacific Classic on synthetic, arguably his best surface? I'm betting it is the former, and we see him next at Saratoga. Keith L.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
They have already booked a Fedex flight to bring Dullahan to San Diego.