08/13/2011 2:55PM

Saratoga: Travers prospects tune up at two venues

Barbara D. Livingston
Preakness winner Shackleford, under Tammy Fox, works six furlongs in 1:14.39 over a deep, tiring track.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Preparations for the $1 million Travers Stakes picked up in earnest Saturday morning with three of the major players putting in workouts at Saratoga and Monmouth Park.

At Saratoga, where the main track appeared deep and horses were laboring in the stretch, Preakness winner Shackleford worked six furlongs in 1:14.39 while Long Branch Stakes winner Rattlesnake Bridge went five furlongs in 1:02.89.

At Monmouth Park, Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice drilled five furlongs in 58.80 seconds. Others working for the Travers on Saturday included Bowman’s Causeway (five furlongs in 1:01.16 over Saratoga’s main track) and J W Blue (five furlongs in 1:01.18 over the main track).

Rattlesnake Bridge and Shackleford worked just moments apart following the renovation break Saturday morning. Rattlesnake Bridge started about a length behind workmate Marine Officer, and tracked him through an eighth in 13.27 seconds and a quarter in 25.85 before creeping up alongside his workmate approaching the quarter pole. Rattlesnake Bridge drew several lengths clear of Marine Officer in the stretch and appeared to be emboldened by the challenge of Steelcase, a 2-year-old colt trained by Mark Casse who came alongside Rattlesnake Bridge at the finish.

Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Rattlesnake Bridge said, the track “might have been a little dull but we’re happy with our breeze. Time isn’t a big deal, unless you’re serving it. … He galloped out really strong kept going, and came back in good shape. He’s fit and ready to go. We feel he wants the mile and a quarter with his style.’’

As Rattlesnake Bridge was completing his move, Shackleford was getting into his, breaking off at the six-furlong pole under exercise rider Tammy Fox. Shackleford went his first quarter in 24.07 seconds, his second quarter in 24.74 seconds and in the stretch, where horses seemed to be tiring all morning, he went his final quarter in 25.77 seconds. He galloped out seven furlongs in 1:28.61.

Trainer Dale Romans seemed happy to get a workout over a demanding track into Shackleford.

“I think it did him a lot of good, I’m glad we did it, he needed it for this track,’’ said Romans, who caught Shackleford galloping out a mile in 1:44.

The move was Shackleford’s first since he was beaten a neck by Coil in the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth on July 31.

“He acts like he never ran, same as he does after every race,’’ Romans said. “He’s very durable; he likes what he’s doing. He’s never missed a beat in his life.’’

As many as 10 3-year-olds could contest the Aug. 27 Travers. Shackleford, Ruler On Ice, Jim Dandy winner Stay Thirsty, Rattlesnake Bridge, Barbaro Stakes runner-up J W Blue and Curlin Stakes runner-up Raison d’Etat are considered definite. Bowman’s Causeway, Jim Dandy runner-up Moonshine Mullin, Haskell winner Coil, and West Virginia Derby winner Prayer for Relief are possible.

Bob Baffert said Saturday that jockey Martin Garcia would work Coil on Tuesday to get a feel for the horse and Saratoga’s track before committing that horse to the race.