08/27/2013 2:55PM

Saratoga: Travers runner-up Moreno’s mouth abscess improves

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Tom Keyser
Moreno (white blinkers) nearly had to be scratched from the Travers as the result of a painful, large mouth abscess.

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Trainer Eric Guillot said the mouth abscess that nearly forced him to scratch Moreno from last Saturday’s Travers finally popped open on Tuesday morning, which should allow him to send his 3-year-old star back to the track by the end of the week.

Moreno was caught in the final strides of the Travers by Will Take Charge, finishing a heart-breaking second after leading nearly every step of the 1 1/4-mile mid-summer classic. Guillot treated the abscess for a week trying to minimize any discomfort his horse might feel during the running of the race. He said the abscess was the size of a half-dollar and located in the vicinity of Moreno’s jaw.

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“I was a nervous wreck all week dealing with it,” said Guillot. “We gave the horse bute and Banamine for as long as we legally could to get the swelling down, then treated the abscess with ice to prevent it from popping before the race.”

Guillot said he is still feeling the disappointment of having suffered such a narrow loss in a race as prestigious as the Travers.

“If we’d have finished fourth, beaten seven lengths, I probably wouldn’t have felt as bad as I do having gotten so close and just missed like that,” he said. “All of us were crying back at the barn after the race. I’m not in this business for the money, I’m here to win races like the Travers, and it’s heart-breaking to come that close because you never know when you’ll get an opportunity like that again.”

Guillot said Moreno will ship to Belmont Park on Tuesday to prepare for the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on Sept. 21 and a potential rematch with Will Take Charge.

Shirreffs liked Mentor Cane’s effort

Trainer John Shirreffs said he was pleased with Mentor Cane’s performance in Saturday’s Grade 1 King’s Bishop despite the fact he lost a seemingly insurmountable lead at midstretch to finish second behind the fast-closing Capo Bastone.

Mentor Cane, making just his fifth career start and his first in a Grade 1 event, opened a five-length lead with less than a furlong to go before giving way to the winner to drop a two-length decision in the seven-furlong King’s Bishop.

“You’re never home free in any race no matter how big a lead you’ve got,” said Shirreffs. “But for a horse that had run only four previous times, and bore out like he did in his previous start in the Amsterdam, I was very happy with the effort. He’s a horse who is still learning. You hope they can keep taking little baby steps and then all of a sudden take that one big stride forward.”

Shirreffs said Mentor Cane will likely make his next start in the Grade 1 Vosburgh at Belmont Park on Sept. 28.