07/27/2012 4:57PM

Saratoga: Upgrade puts in strong work on dirt

Tom Keyser
Upgrade is being pointed to the Grade 2 Fourstardave at Saratoga.

Trainer Michelle Nihei had penciled in a five-furlong work over the Oklahoma turf course on Friday morning for her Grade 3 winner Upgrade in what was to be his final prep prior to the Grade 2 Fourstardave. But with light rain falling when she arrived at the track early Friday and the prospect for more as the morning progressed, Nihei got out her eraser and switched Upgrade’s work to dirt. A wise choice, as things turned out, after turf workouts were subsequently canceled due to the wet conditions.

Upgrade, winner of Belmont Park’s Jaipur in his previous start, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 with Nihei aboard over a main track officially listed as good by track clockers.

“I woke up at 3:30, and although it hadn’t rained yet, I had a feeling it was going to move in on us and we wouldn’t get to the turf,” said Nihei who won the $100,000 Quick Call Stakes here the previous afternoon with Artest. “He’s not a brilliant dirt work horse, but he’ll work on the dirt and he went in 1:01. He was dragging me around there yesterday galloping, too. He’s really, really ready.”

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Nihei also advised that her top 3-year-old filly Regalo Mia has yet to go back to the track since returning from the West Coast with what was ultimately diagnosed as a case of pneumonia that forced her to be scratched out of Betfair Hollywood Park’s Grade 1 American Oaks earlier this month. Regalo Mia has been a hard-luck filly this year, having dropped narrow decisions in three stakes, including the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride at Gulfstream Park and Grade 2 Sands Point at Belmont.

“She had a 104 temperature the morning after she arrived in California, but we didn’t know it was pneumonia until we got her back home and took an ultrasound,” Nihei said. “She was probably cooking something up before she left here but never gave any indication. She had worked and been acting like she was ready to run another big race.”

Nihei said Regalo Mia has recuperated well, but that she is in no rush to put her back in training.

“We’ve treated her with two weeks worth of antibiotics, and she’s perfect now,” Nihei said. “We’ll take another ultrasound after the treatments run their course and then give her a little more time to make sure she’s healed and healthy. Best-case scenario, we might see her back at the very end of the meet.”