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Street Sense on track for Travers
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N Y - It was business as usual at Saratoga on Monday morning for Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, who galloped a mile over the main track just 13 hours after posting a game victory over C P West in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes.
Street Sense regularly trains the day after he runs. He followed the same routine the morning after winning the Derby.
"He was happy to go to the track this morning, but not all that excited about it," said trainer Carl Nafzger. "This race really took that edge off, which he needed because he was really too sharp for me. I don't know if I could have held him another week if I had to. And it's always good to get that first one out of the way."
Nafzger was pleased with Street Sense's performance in the Jim Dandy for several reasons, aside from the obvious fact that he was able to extricate himself from traffic around the turn and add another graded stakes victory to his already impressive resume.
"We learned a lot out of that trip," said Nafzger. "He sat a little closer to the pace, which was our plan. He also got rid of the notion that he won't come out off the rail and pass horses. He should be a better horse next time because he'll have more fitness from this effort and he now has a run over the track, which is a big advantage."
Nafzger said Street Sense would walk on Tuesday and Wednesday and return to training Thursday, but after that nothing is definite other than that he will be pointed for the Grade 1 Travers on Aug. 25.
Opening week business robust
Attendance, ontrack handle, and total handle all registered significant gains over 2006 figures for the opening week of the 2007 meet. Those numbers were buoyed by Saturday's Whitney Day card, which drew a crowd of 29,216 compared with 29,918 the previous year and an overall, all-sources handle of $27,708,217 compared with $24,394,701 in 2006.
"Opening week exceeded all our expectations," said Charles Hayward, NYRA president and CEO. "And Saturday's all-sources handle is the highest non-Travers Day total in track history. The purse increase has resulted in increased field sizes, and the weather has cooperated with no races taken off the turf."
C P West will try Street Sense again
Trainers Nick Zito, Shug McGaughey, and Steve Asmussen reported all was well in their camps the day after the Jim Dandy.
Zito had mixed emotions following C P West's courageous second-place finish in the Jim Dandy. C P West forced the pace from the outset, then resisted a challenge from Street Sense through much of the stretch before succumbing through the final sixteenth of a mile. The previous afternoon, the Zito-trained Wanderin Boy finished second behind Lawyer Ron's record-setting performance in the Grade 1 Whitney.
"We got beat by a track record on Saturday and by a champion on Sunday," said Zito. "That's the game. On one hand I'm happy to be able to run second in two very prestigious races like the Whitney and Jim Dandy, although it's frustrating at the same time. We've probably had 30 seconds in major races around the country over the last 18 months, which shows we're in there competing on a high level with a great deal of success, and that's what our stable is about."
Zito said that in all likelihood C P West will get another shot at Street Sense in the Travers.
"He proved he belongs with the best in the division in the Preakness and again Sunday," said Zito. "I'll see how the Haskell plays out, but if he gives me another month like he gave me before this last race, we should be in good shape."
McGaughey was also pleased with Sightseeing's third-place finish in the Jim Dandy.
"The Dwyer was a discouraging race and the Jim Dandy was an encouraging one, especially the way he galloped out to those horses after the wire," said McGaughey. "I'll watch the Haskell and watch how he does over the next few weeks, but at the moment I'm inclined to run him back in the Travers, where the added distance might be to our advantage."
Tiz Wonderful suffered his first career setback in four tries when he finished sixth and last after racing rankly and pressing the early pace of the Jim Dandy. The race marked his first start since suffering a tendon injury in January.
"He pretty much ran his race before the gates even opened," said trainer Steve Asmussen. "When I got to the paddock to saddle him, his motor was going faster than usual and he was pretty wound up. He came back a little body-sore but the tendon looks good. Right now I've got nothing planned."
Woodward likely next for Lawyer Ron
Trainer Todd Pletcher reported that all was well with all three of his starters from Saturday's Whitney, including Lawyer Ron, who will now likely be pointed for the Grade 1 Woodward here on Sept. 1.
"I wasn't surprised he won, although I was surprised how fast he ran," said Pletcher. "He was a little unfortunate not to win his two previous races. He had the 1 post for the Met Mile, and at Monmouth he did well just to get up for second over a crazy, speed-favoring track."
Lawyer Ron's performance, which earned him a 116 Beyer Speed Figure, will certainly move him well up the rankings of a very wide open handicap division.
"I think the division might be a little less wide open now than it was on Saturday morning," Pletcher said.
The official Whitney clocking of 1:46.64, which broke the track record set by Left Bank in 2002, was questioned by some, but not by Pletcher.
"Any way you look at it the horse ran a huge race," he said, "and if the time is accurate, which I believe it to be, then I just want to see him get the credit he deserves for his performance."
Pletcher said that Magna Graduate, who finished sixth as the 4-1 favorite in the Whitney, could also return in the Woodward. Fairbanks, fourth in the Whitney, may try the Hawthorne Gold Cup on Sept. 29, the trainer said.
Pletcher will likely seek another Grade 1 win this weekend in the Test Stakes with Cotton Blossom, who breezed a half-mile in 48.47 seconds at Saratoga on Sunday. Cotton Blossom will turn back to seven-eighths of a mile for the first time since finishing second in the Spinaway here last summer.
Ruffian next target for Ginger Punch
It was not Bobby Frankel's intent to run either Ginger Punch or Argentina last weekend in Grade 1 stakes. But since he got a Grade 1 win with Ginger Punch and a Gradeo1 placing with Argentina, it all worked out in the end.
Ginger Punch dominated Saturday's Go for Wand by six lengths and thus earned a berth in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff, provided owner Frank Stronach decides to pay the $180,000 supplemental fee.
Frankel was originally pointing Ginger Punch to the Grade 1 Ballerina later in the meet. But with Sugar Shake needing more time and the Go for Wand coming up light, Frankel decided to enter Ginger Punch despite it being her first try at 1 1/8 miles.
"I was a little concerned about the distance, but I knew she was faster than they were,'' Frankel said. "If I ran in the Ballerina, I can't go anywhere else. The Ruffian is too close,'' and the Molly Pitcher at Monmouth is the day before.
Frankel said Ginger Punch, who won the Grade 2 First Flight at Belmont last month, will most likely make her next start in the Grade 1 Ruffian at Belmont on Sept. 8.
Regarding the BC Distaff, Frankel said Stronach would pay the supplemental fee "if she's doing good" at the time.
Meanwhile, Frankel was thrilled with Argentina's second-place finish to My Typhoon in the Grade 1 Diana. Frankel had been planning to run Karen's Caper in that race before she got a foot injury. Argentina, beaten three-quarters of a length by My Typhoon, will likely run next in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont on Sept. 29.
* Nobiz Like Shobiz worked seven furlongs in 1:27.06 over a very busy Oklahoma turf course on Monday in preparation for his grass debut in next Monday's Grade 2 Fourstardave Stakes. Nobiz Like Shobiz completed his final quarter-mile in 23.48 seconds before galloping out a mile in 1:39.88.
- additional reporting by David Grening