08/05/2007 11:00PM

Travers unlikely for Any Given Saturday


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - At the beginning of the year, Street Sense and Any Given Saturday were rated by many as the top two 3-year-olds in the country. With the dog days of summer upon us, it is starting to look like the two have come full circle.

After finishing eighth behind Street Sense in the Kentucky Derby, Any Given Saturday has come back with two strong performances, including a 4 1/2-length romp over Hard Spun in Sunday's $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park. Curlin, the Preakness winner, finished third.

Ordinarily, such an emphatic victory in the Haskell would put a horse on the fast track to the Travers. But Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Any Given Saturday, was noncommittal about the Travers on Monday morning. With the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Monmouth on Oct. 27 as his major objective, it appears as though Pletcher would prefer to run Any Given Saturday just one more time before then. The timing of the Travers - it will be run on Aug. 25 and is the next start for Street Sense - would mean the horse would have nine weeks to the Classic.

"The Breeders' Cup Classic is our main focus," Pletcher said. "If we feel like the Travers helps us get there, we'll consider that. Timing-wise, it wouldn't be perfect, but we'll give it a few days."

Pletcher said the Grade 2, $150,000 Brooklyn Breeders' Cup at Belmont on Sept. 22 or the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont on Sept. 30 may be preferable from a timing standpoint.

Regardless of where he runs, Any Given Saturday has regained the stature he lost when he finished third in the Wood Memorial and eighth in the Kentucky Derby. He emerged from the Derby with a bruised foot. He returned after a 60-day layoff with a four-length victory in the Grade 2 Dwyer on July 4. He earned a 110 Beyer Speed Figure for that effort and was assigned a 113 for his Haskell score.

"The time between the Derby and the Dwyer really helped him," Pletcher said. "He gained some weight. He's simply a better horse now than he was then."

Any Given Saturday was expected to van from Monmouth Park to Saratoga on Tuesday.

Curlin, meanwhile, arrived back in Saratoga on Monday morning. Curlin, one of just two horses to contest all three Triple Crown races, did not run his race in the Haskell. He made a bid from fifth to be just outside Any Given Saturday turning for home, but could not match strides with Any Given Saturday in the stretch and could not catch Hard Spun for second.

"He climbed quite a bit early, was off the bridle the whole race," trainer Steve Asmussen said. "Your scenarios are I thought he was a little drier [dehydrated] than usual leading up to it. He was coming off three Triple Crown races, and a mile and a half going back to a mile and an eighth on a quick surface."

Asmussen has said the Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Breeders' Cup Classic are his fall objectives. He said he would talk to Curlin's owners before deciding whether the Travers fits into the schedule.

"A lot will be told when we take him back to the track, his first breeze back, and how closely we pay attention to what he's telling us," Asmussen said.

Asmussen said that Zanjero, who won the West Virginia Derby on Saturday, would most likely be pointed to the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 3.

Meanwhile, Street Sense, who won the Jim Dandy here on July 29, remains on track for the Travers. Trainer Carl Nafzger said Any Given Saturday was "super-impressive" winning the Haskell and he would view him as a major threat should he run in the Travers.

Street Sense will seek to become the third straight Jim Dandy winner to also win the Travers.

"My horse is coming around good," said Nafzger, who planned to breeze Street Sense on Wednesday morning. "The prep, on a scale of 1 to 10, was a 10. He won, but he was patient and he was close to the pace. It was a good, solid race. It was the perfect prep to get ready for the Travers."

In addition to Street Sense, it appears likely that C P West and Sightseeing, second and third behind Street Sense in the Jim Dandy, will run back in the Travers. Loose Leaf, who won Sunday's $82,000 Lemon Drop Kid Stakes here by 3 3/4 lengths, also is likely to run. He rallied from well off the pace and split horses in the stretch while covering 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.67.

"I think he can compete at another eighth of a mile, especially if it's a small field," trainer Ken McPeek said. "A race like the Travers is a tough bear to tackle, but there's more to gain than there is to lose."

- additional reporting by Jay Privman