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Wild Desert out for season
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Wild Desert, the Queen's Plate winner who was being pointed to the $1 million Travers here on Aug. 27, will be forced to miss the remainder of his 3-year-old season because of a suspensory injury, trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said Thursday.
Dutrow noticed something amiss with Wild Desert following his six-furlong breeze in 1:15.28 here Monday. The horse was shipped to the Rood and Riddle Equine Clinic in Lexington, Ky., where Dr. Larry Bramlage diagnosed a strain to the suspensory ligament in his right hind leg.
Dutrow said Wild Desert would be brought back for a 4-year-old campaign.
"Naturally, we're disappointed, but we're going to take our time with him and he'll come back better than ever," Dutrow said. "We'll give him some time and let him get over it the right way."
Dutrow was told that Wild Desert had not come out of his third-place finish in the Prince of Wales on July 17 well. But when Wild Desert worked five furlongs in 59.65 seconds here on Aug. 8, Dutrow thought whatever issues he had were behind him.
The Travers can ill afford to lose horses. The field is expected to be led by Jim Dandy winner Flower Alley and Haskell winner Roman Ruler. Reverberate, Andromeda's Hero, and A.P. Arrow are also pointing to the race.
On Thursday, Andromeda's Hero worked five furlongs in 1:02.05 over the main track. Roman Ruler went to the track on Thursday for the first time since his Haskell victory, jogging once around the Oklahoma training track.
Sis City works toward Alabama
Dutrow's top 3-year-old filly, Sis City, remained on course for the Grade 1 Alabama on Aug. 20 by working seven furlongs in 1:27.60 over the main track. Sis City went the last quarter in a rather pokey 26.08 seconds, with Rudy Rodriguez scrubbing on the filly through the lane.
Still, Dutrow was pleased with what he saw Thursday morning, and provided she satisfactorily blows out three furlongs next week, Sis City will run in the $750,000 Alabama.
"I never knew her to be a real good work horse," Dutrow said. "Rudy was happy with her."
Dutrow said he has been pleased with the way Sis City has responded to the extra schooling time he has given her in the starting gate. Dutrow felt Sis City didn't behave well in the gate prior to the Kentucky Oaks and Delaware Oaks, races in which she did not perform well.
"Bob Duncan's been working with her and he's got her in his pocket right now," Dutrow said, referring to the former starter at NYRA, who occasionally works with troubled gate horses.
In the past week, the Alabama has lost top contenders Smuggler and Summerly.
"I hope it keeps falling apart - I hope we stay together," Dutrow said.
Rushing, Dominguez put on spot
When the connections of Better Talk Now decided on Thursday they would rather run in the Arlington Million on Saturday instead of the Sword Dancer at Saratoga, it put jockey Ramon Dominguez and his agent, Steve Rushing, in a bind. They could either go to Chicago to stick with Better Talk Now - whom Dominguez has ridden to victories in the Breeders' Cup Turf, Sword Dancer, and United Nations - or remain at Saratoga, where Dominguez had mounts in eight other races on Saturday.
With entries being taken on Thursday for Saturday's card at Saratoga, Rushing decided it was more honorable to stay at Saratoga and keep those calls.
"It would have meant leaving a lot of people high and dry at the last minute," Rushing said of going to Arlington. "I didn't think that was the right thing to do.
"I understand their decision," Rushing said, referring to trainer Graham Motion and the Bushwood Racing partnership, which owns Better Talk Now. "Graham understood my dilemma."
Dominguez still ended up with a mount in the Sword Dancer. When trainer Bobby Frankel learned of Better Talk Now's plans, he snatched up Dominguez to replace Chantal Sutherland, whom Frankel had said would ride Vangelis.
"How could I not put him on?" Frankel said. "He's ridden him twice."
Dominguez finished second on Vangelis in both of those races, the Jim Murray Handicap at Hollywood Park and the Arlington Handicap.
Roses in May likely to skip Spa BC
Roses in May, the Dubai World Cup winner, worked six furlongs in 1:14.95 on Thursday morning, but his owner, Ken Ramsey, said the horse is unlikely to make his next start in the Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap here on Aug. 21.
While pleased with the way Roses in May finished his work, Ramsey said he did not want to bring the horse back in a 1 1/4-mile race off a four-month layoff. Ramsey said he would look for a possible allowance race here or the Grade 1 Woodward at Belmont on Sept. 10 for the colt's next start.
"My gut feeling is we should not go a mile and a quarter first time back, but we'll discuss that with Mr. Romans," said Ramsey, referring to trainer Dale Romans, who was in Chicago on Thursday. "We'll either go in an allowance race or train him up to the Woodward. That's a decision Dale and I will make together."
Stellar Jayne aims for Ruffian
Stellar Jayne, who was an easy winner of the Misty Galore Stakes at Belmont Park on July 2 in her first start since being acquired by Godolphin Racing, turned in the fastest three-furlong work of the morning at Saratoga on Thursday when she breezed the distance in 37.05 seconds with exercise rider Rachel Dore.
Rick Mettee, the New York-based assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor, said Stellar Jayne would skip the Saratoga meeting and instead make her next start in the Grade 1, $300,000 Ruffian Handicap at Belmont Park on Sept. 11.
"She probably would be ready to run before the Ruffian, but having missed the Go for Wand at a mile and an eighth, it's probably too much for her to go in the Personal Ensign at a mile and a quarter," Mettee said. The Personal Ensign is Aug. 26.
Mettee also sent out Keep the Faith for a half-mile drill in 49.90 seconds in preparation for the Grade 1, $250,000 Forego Handicap on Sept. 3. The Forego would be the first start on dirt for Keep the Faith, a son of Sunday Silence who set a course record of 1:06.82 for six furlongs on turf at Belmont Park on July 24.
"Being by Sunday Silence, it would make him a lot more attractive as a stallion prospect if he could win a big race on dirt," Mettee said.
* The New York Racing Association Board of Trustees approved a 36-day schedule for next summer's Saratoga meet, July 26 through Sept. 4.
* Golden Commander, winner of last year's West Point Handicap, will be unable to defend his title on Sunday. Golden Commander has a soft-tissue injury to his right foreleg and will miss the remainder of the year. Golden Commander is trained by Phil Serpe, whose horse Lunar Mon had to be euthanized after he fractured his left ankle in Thursday's second race.
- additional reporting by Jay Privman