Trainer Mark Casse reported Monday morning that Saratoga Race Course’s current meet leading rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. will have the mount aboard Gary Barber’s Wonder Gadot, set to become the first filly since 1979 to contest the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers on Saturday.
Ortiz was previously committed to ride Hofburg in the Mid-Summer Derby, but the Curlin winner was withdrawn from the race on Sunday after missing a scheduled breeze due to fever.
“Irad is as good as they come,” said Casse. “He’s having an unbelievable meet and it seemed like an obvious choice.”
Ortiz entered Monday’s card leading all jockeys this summer with 39 wins from 171 mounts through 27 days of racing. Ortiz won the 2015 Spa riding title and has finished second in the standings the last two years behind his brother Jose.
Wonder Gadot, an Ontario-bred by Medgalia d’Oro, will be the first filly since Davona Dale in 1979 to start in the Travers. Davona Dale, named champion 3-year-old filly and later inducted in the Hall of Fame, finished fourth as the favorite that year. Seven fillies have won the Travers in its 148-year history with the last being Lady Rotha, who was elevated to victory via disqualification in 1915.
“I’m really excited,” said Ortiz. “She’s a nice filly and she’s been working really good. Unfortunately, Hofburg got sick, but I’m happy to have this opportunity. I’m thankful to be on her in the Travers and hopefully we can stay with her.”
Winner of the first two legs of Canada’s Triple Crown over males this summer, Wonder Gadot returned to the track Monday for the first time since recording a bullet 47.60-second half-mile breeze on Friday.
Wonder Gadot will gallop up to Saturday’s race, said Casse. He added that she schooled in the paddock on Sunday and is slated to gate school on the main track Wednesday.
“She’ll do something a little out of the norm, I think, on Wednesday,” he said. “She’s going to train early at her usual time and then we’ll come back and tack her back up and walk her over to go stand in the gate. I want her to gallop early in the morning because that works for her, but the gates aren’t up then, so she’ll train and school that morning.”
In other Travers goings-on, trainer Michael McCarthy said Monday morning that Axelrod, last-to-first winner of the Indiana Derby on July 14, would not be making the trip to New York for Saturday’s Grade 1 Travers.
McCarthy will be bringing his multiple graded stakes winning City of Light to the Spa for the Grade 1, $600,000 Forego on Travers Day. The Edward Evans color-bearer is scheduled to arrive from California on Wednesday.
The 4-year-old Quality Road colt, 4-3-1 from eight starts with earnings of $1,000,600, worked a bullet five furlongs at Del Mar on Friday, covering the distance in 1:00.
Ryan Moore will ride the Aidan O’Brien-trained Group 2 UAE Derby winner Mendelssohn in the Travers.
Seahenge, also trained by O’Brien, was under consideration for the Mid-Summer Derby but has been redirected to the Grade 1, $1 million Sword Dancer for 3-year-olds and up at 1 ½ miles on the inner turf on Travers Day, according to the NYRA Racing Office.
No Dozing looks to be sleeper pick in G1 Forego; Hawksmoor eyes G2 Ballston Spa after Monday breeze
Mr and Mrs. M. Roy Jackson’s No Dozing put in his final work before the Grade 1 Forego, breezing four furlongs in 51.22 seconds on the Oklahoma training track Monday morning.
Trainer Arnaud Delacour said No Dozing had an easier work to build on last week’s impressive bullet five-furlong breeze in 59.68 seconds that was the fastest of a group of 23 on August 13.
“It was just an easy breeze, he had a pretty [intense] one last week, and we were happy with that,” Delacour said. “We just wanted him to stretch his legs today and we’re very happy with that. If he comes back well, I think everything is in good order for the Forego.”
No Dozing has already posted a win at the Saratoga meet, registering a three-quarter length victory in an optional claimer on July 21. His victory in the seven-furlong race, the same distance as the Forego, earned the 4-year-old Union Rags gelding a personal-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure.
As a sophomore, No Dozing earned graded stakes placing twice, finishing third in the Grade 3 Lexington on April 15 and second in the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs. After a nearly eight-month layoff, No Dozing’s return has set him up for the Forego, a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in November at Churchill.
“That race last time was pretty tough, with [fellow Forego contender] Awesome Slew and some nice horses in there, it helped him run in that rhythm, because they were going pretty quick,” Delacour said. “His finish was very encouraging to me.”
Delacour’s other expected Travers Day entrant, Lael Stables’ Hawksmoor, also breezed Monday, going four furlongs in 50.89 seconds on the Oklahoma turf track as she readies for the Grade 2, $400,000 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa.
Hawksmoor is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Diana on July 21 at the Spa, where she served as the pacesetter before being overtaken in the stretch in the 1 1/8-mile route. She earned a 99 Beyer for that effort, marking an improvement over her fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Gamely at the same distance on May 26 at Santa Anita Park.
The Ballston Spa, contested at 1 1/16 miles, marks the same distance in which the Irish-bred 5-year-old won her first graded stakes in the 2017 Grade 3 Beaugay on yielding turf at Belmont Park. Delacour also said the rainy summer and subsequently softer turf could be advantageous.
“She’s doing very well and we’re real happy with her,” Delacour said. “There’s always a question mark when the turf is like that, but she’s won before on very soft turf… so I don’t see any reason why we should worry about the softer turf, because she’s handled it in the past.”
Romans looks to hold strong hand in G1 Allen Jerkens
Multiple graded stakes winner Promises Fulfilled will make his second start of the Saratoga meet in Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial presented by Runhappy after his strong 3 ¼-length victory in the Grade 3 Amsterdam on July 28.
On Sunday, the 3-year-old colt, owned by Voorheesville, New York native Bob Baron, breezed four furlongs in 47.66 seconds over the fast main track for trainer Dale Romans.
“This race is going to be a little bit tougher, but the Amsterdam was a pretty awesome performance,” Romans said. “He’s done nothing wrong since and he’s trained well every day, so I think we’ll see another big effort out of him.”
The 3-year-old Shackleford colt ended his 2-year-old year with a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club on November 25 at Churchill Downs after winning both of his first two career starts.
He started his sophomore campaign winning the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth on March 3 at Gulfstream Park in gate-to-wire fashion, then finished ninth in the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 31 at Gulfstream Park, where he appeared washed out before tiring.
After finishing a tiring 15th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 5 at Churchill Downs, his home base, the chestnut was sent north to Belmont Park, where he finished third behind prospective Jerkens Memorial foes Still Having Fun and Engage in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens on the Belmont Stakes Day undercard June 9.
Romans will also saddle West Point Thoroughbred’s Seven Trumpets. The 3-year-old by Morning Line breezed a half-mile in 50.99 seconds over Saratoga main track Sunday morning and is still in search of his first graded stakes victory.
After winning two races from three starts at 2, the Kentucky-bred returned to miss by a half-length in the mud to Firenze Fire in the Jerome on January 13 at Aqueduct in his sophomore debut. He was off the board through three straight Grade 3 starts, the Southwest on February 19 at Oaklawn Park, the Sunland Derby on March 25 at Sunland Park and the Stonestreet Lexington at Keeneland, in which he finished seventh, fourth and fifth respectively.
His lone victory this year came in the slop at Churchill, where he won a $100,000 conditional claimer before finishing as the runner-up behind Firenze Fire in his nine-length romp in the Grade 3 Dwyer on July 7 at Belmont Park.
Monday morning, trainer Mark Casse said his Ontario-bred Telekinesis will make his sixth career start in the Jerkens, cutting back to a sprint for the first time since his debut earlier this year when he broke his maiden by 3 ¼ lengths going six furlongs at Fair Grounds.
The 3-year-old colt by Ghostzapper fell short by a head to My Boy Jack in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Lexington on April 14 at Keeneland before heading north to Woodbine where he won the Plate Trial Stakes on June 9, before tiring to fifth in the Queen’s Plate Stakes, both at 1 1/8 miles and 1/14 miles respectively.
After shipping up to Saratoga from Churchill Downs, the Stonestreet Stables-owned Telekinesis maintained her strong, steady worktab and breezed a half-mile in 50.55 over the fast main track last Friday.
“We’ve always had some concerns with how far he wanted to go,” Casse said. “He’s extremely fast and we think the cut back will suit him. He’s training well and it’s a Grade 1, so we’re going to try him.”
Abreu prepares for first G1 start in Sword Dancer with Revved Up
Purchased for $350,000 on July 9 and now in the care of trainer Jorge Abreu, Revved Up will make his first start for his new connections in Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Sword Dancer.
Previously in the care of Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, the 5-year-old Candy Ride horse most recently finished second in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap at Arlington Park, beaten a half-length at the wire.
Revved Up has two allowance wins at Saratoga, and Abreu is looking forward to running him in the Sword Dancer.
“Since the horse came, he’s been doing very well,” said Abreu, former assistant to Chad Brown. “He’s been training very, very nice. He’s breezed well all three times we’ve sent him to the track and I think he’s going to have a good shot in the Sword Dancer. We know he likes Saratoga, with a pair of allowance wins here and going long. Coming off his performance at Arlington, he’s in good order right now.”
Abreu has five winners from 25 starters this meet and said he is looking forward to saddling his first Grade 1 starter.
“It’s been a good meet so far,” said Abreu. “We’re looking forward to the Sword Dancer and finishing up strong.”