Travers’ Day Notes: Chad Brown Has 2 Shots at Another G1 Win

From the NYRA Media Team:

His resume is not quite a dozen years old, which, by horse training standards, is relatively youthful. But if you unfurled Chad Brown’s scroll of achievements, it could easily be mistaken for one belonging to a far more seasoned conditioner.

The three-time Eclipse Award winner has saddled more than 1,600 winners of $167 million. Twenty of his charges have reached millionaire status, including the nation’s top horse, Bricks and Mortar, who has earned more than $4.5 million this year alone. He has 12 Breeders’ Cup victories to his credit, won the 2018 Preakness with Cloud Computing, and with more than four months left in 2019 has 39 graded stakes wins.

Well on his way to a third straight training title at Saratoga Race Course, the 40-year-old native of nearby Mechanicville, N.Y. has thus far hoisted the trophies for the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks and Grade 1 Alabama presented by NYRA Bets for the first time.

But of all the milestone moments Brown has enjoyed within the confines of Saratoga, a victory in the G1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers has eluded his grasp.

“I know this has been the one race he’s always wanted to win growing up close to here. To be able to win that race for him would be extremely special. It would be incredible,” said Madaket Stables’ Sol Kumin, whose Looking At Bikinis joins the Brown-trained Highest Honors in the starting gate for Saturday’s “Mid-Summer Derby.”

Since 2011, Brown has sent out eight starters without hitting the board, including race favorite Good Magic and Gronkowski, ninth and eighth, respectively, last year. Bowman’s Causeway, his first starter, was seventh in 2011; his second, Street Life, was 11th the following year. Five years later, Brown’s trio of Gift Box, Connect, and My Man Sam finished fourth, sixth and eighth, and Classic winner Cloud Computing was eighth in 2017.

With lightly raced Highest Honors and Looking At Bikinis, Brown maintains a victory by either would not fit his definition of an upset.

“The thing is last year, on paper, [Good Magic and Gronkowski] looked like they had a really good shot and I felt really good going into the race,” Brown said. “But in hindsight, those horses had a long campaign. I think coming into a race like this at a 1 ¼-miles after participating in the Triple Crown – any leg of it, let alone Good Magic who was in the first two legs, which was very grueling – by the time we got to the Travers, I think those horses were tired and they weren’t effective.

“This year, we have two really fresh horses in sort of a wide-open race, so I feel really good about it.”

Sidelined while training for his debut last year, Highest Honors – a William S. Farish homebred – returned to the work tab in February. While a Triple Crown campaign was out of reach, Brown felt he had a runner whowould ultimately thrive over the classic distance.

“When we brought him back in that first workout in February, I texted Mr. Farish and said, ‘This horse just moves so well and he’s giving me such a great feel’ and I said to him ‘I think this is our Travers horse.’ And here he is. He hasn’t won the race but he’s gotten himself here,” said Brown.

After running second at 6 1/2 furlongs in his career debut in April at Keeneland, Highest Honors stretched out and broke his maiden going 1 1/16-miles at Belmont Park in June. A class test in the form of the Curlin on July 26 at Saratoga followed, and it was one the gray colt emphatically passed in the form of a 1 ½-length victory over fellow Travers entrant Endorsed.

Finishing third that day, 6 1/2 lengths back, was Looking At Bikinis who, like his barn mate, was in the midst of playing catch-up on the established members of the sophomore class. Owned by Long Lake Stable, Madaket Stables, Thomas Coleman, and Doheny Racing Stable, Looking At Bikinis had won handily in gate-to-wire fashion first time out at Belmont Park last September and scored from off the pace in his seasonal bow going a mile on June 27.

“We were a little disappointed in the last race, but I think the rail was extremely dead. It just was unlucky….but he’s done everything right since he’s been with Chad to feel like we have a chance,” said Kumin, who also co-owned last year’s Travers winner, Catholic Boy.

For all he has already achieved, it is his accomplishments at Saratoga that hold an added layer of sentiment for Brown.

“You keep raising the bar and you don’t want to disappoint anybody whether it’s your clients, or the fans or anyone really,” Brown said. “But that’s what we want. You want to play at this level, you want the best horses to train, then you have to keep raising the bar. Luckily, I have a great team to do that. And it’s a lot of fun and I wouldn’t change anything about it.”

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Tacitus will try to end streak of bad luck in G1 Runhappy Travers

An old saying goes, ‘It’s better to be lucky than good’. It’s clear by his five starts this year that Juddmonte Farms’ Tacitus is definitely good, but in his most recent two outings, he has been anything but lucky.

A wide trip in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets and a stumbled start in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy presented by NYRA Bets at Saratoga last out could have cost the well-bred Tapit gray victories in both starts, but Saturday’s Grade 1 Runhappy Travers is a great opportunity to rise in the 3-year-old division.

Following the Jim Dandy, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott decided to train Tacitus in blinkers, including his last two works heading into the “Mid-Summer Derby.”

“He’s had two pretty hard-luck races in a row,” said Juddmonte Farms general manager Garrett O’Rourke. “Deep down, Bill figured there was no reason not to make the change. It won’t do any harm, but we hope that this is a horse that’s just had a couple of bad breaks in consecutive races. With maturity and getting stronger and older, I think the horse probably will get better to where, I’m not sure he would need the blinkers, but going into this race you’re going to take every edge that you can.”

Mott previously stated that Tacitus was a bit fatigued in the final furlong of the Jim Dandy, where he made a late bid to the inside of eventual winner Tax, finishing three-quarters of a length short.

“To say that he got fatigued in the last furlong I think is fair,” O’Rourke said. “But most horses that stumble that badly at the start, for whatever reason, they just fade at the top of the stretch. He fought bravely to the wire but didn’t have enough left in the tank at the finish. I would have to say that cost him quite a few lengths.”

Tacitus’ pedigree carries five generations of Juddmonte’s prestigious legacy. He is out of 2014 Champion Older Filly Close Hatches whose respective dam, grand dam and great grand dam are Rising Tornado, Silver Star and Monroe. In addition, Tacitus is an indirect descendant of prolific Juddmonte broodmare Toussad who produced his dam sire Honest Lady as well as prolific stallion Empire Maker, who was by another prominent sire in Unbridled.

O’Rourke said he sees plenty of Unbridled’s traits in Tacitus.

“I think that horses from the Unbridled line are pretty unique,” O’Rourke said. “They don’t like to be stopped where you have to move around. They’re better off getting those 12s one following another. If he can get that big line stride going and not get it interrupted, you haven’t seen the best Tacitus performance yet and I hope we see it. That’s definitely an Unbridled type performance.”

O’Rourke said he looks forward to being able to one day see Tacitus go to stud.

“He couldn’t be bred any better,” O’Rourke said. “I think everyone appreciates that when they look at a pedigree and see that you’re the first foal out of a champion mare, inbred to Unbridled and by the best dirt stallion around,” O’Rourke said. “He physically resembles Unbridled but also same color as Tapit and has a lot of Tapit traits in him. The chances of him becoming a tremendously sought after stallion is something that really excites us.”

Juddmonte seeks a second victory in the Travers after a memorable victory with record-setting Arrogate in 2016.

“For anyone that has a tremendous love for American dirt racing, this race is right up there,” O’Rourke said. “It’s unique to have the Mid-Summer Derby as the summer race that decides if there are any doubts as far as who the elite horse is. The Travers is always a decider., It’s a true classic distance race and if you look at the winners, it’s a who’s who of magnificent horses. To put your name underneath all of them is something that every top breeder and owner would be delighted to have their horses associated with.”

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Runhappy Travers-contender Endorsed; Ballerina upset candidate Dawn the Destroyer ready to go on eve of big day

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s Travers Day contingent remains in good order and awaiting a big day Saturday when Endorsed competes in the Grade 1, $1.25 million “Mid-Summer Derby” and Dawn the Destroyer looks to pull an upset in the Grade 1, $500,000 Ketel One Ballerina.

“Everything’s great and we’re finished now training. They looked great this morning and we’re excited about tomorrow,” McLaughlin said. “It’s been beautiful weather and it’ll be some tough races.”

Godolphin’s Endorsed, who ran second in the 1 1/8-mile Curlin on July 26 at Saratoga, drew post 11 in the 12-horse Runhappy Travers field looking to thrive at 1 ¼ miles with jockey Joel Rosario. The son of Medaglia d’Oro is listed at 15-1 on the morning line.

Stonestreet Stables’ Dawn the Destroyer has finished third in three of her last four starts against graded stakes company, including last out when she only finished behind Chalon and the winner Separationofpowers in the Grade 3 Bed o’Roses on June 7 at Belmont Park.

The 5-year-old Speightstown mare drew the outside post 7 and is 15-1 in the Ballerina, which is a seven-furlong main track sprint and a “Win and You’re In” qualifier to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in November at Santa Anita Park.

“Dawn’s in a tough, tough race, but we’re hoping to hit the board. And Endorsed couldn’t be doing better, and we’re hoping for better than hitting the board,” McLaughlin said.

The Travers is the centerpiece of a card featuring seven stakes and six Grade 1s, including the, $850,000 Sword Dancer; $700,000 Personal Ensign presented by Lia Infiniti; $500,000 Ketel One Ballerina; $600,000 Forego presented by Encore Boston Harbor; and $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial presented by Runhappy. Rounding out the blockbuster card is the Grade 2, $400,000 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa.

“It’s a great day. The racing office deserves a lot of credit for getting such a great card. It’s exciting for all of the world watching,” McLaughlin said. “History says [a stacked card] works well. I personally like it because worldwide, all eyes are watching this day, so they not only get to see the Travers, but all these great races. I like it in that way, and it’s good for the gambling part of it. NYRA has done a really good job.”

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Enforceable points to G1 Breeders’ Futurity

Following a fourth-out graduation over the Saratoga main track on Thursday afternoon, trainer Mark Casse will likely target the Grade 1, $500,000 Claiborne Breeders Futurity on October 5 at Keeneland with Enforceable.

Owned by John C. Oxley the Tapit gray or roan colt out of dual graded-stakes winner Justwhistledixie laid mid pack in the 1 1/16-mile event early on and made his bid around the far turn with not much asking from jockey Jose Ortiz. He battled down the stretch with runner-up Mo and Go and went on to win by three-quarters of a length.

Enforceable, a full-brother to graded stakes winner Mohaymen and half-brother to Grade 1 winner New Year’s Day, was placed against maiden special weight company at Churchill Downs before trying turf at Saratoga, where he ran fifth.

“It’s nice when a plan goes together,” Casse said. “He’s a horse that we liked form the beginning but we always knew his game would be two turns, but I like getting experience into him. He ran okay those two times at Churchill and I ran him on the grass here to get the two turn experience more than the grass.”

Casse believes that the best is yet to come for Enforceable and looks forward to the royally bred colt.

“The plan is to go to the Breeders’ Futurity with him,” Casse said. “It’s such a big advantage to have a good horse that can go two turns and there’s some we’ve had that look like they can go two turns and can’t. He relaxed nicely and did things right. I still believe he’s better than what we’ve seen. He’s got a pedigree that says he can be any kind. You haven’t seen the best of him yet, he’s just catching on.”

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Pletcher trio works Friday with eye on G1 Woodward and G2 Bernard Baruch

Trainer Todd Pletcher sent out the trio of graded-stakes winners Vino Rosso and Noble Indy and stakes-placed Wooderson out for works on Saratoga’s main track Friday morning in anticipation of their next starts in stakes on the meet’s closing weekend.

Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Vino Rosso went five furlongs in a bullet 58.60 seconds, fastest of 21 horses at the distance including Repole’s Noble Indy, who had the second-fastest time at 59 seconds. Let’s Go Stable’s Wooderson sped through a half-mile in 47.47 seconds, ranking third of 126 horses.

Pletcher said the three 4-year-olds are the “most likely” of his nine nominees to run in the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward August 31, though he is leaning toward keeping Noble Indy on grass for the Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch on Closing Day, September 2.

“We worked all three of them this morning and I was happy with all their works,” he said. “We’re sort of in the process of deciding who we’re going to run. We’ll assess how they come out of it and see what we’re going to do here in the next few days.”

Vino Rosso is coming off a third-place finish behind McKinzie in the Grade 1 Whitney Aug. 3 at Saratoga, his first race since becoming a Grade 1 winner with his three-quarter-length triumph in the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita May 27. The son of Hall of Famer Curlin owns five wins and more than $1.3 million in purse earnings from 13 starts, but is 0-for-3 at Saratoga.

“He had a very good work this morning,” Pletcher said. “It seems like he’s been in good form based on what we saw today.”

Wooderson exits a runner-up finish behind Woodward candidate Tom’s d’Etat in the Alydar August 2 at Saratoga. It was the best finish in three tries against stakes company for the Awesome Again colt, who owns a win and two seconds lifetime over Saratoga’s main track.

“I thought he ran an encouraging race in the Alydar,” Pletcher said. “It was a step in the right direction. This was his second good breeze since then, so it seems like he’s maintaining his form.”

Winless in nine tries since winning the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby last March as the favorite, Noble Indy has made each of his last three starts on the turf with one second and one third in a pair of optional claimers at Belmont Park. Most recently, he ran fourth by two lengths August 3 at Saratoga in the Lure, run at the same 1 1/16 miles as the Baruch.

“He’s kind of seemed to find new life on the grass,” Pletcher said. “Right now, I’d say it’s more likely he’d run in the Bernard Baruch but we’ll see how he comes out of this breeze and keep an eye on the Woodward, as well.”

Also nominated to the Woodward is Robert LaPenta and Head of Plains Partners’ Coal Front, the Group 2 Godolphin Mile winner that is 0-for-2 since returning from Dubai. He is scheduled to work Saturday with an eye on the Grade 2, $300,000 Kelso Handicap on September 21 at Belmont.

“I’d say he’s most likely going to go to the Kelso,” Pletcher said. “He drew the rail in the Met Mile and set a blistering pace, and then I probably made an error running him at Monmouth. It was wicked hot that day and he didn’t handle those conditions at all. He was not himself in the paddock and just never really fired.”

A two-time winner of the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers, Pletcher will have a relatively quiet Travers Day with five horses entered in four of 13 races including the pair of Grade 2 Bowling Green winner Channel Cat and Pillar Mountain, a winner of his last two races, in the Grade 1, $850,000 Sword Dancer.

“Channel Cat and Pillar Mountain are both going into the race off good wins and I’m happy with the way they’re coming into it,” Pletcher said. “Hopefully, they can make good showings.”

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Romans hoping to relive G1 magic for local owner with Coach Rocks

For the second straight year, trainer Dale Romans is hoping to bring home Grade 1 glory for a local owner on Travers Day, this time with Coach Rocks in the $750,000 Personal Ensign presented by Lia Infiniti on the Travers Day program.

Romans last summer sent out Promises Fulfilled to victory in the H. Allen Jerkens for Robert Baron, the owner of two Albany, N.Y.-based construction companies who began buying horses in the 1990s. Promises Fulfilled will go for his and Baron’s sixth graded-stakes win in Saturday’s Grade 1 Forego presented by Encore Boston Harbor.

Coach Rocks, winner of the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks last March, is co-owned by Roddy Valente, Rick Pitino’s RAP Racing and West Point Thoroughbreds. Valente, 63, is founder and president of R.J. Valente Companies, a gravel, stone and quarry business headquartered in his hometown of nearby Troy, N.Y.

“It would be special, very special, to win for Roddy,” Romans said. “He’s a good friend. I saw it last year with Bob Baron winning the Allen Jerkens and the [Grade 2] Amsterdam what it means to these local guys to win up here. They’ve been coming up here their whole lives and it would be very special for Roddy to have a Grade 1 winner walking into the winner’s circle.”

Valente has been owning, breeding and claiming horses for nearly 30 years, most notably Bustin Stones, whose name is an extension of his owner’s business. Trained by Bruce Levine, Bustin Stones retired undefeated in six starts, including 2008 wins in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct and Grade 2 General George at Laurel Park.

Coach Rocks has run twice at Saratoga before, finishing sixth in her career debut in 2017 and fifth in the Grade 1 Alabama last summer. Two other horses from that race, stablemates Midnight Bisou and She’s a Julie, return in the Personal Ensign. Midnight Bisou has won all five of her starts this year and owns 10 lifetime wins, all in graded-stakes, four of them Grade 1.

“It would mean the world to us [to win],” Valente said. “I really don’t have any big expectations going into this race. I think the competition will be the same going into the Breeders’ Cup. If she can maintain her last race and be competitive, I’d be delighted. If we could hit the board, I’d be delighted. It would help her out so when she becomes a broodmare it would really enhance herself going into that part of her career.”

Coach Rocks went winless in six starts following the Gulfstream Oaks before a decisive five-length optional claiming triumph June 23 at Churchill Downs. In her last race, she set the pace before settling for second behind Midnight Bisou in the Grade 3 Molly Pitcher July 20 at Monmouth Park.

“When she breezes good and trains good, she seems to run a lot better, and I can honestly say at the beginning of the year, I didn’t like the way she was working and I didn’t like the way she was training,” Valente said. “Dale was 100 percent correct when he said she just seemed to turn the corner and the light went on. Just to be within a length of Midnight Bisou, I think, says a lot in itself.”

Coach Rocks will break from post position 2 under jockey Luis Saez, aboard for two of her three career wins including the Gulfstream Oaks, as well as her last start. She gets in at 118 pounds, two to six pounds lighter than her rivals.

“She’s a very, very smart filly,” Valente said. “As far as mentally, you never have to worry about her bringing herself to the races. She’s a pleasure to be a part-owner in and she’s a sound filly, and I think that’s about all you can ask for.”

Rushing Fall to be reevaluated

There have been very few bad days in the life of multiple Grade 1 winner Rushing Fall, both in her competitive outings and in her routing preparations. So when the daughter of More Than Ready turned in a lackluster half-mile workout on August 17, trainer Chad Brown took that as a sign he needed to take a wait and see approach with regards to the filly’s next start.

When entries for the Grade 2 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa were drawn this week, the complexion of the race immediately changed as Rushing Fall – who would have been the overwhelming favorite – did not show up on the overnight. Brown said he wasn’t pleased with he saw from the bay filly in her four-furlong work in :52.49 last weekend and will hold off on committing her to another spot.

“We’re going to reevaluate her. For the first time in her life, she just didn’t breeze well for whatever reason this weekend so I don’t want to take any chances with her,” Brown said. “She looks fine out of the breeze, but she’s done so much for us and like we do with all of our horses when they don’t work well, we just take a step back and evaluate them. This was uncharacteristic for her but we’ve got the right people looking at her and hopefully she’ll be back to the races soon.”

Rushing Fall captured the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes and Grade 1 Longines Just a Game in her first two starts this year and was most recently second to champion stablemate Sistercharlie (IRE) in the July 13 Grade 1 Diana.

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Mind Control is sharp for the Grade 1 Allen Jerkens presented by Runhappy

The connections of Mind Control, who takes on an accomplished field of eight other sophomore sprinters in the Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens presented by Runhappy Saturday, are hopeful that a return to the scene of the colt’s biggest triumph will generate a reversal of fortune.

Mind Control was the upset winner of the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes here in September but he hasn’t fared well in his last two efforts. He wound up eighth in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens on the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival undercard and finished third as the prohibitive favorite in the Concern Stakes at Laurel Park in July when both trips were terribly troubled.

“Those last two were painful to watch. Painful,” said Gregg Sacco, who trains the son of 2011 Travers winner Stay Thirsty for breeder Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stable. “That’s part of racing luck. Sometimes you have it and sometimes you don’t. The last two were just unlucky. He stumbled out of the gate in the Woody Stephens and we lost all chance there, and then he got sawed off at the top of the stretch on top of the stumbling, but still he was only beaten four lengths.

“Then his last race at Laurel was a disaster. He was blocked for a quarter of a mile through the whole stretch and he couldn’t find a spot. He was much, much the best and it’s unfortunate that he didn’t have racing luck.”

Sacco, a third-generation horsemen who took over the stable of his late father, William, in 1988, captured the first and only top-level score of his career in the Hopeful. It remains to be seen if the racing gods will smile down upon the colt on Saturday but he is sure he’s done his part. Mind Control has been working like the stable star he is at Sacco’s Monmouth Park base and comes into this test after a bullet five-furlong breeze in :59.4 on August 17.

“He’s coming into this race picture perfect. We’re really happy where he’s at, in his training and his energy level. He hasn’t missed a beat since his last race,” said Sacco, who shipped him into John Kimmel’s barn on Thursday and will be here to saddle him. “But listen, it’s a tall order. Shancelot (the undefeated Grade 2 Amsterdam winner and 1-2 morning line favorite) was visibly impressive, but Mind Control loved Saratoga last year in the Hopeful so that’s not going to be an issue. He’s ready to go. He can’t be doing any better so we’re really excited to load him up in the gate tomorrow. He’s coming into the race with his ‘A’ game.”

The seven-furlong distance of the race, the same distance as the Hopeful, is tailor-made for Mind Control, whom Sacco pulled off the Triple Crown trail in early spring.

“It was so meaningful to us win that Grade 1 at Saratoga last year, and we’re so fortunate and blessed that Mind Control is sustaining his form. Even with his unlucky trips he’s had a great year as a three-year-old. You hope they progress from two to three, which he has, and we’re looking forward to a big effort out of him Saturday. We’ll see if he’s good enough,” he said.

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Stewart is hoping to capitalize on any possible opportunities in the Travers with Chess Chief

Eighteen years ago, Dallas Stewart prepared his first Travers horse – Dollar Bill – who later finished third in the race. Since then, he has sent five other horses into the Midsummer Derby, including Macho Again, who came into race with a victory in the Jim Dandy in 2008.

For Saturday’s 150th running of Saratoga’s marquee race, Stewart will send Chess Chief, owned by the late James J. Coleman Jr. The son of the popular sire Into Mischief finished second to multiple graded stakes winner Mr. Money in the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby on Aug. 3. That performance gave Stewart the confidence of entering Chess Chief into the Travers.

“He’s an improving horse at this point,” Stewart said. “His last race was good and I really liked the horse that beat him, Mr. Money. I think he [Mr. Money] is one of the best 3-year-olds in America. Hopefully, that race helped me make my decision and take a shot here. He has been working great.”

Stewart said the Travers is a big step up for Chess Chief, especially with graded stakes winners Tacitus, Tax, Code of Honor, and Mucho Gusto. However, Stewart is hoping they may be able to take advantage of any possible opportunities.

“It’s a tough race, but it could be a lot tougher,” Stewart said. “There are a lot of nice horses in this race. My job is to evaluate him and to see if there are a couple of cracks in the race where maybe we can have a chance.”

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Albertrani hopeful Sadler’s Joy moves forward in second start off layoff in G1 Sword Dancer

Trainer Tom Albertrani issued an upbeat bulletin on Friday in advance of Sadler’s Joy’s start in the Grade 1, $850,000 Sword Dancer for 4-year-olds and up.

Sadler’s Joy, a 6-year-old Woodslane Farm homebred, won the 2017 Sword Dancer and has made one start this year, finishing a troubled sixth in the Grade 2 Bowling Green on July 27. In the Bowling Green, Sadler’s Joy raced well off the pace early, advanced steadily along the inside on the final turn, was blocked from the three-sixteenths to the furlong marker, and finished with good energy after finding racing room.

“His first race back off the layoff, I thought he ran pretty impressively, just to be a little unlucky when he got trapped down inside for a long time and never had a chance to run the last quarter,” said Albertrani. “He was beaten by only a length and a quarter for the whole thing. It looked like he had a lot of horse in the tank, so, hopefully, we can get a good trip this weekend.”

The Bowling Green was Sadler’s Joy’s first start since he finished third, beaten 9 ¾ lengths, in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf last November at Churchill Downs over turf labeled “good.” Enable, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf, captured the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks at Newmarket on Thursday for her 12th consecutive triumph.

“His Breeders’ Cup race was one of his best races of the year, run over very, very heavy ground, which isn’t his preferred surface,” said Albertrani. “The horse has been training well coming out of the Bowling Green, and we just need a good trip. The ground should be perfect by tomorrow.”

Sadler’s Joy will break from the outside in the field of nine. He will be reunited with Jose Lezcano, who rode the son of Kitten’s Joy in his second start, a maiden race in June 2016 at Belmont Park.

“It looks like we might have a little pace here, but you never know in these races,” said Albertrani. “I think the main thing is staying out of trouble and not losing too much ground. With the way he ran last time, if he comes back and gives us the same effort, I think he’s going to be right there.”

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Brown takes advantage

The Rookie Report: Godolphin’s Sea of Blue ‘does everything right’ for McLaughlin

Sunday afternoon’s card at Saratoga will get started with a six-furlong maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies over the main track in which Godolphin’s Sea of Blue will make her career debut for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

The chestnut daughter of Midshipman, out of Surf Club, is a half-sister to Emcee, who won the Grade 1 Forego at the Spa in 2012, and Baffled – the dam of Grade 1 winner and leading freshman sire Constitution.

“She does everything right. She trains well. Emcee was a good looking colt and she’s very pretty,” McLaughlin said. “She’s doing everything right. We’re happy to get her started.”

Also entered is Alex and JoAnn Leiblong’s Wicked Whisper, who is a daughter of freshman sire Liam’s Map out of the Bernardini broodmare Zayanna who also produced graded-stakes winner Point of Honor.

Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Wicked Whisper was purchased for $500,000 from the last year’s Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

She has spent most her summer training at Churchill Downs, but enters her career debut off of a work over the Oklahoma training track, where she went a half-mile in 50.09 seconds.

A full-sister to Grade 1-placed Highland Sky, recent winner of the John’s Call at Saratoga, will make her career debut for trainer Barclay Tagg and owner Steadfast Stable in Highland Glory.

The daughter of Sky Mesa out of graded-stakes placed Kristi With a K has recorded a series of works over the Saratoga main track, the most recent of which was a half-mile move in 48 seconds flat. Other prominent members of the family include Grade 1 winner Bit of Whimsy and graded stakes winner Caroline Thomas, all of which were conditioned by Tagg.

Trainer Phil Bauer will saddle Stop Shoppin Tammy, a well-bred daughter of Tapit out of Grade 1-winning millionaire Miss Shop. Owned by Rigney Racing, Stop Shoppin Tammy is a full-sister to Tin Type Gal – a two-time graded stakes winner on grass. Her Grade 1-winning dam is a half to graded stakes winner and producer Trappe Shot.

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Runhappy Travers trivia

  • For fans of Runhappy Travers trivia, consider the following random historical tidbits:
  • The winner of the Travers finished first, second or third in their prep races in 59 out of the past 60 editions
  • Since 1960, 56 winners prepped in a stakes race
  • Since 1901, 82 winners left from post positions 1-4
  • Only six of the past 20 morning-line favorites (30 percent) have won, the most recent being Alpha, who dead-heated with Golden Ticket in 2012
  • Bays (67) and chestnuts (48) accounted for the majority of Travers winners. Only three grays have won
  • Five geldings have won the Travers, most recently Unshaded in 2000
  • The most popular first initials for the Travers winner’s name is “B” with 15. Other popular letters are “S” with 14, and “T”, “C” and “H” with 10
  • If you apply those parameters to this year’s 12-horse field:
  • Everfast and Laughing Fox finished fourth in their last outs
  • While 11 others prepped in stakes races, Scars Are Cool’s last start was in a maiden race
  • Owendale, Code of Honor, Highest Honors, and Laughing Fox drew posts 1,2,3 and 4 respectively
  • The morning-line favorite is Tacitus
  • Highest Honors and Tacitus are both grays
  • Tax is a gelding
  • There are no “B” horses in the Runhappy Travers; Scars Are Cool can look to 14 previous “S” winners; Tacitus, Tax, Highest Honors, Chess Chief and Code of Honor own the next most common first initials with 10 winners each

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

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