The Spa Spot: Four Travers candidates work
Four of the nine candidates for the August 25 Travers had their final timed workouts Sunday morning.
- Atigun, wearing blinkers in a test for trainer Kenny McPeek, covered five furlongs on the main track at Saratoga Race Course in 59.67 seconds. It was the seventh fastest of the 29 at the distance.
- Liaison, trained by by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, was just behind Atigun with the eighth-fastest time for five furlongs on 1:00.05.
- Nonios, worked a half-mile at Del Mar in 47.50 for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
- Stealcase turned in a five-furlong breeze in 1:00.74, 14th of 29 at the distance at Saratoga , for trainer Mark Casse.
Trainer Ian Wilkes is planning to work Neck 'n Neck Monday morning on the main track. Five Sixteen last worked on August 13 and Street Life breezed on August 14 and it is likely that both of them will work once more.
Jim Dandy winner Alpha had a four-furlong maintenance breeze in 48.91 on Friday. The Nick Zito-trained Fast Falcon also worked Friday, covering five furlongs in 1:00.54. Hanson turned in a five-furlong work in 1:02.80 at the Trackside Training Center in Louisville on Saturday.
Nonios and Hanson are scheduled to ship to Saratoga Springs in Monday.
McPeek said he was pleased with Atigun's effort Sunday.
“He worked super,” McPeek said. “I was a little worried he went off a little fast, but for the most part it was a very good work. It looks like he’s cooling out happy.”
McPeek hasn't made up his mind whether the colt will wear blinkers in the $1 million Travers.
“[Jockey] Mike Smith and I were talking about it yesterday, and he is concerned that the blinkers might make him rank, and he might be right,” McPeek said. “I don’t know, we’ll see. If he has a blinker on, it will either be a small one or none at all.”
Regular rider Shaun Bridgmohan was aboard for Stealcase's breeze that was deceptively good.
“He looked really slow,” said Norm Casse, son and assistant to trainer Mark Casse. “Then we saw the time and how well he went, and that’s usually a good indication that they worked really well. He looked like he was just going easy, and that was the plan.”
The work came six days after a six-furlong breeze in 1:12.53 by the colt, who most recently ran third to Paynter in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.
“Last week, we worked him really hard and made him gallop out real strong,” Casse said. “It was a real strong work. We came back this weekend and we were really shooting for 1:01 or 1:02, but he worked really well.”
Hollendorfer headed back to California Saturday after Via Villaggio finished third in the Grade 1 Alabama and was able to watch Nonios' work. The Pleasantly Perfect colt won the Grade 3 Affirmed and has finished second in the Swaps and the Haskell in his last two starts.
“He had a nice blowout this morning,” Hollendorfer said. “We have a colt we think is doing well. We try not to bring our horses anywhere that we don’t think they have a good chance, and I don’t think we’re being frivolous or foolish with him.”