Max Player Tunes Up for Runhappy Travers


Max Player | Sarah Andrew

Max Player (Honor Code), who ran on nicely to complete the trifecta in the GI Belmont S. June 20, turned in his final serious work Monday morning ahead of a rematch with Tiz the Law (Constitution) in Saturday's GI Runhappy Travers S. at Saratoga.

Owned by George Hall and SportBLX Thoroughbreds, Max Player breezed five furlongs in 1:01.55 over the Belmont training track.

“We worked him in company head and head with another horse and they went five-eighths in 1:01.2. It was just a maintenance breeze,” said trainer Linda Rice. “It was just a nice comfortable breeze. I feel it was exactly what he needed. He'll ship up to Saratoga on Wednesday and train there.”

Bred by Hall's K & G Stables, Max Player, a $150,000 buyback at Keeneland September in 2018, broke his maiden at Parx at second asking last December, following that effort with a fast-finishing, 3 1/4-length victory in the GIII Withers S. Feb. 1. He was trained up to the Belmont and was beaten 5 1/4 lengths into third.

“He trained very well into the Belmont and had improved dramatically up to June when the Belmont ran,” said Rice. “Since then, we've been holding steady. I haven't trained him quite as aggressively because he's not coming off of a five-month layoff this time.”

The in-form Joel Rosario retains the call this weekend.

In other Travers developments:

–Trainer Orlando Noda has tabbed David Cohen to ride recent Saratoga maiden winner First Line (First Samurai) in the 10-furlong event. Cohen was aboard Golden Ticket (Speightstown) when he dead-heated with Alpha (Bernardini) in the 2012 Travers.

'TDN Rising Star' Mystic Guide (Ghostzapper) will pass the Travers in favor of the GII Jim Dandy S. Sept. 5. “We've been conservative with the horse up to this point and we'll stay conservative for now,” trainer Mike Stidham said of the Godolphin homebred, third to Travers aspirant Country Grammar (Tonalist) in the GIII Peter Pan S. July 16.

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