By Mike Kane
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Todd Pletcher and Chad Brown were both quite busy Saturday morning at Saratoga, working some of their respective stables' top stars. GI Belmont S. runner-up Nest (Curlin) turned in her final breeze Saturday morning before her rematch with Secret Oath (Arrogate) July 23 in the GI Coaching Club American Oaks.
Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher said the filly “worked really well” after she covered five furlongs in company with champion Corniche (Quality Road) in 1:01.44 under jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. on the main track.
Secret Oath and Nest ran one-two in the GI Kentucky Oaks. They then jumped into the Triple Crown series with Secret Oath finishing fourth in the GI Preakness S. and Nest running second to stablemate Mo Donegal (Uncle Mo) in the Belmont. Secret Oath and Nest could also meet in the GI Alabama Aug. 20.
Nest is a member of Pletcher's battalion of runners headed to graded stakes at Saratoga. Life is Good (Into Mischief) breezed a half-mile in :49.49 on July 15 for the GI Whitney S. Aug. 6. Americanrevolution (Constitution), runner-up in the GII Stephen Foster, and Dynamic One (Union Rags), winner of the GII Suburban, are on course for the GI Jockey Club Gold Cup Sept. 3.
Pletcher said that Charge It (Tapit) will train up to the GI Runhappy Travers Aug. 27. In his first start since a 17th-place finish in the GI Kentucky Derby, the Whisper Hill Farm homebred crushed his competition in the GIII Dwyer S. July 2 at Belmont Park, winning by 23 lengths.
“It's the first time I've ever watched a race at Belmont and actually looked at that Secretariat pole as they were coming to the finish line,” Pletcher said. “It was like, 'wow'. He's a horse that we've thought a lot of from the beginning. He showed he's still a little green in the Florida Derby and displaced his palate in the Kentucky Derby, so I think we're starting now to get it all together. From a talent perspective, he is as good as good as anyone in the crop, if he can just continue to mature.”
Jeff Drown's Zandon (Upstart) worked a half-mile in :49.69 Saturday in preparation for his scheduled start in the GII Jim Dandy July 30.
The Jim Dandy, the local prep for the Travers, will be Zandon's first race following his third-place finish in the GI Kentucky Derby May 7.
Meanwhile, Brown's two other graded stakes-winning 3-year-old colts, GI Preakness S. star Early Voting (Gun Runner) and the unbeaten Jack Christopher (Munnings) worked at Belmont Park. Jack Christopher is headed to the GI Haskell Invitational S. next weekend at Monmouth Park. Brown has not yet made the call on whether Early Voting will go in the Haskell or the Jim Dandy.
“I'll decide in the morning,” Brown said. “I'll see how all the horses come out before I make a decision.”
Brown was pleased with the way Zandon handled the breeze.
“The horse worked super,” he said.
Zandon's work under veteran exercise rider Kriss Bon was his first at Saratoga this summer and satisfied a couple of goals.
“Just to get him to stretch his legs,” Brown said. “He's been working along down at Belmont. I freshened him up after the Derby. I'm really pleased with him. He put some weight on. He really looks better than ever right now. I have just given him a little bit of a breather from the racing end of it anyway. Our plan was just to get him over the track and get him a good feel for it and he couldn't have went any better.”
Despite his strong performance in the Derby, Zandon was never a possibility for the Belmont because Brown said he doesn't consider him a mile and a half horse. But Brown is confident that he will be sharp off a nearly three-month break between races.
“Just knowing the horse, he'll run good, fresh,” Brown said. “I can just see it in his training. The way he's matured, the way he's worked gives me a lot of confidence that he will be ready to go.