No fewer than four of the seven 3-year-olds expected for Saturday's GI Travers S. got their final tune-ups Saturday morning, three over the Saratoga main track and one at Del Mar.
Mage (Good Magic), the GI Kentucky Derby hero who figures no worse than the second betting choice behind Forte (Violence) in the 10-furlong feature, breezed three-quarters of a mile in 1:15.56 for trainer Gustavo Delgago. In what was described as a maintenance move beneath exercise rider J.J. Delgado, the son of former 'TDN Rising Star' Puca (Big Brown) went in splits of :13.60, :26.40 and :50.40 before galloping out seven panels in 1:29.33.
“He did well. It was just a maintenance breeze,” said Gustavo Delgado, Jr., assistant to his father. “He did exactly what my Dad told J.J. to do. He wanted 1:15 or 1:16 for six furlongs and that's exactly what he did.”
It was the third work locally for Mage, who will look to step forward off a runner-up effort in the GI TVG.com Haskell S. July 22.
“He likes it here. It's been three weeks already that we're here and he shows us all the good signs,” Delgado, Jr. said. “It helps him to be at the track with time. In the Preakness, we arrived Wednesday and ran Saturday and for the Haskell it was the same thing, we got there earlier in the week and ran that Saturday. But here, he's been able to adapt.”
Kentucky Derby winner Mage putting in his final pre Travers work. pic.twitter.com/X9N4cc7KOS
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Forte, who did not wear blinkers in his four-furlong workout that was timed in :48.33 last Saturday, was refitted with the equipment Saturday morning and covered a similar distance in :50.50 in the company of his year-older stablemate Bright Future (Curlin).
“He looked super, was moving really well and got into a nice rhythm,” said Pletcher of the recent GII Jim Dandy S. winner. “Sometimes if you put them [blinkers] on all the time, you lose a little effect. We were just looking to keep him as good as he is going into this. We got a good, steady work and a good strong gallop out. He was well within himself throughout and I think he's moving terrific. He seems really happy, so we're trying to just keep him happy.”
Stable companion 'TDN Rising Star' Tapit Trice (Tapit) was wearing blinkers for the first time Saturday morning when going a half-mile on his own in :49.22. Jose Ortiz, who replaces Luis Saez aboard the gray colt, was in the irons. Saez picks up the ride on Mage, while Javier Castellano sticks with GI Belmont S. hero Arcangelo (Arrogate).
“His weakness so far has been getting out of the gate and getting into a good position,” said Pletcher. “We're hoping that will help a little with that, maybe keep him a little more focused throughout the race. We galloped him earlier in the week with blinkers and he seemed to be dialed in a little more, and it seemed like that was the case breezing this morning.”
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National Treasure (Quality Road), who defeated Mage into third in the GI Preakness S. May 20, went five furlongs over the Del Mar main track in 1:00.40 Saturday morning.
“It went well,” said trainer Bob Baffert, who took the blinkers off the colt and will leave them off for the Travers. “I was happy with him and everything went as planned. He's doing well and we're looking forward to it.”
National Treasure, a latest sixth in the Belmont, is scheduled to depart Southern California Tuesday, weather permitting, and will be accompanied by 'TDN Rising Star' Arabian Lion (Justify), winner of the GI Woody Stephens S., and GIII Dwyer S. hero Fort Bragg (Tapit), each an intended runner in the GI H. Allen Jerkens S. One horse that will not make the trip is Reincarnate (Good Magic), who will pass the Travers in favor of the GI Pennsylvania Derby Sept. 23.