Travers Takes Shape

Catholic Boy | Sarah K. Andrew

Catholic Boy (More Than Ready), winner of the July 7

GI Belmont Derby Invitational, recorded his first breeze since his Grade I win over Saratoga's main track Sunday as trainer Jonathan Thomas continues to weigh options for the colt's next start. Currently being considered for the Robert LaPenta, Madaket Stables, Siena Farm, and Twin Creeks Racing Stables runner are the Aug. 25 GI Travers S. on Saratoga's main track or the GIII Saranac S. on the turf Sept. 1.

Under exercise rider Tracy Price, Catholic Boy carved out an opening quarter in :23 4/5 before completing the four-furlong move in :48 3/5. Prior to yesterday, the dirt work was the first since May 19, his second breeze following his fourth-place finish in the GI Florida Derby in April.

“First and foremost, it looks like he came out of the Belmont Derby really well,” said Thomas. “His energy level was good, but he was nice and relaxed and was moving really well. Solid eighths to the wire, and he wanted to really gallop out when Tracy reached up to grab him. He really jumped into the bridle and really looked full of himself. Purely a maintenance drill. We weren't looking for anything fancy.”

Winner of last season's nine-furlong GII Remsen S. over Aqueduct's main track, Catholic Boy also won the June 2 GIII Pennine Ridge S. on the Belmont law.

“We wanted to keep the Travers in play and learn about his action over this track,” said Thomas, explaining the dirt work. “We wanted to give him an opportunity. We're not going to make a decision off one breeze. We want to have a body of work over it, and then make a determination. The timing into the Travers is very good, and the Saranac is a great backup because it's a week later. We have always been of the mindset that he'll tell us through his training where we are going. We have a circle around that seven-day span.”

Vino Rosso Remains on Target for Travers…

St. Elias Stable and Repole Stable's Vino Rosso (Curlin), who closed to be third as the favorite in Saturday's GII Jim Dandy S., remains on course for a tilt at the Travers, according to trainer Todd Pletcher Sunday. The winner of the GII Wood Memorial, who was last of five through the opening half-mile of the Jim Dandy, had a ground-saving trip and despite mounting a staunch closing bid late, found himself 1 1/2 lengths behind winner Tenfold (Curlin).

“He came out of it well,” Pletcher said. “He didn't get quite as involved early on as we'd hoped, and he kind of regained his position going into the far turn and lost a little bit of that position. He was closing well at the end, we just need to keep him motivated in the turn a little better but, overall, we were pleased with his effort. Hopefully, he'll come back and train well for the Travers.”

A debut winner at Aqueduct last November, the chestnut Vino Rosso concluded the season with a win against optional claimers at Tampa Dec. 22. He kicked off 2018 with a third behind Catholic Boy Tampa's GIII Sam F. Davis S. Feb. 10. Following his win in the Wood, he was ninth in the May 5 GI Kentucky Derby before finishing fourth in the GI Belmont S. June 9.

“He's a little quirky,” said Pletcher, referring to the colt's penchant for dropping back early. “To me, the race [Saturday] reminded me of a couple of his races at Tampa where he kind of had decent position going into the far turn and lost it and came on again in the stretch. We'll continue to work on it.”

Casse Discusses Team Travers Plans…

On Saturday, trainer Mark Casse announced that Queen's Plate and Prince of Wales S. heroine Wonder Gadot (Medaglia d'Oro), who is campaigned by Gary Barber, would likely make her next start in the Travers, bypassing Saratoga's GI Alabama S. against fillies Aug. 18.

“In horse racing, nothing is ever 100 percent,” Casse said. “But I would tell you I'd bet it's about 90 percent [to run Wonder Gadot in the Travers]. We've talked about it. Gary always thinks out of the box, and a lot of it makes sense. One, if you look for the most part, I guess some of them did run a mile and a quarter in the Derby, but she's already got a mile and a quarter under her. She's got a mile and three sixteenths under her, and she gets five pounds. It's a big deal going a mile and a quarter, and I can tell you this, when they go over to the paddock on Travers Day, she may be the biggest horse in the race. She doesn't look like a filly. She's a big, stout mare.”

Casse also said Sunday that John Oxley's Flameaway (Scat Daddy), who exited a runner-up effort in Saturday's GII Jim Dandy S. in good shape, remained possible for the Travers, however, a final decision as to whether the chestnut would contest the summer time Derby remained up to the colt's owner.

“I never ever, ever base my decisions on what some other horse is doing unless it's owned by the same owner,” explained Casse. “We may choose to go different paths but that will be up to Mr. Oxley. He'll ask my opinion and I'll tell him, but he'll ultimately make the final decision.”

Casse added, “A lot of people don't know, but Flameaway was supposed to go to the Prince of Wales. He's a Canadian-bred as well, but Mr. Oxley said, 'I don't want to run against Wonder Gadot.' He's seen her in action many times. I don't know. There's only one Travers, so we may give it a try.”


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