SARATOGA SPRINGS — It’s never too early to start thinking about the Travers and how it might, maybe, possibly, please give some direction to the 3-year-old male division.
On Friday, trainer Jason Servis left the status of his Maximum Security in the air for a little longer. Most recently the winner of the Grade I Haskell Invitational, the horse breezed 4 furlongs in 54 seconds flat Wednesday at Monmouth Park, and Servis said he’ll decide soon whether his horse runs in the Grade I, $1.25 million Travers (Aug. 24) or the Grade I, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (Sept. 21).
“I just want to make sure he is 100 percent, but he’s still not there yet,” Servis told the New York Racing Association.
Other notable probables for the “Mid-Summer Derby” include Jim Dandy winner Tax, Jim Dandy runner-up Tacitus, Curlin winner Highest Honor, Dwyer winner Code of Honor, Ohio Derby winner Owendale, Los Alamitos Derby winner Game Winner, Endorsed, Everfast, Laughing Fox and Looking At Bikinis.
Trainer Mark Casse said he wants Preakness winner War of Will to skip the Travers and have a bit of a rest.
Two fillies will take on eight male horses in Saturday’s Grade I, $500,000 Fourstardave at a mile on the inner turf.
Five-year-old mare Uni and 4-year-old filly Got Stormy will try to show their girl power. The 5-2 morning-line favorite Uni enters on a five-race win streak, albeit against her own gender. That streak includes the 2018 De La Rose here. She’s only raced once this year, a 1-length win in the Perfect Sting on June 29 at Belmont Park.
Ironically, Got Stormy is this year’s De La Rose champion. She earned the top speed figure of her career in winning by 4 lengths. Before that, she was second in the Grade II Churchill Distaff Turf Mile.
Uni is one of three horses entered by leading trainer Chad Brown, who also will have a busy day just north of Chicago on Arlington Million Day. Raging Bull (3-1 on morning line) is a Saratoga lover, as she won the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame and Saranac last year. She’s competed in three Grade I’s this year, but only has one third a pair of fourths.
You gotta run ‘em
The track program couldn’t even fit all of Bon Raison’s races this year. That’s because it’s limited to 10 races, and that’s usually not a problem on Aug. 9.
But the 4-year-old colt owned by Empire State Thoroughbreds had run 12 races before Friday’s $100,000 Tale of the Cat, none so sweet as this. He went from last to first to earn his second stakes win.
Under Irad Ortiz, Bon Raison broke well and took the lead out of the gate in the 6-furlong race, but Ortiz dropped him to the back of the six-horse field. That was obviously to save him for the end — and with a 22.36-second quarter-mile and 45.15-second half-mile, who could blame him?
“That worked out better for me because I didn’t have to use much of my horse early,” Ortiz said. “When I saw they were fighting (for the lead) up front, I knew that was good for me. I just waited and saved my run.”
“Everyone was saying how much we run the horse, but the owner is old school,” winning trainer Carlos Martin said. “Every time he runs, he’s never given us a bad run all season. The smile was creeping up every sixteenth.”
There’s a better chance of Cal Ripken’s consecutive-games record being broken than there is of any horse joining the four that have won Saratoga’s three graded dirt stakes for 2-year-olds. None of the eight entered in Saturday’s Grade II Saratoga Special have run in a stakes race yet.
The New York State Gaming Commission suspended jockey Chris Landeros for three days, Aug. 14-16, for careless riding aboard Crystalle in the fourth race on Sunday.