Vineyard Haven preps well at Saratoga for comeback

Vineyard Haven, the two-time Grade I winner of the Hopeful at Saratoga and Champagne at Belmont Park

Vineyard Haven, the two-time Grade I winner of the Hopeful at Saratoga and Champagne at Belmont Park last year, looked sharp in a five-furlong workout on the main track on Tuesday.

He went 1:00.72 and galloped out another furlong in 1:124⁄5. He hasn’t raced for Godolphin Stable since Sheikh Mohammed purchased him from Bobby Frankel in November for a reported $12 million.

It appears the only chance God­olphin would get to race Vineyard Haven at Saratoga Race Course would be the seven-furlong Grade I King’s Bishop on Travers Day, and even that prospect looks dicey since it will be Vineyard Haven’s second start since Oct. 4, and the King’s Bishop promises to produce a salty field, as usual.

“That was probably his first real strong piece of work he’s had,” Godolphin assistant trainer Rick Mettee said on Wednesday. “Off a work like that, he acts like he’s pretty fit. We’ll have him nominated for a race like the King’s Bishop. I don’t know whether he’d run there or not. It’s coming up pretty good, with Munnings and Big Drama in there. He’s not eligible for very much else because he’s won a pair of Grade I’s.”

Vineyard Haven was supposed to help carry Godolphin’s Kentucky Derby hopes this year, but did not train well in Dubai, and was fourth to stablemate Desert Party by 12 lengths in the UAE 2000 Guineas on Feb. 13.

“He just never really took to the Tapeta [training surface] over there in Dubai,” Mettee said. “He’s just physically done a lot better since we got him back to Belmont. He seems like a fresher, happier horse. He really enjoyed training there and seems to enjoy training here, too. It is exciting to get him back.

“There’s only so many spots for a horse like him. You really don’t want to two-turn him. Your options are few and far between.”


Cableknit, a $1.7 million purchase at the 2008 Keeneland September sale, will make her first start for Darley Stable and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin in today’s second race.

She’s a daughter of Unbridled’s Song out of the Storm Cat mare Silken Cat.

“We haven’t had a lot luck with our 2-year-olds breaking so far this year, but hopefully, she breaks well, and she’ll be tough,” McLaughlin said. “Weird things have been happening. In general, we’ve drawn the one hole more than anything else, so we’ve had some unlucky starts. One stumbled, two of them broke a little slow.

“So, hopefully, she breaks running, because she can run. She’s a nice filly.”


Also working on Tuesday was Grade I American Oaks winner Gozzip Girl, who went five furlongs in a comfortable 1:03.44 on the main track. Trainer Tom Albertrani is leaning toward keeping her on the grass for her next start, as opposed to running in the Alabama on Aug. 22. The Grade II Lake Placid the day before is a possibility. “My preference is to probably just wait for the Garden City [Sept. 12] and keep her on the grass for now, for two reasons. I think she needs a little more time from the trip from California, and I don’t want to make the wrong decision and try her on the dirt right now while she’s doing so well and got her confidence up as high it is,” Albertrani said. . . .

Today’s first race is the $70,000 Ben Nevis stakes, a 2 1⁄16-mile steeplechase over the national fences.

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