Saratoga Springs

Max Player on target for Travers

Breezed Monday at Belmont Park, where he was third in the Belmont Stakes on June 20
Max Player wins the Grade III Withers at Aqueduct in February. He's pointing toward the Aug. 8 Travers.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Max Player wins the Grade III Withers at Aqueduct in February. He's pointing toward the Aug. 8 Travers.

Categories: Saratoga County, Sports

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Belmont Stakes third-place finisher Max Player remained on track to take on Tiz the Law again in the Aug. 8 Travers with a low-intensity breeze on the Belmont Park training track on Monday.

In his third public workout since the June 20 Belmont, Max Player covered five furlongs in 1:02.21.

“He breezed fine, and everything went well,” trainer Linda Rice told the New York Racing Association. “We took it easy on him because the temperatures have been in the high 90s out there. It’s been crazy hot, but everything is going smoothly.”

Max Player stands 15th on the list of Kentucky Derby contenders with qualifying points, mostly based on his win in the Grade III Withers at Aqueduct in February.

The Travers is offering points on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the top four finishers.

Two races remain on the schedule with a 50-20-10-5 scale, the Shared Belief at Del Mar on Aug. 1 and the Ellis Park Derby in Kentucky on Aug. 9.

The Aug. 15 Pegasus at Monmouth Park has a 20-8-4-2 scale.

Rice said Max Player will get one more breeze at Belmont before heading north.

“He’s on schedule,” she said.

Besides Tiz the Law and Max Player, Country Grammer and Caracaro, the top two finishers, respectively, in the Peter Pan at Saratoga, are pointing toward the Travers. Trainer Bob Baffert said he might consider Los Alamitos Derby winner Uncle Chuck for the Travers.


Tiz the Law is scheduled to breeze Saturday morning.

FRIDAY FEATURE

The Friday stakes race is the Grade III Quick Call for 3-year-old turf sprinters, and Jack and Noah is the even-money morning-line favorite off a gate-to-wire win in the Sir Cat at Belmont.

Fore Left will make a huge shift in distance and surface, as he’s entered in the 5 1/2-furlong Quick Call after finishing up the track in the mile-and-an-eighth Belmont Stakes.

The second- and third-place finishers in the Sir Cat, Turned Aside and Old Chestnut, will take on Jack and Noah again in the Quick Call.

AROUND THE TRACK

Trainer George Weaver confirmed that Point of Honor, runner-up in both the Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama last year, is on target for the Grade I Personal Ensign on Aug. 1.

She hasn’t won since last year’s Black-Eyed Susan last year, but she has been in the money five straight, most recently a second to Midnight Bisou in the Ogden Phipps at Belmont. She’ll see the same nine-furlong distance in the Personal Ensign, but it’ll be around two turns at Saratoga instead of one turn at Belmont.

“I think she’s better at two turns, and we have always thought that,” Weaver said. “She still ran huge last time, and she’ll get another chance to redeem herself in the Personal Ensign.”

Midnight Bisou is pointing toward the Personal Ensign, which she won last year. …

Trainer Bill Mott said Suburban winner Tacitus, who was second to Code of Honor in the Travers last year, would skip the Aug. 1 Whitney and point toward the Woodward on closing weekend.

Cross Border, winner of the Lubash on Wednesday, might jump up in class for the Grade II Bowling Green on Aug. 1. …

Trainer Mark Casse said Got Stormy will attempt to win the Grade I Fourstardave for the second year in a row on Aug. 22.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

A variety of groups involved in helping Saratoga backstretch workers and their families by repairing and cleaning some residences at the Pine Grove Campground participated in a ribbon-cutting celebration on Thursday morning.

The volunteer effort, which took place before the workers began arriving for the Saratoga meet, was aimed at providing a welcoming environment for workers who wanted to bring their spouses and children to Saratoga for the meet.

The groups included the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, Habitat for Humanity and the New York Division of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America.

The volunteers stocked the cabins with supplies, bedding, food and toiletries. Racetrack Chaplaincy program director Nick Caras said Pine Grove has been a residency for backstretch families for 13 years.

Because of work and travel concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only 10 families came north from Belmont Park this year.

“In years past, we used 44 dwellings. Some I wouldn’t consider a cottage, but it kept some families together and gave people a place to live,” Caras said. “If you walked in some of the cottages, you might say, ‘Really? This is where you put the families?’ To us, and to God, keeping the families together is the most important thing.”

“Nick thought of everything … hand sanitizer, bleach, garbage bags,” said Cristian Gaete, an exercise rider for trainer Jeremiah Englehart. “The last eight years coming here, I had to bring everything. It’s only for the summer, but it makes me feel great, you know?

“That’s my life, the horses.”

Reach Mike MacAdam at [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.

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