Saratoga Springs

Travers field shaping up after final works

Belmont Stakes winner Tiz the Law towers over field
Country Grammer, left, works five furlongs in company on the Saratoga main track on Saturday morning.
Country Grammer, left, works five furlongs in company on the Saratoga main track on Saturday morning.

Categories: Saratoga County, Sports

SARATOGA SPRINGS — South Bend ran with a 2019 Travers competitor on Sunday.

Next Saturday, he’ll run against the 2020 Travers horses.

Purchased privately recently for some clients of trainer Bill Mott, South Bend, a son of Algorithms who hasn’t won in seven starts this season, will be entered in the 151st Travers off a second to Dean Martini in the Ohio Derby.

He breezed in company with 2019 Travers runner-up Tacitus on the Oklahoma training track on Sunday in 1:01.15 for five furlongs, a nudge ahead of Tacitus [1:01.70], who is training toward the Grade I Woodward on closing weekend off his win in the Suburban at Belmont Park.

It was the second breeze for South Bend under Mott’s watch, after a partnership group that includes Gary Barber, Adam Wachtel, Peter Deutsch and Leonard Schleifer of Pantofel Stable bought the colt from Sagamore Farm.

“He went well. He went with Tacitus and they breezed nicely and finished up together,” Mott told the New York Racing Association media office. “He made up a length to the finish. We had him go out a little stronger. He’s a nice horse and pretty easy to train.”

Jose Ortiz will get the ride aboard South Bend in the Travers, which should have at least seven and as many as nine horses entered, after trainer Orlando Noda told NYRA on Sunday that recent maiden winner First Line, indeed, would try to take a bite out of the Travers next.

Besides those two, the heavy favorite will be Belmont Stakes winner Tiz the Law; the top two from the Peter Pan (Country Grammer, Caracaro) are expected to run, with third-place finisher Mystic Guide a possibility; Uncle Chuck will be Bob Baffert’s entrant; and Shivaree is supposed to run.

Country Grammer breezed four furlongs in 47.66 on the main track for trainer Chad Brown on Saturday.

“He worked good. It was his first work back, it was a little tight on time running back in just a little over three weeks,” Brown said. “I didn’t have time to get more than one maintenance work in. But I thought he worked really good and seemed like he came back good.”

Shivaree, second to Tiz the Law in the Florida Derby and most recently up the track in 11th in the Blue Grass, worked five furlongs in 1:03.27 on the main.

“He handled shipping up there fine; he seems to be in good form,” trainer Ralph Nicks said. “It was a nice maintenance breeze on the bridle, just kind of cruising around there, so all is well. We decided last week to take a shot, and everything’s good.”

Uncle Chuck went five furlongs in 1:00.20 at Del Mar, the fastest of 71 at that distance, on Saturday.

“We still have to ship, and hopefully he doesn’t get too stirred up,” Baffert said. “Hopefully, we get a good post and a good break.”

First Line racing career consists of four shots at breaking his maiden, which he finally did at Saratoga on Wednesday, so not only does he have no experience above a maiden race, but he’ll be wheeling back into the Travers on just nine days between races. He has won at a mile and eighth, though, a furlong less than the Travers distance.

“I took him out today, and he was on his toes,” Noda said. “He ate well and came out of that race really well. I cannot ask for anything more. I think the horse has shown me he has talent. We are going into this with a positive mindset, and I think he’s going to run a big race.”

It’s difficult to picture Noda with anything other than a positive mindset.

With no fans in the stands because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he has established himself as the designated noisemaker, loudly and ebulliently celebrating on the apron when his horses win.

That’s come on four occasions so far through 14 racing days, exceeding his win total for the entire 2019 meet, his first at Saratoga.


Trainer Todd Pletcher continued to unlock the secret of getting a horse to win at the marathon distance of a mile and three-quarters on Sunday, as Moretti, minus blinkers this time, and jockey Javier Castellano got into a consistent rhythm and won the $100,000 Birdstone by 1 1/2 lengths over stablemate You’re to Blame.

Pletcher has won this race five times since the first running in 2011.

It was the second stakes win of the year for Moretti, who was second to Tacitus in the Suburban last time out.

“He was always responding when Javier asked him to maintain his position,” Pletcher said. “He finished up well.”
“This horse never gets tired,” Castellano said. “No matter if you’re in the lead, on the pace or coming from behind, he’s steady, steady, steady. He’s always consistent.”


In the only race this weekend with Kentucky Derby qualifying points, the Bob Baffert-trained Thousand Words upset Honor A. P. in the Shared Belief at Del Mar on Saturday.

Thousand Words got to the front and held off Santa Anita Derby winner Honor A. P., considered the top-ranked Kentucky Derby prospect on the west coast, by three-quarters of a length.

“I told [jockey] Abel [Cedillo] to jump him out of there, and I thought he and Cezanne would be 1-2,” Baffert told the Del Mar media office. “Turning for home I could tell that Honor A. P. wasn’t running like he usually does. Cezanne got really tired, but Thousand Words … I could tell when we got down here that he was a different horse from Los Alamitos, and the real Thousand Words showed up today. His whole mind changed. His color has changed. He had soured out on me, but we got him going the  right way. I think he earned his way to the Derby.”

“He ran well, but we’re disappointed he didn’t win,” jockey Mike Smith said of Honor A. P. “I haven’t been able to get on him in the mornings and I think that’s made a difference. He’s just been going along there not doing much in the mornings. I need to be on him and get more out of him. But that’s the way it is now. This distance [mile and one-sixteenth] is too short for him, too. Just not his day.”

In his previous start, Thousand Words was second to stablemate Uncle Chuck in the Los Alamitos Derby.


Come Dancing’s 2020 schedule has been disrupted by the pandemic, but she’s getting ready to hit one of her familiar spots, next Saturday’s Ballerina, which is being run three weeks earlier than it usually is. She won the Ballerina last year two races before finishing sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

Come Dancing is riding a three-racing losing streak, most recently a second to long shot Victim of Love in the Vagrancy at Belmont Park.

“I didn’t think it was a bad effort,” trainer Carlos Martin said. “Of course, I’m disappointed that she got beat, but she loves Saratoga and she’s been thriving up here. We’ll see what we can do.” …

Got Stormy, who beat males in the Fourstardave while setting a track record last year, may run back in that race on Aug. 22.

Jamie Begg, trainer Mark Casse’s assistant, said the track condition then will have some bearing on whether she runs in the Fourstardave or not.

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

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