SARATOGA SPRINGS — Last Friday, Aug. 4, Javier Castellano joined John Velazquez in the National Racing Hall of Fame, warm speeches and well-tailored suits the theme of the morning.
This Friday morning, he joined him on the Oklahoma training track, this time in helmets and protective vests, and afterward they spoke glowingly about a joint workout with Velazquez on Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and Castellano on Curlin winner Outplay.
Trainer Todd Pletcher has been on the fence about Always Dreaming’s Travers prospects, but shifted a bit in favor of that race for his next start after Always Dreaming and Outplay matched strides toward the finish pole on the Oklahoma.
If Always Dreaming’s third-place finish to Good Samaritan in the Jim Dandy was mystifying, at least Friday’s four-furlong breeze in 48.83 seconds and gallop-out in 1:01 4/5 was encouraging.
Pletcher instructed Velazquez to try to get Always Dreaming to settle behind Outplay in the early part of the workout, then accelerate to even terms by the end.
“He was so much better, he allowed me to get him up to the other horse,” Velazquez said. “He normally would be fighting me to there, but he was really good.
“I didn’t think it was going to work out, but it did. I like the way he did it. He actually settled the first part, so that’s the most important thing.”
Castellano equally endorsed Outplay’s work, and Pletcher likes the way he has responded in training after having won the Curlin on July 28, a day before the Jim Dandy.
“I was very happy with the way Always Dreaming settled nicely and relaxed early,” Pletcher told the New York Racing Association. “I think the Travers is very much in play for both of them, and Tapwrit, also.”
Tapwrit got a head start on his stablemates, hitting the Oklahoma early in the morning for a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.22 in company with a 2-year-old.
He has not raced since winning the Belmont Stakes on June 10.
“His fitness level was very good,” Pletcher said. “It seemed like he was doing it easily in hand.”
TALE OF THE CAT
Stallwalkin’ Dude appears to have nine lives.
He’s 7 years old, he’s run 55 times and as of Friday evening, he’s won the Tale of the Cat stakes at Saratoga Race Course for the last three years.
He did so this time in typical fashion, rallying from the clouds to nip Loose On the Town by a head under Joe Bravo.
The victory pushed his career earnings over $1.5 million.
“He’s a special horse and he makes it exciting, and he seems to get there every time,” trainer David Jacobson said. “He’s got a lot more races left.”
“A horse to be able to knock a race out three years in a row, and here like this, he just keeps going,” Bravo said. “He’s 7 years old, and you wouldn’t think he’s older than 3. Look how he did it today. He came from how far out of it to get up? You have to love the old man. He’s a warrior.”
The feature on today’s card is the Grade I Fourstardave at a mile on the inner turf, with the Grade II Adirondack for 2-year-old fillies scheduled for the fourth race.
Time Test is the 8-5 morning-line favorite in the Fourstardave in his third start for trainer Chad Brown since coming to the U.S. from England. He lost to 27-1 Ascend as the 6-5 favorite in the Grade I Manhattan on Belmont Stakes Day.
The six-horse field also includes Disco Partner, who broke a world record in winning the six-furlong Jaipur on Belmont Day, and the filly Sassy Little Lila.
“It looks very ambitious and we can always go back shorter next time, but he’s won at a mile, so we’ll see what happens,” trainer Christophe Clement said of Disco Partner.
Pletcher, who has won the Adirondack four times, has two entered in that race, including 2-1 favorite Pure Silver, who has won both of her starts by 1 1/2 lengths.
His other filly is Stainless, co-owned by Barbara Lucarelli of Duanesburg through StarLadies Racing.
Pure Silver is a New York-bred who won a restricted stakes, the Lynnbrook, at Belmont on July 16. There was another state-bred stakes on the calendar, but Pletcher said her training suggests that she should take a crack at a graded stakes against open company.
The 5-year-old mare Sweetneida broke down just past the top of the stretch on the main track in the first race on Friday’s card, was vanned off and euthanized.
According to the New York State Gaming Commission breakdown database, the Eduardo Jones-trained Sweetneida broke her left front sesamoids. Jockey Abel Lezcano fell out of the saddle during the incident and walked off the track.
It was the 13th equine fatality on Saratoga Race Course grounds since May 28, and 11th since the start of the meet on July 21. Six of those occurred during racing, three on the main track.