It still looks like it could be a full starting gate of 12 for next Saturday’s $1.25 million Travers at Saratoga Race Course, but at least one contender won’t be in it.
Trainer Bill Mott said on Sunday that Hofburg wouldn’t run, after the Tapit colt missed the last three days of training with a fever.
“He's been off the training list the last two days, and we're not going to force ourselves into the Travers,” Mott said.
Hofburg stamped himself as a candidate for the Travers when he won the $100,000 Curlin by five lengths on July 27, a day before the traditional Saratoga Travers prep, the Jim Dandy.
He qualified for the Kentucky Derby by finishing second in the Florida Derby, then finished seventh to Justify at Churchill Downs. Hofburg was third by 3 1/2 lengths in the Belmont Stakes.
His scratch from the Travers list leaves a baker’s dozen of prospects, including Axelrod, Bravazo, Catholic Boy, Good Magic, Gronkowski, King Zachary, Meistermind, Mendelssohn, Seahenge, Tenfold, Trigger Warning, Vino Rosso and the filly Wonder Gadot.
Because of rain Friday night into Saturday morning, many Travers horses breezed on Sunday.
The Chad Brown-trained Gronkowski went five furlongs in 1:00.02 in company with Instilled Regard on the main track.
“The horse has gotten stronger and fitter,” Brown said.
Bravazo worked on the Oklahoma training track in similar time, 1:00.11, in company with the 3-year-old maiden Royal Edition.
“We wanted him to go right at a minute, and that’s what we got, so that’s probably all we need,” trainer D. Wayne Lukas said.
King Zachary worked five furlongs in a bullet 59.66 on the main track under exercise rider Tammy Fox.
Trainer Steve Asmussen’s Travers horses, Jim Dandy winner Tenfold and Meistermind, went breezed four furlongs on the Oklahoma in 50.09 and 50.19, respectively.
FIRST STAKES WIN
Keeneland-based trainer Christopher Davis scored the first stakes victory of his career when Moonlit Garden got to the front under Jose Ortiz and won the $100,000 Summer Colony on Sunday’s card.
She has raced on six different tracks in her last six starts.
“Jose is the man, and he gets the job done,” Davis said. “We weren't planning on making the lead, but they gave it to her so easy and she's a very big, hard-grinding filly and when she was up front with those fractions, it was great. I told Jose to just do what you do. He's the man up here.”
AROUND THE TRACK
Trainer Kenny McPeek said Alabama winner Eskimo Kisses likely will race next in the Grade I Spinster at Keeneland Oct. 7.
The Grade I Cotillion at Parx Sept. 22 is also an option, but it may be a little too soon to run back, he said. Eskimo Kisses would also have to run against Monomoy Girl in the spot. …
Accelerate, the top older dirt horse in the country while West Coast slowly works his way back into form, won the Pacific Classic by 12 1/2 lengths over Pavel at Del Mar on Saturday.
He’s the third horse, after Lava Man and Game On Dude, to sweep that race, the Santa Anita Handicap and California-based Gold Cup in the same year.
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Mike MacAdam at 518-396-3146 or [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.