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Tax sharp in work for run at Jim Dandy

Tax sharp in work for run at Jim Dandy

Field of six shaping up for Saturday's traditional steppingstone to the Travers
Tax sharp in work for run at Jim Dandy
Tax (1) and Junior Alvarado win the Grade III Withers at Aqueduct on Feb. 2.
Photographer: Annette Jasko/NYRA photo

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Grade III Withers winner Tax gave trainer Danny Gargan what he was looking for with a fast half-mile breeze in 47.09 on the Saratoga Race Course main track Saturday, so they're all set for Saturday's Grade II Jim Dandy.
It was the fastest of 70 works at that distance on the main track Sunday.

"He looks great," Gargan told the New York Racing Association. "He's doing phenomenal. I couldn't be happier. He's training great. It was a big-time breeze. We worked him easy last week, so I planned on working him in company. When he works in company, he tends to have fast works."

Tax worked a half-mile in 49.95 in his previous breeze at Saratoga and shows three timed workouts since he was fourth to Sir Winston in the Belmont Stakes.

Tax, a son of Arch, was 15th in the Kentucky Derby.

"We put a workmate three or four lengths in front of him and he just went right on by," Gargan said. "That was the planned way to do it, just in case. He showed he can sit second and pass horses. He's done it. Obviously, we want to be forwardly placed. If there's no speed, we'll be on the lead. If someone wants to be stupid, we'll sit second, but I'm not taking far back."

Besides Tax, Preakness winner War of Will, Tacitus, Global Campaign, Highest Honors and Laughing Fox are probable for the Jim Dandy.

Highest Honors is also entered in the Curlin, which was drawn Sunday, on Friday.

That field, from the rail out, consists of Intrepid Heart, Cairo Cat, Looking At Bikinis, Grumps Little Tots, Rowayton, Direct Orders, Endorsed, Highest Honors and Mo Gotcha.

Tacitus is scheduled to breeze Monday morning.

"Obviously, [Tacitus] is a special horse. [War of Will] can run big races, too, and [Global Campaign] is a really good horse," Gargan said. "It's going to be a horse race. If I could win it, it'd be great. I just want to run big in it. If he keeps going forward, he's a gelding, he's got a big future. And, we still have the turf that we've played around with trying but it's hard to put him on it right now because he's doing so well on the dirt. He's definitely getting better with age."


In the 12th race on Sunday's card, jockey Jose Baez was involved in a scary spill when his horse, Masterkey, clipped heels with He'smyluckyfellow and Rajiv Maragh in the homestretch of the Inner Turf

Masterkey went nose-first into the turf, throwing Baez rolling forward on the ground.

The jockey walked off, and Masterkey, who shipped in from Finger Lakes for owner/trainer Jonathan Buckley, walked onto an equine ambulance to be vanned off the track.

Owner Gary West said that Haskell Invitational winner Maximum Security would point toward the Travers.

That could set up a much-anticipated rematch between him and War of Will, who was behind Maximum Security when that colt veered coming off the second turn in the Kentucky Derby, leading to Maximum Security's disqualification from first to 17th.

Trainer Todd Pletcher  said that he's willing to throw out the performance by Coal Front, the beaten 1-9 favorite in the Monmouth Cup on Haskell Day at Monmouth Park on Saturday.

 "He never really seemed like he was traveling with the confidence that he normally does," said Pletcher. "I thought the fractions were very reasonable, especially for a horse of his quality. Johnny [Velazquez] seemed to think he was compromised by the conditions a bit. He just never really felt like himself, so we'll draw a line through it and he seems to have come back OK and we'll try again."


On Sunday, Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress assumed Tax's role of bullet-firing workhorse at a half-mile on the main track, with a 47.60 in preparation for the Grade I Test on Whitney Day Aug. 3.

It was the fastest breeze of 102 at the distance on Sunday. She posted a 47.00 in her previous work.

"Serengeti Empress shows her hand in her workouts in the morning, and since we've been up here, she has done very, very well," trainer Tom Amoss said. "This workout was another in a series of good and enthusiastic workouts by her signaling to me that she's ready.

"This workout is not harder or easier than any of the others that we use going into the Test, that's just how she works. You won't see her in company with another horse, there's no need for that. She is plenty fit. The workout pattern will be very similar to what you've seen since we got up here."


Trainer Brad Cox said Lexington and Ohio Derby winner Owendale, who closed ground to finish third in the Preakness, has a good shot at making the Travers.

"We're keeping him at Churchill [Downs] for the time being, and we'll see how things unfold leading up to that. But, that's our goal right now." ...

 Invitations have been sent for entry into the second legs of the Turf Triples -- the Saratoga Oaks and Saratoga Derby.
Oaks horses on the list include Alasaayil, Cambier Parc, Concrete Rose, Coral Beach, Dyna Passer, Happen, Her Royal Highness, Hotsy Totsy, Kelsey's Cross and Olendon.

Saratoga Derby invitees include A Thread of Blue, Cape of Good Hope, Digital Age, Eons, Flying Scotsman, Henley's Joy, Mohawk, Rockemperor, Seismic Wave, Skardu, Social Paranoia, Value Proposition, Van Beethoven and Win Win Win, who won the Manila in his turf debut at Belmont Park on July 4 after a ninth in the Kentucky Derby and a seventh in the Preakness.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3146 or [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.

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