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Travers runners wrapping up serious workouts

Travers runners wrapping up serious workouts

Tacitus focused after adding narrow blinkers; Highest Honors has solid "maintenance move"
Travers runners wrapping up serious workouts
Preakness runner-up Everfast gets soaped up after a five-furlong workout on the Saratoga main track Saturday.
Photographer: Erica Miller

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Unlike Friday, when Tax ripped off a bullet breeze on the Saratoga Race Course main track, none of the potential Travers horses went particularly fast in their final serious workouts on Saturday.

Well, Tacitus went faster than a Seismic Wave, anyway.

Runner-up to Tax in the Jim Dandy, Tacitus pulled away from his stablemate Seismic Wave to finish off five furlongs in 1:00.48 on the Oklahoma Training Track, to the satisfaction of jockey Jose Ortiz and trainer Bill Mott.

Chad Brown's two Travers hopefuls, Curlin winner Highest Honors and Looking At Bikinis, worked on the main track, as did Preakness runner-up Everfast. Preakness third-place finisher Owendale went four furlongs in 48.80 at Churchill Downs and is expected to ship from Kentucky this week for the Travers.

One prominent horse who is skipping next Saturday's $1.25 million Travers, Preakness winner War of Will, was also on the Saratoga main track, posting a 50.54 for four furlongs.

Tacitus, second in the Belmont Stakes and third in the Kentucky Derby through the disqualification of Maximum Security, is considered one of the top contenders for the Travers. He'll wear a set of narrow one-inch blinkers in the race, which he had on for the Saturday workout under Ortiz.

At the five-eighths pole, they were about a length behind Seismic Wave and finished a little over two lengths ahead of him.

"Perfect. That's what we were looking for, a little bit more focused with the blinkers," Ortiz said. "We went to the three-quarter pole and got to the half-mile and galloped. They had a loose horse, so we pulled up by the quarter pole, and then when he galloped this way to the seven-furlong, he was very focused. Before, he used to look around, play around. Now, he's not, so he gives me confidence.

"In the work, he went unbelievable. Easy. When he gets in a nice, good rhythm, he can do twelves [12 seconds per furlong] all the way around here, and that's what he did."

"I thought it looked good," Mott said. "He tracked the other horse [Seismic Wave], he joined him at the head of the lane and looked like he kind of cruised on by, and not with a lot of encouragement. It looked like he was very focused and went in a minute and two-fifths and galloped out nicely."

Highest Honors and Looking At Bikinis, who was third in the Curlin, went in 1:01.66 and 1:00.85, respectively. Brown told the New York Racing Association that he was just looking for Highest Honors to stay as fit as he was for the Curlin, which he won in just his third career start.

"He went super," Brown said. "It was a nice little maintenance move. He galloped out strong and came back with a lot of energy."

Curlin runner-up Endorsed worked four furlongs on the main track in 48.33 on Friday and is pointing toward the Travers, especially once Game Winner and Maximum Security were declared out from the race with minor ailments.

Everfast worked five furlongs in 1:00.23. He's looking for his first win since breaking his maiden first time out on Aug. 12, 2018, a streak of 12 straight losses, eight of which were this season. Four of his last five starts have been in Grade I races.

Dwyer winner Code of Honor is scheduled to work Monday, as is Chess Chief, who is stabled at Churchill Downs.

ANOTHER RECORD

Carotari ran 1:00.21 at 5 1/2 furlongs on the Mellon Turf Course to win the sixth race and post the seventh track record of the meet, barely breaking the mark of 1:00.23 run by Leinster in the Troy Stakes on Aug. 3. Like Leinster, Carotari carried 120 pounds.

It was the second time during the meet that a track record was broken twice.

Macagone's 1:33.13 at a mile in an optional claiming race  on the Inner Turf Course lasted just eight days before it was broken by Got Stormy in the Grade I Fourstardave (1:32.00).

Imperial Hint went six furlongs on the main track in 1:07.92 to win the Grade I A.G. Vanderbilt, and King Zachary covered 1 3/4 miles on the main track in 2:52.97 to win the Birdstone.

On Thursday, Uncontested equaled the record for seven furlongs on the main track with a 1:20.52, which converts in fifths of a second to the 1:20 2/5 run by Darby Creek Road in 1978.

AROUND THE TRACK

Besides the professional work from Tacitus, Mott said he was pleased with the four-furlong breeze by Yoshida (49.46), who will try to win the Woodward for the second year in a row on closing weekend. He was second to McKinzie in the Whitney last time out.

"He galloped out as fast for the three-quarters as Tacitus did," Mott said. ...

Special Relativity ran a bullet 48.26 on the Oklahoma in preparation for next Saturday's Ballerina.

She's 4-for-4 lifetime at Saratoga, including wins in the Shine Again on July 31 and in an optional claiming race on July 17, but will be taking a big step up in class in the Grade I Ballerina, her first graded stakes attempt.

"She looks great and keeps gaining weight here even though she's raced quite a bit," said Ike Green, Robertino Diodoro's assistant. ...

Mott said that Mitchell Road, who was fifth in the Diana to stop a four-race winning streak, would not be running in the Ballston Spa on Travers Day.

He should have two in the Personal Ensign next Saturday, Elate and Golden Award.

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

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