Topped by Belmont Stakes runner-up Gronkowski, Preakness runner-up Bravazo, and Jim Dandy winner Tenfold, six of the expected 12 entrants for Saturday’s Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes put in workouts Sunday morning at Saratoga.
Gronkowski, working with Kentucky Derby fourth-place finisher Instilled Regard, went five furlongs in 1:00.02, getting his last three furlongs in 35.81 seconds. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.71 while pulling away from Instilled Regard.
“His work this morning was the best I’ve seen,” said trainer Chad Brown, noting that he wanted another strong work from Gronkowski, who has not run since his second-place finish to Justify in the Belmont on June 9.
Brown said Instilled Regard, who has not run since the Derby, got a little tired in part because it was his first five-furlong work since Brown received the horse earlier this summer. Instilled Regard is pointing to the Grade 1, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 22.
About three hours earlier on the Oklahoma training track, Bravazo worked five furlongs in 1:00.07. He started three to four lengths behind stablemate Royal Edition and finished a length in front, getting his final quarter in 25.45.
“He likes to run at a target, so I gave him something to look at today,” trainer D. Wayne Lukas said.
Bravazo, who ran in all three Triple Crown races, is coming off a second-place finish behind Good Magic – the probable Travers favorite – in the Haskell.
“He’s actually put on weight, he looks stronger, and his attitude is better,” Lukas said. “I think he’s going to run his best race so far, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he runs a better one the next time.”
Tenfold, who despite his victory in the Jim Dandy Stakes on July 27 seems to be the forgotten horse in the Travers, worked shortly after Bravazo. Tenfold went a half-mile in 50.07 seconds over the Oklahoma training track, with a final quarter in 24.29 seconds. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:03.71.
“I thought he worked solid,” trainer Steve Asmussen said.
Tenfold could be getting overlooked because of the way he drifted out nearing the wire in the Jim Dandy, presumably from a gaggle of photographers and cameras positioned near the finish line.
“I’m worried to hell about it, very much so,” Asmussen said. “We’ve had him over there several times, but you can’t recreate that.”
Asmussen also will run Meistermind, the winner of a 1 1/4-mile maiden race at Churchill Downs on June 30, in the Travers. Meistermind, a son of Bodemeister, worked a half-mile in 50.08 seconds, getting his last quarter in 24.61.
“The further the better,” Asmussen said. “He ran the fastest mile and a quarter run at Churchill this meet.”
Catholic Boy, who will be returning to dirt after winning the Grade 1 Belmont Derby on turf last out, worked a half-mile in 49.18 seconds under Javier Castellano. Though he shaded 14 seconds from the five-furlong pole to the half-mile pole, the work officially began from the half. Catholic Boy went from there to the quarter pole in 24.07 seconds before cruising through the lane in 25.12.
Trainer Jonathan Thomas said he communicated with Castellano via two-way radio to see if Catholic Boy would pick it up on the gallop-out, and the horse responded by galloping out five furlongs in 1:02.89.
“He went so easy to the wire that I said, ‘Hey, test him, see what you got,’ and he gave him a little squeeze, and he jumped right into the bridle,” Thomas said.
King Zachary, the winner of the Matt Winn Stakes and the fourth-place finisher in the Indiana Derby, zipped five furlongs in 59.73 seconds by himself over the main track for trainer Dale Romans.
Good Magic, the Kentucky Derby runner-up and Haskell winner, likely will be the favorite in what is now shaping up to be a 12-horse Travers field with the announced defection Sunday morning of Hofburg due to a temperature.
According to the New York Racing Association, trainer Aiden O’Brien is still planning to ship Mendelssohn and Seahenge from Ireland on Tuesday for the Travers. Vino Rosso, the Wood Memorial winner and Jim Dandy third-place finisher; Wonder Gadot, the filly who beat the boys in the first two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown; and Trigger Warning, the runner-up to Axelrod in the Grade 3 Indiana Derby, also are expected to enter the Travers.
The draw will be held Tuesday at the Adelphi Hotel in downtown Saratoga Springs.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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