Mendelssohn emerged from his runner-up performance behind Catholic Boy in the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers in good shape, T.J. Comerford, assistant to trainer Aidan O'Brien, said Sunday.
“Even after his race yesterday, I had him down at the test barn, and he pulled the arms on me and he was still whinnying, so the race couldn't have taken that whole amount out of him because he had his dinner last night, he's straight into his breakfast, he's showing the signs that he's in a good place,” said Comerford.
O'Brien has told The Irish Field that Mendelssohn, who is owned by Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier, and Derrick Smith, will train up to the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Mendelssohn raced exclusively on turf as a 2-year-old, capping his campaign with a victory in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf and defeating fourth-place finisher Catholic Boy. After launching his 3-year-old season with a victory in the Group 3 Patton over Dundalk's all-weather surface in March, Mendelssohn won the Group 2 UAE Derby on dirt by 18 ½ lengths later that month at Meydan Racecourse.
The Scat Daddy colt finished last of 20 following a rough trip in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, contested over a sloppy track in May at Churchill Downs. O'Brien sent Mendelssohn back to the United States for the Grade 3 Dwyer on July 7 at Belmont Park, and the well-traveled runner finished third, beaten 9 ½ lengths, as the 3-2 favorite after contesting the pace.
“I think [the Travers was] a big improvement to the last two,” said Comerford. “I think that was the plan. Aidan wanted to give him confidence after Kentucky. They made him favored [in the Dwyer]. People thought he should have been winning that, but I suppose the way Aidan works is that you probably have to go back to come forward. Bringing him back for the [Dwyer] gave him a bit of confidence. That was his plan, to come here and then go to the Breeders' Cup. I suppose yesterday was a big improvement again from Belmont. It was a big step up for him, and he's done well. He's come out of his race very well. He's straight into his breakfast. There's not a bother on him.”
In the Travers, Mendelssohn was sent to the lead from post 8 by jockey Ryan Moore, setting solid fractions of 47.81 seconds for the opening half-mile and 1:11.97 for three-quarters while being pressed to his outside by Catholic Boy, who took over nearing the quarter pole. Despite yielding the top spot, Mendelssohn stayed on well to finish four lengths behind the winner and one length ahead of third-place finisher Bravazo.
“You need the horses for [dirt racing] when you come here,” said Comerford. “He is a horse who has the speed. You can't inject it into them. You either have it or you don't, and he seems to have it.”
Comerford added that Seahenge appears to have emerged from his ninth-place finish in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer in good shape. Seahenge, winner of a Group 2 on the turf as a juvenile, entered the Sword Dancer off a third in the Patton, a fifth in the UAE Derby, a seventh in the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile, and a fifth in the Dwyer.
“He didn't run like I thought he might his first run back on the turf,” said Comerford. “I don't know. I can't find any major excuses for him. He just never showed up. He got a bit hot before the race. Maybe he got a little bit excited; he just got a little bit warmer than Mendelssohn ever did.”
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