Trainer Todd Pletcher's Vino Rosso turned in his final work for next weekend's Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy Saturday morning over Saratoga Race Course's Oklahoma training track in company with Grade 1, $1.2 million Whitney-bound Tapwrit.
Vino Rosso, fourth to Justify in the Belmont Stakes last time out, and 2017 Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit went the first quarter-mile in 25 seconds and completed the four-furlong move in 48.50 seconds. NYRA clockers caught the pair galloping out five furlongs in 1:01.
Saturday's breeze was Vino Rosso's second since moving to Saratoga from Pletcher's barn at Belmont and third overall since the 1 ½-mile Test of the Champion on June 9, where he crossed the wire 3 ¾ lengths behind the Triple Crown winner under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.
“We're just looking to sharpen him up a little bit,” said Pletcher. “He's coming off a mile and a half race, we just wanted see how he was doing, see what his enthusiasm level and energy level look like and I thought both were very good. It was a good breeze for him with a Belmont winner. I was happy with him.”
Owned by Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable, the 3-year-old chestnut colt by Curlin will be cutting back to the Jim Dandy's 1 1/8-mile distance for the first time since posting a three-length victory in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial in April. That win secured his spot in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, where he rallied late to finish ninth on May 5.
“I think the Wood Memorial is still his best win, so he's shown he can be effective at a mile and an eighth,” said Pletcher. “In the Belmont, Johnny said at the half-mile pole, he had to make a decision and put some pressure on Justify and moved sooner than he wanted to, which might've cost him a position.”
Tapwrit, putting in his first breeze since finishing fifth in the Grade 2 Suburban on July 7, is expected to make his third start of the year in the 1 1/8-mile Whitney on August 4 at the Spa, where last year he closed out his 3-year-old campaign with a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Travers.
“I felt like I was looking for a similar work from both horses, just wanted to get a line on where they are and I thought they'd make good companions,” Pletcher said of pairing. “In both horses' cases, they're backing up [in distance], one from a mile and a half to a mile and an eighth, and the other from a mile and a quarter to a mile and an eighth. I kind of wanted a little bit of a sharp half-mile breeze from both of them. I wasn't concerned about fitness or stamina with either one, just sharpen them up a little bit.
“I thought they both finished up nicely and galloped out well,” he added. “[It was a] good progressive breeze from both of them.”
La Providencia's homebred millionaire Hi Happy also turned in his final breeze for Saturday's Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green with a half-mile maintenance work in 49.66 in company with Master Plan. The 6-year-old Argentinian-bred by Pure Prize is exiting a a solid effort in the Grade 1 Manhattan, where he finished third by a half-length in a blanket finish on June 9. Hi Happy hasn't finished worse than third in four starts since moving to the Pletcher barn, including victories in the Grade 2 Pan American and the Grade 1 Man o' War this spring.
“It was kind of a steady breeze for him on the dirt, which is what we've come to expect from him,” said Pletcher. “He's a very consistent horse. Were just trying to keep him ticking until the Bowling Green and hopefully the [Grade 1, $1 million] Sword Dancer [August 25] after that.”
Ivy Bell earned the five-furlong bullet on the Oklahoma track as she wrapped up her major preparations for her two-turn debut in the Grade 3, $200,000 Shuvee on July 29. The 5-year-old Archarcharch mare covered the distance in 1:00.18. She galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.
Ivy Bell finished second to Abel Tasman last time out in the one-turn Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at 1 1/16 miles on Belmont Stakes Day, her first career start beyond seven furlongs.
“[It was] another strong breeze from her, which is what we've come to expect,” Pletcher said. “We're still confident that she'll handle two turns, so we're getting her ready to find out. We tried stretching her out in the Phipps, where I thought she ran pretty well, but this will be a little different dynamic around two turns, so we're anxious to see how she handles that.”
Also on Saturday, Zayat Stable's multiple stakes winner Gidu arrived from Belmont, where he will continue preparations for the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on the turf on August 3. Gidu, an Irish-bred son of Frankel, won the seven-furlong Paradise Creek on May 26before shipping to England for Royal Ascot, where he finished sixth, beaten 2 ½ lengths in a field of 22, in the Group 1 Commonwealth at six furlongs on June 22.
“I thought he ran well [at Royal Ascot],” Pletcher said. “He's won at a mile and it's kind of that time of year where there's not a ton of options for 3-year-olds on the turf going six to seven furlongs, so we're going to try to stretch him out to a mile and a sixteenth and see how he handles that.”
Pletcher said that Unbridled Mo came out of her fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap in good order and will remain at Belmont for the time being, adding that a possible rematch with impressive Delaware ‘Cap winner Elate in the Grade 1, $700,000 Personal Ensign on Travers Day has not been ruled out.
“We'll give her a couple weeks to decide what we're going to do,” he said of the 5-year-old Uncle Mo mare. “I suppose she's some form of possible for the Personal Ensign.”
Pletcher also noted that Nonna Madeline emerged from Friday's Grade 3 Schuylerville no worse for wear after she broke slow and was rushed up into early contention to finish second by 4 ¼ lengths to Catherinethegreat.
“I thought she ran a big race considering that she wasn't standing squarely [in the gate], and because of that, she didn't get away well and moved up into some very fast fractions,” he said. “I'm sure her internal fractions were pretty fast and, as you would expect in that scenario, she got a little bit tired the last part. But, I thought she showed some courage though, when that filly came up to her on the inside, she dug back in to save second. I like her a lot; I think she's a very talented filly. We need to work on getting her out of the gate a little smoother, but she fits with everyone in the class in my opinion.”
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