Grade 1 Belmont winner Creator took to at Saratoga Race Course’s Oklahoma training track early Monday morning to wrap up his major preparations for the Grade 2, $ 600,000 Jim Dandy Saturday, the 1 1/8-mile local prep for the Grade 1, $ 1.25 million Travers on August 27.
The gray Tapit colt breezed solo shortly before 6 a.m. with exercise rider Abel Flores aboard, covering a half-mile in 49.56 seconds for trainer Steve Asmussen, his third local work since arriving at the Spa in early July including a five-furlong move in 1:01.87 over the main track last week.
“He’s doing really well,” said Asmussen, who will be inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame on August 12. “I think he’s trained very well over both surfaces. He’s gotten a lot out of his gallops here at Oklahoma and I liked his work over the main track last week so I feel really good about him. My only concern with the Jim Dandy, going from a mile and a half to a mile and an eighth, is that it may be a bit short for him, but I feel good about it as a prep for the Travers.”
Owned by WinStar Farm and Bobby Flay, Creator outgunned Destin late to win the 1 ½-mile Belmont by a nose, his second Grade 1 victory following his 1 ¼-length score in the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby in April at Oaklawn Park. His Arkansas win earned the 3-year-old enough points for a berth in the Kentucky Derby on May 7 but the colt failed to fire in the “Run for the Roses” after checking hard at the top of the stretch to finish 13th in the field of 20.
Gun Runner, another sophomore from Asmussen’s talented roster, worked a half-mile in 49.78 seconds Monday morning at Oklahoma ahead of his bid in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational on July 31 at Monmouth Park.
Boasting five wins from seven career starts as well as a third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, the chestnut son of Candy Ride is exiting a resounding, 5 ¼ length victory in the Grade 3 Matt Winn on June 18 at Churchill Downs and could emerge on the Travers radar depending on the outcome of Sunday’s Haskell.
“I think the spacing for the Haskell is good for him,” Asmussen noted. “The Matt Winn was six weeks after the Derby and six weeks to the Haskell and I think he’s stayed in a very good rhythm. I’m kind of excited about his chances there. I think that with Gun Runner, our performance in the Haskell would have everything to do with that [going to the Travers].”
Rounding out Asmussen’s Monday workers are Jerry Durant’s 2015 Grade 2 Amsterdam winner Holy Boss, turning in his ultimate work ahead of his bid in Saturday’s Grade 1, $ 350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt and breezing an easy four furlongs in 50.71 seconds on the Oklahoma track, while Grade 2 Amsterdam candidate Counterforce worked three furlongs in 37.94.
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