Creator (Tapit) and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. win the Belmont Stakes (Gr I) at Belmont Park 6/11/16. Trainer: Steve Asmussen. Owner: Winstar Farm & Bobby Flay
When trainer Steve Asmussen saw the weather report calling for rain in Saratoga Springs later Sunday, he decided to move up the work for one of his Travers hopefuls.
In his final move for the Grade 1 Travers, Belmont Stakes winner Creator covered four furlongs in 49.33 over the Oklahoma training track on Sunday. It was the fourth-fastest of 41 works at the distance.
“He went over the racetrack really well, and was moving well,” Asmussen said. “We did move up his work a day because of the strong possibility of rain, which will give him an extra day – and having him a touch sharper is probably a good thing for him.”
Asmussen, who is looking to win the Travers for the first time after saddling two previous starters, will also enter Gun Runner in the 147th Travers. The multiple stakes winner’s schedule may also be adjusted due to the weather.
“The work plan is kind of the opposite with Gun Runner; he’s scheduled to work [Monday], but if we get the rain and a sloppy track, it will be moved to Tuesday,” Asmussen explained. “I’m comfortable with that because, obviously, he does not need to be sharper. He’s plenty sharp already. It’s just a difference in his and Creator’s style, and who they are personally.”
Both Asmussen runners will be looking to return to the winner’s circle following losses in their latest starts. Creator, who is a closer, failed to fire and finished sixth and last in the Jim Dandy; Gun Runner, who has early speed, finished fifth in the Haskell.
“I do feel that Creator has been considerably sharper since the Jim Dandy than he was before it, which we obviously needed to be,” Asmussen said. “The good news was that [the Jim Dandy] wasn’t Creator’s major target, but we were expecting it to be better.
“Gun Runner always gives you a great visual,” he added. “He’s always been very impressive to train and watch work. I think Gun Runner is physically getting better – he is filling out and has become more attractive . . . just a gorgeous horse.”
Gun Runner, who was third in the Kentucky Derby after winning the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby, will be partnered with his regular jockey, Florent Geroux. Irad Ortiz Jr., aboard Creator in the Belmont Stakes and Jim Dandy, has the Travers assignment.
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