Todd Pletcher keeps a watchful eye on Always Dreaming as they head to the track at Pimlico prior to the Preakness
Trainer Todd Pletcher said the Grade 1, $ 1.25 million Travers presented by NYRA Bets remains a possibility for Always Dreaming, Outplay and Tapwrit after all three breezed Friday morning.
Always Dreaming and Outplay worked in company on the Oklahoma training track, going four furlongs in 48.83 seconds. Clockers recorded the duo galloping out five furlongs in 1:01 4/5 with the first quarter-mile going in :25 1/5.
Always Dreaming, the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby winner, breezed for the first time since a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy on July 29 with Hall of Famer and regular jockey John Velazquez aboard. Outplay, coming off a win in the Curlin on July 28, was ridden by fellow Hall of Famer Javier Castellano.
“I thought both horses worked very well,” Pletcher said. “I was very happy with the way Always Dreaming settled nicely and relaxed early. It was an excellent work from both horses.
“Both of them worked well enough to come back and work next week and see how they continue to prepare,” he added. “But I think the Travers is very much in play for both of them and Tapwrit, also.”
Always Dreaming had previously worked solo, but Pletcher said the Kentucky-bred Bodemeister colt, who ran eighth in the Grade 1 Preakness May 20 at Pimlico, responded well to breezing with his stablemate.
“All of his works after the Preakness were by himself and I wanted to see where we were in terms of how the race settled him down and how he was going to respond to being in company,” Pletcher said. “I thought he rated very kindly. Johnny [Velazquez] said he was very agreeable with whatever he asked him to do.”
Velazquez said Always Dreaming improved from his last work, seven days before the Jim Dandy on the training track.
“He was so much better; he allowed me to get him up to the other horse,” Velazquez said. “He normally would be fighting me to there, [but] he was really good. It went very nice. He galloped out very good.
“The plan was for me to stay a little bit off him and give my horse a bit of a chance,” he added. “Separately, we jogged him, and I let him [Outplay] start out in front, he got a little too strong, but as soon as he started picking up in front of me, he came back to me and I had him. I didn’t think it was going to work out but it did. I’m very happy with it. I like the way he did it. He actually settled the first part, so that’s the most important thing.”
Pletcher said he was pleased with the way Outplay came out of it.
“I thought Outplay worked well also; a good solid, steady work. It seems like he came out of the Curlin in good order,” he said.
Added Castellano: “He rated beautiful and we hooked up both those two at the top of the lane. They both finished really, really well. I like the way he did it.”
Tapwrit breezed earlier in the morning on the Oklahoma track, working in company with a 2-year-old by Uncle Mo. The Grade 1 Belmont Stakes winner went five furlongs in 1:01.22 with regular jockey Jose Ortiz aboard.
“I thought he did great. He worked 1:01 and change but more importantly than that, I thought he galloped out fantastic, going 1:27 and change for the seven-eighths, pulled up the mile in 1:42,” Pletcher said. [His] fitness level was very good; it seemed like he was doing it easily in hand. I was very happy with it.”
Pletcher said that Patch, the third-place finisher in the Belmont Stakes, will not be likely for the Travers after running fourth in the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby on August 5 at Mountaineer Park.
“It’s back in three weeks. I would say it’s unlikely but we’ll continue to see how things unfold here,” he said.
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