Whitham Thoroughbred’s homebred and multiple graded stakes winner McCraken turned in his penultimate breeze Wednesday morning for the Grade 1, $ 1.25 million Travers presented by NYRA Bets at Saratoga Race Course on August 26.
The sophomore colt by Ghostzapper took to the Oklahoma training track shortly after 6 a.m. with regular jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr. aboard, covering six furlongs in 1:16.23. The work was his second since finishing a close runner-up in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational on July 30, where he was beaten a nose by fellow Travers candidate Girvin.
“All was good. I’m very pleased,” said trainer Ian Wilkes. “He galloped out good and when he came back, he wasn’t blowing. So, I’m very happy with him.
“He’s going to run a mile and a quarter and the horse is fit and happy, so the plan is to just maintain him,” he added. “I didn’t want him to have a bullet work so the main thing is to get some air into his lungs.”
McCraken is slated to jog Thursday morning and have a walk day on Friday, Wilkes’ normal post-breeze regimen. The trainer added that McCraken will likely make one more appearance on the work tab prior to the Mid-Summer Derby.
“We’ll play it by ear. There’s no set plan,” said Wilkes. “We’ll probably come back with some type of work next week. When or where, I’m not quite sure yet, but he’s where you want to be right at this stage.”
Prior to the Haskell, McCraken rebounded from an eighth-place finish in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby with a 2 ¼-length victory in the Grade 3 Matt Winn in June at Churchill Downs.
McCraken was undefeated in three starts as a 2-year-old, including a 1 1/4-length win in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club. He carried his win streak into his 3-year-old seasonal debut in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs in February before a minor injury pushed his next start back nearly two months, eventually marking his return with a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Blue Grass on April 8.
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