SARATOGA SPRINGS — 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 Aug. 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.
American Patriot remained in good order one day before the Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave, Pletcher said. The 4-year-old son of War Front will be running for the first time since finishing 11th in the Group 1 Queen Anne on June 20 at Royal Ascot.
“We had spoken about what our plan would be if we went to Royal Ascot, and we decided that timing-wise, the Fourstardave is a race we could point for whether we went to Royal Ascot or not,” Pletcher said. “Once we went, we came back here [to the U.S.] the day after he ran and once he cleared quarantine, he came right to Saratoga and has been preparing for that since then.”
American Patriot won the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile on April 14 at Keeneland before shipping to England, where Pletcher said the WinStar homebred struggled on the unique terrain.
“It’s ambitious. Anytime you go over there, you’re sort of up against it a little bit,” Pletcher said. “You’re running a straight course on an incline and a lot things American-based horses aren’t used to. From that perspective, you’re taking the worst of it. He never really seemed like he fired. He just seemed a little confused through the whole thing and ran a little bit flat. The good news is he bounced out of it really well and came back in good form.”
American Patriot drew post 2 in the six-horse field for the one-mile race on the inner turf and will have Velazquez in the irons. After breezing on both the main and Oklahoma tracks since shipping back from overseas, Pletcher said he expects a big effort.
“He recovered very quickly and actually put on weight since he ran there,” Pletcher said.
His father and grandfather were both graded stakes winners, and Lael Stables homebred No Dozing will make another attempt at continuing the family tradition in the Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial August 26.
No Dozing, a son of 2012 Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags out of the Pulpit mare Stay Awake, left the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. earlier this month to join trainer Arnaud Delacour’s string at Saratoga.
He had his first local breeze over the Oklahoma training track August 6, going a half-mile in 50.32 seconds.
“He’s doing well. He’s at Saratoga and we are aiming for the Allen Jerkens,” Delacour said. “That’s exciting. He’s doing very well. I love the fact that he’s coming off a win at the distance. Everything is going well.”
No Dozing snapped a six-race losing streak with a front-running four-length victory in the seven-furlong Concern July 22 at Laurel Park, setting splits of 23.14 and 45.89 seconds over a muddy, sealed track before finishing in 1:22.85.
Though he faced only three rivals that day, his opponents were multiple stakes winner Proforma, Grade 3-placed Honor the Fleet and multiple stakes-placed Alex Again.