Saratoga Notebook: Gygistar, Miss Linda on Track; Mid-Meet Leaders; Champ is Back; Ward Barn Update

Saratoga Notebook: Gygistar, Miss Linda on Track; Mid-Meet Leaders; Champ is Back; Ward Barn Update
Photo: NYRA/Adam Coglianese
Riva Ridge and Dwyer winner Gygistar, on track for King's Bishop.
By MikeKane and
Phil Janack

Gygistar on Course for King's Bishop
Riva Ridge (gr .II) and Dwyer (gr .II) winner Gygistar is a on course for the King's Bishop (gr. I) that is on the Travers Day program on Aug. 24.

Gygistar got sick after the Dwyer, missed a work and wasn't ready for the Jim Dandy (gr. II) on Aug. 4 to prep for the Travers.

Trainer Mark Hennig decided to train the gelding up to the seven-furlong King's Bishop. Gygistar worked five furlongs in 1:00.84 over the main track Saturday morning.

"He's doing real well," Hennig said.

Another Hennig trainee, Edward P. Evans' Roaring Fever, the 2-year-old full brother to Raging Fever and Stormin Fever, was a winner in his debut on Aug. 9. Roaring Fever covered the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:05.89 and won by 2 1/4 lengths. He is a son of Storm Cat out of the Seattle Slew mare Pennant Fever.

"He seems to have come out of the race real well," Hennig said, "but I was going to train him a while and nominate him to the Hopeful (gr.I) and a couple of other spots. I just haven't made any decision yet on his next race, really."

Hennig is planning to run Raging Fever in the Ballerina (gr.I) on Aug. 25 and Summer Colony in the PersonalEnsign (gr. I) on Aug. 23.

Saratoga to Race 36 Days in 2003
The New York Racing Association's Board of Trustees approved a 36-day Saratoga meeting for 2003.

The proposed dates -- Wednesday, July 23 through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 1 -- will be submitted to the New York State Racing and Wagering Board for approval. NYRA has run a 36-day meeting at Saratoga since 1997.

Miss Linda Likely for Personal Ensign
Trainer John Kimmel is putting a line through Miss Linda's performance in the Go for Wand (gr. I) on July 28 and looking ahead, probably to the Personal Ensign (gr .I) on Aug. 23.

In her first start since running third to Azeri in the Apple Blossom (gr .I) on April 6, the multiple stakes winner was fourth in the Go for Wand.

"I don't think the race that she ran in the Go for Wand is representative of her particular ability or her running style," Kimmel said.

"She stumbled leaving the gate and she got involved with a fairly heavy pace duel with With Ability. That horse was coming out of two nice stakes wins and she was beaten 25 lengths trying to run with me. I got beat 10 lengths, but I hadn't run in five or six months since her race to Azeri.

"My filly is basically getting ready off minimal preparation. I think she should really go forward off the race. It's just a question of do I want to run her back here or do I want to run her back here or do I want to wait for the Ruffian (gr. I)."

Kimmel said he is likely to race Miss Linda at Saratoga will make his decision after she works Saturday morning.„

"I think she likes two turns and will get a much kinder pace scenario in this race, the Personal Ensign," Kimmel said. "So I'm kind of looking forward to her work next weekend and if everything goes well and she comes out of the breeze in good order, that's kind of the direction we're going to go."

Gann, Frankel Are Mid-Point Leaders
Through Monday, the midpoint of the six-week Saratoga season, the leading owner in purse money won was Edmund A. Gann with $619,000. Gann had a record of 3-1-0 from four starters. Michael Tabor was second at $565,928.

Bobby Frankel, who handles Gann's horses, including Jim Dandy (gr. II) winner Medaglia d'Oro, was the leading trainer with purse earnings of $1,086,940. Frankel had a record of 6-2-1 from 18 starters. Todd Pletcher was the second-leading trainer in purse money won with $889,434.

Heavyweight Champ Back on Track
Heavyweight Champ, injured in the Amsterdam (gr.III) on Aug. 3, is ready to begin galloping again, trainer John Terranova said Wednesday.

In just his second start this year, Heavyweight Champ finished fifth in the Amsterdam, beaten 7 1/2 lengths by Listen Here. He came out of the race with a pulled muscle in his hind end.

"He had been jogging about two miles a day now, and I think we're in good shape," Terranova said. "It wasn't a very serious thing, just something we had to do some therapy on and take some time with."

Terranova thought something was wrong when Heavyweight Champ suddenly backed up in the stretch when trailing Boston Common and favored Mayakovsky by a length.

"I belive that's the reason he didn't punch in the stretch," he said. "It looked like he was looming up real nice coming into the stretch. I thought he was just going to gallop. He just flattened out, and it was very odd. He was sitting on a perfect trip. The race really fell apart at the end."

Puzzlement Lives up to His Name in Workout
Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens is still thinking Travers for Puzzlement, despite a lackluster mile workout Wednesday morning.

Under jockey Jean-Luc Samyn, Puzzlement was timed in 1:43 2/5, breezing, on the main track. It was his second work since returning from a two-month layoff to win a nine-furlong allowance here July 24.

"He'll probably go in the Travers," Jerkens said. Puzzlement also worked five furlongs in 1:05 1/5 on Aug. 6. "He got a little tired today. I was a little disappointed, but we still have 10 days to the race. We'll see."

After the allowance victory, Jerkens decided to skip Saratoga's traditional Travers prep, the Aug. 4 Jim Dandy, and train up to the Aug. 24 main event.


Ward Barn Recovering from Virus
Juvenile colt Sky Mesa, an impressive debut winner here Aug. 3, will get his first work since that race at the end of the week, trainer Donna Ward said Wednesday.

Sky Mesa was one of the nine 2-year-olds in the Ward barn to come down with a virus shortly after the race, which has kept them from the track.

"He still coughs occasionally, but he's doing well," said Ward, who has yet to rule out a return in the Aug. 31 Hopeful (gr. I).

"We'll let him tell us. We don't want to throw him over the edge. My ultimate goal is to make sure he's good and healthy so we don't damage him for the rest of the season."

Ward said several 2-year-olds will work toward the end of the week, including filly Mike's Wildcat, beaten favorite in the Schuylerville (gr. II) July 24 who came out of the race with a lung infection.

Donna Ward's husband, trainer John Ward, scrapped a plan to work Mike's Wildcat last weekend, though she was out for a gallop Wednesday morning. Perfect Story, a half-sister to Point Given that was scratched from her debut because of the virus, is still recovering.

"She probably will not race up here," Donna Ward said. "Mike's Wildcat, she's still coughing occasionally so we're trying to be cautious with her, too."

Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth winner Booklet was also out for a gallop Wednesday, and is nearing his first work since the Preakness.

"That old turkey. He's feeling so good, he's just bad," Donna Ward said. "He's getting to the point where he needs to do more than just gallop. He's getting silly."

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