<b>Saratoga Notebook: </b>Ward Compares Sky Mesa to Fusaichi Pegasus; Biding His Time With Booklet; Take Charge Lady Breezes for Gazelle; Frankel Brings Out His Top Guns
Updated: Tuesday, September 3, 2002 1:30 PM
Posted: Sunday, September 1, 2002 11:19 PM
More reserved than than usual after the race, trainer John Ward compared Hopeful (gr. I) winner Sky Mesa to a couple of other nice horses he's been around: champion Beautiful Pleasure and Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Fusaichi Pegasus.
Ward purchased Beautiful Pleasure for John Oxley and with his wife, Donna, the trainer developed her into a star. A few years ago, Ward acted as an advisor and agent for Fusao Sekiguchi, who paid $4 million for Fusaichi Pegasus.
"This horse is the same scope as Fusiachi Pegasus was, or better, at this point," Ward said. "The body style, the scope, development, better mental attitude, strength. All the attributes that you look for."
Sky Mesa took a major step toward the top of the 2-year-old division with his impressive win in the seven-furlong Hopeful.
Ward said that Oxley's Pulpit colt will make his next start on Oct. 5 in the Lane's End Breeders Futurity (gr.II) at Keeneland. After that, he expects to run him in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Arlington Park on Oct. 26.
Sky Mesa got sick and spiked a temperature of 105 a few days after his maiden victory on Aug. 3. He was given some time to recover from the lung infection and had two easy works before the Hopeful.
As a result, Ward was quite cautious when he talked about the colt prior to the Hopeful.
"He's always had tremendous amounts of talent," Ward said. "You just don't want to put your foot in your mouth. An example I used this morning is Buffythecenterfold. She got sick after her (last) race and she didn't come back and run a stellar race. She's probably still got some after-effects.
"You never know on these things and you've really got to be conservative about what you do. That's why two soft works were better than a hard work going into this race."
Unsure of what to expect, Ward talked about the Hopeful as more of a step on the road to the Breeders' Cup than a goal.
"The unkowns are always the things that get you in racing," he said. "The unknown here was whether his lungs were totally recovered from the viral insult."
Ward watched a replay of the race Sunday morning and liked what he saw of Sky Mesa and jockey Edgar Prado.
"He broke sharp. He broke like a shot out of there," Ward said. "When Edgar reached up and grabbed, he didn't really have to fight him. He reached up and said `whoa,' and he settled back.
"The good thing about that was that while everybody else was going in :22 and change, driving for pace, and Zavata was trying to move up and get a position, we were taking back off the pace, which made us - I don't want to say loaf that first quarter - but we weren't into anywhere near an anerobic respiration.
"That's what you worry about. You worry about how much energy these horses expend getting to their position in a race. While the rest of them were expending energy, we were kind of coasting along trying not to use up too much. So they put us in a position just to wait."
When asked, Sky Mesa put in strong run through the stretch to overtake Pretty Wild and win by 1 3/4 lengths, leaving 1-5 favorite Zavata in his wake.
"The impressive thing I saw was the head-ons. He ran very, very true. When you watch 2-year-olds finish, they're like this and this," Ward said, moving his hands from side to side in a weaving motion. "He had dead aim."No Timetable for Booklet
Ward said he doesn't have a schedule developed for multiple stakes winner Booklet, who had his first breeze last week.
Ward gave the Notebook colt an extended vacation after the Preakness (gr. I). Booklet galloped during his stay in Saratoga and had a slow four-furlong breeze over the Oklahoma training track.
As for the next start, Ward said it probably would not be until late in October at Keeneland, at the earliest.
"He'll tell me," Ward said. "We'll just keep on working him. He'll tell us when he's ready to run. That's what you do with those horses that run like that. You don't really plan anything for them. You just put them in a normal work schedule and pretty soon you've got to run them to keep them in the stall."
At some point, Ward said Booklet will get a chance on the turf.
"He's going to have to disappoint us on the dirt before we move him to the grass, but I'm not so sure we won't wind upon the grass," Ward said. "I think he'll stay around sounder and longer running on the grass."
"Repent and those horses are big, strong horses. I don't know whether he'll be able to face off with them. He's learning to relax. He's got a lot of quality, but he hasn't grown as much and the other athletes have advanced in size and strength. So we might have to find a niche role, which could be on the grass. Take Charge Lady Breezes for Gazelle
Take Charge Lady breezed five furlongs over the main track in 1:02 Sunday morning in preparation for the Gazelle (gr.I) on Sept. 7.
Trainer Kenny McPeek had Take Charge Lady going a fifth of a second faster than the clockers.
"She just went easy," McPeek said. "We took her five-eighths. She went :38 the first three-eighths and finished in :23 4/5."Frankel Rolls Out His Stars
Also working Sunday were some of trainer Bobby Frankel's stars.
Lido Palace, who is the only confirmed starter for the Woodward (gr.I) on Sept.7, breezed four furlongs in :50.62 over the Oklahoma training track.
Labamta Babe went the same distance in :51.43. You completed her half-mile in :52.91.
El Gran Papa went five furlongs in 1:03.81 and Harrisand's time for five furlongs was 1:02.86.
On the main track, Chiselling covered four furlongs in :53.02.
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