Michael Lauffer and Bill Cubbedge’s Shackleford turned in an important work for the Travers (gr. I) Aug. 13, breezing six furlongs on the Saratoga main track in 1:14.
“He worked good,” exercise rider Tammy Fox said. “He galloped out good. He felt good underneath me. I just want to make sure when he jogs off he feels good. He feels the same, soundness wise (as he did during the Triple Crown campaign). His attitude is the same. He’s out there playing.”
In his only start at the Travers distance of 1 1/4 miles, Shackleford finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) after making the pace. He then bounced back and won the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) May 14. In his most recent start, he finished second to likely Travers starter Coil in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I).
“This was an important work,” said trainer Dale Romans, who personally clocked Shackleford galloping out a mile in 1:44. “This was more about endurance. I think he got a lot out of it.”
Romans said Shackleford’s final work before the Aug. 27 Travers will likely be a five-furlong breeze Aug. 20, possibly with a horse in front of him as a target to run at.
“He’s sharp,” Romans said. “He’s trained very well over this track. He hasn’t missed a beat all year. He hasn’t missed a work. Nothing has been postponed, which is very rare for a horse that has been through this rigorous a campaign. He didn’t come back here drinking a lot of water. All he wants to do is roll around and eat grass.”
Also at Saratoga, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin sent out Travers candidate Rattlesnake Bridge, who went five furlongs in 1:02 4/5 after the break with some unexpected company at the end.
“It worked out great, he galloped out strong,” McLaughlin said of Rattlesnake Bridge, who is owned by Mill House. “(The other horse with him) actually was good for us because he dug back in, and I didn’t have good company for him today to go in 1:01. One more work and we’re all set.”
Rattlesnake Bridge will enter the Travers off his nose victory in the Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 9. The gray son of Tapit, 2-2-0 from five starts, will be shooting for his first graded stakes win in the Travers, having finished fourth in the Jerome (gr. II) in his only other graded stakes start.
“I look at numbers, and he fits in very well with this group,” said McLaughlin. “There’s a lot of them on the sidelines. It’s a tough group, and not an easy race, but we fit well. He’s had great progress. It’s a question of whether he’ll get the 1 1/4 miles, but we hope he wants to.”
McLaughlin said Rattlesnake Bridge will work once more, most likely next Saturday, for the Travers.
Belmont Stakes (gr. I) victor Ruler On Ice also breezed five furlongs Saturday at Monmouth Park and was timed in a bullet :58 4/5 under jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. The move was his first since a third-place effort in the Haskell.
“Tremendous,” trainer Kelly Breen said of Ruler On Ice’s work. “He started out five lengths behind a couple of his stablemates and he finished four in front. He worked as good as a horse could work. It was visually very impressive.”
Breen said Ruler On Ice could have his final work at Saratoga next weekend.