Saratoga Notebook: Harlan's Holiday Update; Fur OK, but Frankel Unhappy; Volponi Battled; Mineshaft Breezes; Bailey Hurting

Mike Kane and Phil Janack
According to trainer Todd Pletcher, Harlan's Holiday is likely to retired after damaging a suspensory ligament during the running of the Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II).

Harlan's Holiday, the beaten favorite in the 2002 Kentucky Derby (gr.I), has earned $3.6 million during a 22-race career for Jack Wolfe's Starlight Stable. He won the Florida Derby (gr.I), the Blue Grass (gr.I), the Donn Handicap (gr. I) and the Pennsylvania Derby (gr.II).

"Basically, what it appears that he's done is he's torn his medial suspensory branch in his right hind," Pletcher said. "There is heat and inflammation. He's not lame on the leg, but he's uncomfortable (when touched). Based on the fact that it filled up quickly after the race."

Pletcher said that jockey John Velazquez felt Harlan's Holiday come off the off the bridle when he switched to his right lead down the backstretch. After the race, Pletcher said there was filling in the area.

"We're going to give it a few days and we're probably going to ultra-sound it," Pletcher said. "That will determine more what his future has in store him. But I would say at this point, just based on what we're seeing it is unlikely he would race again just because of the timing of it.

"We're in the August of his final year of racing anyway. In order for something like this to heal it would take more time than there is time left. It's unfortunate that he had to go out on a losing note because he's such a consistent horse. He always runs well, even when he doesn't win.

Nothing Wrong with Spoken Fur
Trainer Bobby Frankel said Spoken Fur was fine Sunday morning after finishing third to Island Fashion in the Alabama (gr.I) on Saturday. The Notebook filly won the Mother Goose (gr.I) and the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr.I) and would have earned a $2 million bonus if she had won the Alabama to complete the sweep of NYRA's Triple Tiara series.

"She didn't fire," Frankel said. "I thought she could have been a little closer, but I thought she maybe spit it out a little bit. She wanted to run early and then she spit it out. I don't know. She wasn't going to beat the winner anyway. The best scenario is she might have been second."

Unhappy with the weight assignment for Wild Spirit in the Personal Ensign (gr.I) on Friday, Frankel said he is considering running Sightseek instead.

Sightseek, who romped in the the Go for Wand (gr.I) by nearly 12 lengths on July 27, was weighted at 123, while Wild Spirit was moved up five pounds from her win in the Delaware Handicap (gr.II) to 122.

"She even picked up a pound without running," Frankel said. "She was in with 121 in the Go for Wand. I didn't run her. All of a sudden she's in with 122, without running.

"She's run twice in this country and she's picked up five pounds already. She carried 117 in Delaware. Where do you see a horse pick up five pounds? And the switch is seven pounds between her and Summer Colony."

Johnson Satisfied with Volponi
Though Volponi didn't come up with a victory in the Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr.II) Saturday, trainer Phil Johnson said he is satisfied with the horse's performance while finishing second under jockey Jerry Bailey for the first time.

Volponi, winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr.I) on Oct. 26, has been second in each of his five starts this season.

"He's carrying his weight. He's handling himself well. He's pulling up sound," Johnson said. "And I like a horse that tries on a track he doesn't like. And he tried like hell. Bailey is welcome to ride him back if he wants to."

Running to the outside of Blue Boat on the second turn, Volponi was forced wide, perhaps as many as six paths off the rail. But Johnson said the incident did not cost his horse the race, which Puzzlement won by 3 1/4 lengths.

"He took a helluva bump at the head of the stretch," Johnson said. "It wasn't just a bump, it was like a carry-out bump, but he didn't get hurt. You can twist an ankle or hurt yourself doing that. He did not get hurt."

Johnson said Volponi clearly didn't like the track, which he described as being cuppy, producing slow times for the two 10-furlong graded stakes. Puzzlement's winning time was 2:03. 2/5 and Island Fashion won the Alabama in 2:05.

Johnson doesn't have any plans for Volponi, but said he'd love to see the horse catch a fast track in a race with sharp fractions.

Mineshaft Breezes, Howard Eyes Woodward
Mineshaft had a useful five-furlong breeze on the main track Sunday morning as he geared up for his next start in the Woodward (gr. I) Sept. 6 at Belmont Park.

Trainer Neil Howard said he clocked Mineshaft, considered one of the country's top older horses, in 1:01.

"He went beautiful," Howard said. "He's basically held his age beautifully all along. We freshened him, but he hadn't missed any training. We just backed off breezing him for a couple weeks when we first got up here, but you really can't wait around too long. We've got another race coming up."

Howard has been able to get steady works into Mineshaft this summer, despite the inclement weather. Sunday was another example.

"The first couple weeks here when the weather was bad, what I was doing was just giving him some leg-stretching half-miles every five or six days just to kind of hold what we got so we didn't have to build up too much," he said. "We got lucky. His works came up on days when the track was good. Fortunately, the weather didn't get in our way too much."

In the way of year-end honors for Mineshaft is Whitney (gr. I) winner Medaglia d'Oro, who will run next in the Pacific Classic (gr. I) Aug. 23. Howard said he isn't looking forward to their eventual match-up in the fall.

"No, not really," he said. "Knock wood, as far as I'm concerned he's doing very, very well. He's held up well all season. You always keep your fingers crossed because that's not always the case."

Continued...,

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