B. Wayne Hughes' Don't Get Mad, winner of the Derby Trial and Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. III), tuned up for the $1-million Travers Stakes (gr. I) with a mile work Friday in 1:41 at Santa Anita.
Trainer Ron Ellis had been thinking about the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) for the son of Stephen Got Even
, but Hughes felt he'd like to take a shot at the Travers. Don't Get Mad will ship to Saratoga on Aug. 24, three days before the race.
"He went great this morning," Ellis said. "We had him out at 5:30 when things are more quiet. He went off in :39 for the first three-eighths and :51 and change for the half, then came home his final quarter in :24 flat. He picked it up every eighth, and I was really happy with the work, especially considering he's never been much of a work horse."
Don't Get Mad has gotten a reputation as being a Churchill Downs specialist. He's four-for-five over the track, with his only defeat being a fast-closing fourth in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), in which he rallied after having to go some 10 horses wide at the top of the stretch.
Although he's 0-for-4 in his other races, all in California, Ellis believes he just doesn't like the California tracks.
"I think he just prefers eastern tracks over the California tracks," Ellis said. "He was really worn out after his last start (a fifth-place finish in the Swaps Breeders' Cup-II), and I think he just bounced coming back in three weeks off that big win in the Northern Dancer. He's gotten stronger and stronger week by week and is really picking it up. We'll probably work him again next Friday."
The Travers likely will attract Roman Ruler, Flower Alley, Don't Get Mad, Andromeda's Hero, Park Avenue Ball, Reverberate, Chekhov, and A.P. Arrow.
Ellis also said that last year's champion 2-year-old, Declan's Moon, is back working, having gone a quarter-mile, with a scheduled three-furlong work on Sunday.