Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Summer Bird, Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Mine That Bird, and Peter Pan winner (gr. II) winner Charitable Man are all targeting the Shadwell Travers (gr. I) later this summer at Saratoga, but will take different paths to the “Mid-Summer Derby.”
Earlier this week, it was announced that Summer Bird will prep for the Travers in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Park on Aug. 2, while trainer Chip Woolley said June 12 at Churchill Downs that Mine That Bird would go in the $750,000 West Virginia Derby (gr. II) at Mountaineer Park on Aug. 1. Charitable Man trainer Kiaran McLaughlin announced that Charitable Man, fourth in the Belmont, would be pointed toward the Jim Dandy (gr. II) on Aug. 1 at Saratoga.
“The West Virginia Derby fits our schedule the best and that’s the main thing,” Woolley said of Mine That Bird. “From there we will go to the Travers with the ultimate goal being the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“The Breeders’ Cup is 10 weeks after the Travers. He does not need an out on the Pro-Ride. He has been on the artificial and he won four in a row over the synthetic last year at Woodbine. I’d like to fly him in there two or three weeks before and have two breezes over the track, but we can sneak a race in there if we need it.”
No Travers winner has ever used the West Virginia Derby as a prep. Since 1968, 12 Travers winners have prepped in the Haskell Invitational, with seven horses having won both, most recently Point Given in 2001. Fouteen Travers winners have prepped in the Jim Dandy.
There have been 28 Belmont winners who came back to win the Travers, most recently Summer Bird and Mine That Bird’s sire, Birdstone, in 2004. Ten horses have won the Derby and the Travers, most recently Street Sense in 2007.
In other news, McLaughlin said West Point Thoroughbreds’ Mr. Fantasy, scratched from the Shadwell Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) on Memorial Day with a fever, will be given some time off with an eye toward getting back into training later in the summer.
“He’s not moving right,” said McLaughlin of the New York-bred son of E Dubai, winner of three of four starts including the grade III Withers in April. “He’s going to get some time off, so he won’t be running in the Mike Lee (June 21 at Belmont Park).”
After scratching Mr. Fantasy out of the Met Mile the morning of the race, McLaughlin had hoped to run him in the Woody Stephens (gr. II) on Belmont Stakes day, but his return was again postponed, with the next target the $100,000 Mike Lee at seven furlongs against fellow New York-bred 3-year-olds.