Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) runner-up Tonalist and third-place finisher Kid Cruz both came out of the July 26 race in satisfactory condition, and their respective trainers confirmed they will point to the Travers Stakes (gr. I).
Tonalist "came back in good order; a touch stiff, but not bad," trainer Christophe Clement said the morning after the race July 27. Meanwhile, trainer Linda Rice also reported that Kid Cruz exited his third-place finish in the Jim Dandy well. Both trainers will now turn their attention to the $1.25 million Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 23.
Tonalist, the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner owned by Robert S. Evans, was beaten 2 1/4 lengths in the Jim Dandy by Wicked Strong
after traveling three wide on the first turn and four wide into the lane. The Tapit
colt was also brushed slightly by the winner at the top of the stretch.
"He was second best yesterday with the trip that he had," Clement had. "Wicked Strong ran a really nice race, and we live to fight another day. We will do everything we can to be back in the Travers.
"The main thing is to focus on the future. We've got four weeks. We've got two breezes, and we will do everything we can to have him at his best on Travers Day. He will walk today, walk tomorrow; then he will go back to the track Tuesday morning."
Kid Cruz's sire, Lemon Drop Kid
, won the 1999 Travers after finishing second in the Jim Dandy. Under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Kid Cruz finished third coming off a victory in the July 5 Dwyer Stakes (gr. III) for Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds and Black Swan Stable.
"He came out of it good," Rice said. "It was kind of an odd trip for him. I was pretty worried on the backside; it looked like he was going the wrong way, but he regrouped and Irad got him running the right way. He made up a lot of ground and came out of the race well, so I think we can move on to the Travers and hopefully have a better trip and a better finish."
The normally late-running Kid Cruz broke on top from post 5 and uncharacteristically was up close to the pace early before dropping back. Ortiz steered Kid Cruz five wide into the stretch and set his sights on the two leaders, finishing 2 1/2 lengths ahead of Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) runner-up Commanding Curve
"I would have rather he laid off of it and made one big run. It was kind of an ugly race," Rice said. "He kind of got sandwiched on the turn and Irad was having to ask him to be there, anyway; then he went the wrong way on us. It was kind of an ugly trip, but the horse gathered himself back up and was running at the end.
"It says a lot (about him). He's a nice horse. Frankly, if that happens to most horses they're going to trail the field and run last. I think this allows us to move into the Travers. I think that's what we were really looking for. I was hoping for a closing second, beaten a length and a half, but it is what it is. If we're going to have a trip that doesn't work out, I'm glad it was in the Jim Dandy and not the Travers."
Ten of the past 16 Travers winners have come out of the Jim Dandy. Rice would become the fifth female trainer since 1978 to start a horse in the Travers, following Dianne Carpenter, sixth with Kingspost in 1988; Kathy Henry, seventh with Ridan Clarion in 1984; Kathy O'Connell, fourth with Blazing Sword in 1997; and Helen Pitts, seventh with For You Reppo in 2007.
Kid Cruz won the Dwyer after taking the Easy Goer, both at Belmont Park
, and also captured the Federico Tesio and Private Terms in Maryland before a disappointing eighth in the May 17 Preakness (gr. I). Rice had also considered the Aug. 2 West Virginia Derby (gr. II) but opted to stay at home.
"I thought there was a lot of risk in running him back in three weeks. He's supposed to 'bounce' and not move forward," she said. "But to train straight into the Travers, that wasn't very appealing to me, either. I don't think you can train the seven weeks and expect to win. The other option was in West Virginia, and then we're too close to the Travers."