Kid Cruz Works Toward Travers Stakes
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Dwyer Stakes (gr. III) winner Kid Cruz worked five furlongs in 1:02.45 over the main track at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 11 in preparation for the Travers Stakes (gr. I) Aug. 23 at Saratoga.
 
The move ranked 16th among 23 timed works at the distance. 
 
Trainer Linda Rice said the son of Lemon Drop Kid   was caught going a half-mile in :49 4/5 and galloping out six furlongs in 1:15 2/5. 
 
"Just comfortable," Rice said of the work. 
 
Kid Cruz won the July 5 Dwyer and was third behind winner Wicked Strong and Tonalist in the Jim Dandy (gr. II) July 26. He has been on a heavy racing schedule, and Rice said there is not much more to do before the Travers. 
 
Kid Cruz had a race a month from March to July, including his unplaced finish in the May 17 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and win in the June 7 Easy Goer Stakes at Belmont Park, and then strung the Dwyer and Jim Dandy together on 19 days rest. 
 
"I was pretty aggressive with him, going from the Preakness to the Easy Goer to a month later going to the Dwyer to three weeks later in the Jim Dandy," Rice said. "I don't think I'm going to give him a strong breeze schedule. I've run him enough. So, my choice before was to either not run in the Jim Dandy and train seven weeks into the Travers, and I chose to run. I think he's coming in quite well." 
 
In his career, Kid Cruz has gained the reputation of a one-run closer; it started in his fourth race, the 1 1/8-mile Private Terms March 18 at Laurel Park, when he dropped back 18 lengths after six furlongs in 1:14.92 and gobbled up ground to win by four lengths. 
 
In his past two starts, however, things have been changing with Kid Cruz. He ran just three lengths off the pace of Captain Serious in the Dwyer and then actually broke on top in the Jim Dandy before being surrounded by horses and backing off, only to rally well in the stretch. 
 
Asked if breaking on top, dropping back and rallying was a designed strategy to prep for the Travers, Rice said: "Actually, I think that when [jockey] Irad [Ortiz Jr.] and I discussed the race, there wasn't a strong speed in the race, and we felt that (early pacesetter) Legend might jump away from there and go to the lead. I think that Irad felt he didn't want to let Legend get loose. So he jumped him away and was a little aggressive early with him to get him under way and was hoping to lap onto Legend and run him down in the stretch. I think that's what the goal was.
 
"He was being asked to be there, but he didn't want to be there," she said of Kid Cruz racing up with the leaders. "He just got sandwiched and pinched out of there. The next thing you know, he's off the bridle and scrambling. It looked ugly after that for a while, but he gathered himself back up and made a nice run at the end of it. In Irad's defense, he was taking the same approach that worked nicely in the Dwyer. It just turned out very ugly in the Jim Dandy."
 
Rice said her goal in the 1 1/4-mile Travers is to let the speed horses do their thing, and she believes it will be easier than in the Jim Dandy, now that gate-to-wire Haskell Invitational (gr. I) winner Bayern is expected to run and Wicked Strong will remain in blinkers for the race. 
 
"I'd rather have him relax and lay back and let them do all the work and capitalize on a fast pace," she said. "If that doesn't happen, he's shown he can be used differently. In the Dwyer, we had to use him very early in the race, and he still showed up with a finishing kick, and that's to his credit." 
 
Grade 1 winner Mr Speaker and Belmont Stakes (gr. I) victor Tonalist also are on the list of 15 horses nominated for the 145th running of $1.25 million Travers.
 
Tonalist captured the grade II Peter Pan and prior to the Belmont before running second in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga to TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner Wicked Strong.
 
Bayern is coming into the Travers off victories in the Haskell Invitational and grade II Woody Stephens, while Mr Speaker won the grade I Belmont Derby Invitational on grass at the Travers' distance in his most recent start.
 
Also nominated are Wildcat Red, winner of the Fountain of Youth (gr. II) and Hutcheson (gr. III) and placed in both the Florida Derby (gr. I) and Haskell; and Canadian classic winner Coltimus Prime, who took the second leg of his country's Triple Crown, the Prince of Wales Stakes July 29 at Fort Erie.
 
Rounding out the nominees are Jerome (gr. II) winner Noble Moon; Long Branch winner Irish You Well; V.E. Day, Charge Now and Viva Majorca, first, second and fourth, respectively, in the Curlin at Saratoga July 25; Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands runner-up Commanding Curve; Ulbanbator, second in the Matt Winn (gr. III); and maiden winner C J's Awesome.

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