Charles Fipke homebred Tale of Verve, runner-up to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the May 16 Xpressbet.com Preakness Stakes (gr. I), arrived at Saratoga Race Course this week to train for a possible start in the Aug. 29 Travers Stakes (gr. I).
Trainer Dallas Stewart said the morning of Aug. 14 that the 3-year-old son of grade I winner Tale of Ekati joined his Saratoga string Aug. 12, after heading back to Kentucky following a sixth-place finish in the Aug. 1 West Virginia Derby (gr. II).
"I went back to Churchill with him because I didn't know if I wanted to do the Travers or not, but I want to run him a mile and a quarter, definitely," Stewart said. "He came out of the last race good. Just thinking back all year long, he's a horse that gets better with racing. I think he'll do better with the race and a couple of good works up here, and then we'll see where we're at. I'll probably work him a couple of (half-miles) and then send him over there fresh and strong."
Stewart plans to work Tale of Verve Aug. 16 or Aug. 17. The West Virginia Derby was the colt's first start since coming off the Triple Crown trail, where he also ran seventh in the Belmont Stakes presented by DraftKings (gr. I). His lone win in nine starts, seven of them this year, was a 1 3/16-mile maiden victory at Keeneland prior to the Preakness.
"I thought he ran pretty good coming off the Belmont. He's the kind of horse that you have to run into shape, and it appears that he's training better than he was before the West Virginia Derby," Stewart said. "I didn't think it was a bad race. I thought it was an OK race. He got beat about five lengths. His energy seems good and he's very sound. We know he's capable of running a big race. If you're not in there, you can't participate. We're going to train him up to (the Travers) and see how he does. We're looking like we're going to run."
Meanwhile, Fipke's 4-year-old filly Unbridled Forever continues to do well following her comeback victory over gade II winner Stonetastic in the Aug. 5 Shine Again Stakes. Third in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and second in Saratoga's Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) last year, she hadn't raced since running fifth in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) last fall.
Stewart is considering a pair of grade I races on Aug. 29 for Unbridled Forever's next start, either the $750,000 Personal Ensign at 1 1/8 miles or the $500,000 Ballerina at seven furlongs.
"She's a class horse. She ran second up here and third in the Oaks. She came back with that big race off a long layoff and is training really well," Stewart said. "We're looking probably more so at the Ballerina than the Personal Ensign. I just don't know if she's ready for a mile and an eighth off one race. That's the question I have."
Stewart has no plans for 2014 Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve, who came out of a seventh-place effort in the Aug. 1 West Virginia Governor's Stakes with a lung infection. He ran twice at Saratoga last summer, finishing fourth in the Jim Dandy (gr. II) and ninth in the Travers.
"He's going to breeze maybe tomorrow at Churchill. We're trying to figure out what we're going to do with him," Stewart said. "He just had an infection. I thought he would win, too. It was a tough day, but that's racing."