Hoping to become the first woman to saddle a winner of the Travers Stakes (gr. I), trainer Linda Rice sentKid Cruz to the main track at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 18 for his final breeze toward the historic race Aug. 23 and she liked what she saw.
The Dwyer Stakes (gr. III) winner hit the track at approximately at 7:15 a.m. EDT and drilled a half-mile in :49.18 while working in company with A Marked Man. The time ranked 27th of 68 timed moves at the distance.
Kid Cruz, a four-time stakes winner who was third behind Travers hopefuls Wicked Strong and Belmont Stakes (gr. I) victor Tonalist in the Jim Dandy (gr. II) July 26 at Saratoga, began the work on the inside a neck in front of A Marked Man. He entered the stretch on even terms with his stablemate before finishing approximately a half-length in front. A Marked Man, a maiden, needed urging to keep up with Kid Cruz during the gallop out.
"He went perfect. I was very happy," said Rice, who trains Kid Cruz for Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds and Black Swan Stable. "I told my (exercise rider) I was looking for :49 (for a half-mile) and (a five-eighths gallop-out in) 1:02, and he hit it right on the money. I was happy with it."
Rice said the son of Lemon Drop Kid usually needs a workmate to exert himself when he trains.
"I've always breezed him in company," said Rice. "It just puts him on the bridle a little better. He's a little lazy. I certainly didn't want to change that today coming into the race."
Kid Cruz, claimed for $50,000 out of a maiden win last November at Aqueduct Racetrack, will be the first Travers starter for Rice, who won the 2009 Saratoga training title. The 145th edition of the race offers a $1.25 million purse.
"For me, I've been training here at Saratoga for 20 years and have had a lot of great (memories)," said Rice. "My first grade I win was at Saratoga with Things Change as a 2-year-old. I've always aspired to compete in and win the Travers. Going into it, I'm real excited about that. Anytime you have a 3-year-old that wins four stakes races as a 3-year-old, you're happy about it no matter where you got them."
Kid Cruz has a 4-1-1 record from seven starts this season, including victories in the Easy Goer Stakes at Belmont Park,Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico Race Course (prior to an eighth-place finish in the grade I Preakness Stakes), and Private Terms Stakes at Laurel Park.