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Tonalist Breezes as Travers Showdown Looms

Jim Dandy runner-up works five furlongs in company over Oklahoma training track.

Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Tonalist  turned in his first breeze Aug. 9 since finishing second in the July 26 Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II), covering five furlongs in 1:03.36 over the Oklahoma training track with exercise rider Alvaro Hernandez aboard.

Robert S. Evans' 3-year-old son of Tapit  is being pointed to the $1.25 million Travers Stakes (gr. I) Aug. 23 by trainer Christophe Clement.

Going in company with Life in Shambles Saturday morning, Tonalist began his breeze at the half-mile pole three lengths in front of his workmate, who pulled within a length on the far turn. Life in Shambles joined Tonalist to the outside in the stretch and was on even terms at the finish line before Tonalist took the lead again.

Tonalist completed the workout at the seven-eighths pole one length in front and pulled well clear of his workmate during the gallop out. NYRA clockers caught Tonalist galloping out six furlongs in 1:16 3/5.

Tonalist won the 1 1/2-mile Belmont by a head June 7 and then lost to Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner Wicked Strong  in the 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy by 2 1/4 lengths. Both are targeting the 10-furlong Travers.

"He's hardly blowing, so, obviously, (the Jim Dandy) did him a lot of good," said Christophe Lorieul, assistant to Clement. "He was moving well, no problem. I liked the gallop out. He went away from the other horse. Nothing fancy today. We'll try to bring him back next week. The plan is to work him next Saturday."

Tonalist has won three of six starts with two seconds and earnings of $1,077,000.


Elsewhere, Travers-bound Commanding Curve, fourth in the Jim Dandy, worked Saturday over the main track at Saratoga. The Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum Brands (gr. I) runner-up breezed a half mile in :49.44 in company with Knights Nation. The West Point Thoroughbreds runner galloped out in 1:02 and change with jockey Shaun Bridgmohan up for the breeze.

Trainer Dallas Stewart was pleased with the work by the son of Master Command.

"He is more of a maintenance horse," said Stewart. "You like to see him get around there good and come back safe and sound. We changed his gallop a bit, to put a little more effort into his gallops. We'll continue on throughout the week and pick up the pace. I don't think we are going to get a lot of improvement if we stay on the same pattern."

Stewart is hopeful that the conditions on Travers Day will emulate those his talented colt encountered in the Kentucky Derby when he closed from the back of the pack to finish 1 3/4 lengths behind California Chrome .

"Ideally, we want more of a dry track," said Stewart. "We want sunshine if we can get it. The Travers is a mile and quarter so hopefully it will be the same style as the Derby, he'll be laying back, and that he makes that big run."

Commanding Curve finished ninth in the Belmont Stakes prior to the Jim Dandy.

"Hopefully, he'll have more energy through the stretch (than in the Jim Dandy) and it looks like there is going to be some speed added," said Stewart. "That's real good for us. We need that. Hopefully it will set up good for him."

Stewart plans to work Commanding Curve next week in what will likely be his final breeze before the Travers.

Commanding Curve has a win, two seconds, and two thirds from nine lifetime starts, earning $572,434.