Liaison, Stealcase among Travers workers

Liaison, third in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy, will be Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert's lone representative in the Grade 1, $1 million Travers on August 25

Liaison, third in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy, will be Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert's lone representative in the Grade 1, $1 million Travers on August 25. The Indian Charlie colt worked five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 on Saratoga's fast main track Monday morning.

"Liaison is doing well," Baffert said.

Expected for the Travers as well are Jim Dandy winner Alpha and runner-up Neck n' Neck; Street Life and Five Sixteen, first and second in the Curlin; Haskell runner-up Nonios and third-place finisher Stealcase; and Hansen, most recently fourth in the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby, along with Cogito, Atigun, and possibly Teeth of the Dog, according to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes.

Five Sixteen breezed for the Travers Monday morning, covering five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 over the main track, while Atigun went four furlongs in 48 2/5 over the Oklahoma training track.

With his connections seriously considering the Travers, Stealcase breezed six furlongs in 1:12 2/5 on the Saratoga main track Monday with regular rider Shaun Bridgmohan aboard.

"We were looking for a big work, and he delivered that," said Norman Casse, son and assistant of trainer Mark Casse. "He went out three quarters in 1:12 and seven eighths in 1:25. You really can't work better any better than that, so it seems like we're on track for the Travers at this point."

Stealcase, who seeks his first stakes win, was third, beaten 8 1/4 lengths by Paynter, in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational on July 29 at Monmouth Park after hitting the gate at the start.

"We've had several good horses this year, including one (Prospective) who actually made the (Kentucky) Derby," Casse said. "Stealcase has always been our favorite three-year-old from the very beginning. It just seems like he's his own worst enemy, and he hasn't really put everything together. Even in the Haskell, had he broke better, he probably would have finished second. I don't think we would have beaten Paynter that day, but we were going to be a lot closer. He's always been knocking on the door; we're just waiting for him to put it all together one time."

Casse said Stealcase gets distracted but noted the John Oxley color-bearer has improved since they outfitted him with blinkers this spring.

"He actually was standing perfectly in the gate at Monmouth Park, and I was watching him down on the apron," Casse said. ?As soon as the crowd roared a little bit when all the horses got in the gate and he was on the outside, and he turned his head to look at the crowd and broke awkwardly."

Stealcase has competed once at Saratoga, a fourth in his 2011 debut.

"He's always liked this racetrack," Casse said. "He's only had one start over it, and it was his first start as a two-year-old. He broke badly and the race was compromised from the beginning. He's spent the last two summers up here and has never not worked well, so we know he likes the surface."

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