“He’s going to run,” LaPenta's racing manager Ernie Reichard said. “He’s in great shape. He ran a great race last time. Personally, I think with post 1, it’s an advantage to him, because he’ll just go right out and give it his all.”
Nick Zito had expressed concerns about the 1 1/4-mile distance as well as the presence of other front-runners in the Travers for Miner’s Reserve, runner-up to 7-2 morning-line favorite A Little Warm in successive races, including the Jim Dandy (gr. II) on July 31.
“Bob (LaPenta) and I were talking about it the other day,” Zito said. “We were second in the Jim Dandy, and in the race, two live horses, (Afleet Express) and Friend Or Foe, finished behind him. It’s not that he doesn’t belong, or that he’s embarrassed to be in the race. He has good credentials.”
Unraced at two, Miner’s Reserve, a son of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft , ran 10th behind Ice Box in the Florida Derby (gr. I) in only his third career start. Seventh in The Cliff's Edge Derby Trial (gr. III), he won an entry-level allowance in May at Belmont Park.
“He’s a stayer,” Reichard said. “We thought he had a lot of promise in Florida. After we broke his maiden, we put him into the Florida Derby, and he was bet more so than Ice Box that day. I guess just coming out of a maiden win was too early for him, but he showed in the Jim Dandy that he’s ready to run with these horses. There’s only one Travers. We’ll see how he fares and go from there after this race. Right now he’s doing well, feeling good, and he likes the track here, apparently.”
Miner’s Reserve was the first of Zito’s Travers triumvirate to gallop Aug. 27, followed by Ice Box and Richard C. Pell’s Fly Down. Ice Box was on the Oklahoma training track when another horse lost his rider and got loose, taking off into the barn area before being caught.
“He got a little worked up, but he’s fine,” Zito said of Ice Box. “He can brush it off, but he’s an excitable horse. He’s by Pulpit, out of a Tabasco Cat mare, so he’s hot. He can’t be cold, with that breeding. When I say that, some people look at me like I have five eyes. He’s a wonderful horse. I’d like to have 15 of him. But, the moral of the story is, he’s a hot horse.
“It just goes to show you that anything can happen. You just hope everything goes well tomorrow, that he gets a good paddock and has a good warm-up, and he stays calm. He’s not going to be that calm with 40,000 people here, but you want his energy going in the right direction.”