Birdstone Breezes for Upcoming Travers

(from Saratoga track notes)
Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone, owned by Marylou Whitney Stables, breezed six furlongs in 1:16 Sunday over the fast Oklahoma training track at Saratoga with regular exercise rider Maxine Correa up.

Birdstone is preparing for a run in the $1 million Travers (gr. I) at Saratoga Aug. 28.

Correa and Birdstone steadily picked up the pace of the move. The first quarter-mile was timed in :27 with the half in :52, meaning the son of Grindstone finished up in :24. Trainer Nick Zito said the final furlong went in under :12.

"Birdstone went great," Zito said. "We went out at six because it was spitting rain when we got here. We didn't want to take a chance, so it worked out good."

Birdstone has not run since upsetting Visa Triple Crown hopeful Smarty Jones in the June 5 Belmont (gr. I). Sunday's work was his fourth listed breeze since the Belmont.

"I think it would be a good idea if we take him over to the main track," said Zito, who plans to work Birdstone again next weekend. "He probably hasn't been over there in about a year. His last work before the Belmont Stakes was on the training track, but I did take him to the main track and to the gate at Belmont, so I might as well do something with him here."

Zito is also likely to start Robert LaPenta's The Cliff's Edge and Tracy Farmer's Sir Shackleton in the Travers.

"That would be my wish list: to have three great shots for three different owners," Zito said. "I hope they get six horses, then we'd have half the field."

Sir Shackleton won the West Virginia Derby (gr. III) in his last start while The Cliff's Edge rallied well for place in the Dwyer and Jim Dandy (both gr. II), falling victim to monster efforts from the winners.

"Cliff's last two races are unbelievable," Zito said. "Where do you get two prep races like that? Both horses ran giant races – Medallist and Purge – and he had to run second to them."

Zito said Sir Shackleton and The Cliff's Edge would have one work before the Travers.