Wally Dollase is trying to become the first trainer in more than a half-century to win the Travers (gr. I) with both father and son.
Dollase, who will send out Ten Most Wanted on Saturday, also trained Deputy Commander, who defeated Behrens by a nose at the wire in the 1997 Travers.
Winbert F. Mulholland, who holds the record with five Travers victories, won in 1939 with Eight Thirty, who sired 1950 winner Lights Out.
"I wouldn't be here if I didn't feel he had a chance. I felt the same way about his daddy, and we got lucky that day," said Dollase, who arrived in Saratoga late Tuesday night. "I've got a lot of confidence in this horse. I really do."
Both Deputy Commander and Ten Most Wanted won two previous races coming into the Travers, each finished second in the Swaps and both had an equipment change for the Midsummer Derby. Deputy Commander raced with blinkers off, while Ten Most Wanted will run with blinkers on.
"The thinking is that maybe it will keep him concentrating a little bit more on his business rather than goofing off," Dollase said. "I believe he's bred well enough to get the mile and a quarter and he's got some talent, so we'll give him a chance."Wild and Wicked Breezes Strongly
Trainer Kenny McPeek turned to Lorna Vanderford to work Ohio Derby (gr.II) winner Wild and Wicked three furlongs in :35 2/5 on the main track Wednesday morning, his final tuneup for the Travers.
"It was a nice, solid breeze," McPeek said. "We wanted to get him sharp."
McPeek said he often hires Vanderford to ride his top horses in the morning.
"Lorna worked Repent going into the Travers last year for us," McPeek said. "She's worked Take Charge Lady regularly. We trust her judgement and opinion and we thought it would be good to get an outside opinion. She said he felt awesome.
"We've won a lot of big races with Lorna working. She worked Harlan's Holiday regularly for us. She worked Sarava for us. She's part of the team."Funny Cide Gang May Bring the Bus
If Funny Cide does run in Travers (gr.I) on Saturday, the Sackatoga Stables gang is considering using a yellow school bus for the trip to the track.
To save money at the Kentucky Derby (gr.I), the Sackatoga partners and their friends and family chartered a school bus to ride from their hotel to Churchill Downs. They have been using school buses ever since.
"The bus has been on hold, but I'm sure Dave Mahan will scare one up if the decision is made to go," managing partner Jack Knowlton said Wednesday. "It probably will be the last time. We talked about that. But it's been a real great ride and coming home to Saratoga, one more bus trip would be fun."
For Knowlton, it could be a short ride: the Saratoga Springs resident lives about a mile from the front gate at Saratoga Race Course.
Since the Sackatoga Stable is based in Saratoga Springs, Knowlton and his partners have been looking forward all season to running Funny Cide in the Travers on their home track.
"It would be tremendous, obviously, for this horse to win," Knowlton said. "He won two legs of the Triple Crown. To come back and win the Travers, another Grade I race, in our backyard, would be fabulous.
"You look ahead at 3-year-old of the year, a win here would certainly put him in a good spot.Assistant trainer Robin Smullen said Wednesday she now realizes that Funny Cide gave them a clue prior to the Haskell Invitational (gr.I) that he might not be completely healthy. After running third in the Haskell on Aug. 3, Funny Cide
spiked a fever.
"He coughed before the Haskell, but he didn't cough training," Smullen said. "He never coughed training. So we just thought that out grazing maybe it was the white clover. Sometimes you have allergies to certain things and we thought
possibly that was causing it because he never coughed training.Hindsight is 20-20."Awesome Humor Quickly Returns to Track
Awesome Humor returned to the track Wednesday morning for the first time since her runner-up finish to Island Fashion in the Alabama (gr. I) Aug. 16.
Ryan Van Tilburg, assistant to trainer Elliott Walden, said the filly had an easy gallop on the main track. Walden remains back in Kentucky with his wife, Rebecca, awaiting the birth of their fourth child.
"She ran a great race. We were very pleased with her," Tilburg said. "The only bad part was, she didn't win. She ran very,very well."
It was the second straight time Awesome Humor ran behind Island Fashion, following the Delaware Oaks (gr. III) July 19. In that race, Awesome Humor, the even-money favorite, was compromised by a poor start.
"We kind of thought the race for Island Fashion at Delaware might have been a different story because of the situation at the start," Van Tilburg said. "But, she's obviously no fluke now. She's a very nice filly."
Awesome Humor's next start is up in the air, though she is being considered for both the Sept. 6 Gazelle (gr. I) at Belmont Park, the last race of the year for 3-year-old fillies, or the Oct. 5 Spinster (gr. I) at Keeneland against older horses.Both Island Fashion and Test (gr. I) winner Lady Tak are also possible for the Gazelle.
"We'll have to see who shows up and how she trains the next
couple of weeks," Van Tilburg said.Samyn Shaken in Nasty Fall
Jockey Jean-Luc Samyn was shaken up by a scary spill at the head of the stretch in Wednesday's seventh race, but apparently not seriously injured.
Samyn was racing near the back of a tightly bunched nine-horse field just 3 1/2 lengths from the lead when his mount, Vinthea, appeared to take a bad step turning for home.
For a moment, Samyn clung to the 4-year-old filly's neck before falling. He appeared to be stepped on by his horse as she continued running.
Momentarily stunned, Samyn sat up for a few minutes and was conscious and alert as he was loaded by stretcher to a waiting ambulance. It was his final mount of the day.
Robin Carroll, Samyn's agent and wife of trainer Del Carroll, said the jockey was taken to the track first-aid station with a bruised nose and other minor contusions.