Saratoga Notebook: Ten Most Wanted 'a Hearty Bugger;' Losing Trainers Dissect Travers

By Mike Kane and Phil Janack
Travers winner Ten Most Wanted didn't look like he had run a mile and a quarter in 2:02 as he posed for pictures Sunday morning on the backstretch at Saratoga Race Course. His dappled coat was glowing in the bright sunshine.

"He came out of it better than we did," said trainer Wally Dollase. "He ate up everything. Ever since I've had him, he's never not eaten up. Isn't that remarkable? He's never been sick. That says why probably he's as good as he is. He's a hearty bugger.

"After a big race, I would say 90 percent of the horses don't eat up that night. This guy is a good doer, that's for sure."

Dollase said he hasn't decided when or where Ten Most Wanted will run next. The son of 1997 Travers winner Deputy Commander is nominated to the 1 1/8-mile Super Derby (gr.II) on Sept. 20 for 3-year-olds Dollase said he is also considering the 1/4-mile) Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr.II) Sept. 28 in Chicago against older horses. After that, Ten Most Wanted will likely land in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr.I).

Ten Most Wanted took a big step foward in the 3-year-old division with his 4 1/2-length victory in the Travers, securing the the first grade I victory of his career.

"The thing that separates him is his beautiful stride," Dollase said. "He's got so much scope. I'm so pleased he won by numerous lengths. He hadn't done that before, except when therewas no crowd.

"With his stride, it's effortless for him to gallop or work because it's so easy for him. He's so strong. He's a very strong horse. I think that helps. You can't do everything. You can't be really fast and still go a mile and a quarter like he can."

Pletcher Evaluates Strong Hope's Future
His five-race win streak snapped in the Travers, Strong Hope's schedule is in the process of being reevaluated by trainer Todd Pletcher.

Winner of the Dwyer (gr. II) and Jim Dandy (gr. II), Strong Hope faded following a speed duel with Peace Rules but managed to hold third in the Travers, beaten more than 14 lengths by Ten Most Wanted.

"He seems fine. He came back in good shape," Pletcher said Sunday. "We were locked on the inside, and when you have two competitive horses like that who are confirmed front-runners, the obvious was going to happen. I was pleased he was able to save on for third."

Pletcher said he would talk with owner Eugene Melnyk before mapping out Strong Hope's immediate future, which could include a step back into sprints like the 6 1/2-furlong Vosburgh (gr. I) at Belmont Sept. 27.

"We've got a couple of options," he said. "One would be to back him up to a race like the Vosburgh and see how he fits in the sprint division. The other option would be to give him a break and point for the Met Mile next year.

"If we backed up to to the Vosburgh and he ran real well, then you'd have to consider the (Breeders' Cup) Sprint or the Cigar Mile. He's a 3-year-old and he's run seven times this year, and he's certainly going to be in training next year. We'll give it some thought."

Congrats Missing for McGaughey
Trainer Shug McGaughey said Sunday that he was surprised that Congrats was unable to take advantage of the fast early fractions while finishing a non-threatening fifth in the Travers.

"I didn't think he raced much," McGaughey said. "I was disappointed in the way he ran, the way he finished. He got roughed up going around the first turn a little bit, but he recovered from that and he was pretty limber-legged at the end.

"The race set up the way I thought it would. I thought when they turned down the backside that if he was good enough he might have a good chance."

Congrats was unable to muster the kind of closing kick that carried him to a third-place finish in the Jim Dandy on Aug 3.

McGaughey said he doesn't have any plans for the lightly raced colt.

"So I think we'll just go back to the drawing board, give him a little time," McGaughey said. "I probably ran him back a little quick off the big effort in the Jim Dandy. We'll have to start over with him."

McPeek Second-Guessing 'Wild' Plan
Reviewing Wild and Wicked's fourth in the Travers, trainer Kenny McPeek was second-guessing himself Sunday morning.

McPeek had planned to send Wild and Wicked to the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. III) after the colt ran fourth in the Haskell Invitational. When he learned that Peace Rules was going to the Pennsylvania Derby, he decided to stay in Saratoga for the Travers.

Wild and Wicked ended up competing against Peace Rules anyway in the Travers when Empire Maker was scratched.

"The Pennsylvania Derby is looking awful good right now," McPeek said.

The plan to rate Wild and Wicked didn't work properly. He never moved into contention.

"I was surprised he was so far back," McPeek said. "But we had to change things up a little bit to try to make something happen, try to change some tactics. We added a tongue-tie. We added Lasix. We added taking him off the pace.

"Do the same thing and get the same result, so we tried some things different and we got the same result. Fourth and fourth.

"The owners were pleased, for the most part. He was closing. We wished he had gotten up for third."

McPeek said he is considering sending the Ohio Derby (gr.II) winner to the Indiana Derby (gr.III) at Hoosier Park on Oct. 4 where he will face 3-year-olds.

"I always like to keep them in the straight threes as long as I can," McPeek said. "Especially, a horse like him who has struggled against the upper division. He shows he somewhat fits up there. He's maybe a notch below them.

"We're probably looking for a Grade III. I've got to get his confidence back and my confidence back."

Ward Fooled by Sky Mesa
Trainer John Ward said he couldn't explain why Sky Mesa ended up last in the Travers field, beaten nearly 20 lengths.

The Pulpit colt broke slowly under jockey Edgar Prado, rushed up into a stalking position alongside eventual winner Ten Most Wanted, but couldn't keep up at the half-mile pole.

"Better minds than mine have been fooled by stuff like this," Ward said. "I don't know whether he just got out of synch with the bad break or what it was, but we're probably going to take a week or more to figure it out."

"He'll just have to come back and gallop and we'll see what we've got. When they go back to Lexington we'll regroup see what it is.

Ward noted that Ten Most Wanted was the only horse in the field who had not competed on Aug. 3. Ten Most Wanted's previous race was the Swaps on July 13.

"My observations on the race were that the fresh horse made good timing and ran very, very well," Ward said.

"Peace Rules hung in there very impressively, and the rest of us were victims of prepping 20 days out. Peace Rules prepped 20 days out, but it didn't affect him as much as it did everybody else. A couple of them didn't make the show that prepped 20 days out.

"I think prepping 20 days out needs to be corrected to have a quality race. Let's forget made-for-TV because what has happened with a lot of the Breeders' Cup poor performances and stuff like that is we're forcing our preps to schedule in bunches in groups, so we have a big television day.

"That might be great for the industry, but not all horses can come up to their races in the same pattern."

Ward said he wouldn't start thinking about another race for Sky Mesa until he gets a chance to see the horse train.