Michael Tabor's Zavata breezed five furlongs over Saratoga's Oklahoma training track Monday morning in about 1:03, according to trainer Patrick Biancone. The Phone Trick colt will be one of the favorites in Saturday's grade I, $500,000 Champagne 1 1/16 miles.
"It was just an easy work and I was very happy with it," Biancone said. "We're not trying to break track records in the morning. He looks bright and happy and he's learned to relax more."
Zavata has two stakes wins to his credit, the Tremont and Saratoga Special. Sent off the 1-5 favorite in the grade I Hopeful, the colt was in a tough spot from that start after getting squeezed, then had to steady and was rank behind horses down the backstretch. He was only beaten slightly more than three lengths in third despite his misfortunes.
"You never wish to be squeezed back at the start and you just hope that won't happen again," Biancone said. "Jerry Bailey is too smart to have that happen twice in a row."
Storm Flag Flying, the likely favorite for Saturday's grade I, $500,000 Frizette at a mile and a sixteenth for two-year-old fillies, breezed four furlongs over Belmont's main track in :48 4/5."It was a good work," trainer Shug McGaughey said. "I just want to keep her where she is."
The daughter of Storm Cat out of Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner My Flag was a blowout winner of the grade I Matron September 15, winning by more than a dozen lengths and covering the mile in 1:38 2/5. The Matron was only the filly's second start."I'm not thinking about the Breeders' Cup," McGaughey said. "I'm thinking about the Frizette. Everyone's worried about the Breeders' Cup, but there are some important races coming up this weekend."The Ogden Mills Phipps filly has rebounded well off her Matron win and McGaughey has taken it easy with her since that race. On Thursday, she went a very easy four furlongs in :52 1/5."She looks fine," the trainer said. "I just want her to run like she did the other day."Trying to turn the tables on Storm Flag Flying in the Frizette will be G. Watts Humphrey Jr.'s Fircroft, who worked a half-mile in :49 Monday morning. The A. P. Indy filly was off to a troubled start and although she never threatened the winner, she did put in a good run to be third.
"I think she learned a lot in the Matron," trainer Rusty Arnold said. "She's the kind of filly that can't get stopped. She's so big that it's hard for her to get going again. She probably needs to make one big run. I think she'll be better Saturday than she was in the Matron."
Arnold admits it will be tough to beat Storm Flag Flying in the Frizette, but things may be different in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.
"Right now, she probably can't beat Storm Flag Flying," Arnold said. "If she beats the rest of them, she could get to the next race at a mile and an eighth around two turns and that's going to help her."Also working Monday was Edward Evans' Raging Fever, who breezed four furlongs in :49 4/5 in preparation for the grade II, $150,000 Gallant Bloom for fillies and mares furlongs Sunday.
"She's doing super," trainer Mark Hennig said. "I wanted her to go easy and finish up well, which she did both."
Raging Fever is coming off the worst race of her career, the 1 1/16-mile Ruffian, in which she was beaten 20 lengths and finished last in the field of five.
"I was worried after her last race," Hennig said. "We had worked hard to get her to not be so speedy, but she got caught up with the other speed. Her ideal way of getting a mile and a sixteenth has never been to go a half in :45. In a sprint, she should be able to relax a little easier."
Hennig will saddle Evans' Summer Colony in the grade I, $750,000 Beldame for fillies and mares at a mile and an eighth Saturday. She breezed a quick five furlongs in :58 3/5 Sunday morning.
"She worked a little sharper than we wanted her to, but she's always run well off a sharp work," Hennig said. "There was a little more concern about her going too slow because she's real laid back. If you turn her on, she'll work well. If you leave her alone, she'll stay turned off.
"She came out of the work great. We've kept her races spaced just right all year. Hopefully we've done the right thing."Sale of Squirtle Squirt Pending
Defending Breeders' Cup Sprint champion Squirtle Squirt breezed five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 Monday morning, but his status for the grade II, $250,000 Forest Hills at six furlongs Sunday is still up in the air because of an impending stud sale.
"I don't know what's happening yet," trainer Bobby Frankel said. "The sale hasn't been completed. I probably won't know for sure until Friday, but I think there's a good chance he could run."
Coming off a long layoff, the 4-year-old Marquetry colt returned in the grade I Forego, where he showed good early speed, but tired to fourth.
"He did fine in the Forego," Frankel said. "Getting him back to six furlongs should help, too."
With Anticipation Still Cup-Bound
Meanwhile, trainer Jonathan Sheppard said 7-year-old gelding With Anticipation appears to have exited his disappointing sixth-place Turf Classic effort in good order.
"He didn't seem too stressed out and he scoped fine," Sheppard said. "There was a question as to weather he handled the ground, but I would lean to other factors. Kim Loves Bucky made a premature move and bumped him pretty hard. It wasn't his favorite going and once he got bumped, I think he said, 'That's a bit too much, thank you.'"
Sheppard is concerned about getting a soft or yielding turf in the Breeders' Cup, but will still train the gelding up to the event. With Anticipation was shipped back to Saratoga, where he will remain and train for now.