Saratoga Notebook: Another Sick Horse for Pletcher; About Zavata's Name; Hook and Ladder Returns; Rice is Hot

Trainer Todd Pletcher said Saturday morning that Warners is responding to treatment for an illness at a veterinary clinic in Saratoga Springs.

Warners was the third horse horse from Pletcher's stable to have a medical problem in six days. Multiple stakes winner Left Bank underwent emergency abdominal surgery on Aug. 10 and Schuylerville (gr. II) winner Freedom's Daughter died of what is believed to be Colitis X on Aug. 12.

Warners, a 3-year-old colt purchased for $1.05 million by Eugene and Laura Melnyk, was taken to the Hunter Hollow Equine Clinic close to the track Thursday morning about one hour after he was found to have diarrhea.

"He's stabilized and making progress, but obviously on the heels of the Freedom's Daughter, we wanted to be extra careful," Pletcher said. "They don't see an correlation between the two. They don't think it's related or anything contagious or anything along those lines. It's just kind of a bad coincidence they both got sick within four or five days of one another.

"She had a high temperature; he did not. When he first started showing some signs of diarrhea because of (it) coming on the heels of her we wanted to move quickly and get him down there and get him on IV fluids and that sort of thing right away."

Warners won an allowance race on Aug. 10 and was being considered for the King's Bishop (gr. I) on Aug. 24.

Pletcher said the tests ruled out several possible problems, including Potomac Horse Fever.

"At this point it looks like possibly salmonella or some sort of bacterial infection. They don't know for sure yet. Even like with the filly, even after the autopsy, they put it under the broad term Colitis X because they don't really know.

"We obviously caught it very early before he had a temperature. At this point we feel optimistic that everything is going to turn out OK."

The Name Game: Zavata
In addition to training Zavata to a couple of stakes victories, Patrick Biancone contributed the name for Michael Tabor's 2-year-old.

However, since the colt was named for French circus clown Achille Zavatta, there is a letter missing.

"In fact, we wanted to name him Houdini because he's by Phone Trick and Houdini was a famous magician," Biancone said. "The name was already taken."

So Biancone proposed the well-known performer from the French circus family. Achille Zavatte died in 1993.

"Zavatta is for the circus in France what Michael Jordan is for basketball in the states; the biggest clown-magician who ever existed in circus history," Biancone said.

Zavata was second to the filly Holiday Runner in his first start, the Three Chimneys Juvenile on May 4. He won a maiden race at Belmont Park, won the Tremont (gr. III) and romped to a 7 1/4-length victory in the Saratoga Special on Wednesday.

Hook and Ladder Returns
Chester and Mary Broman's sprinter Hook and Ladder returns to the races after a five-month layoff Sunday afternoon in a money allowance race.

"It's his first start since the Gulfstream Park Sprint
Championship (gr.II); he ran a 40 Beyer number," said trainer John Kimmel. He had to have surgery for an entrapped epiglottis."

Hook and Ladder was eased in the race at Gulfstream Park on March 9.

Kimmel said that the 5-year-old Dixieland Band horse has flourished in Saratoga. On Wednesday, turned in a bullet four-furlong workout in :48 over the Oklahoma training track.

"He loves it here. He loves that Oklahoma track," Kimmel said. "If he runs up to my expectations, I might just leave him here because he doesn't train anywhere except Payson like he does on this track over here. He's like a 2-year-old."

Kimmel said the short-term goal for Hook and Ladder is the Forego Handicap (gr. I) on Sept. 1.

Rice is Hot
Linda Rice is the hottest trainer at the track. Get Smarter's victory in a 2-year-old maiden race Saturday afternoon pushed her record to 5-1-0 from eight starters.

Frustrating Day for Smith
Jockey Mike Smith, in from California to ride Bella Bellucci in the Alabama won on his first mount of the day, Brocco Bob in the second race. Smith was a winner in his last previous race at Saratoga on Sept. 3, 2000.

The rest of the day wasn't so great for Smith: Bella Bellucci was scratched by trainer Neil Drysdale and Smith fell from Gander when the gelding stumbled coming out of the gate in the Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap.