It's not the easiest spot for a comeback, but trainer Jimmy Jerkens is anxious to run Iron Deputy in Sunday's $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga.
The 3-year-old Silver Deputy colt has been out of action winning his third straight race, and second in a stakes, in the Count Fleet at Aqueduct Jan. 5.
A hairline fracture in one of his cannon bones, a bruised foot and a quarter crack have kept him on the shelf since. He was entered in the Sir Barton at Pimlico on Preakness Day, but was scratched that morning with the hoof injury.
"We need to see him run. It's been a long time," Jerkens said. "He's looking very well, but this is asking an awful lot, that's for sure, considering what he's eligible for.
"He's eligible for a three-other-than, and they can be as tough as stakes up here. If you're 3, you might as well stick with 3-year-olds because they can be pretty inconsistent. You're hoping you can get them on their bad day."
Jockey Rich Migliore, aboard in all four career starts, three of them wins, will ride Iron Deputy in the Jim Dandy, giving up the mount on Magic Weisner in the $1 million Haskell the same day. Trainer Nancy Alberts has named Mike Luzzi instead.
Meanwhile, Jerkens is keeping his fingers crossed that Iron Deputy makes it to the starting gate.
"Hopefully, nothing will creep up between now and then," he said. "We're looking for a big race out of him, no question."Trainer Mark Hennig said Wednesday that he expected grade II Dwyer winner Gygistar to be a go for the Jim Dandy.
"If the race was today, I'd probably be sending him," he said. "You never know what's going to happen between now and then, but if all goes well that's where he'll go."
A winner of four straight, Gygistar came down with a cough after winning the Dwyer and missed some training time, including one work. Brought back slowly,he worked five furlongs in 58.65 seconds at Saratoga on Sunday, the fastest of 34 horses that morning.
"I wasn't looking for anything spectacular, he just needed the work and to come back healthy from it," Hennig said.Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, said Wednesday that his boss and owners James Cassels and Bob Zollars would likely meet later in the day to decide where Easyfromthegitgo will race next.
The Iowa Derby winner is being considered for both the Jim Dandy and the Haskell. While the purse is a consideration, so are travel and competition, Blasi said. After reconsidering, Kentucky Derby and Preakness champion War Emblem will run in the Haskell.
"Right now, I think he and the owners will get together and talk about what's best for the horse," Blasi said. "They have to weigh the pros and cons of shipping and who they're going to run against. It's entirely up to the people paying the bills."
Bob Baffert isn't looking past the Haskell with War Emblem, but he said Wednesday it was unlikely the colt would come back for the $1 million Travers here Aug. 24.
"I really doubt it," he said. Baffert and Richard Mulhall, racing manager for The Thoroughbred Corp. are leaning toward the Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 25.
"You never say never, but we're just looking at one race at a
time. Richard and I will discuss it. He relies on me telling him how the horse is doing. He really likes the track here and it's cool. He flourishes in the cool weather."
Baffert, who will be married Saturday night, said he would fly up to Saratoga from Monmouth Park after the Haskell for the annual yearling sales next week.Spa Notes
Trainer John Terranova said Wednesday that Heavyweight Champ will run for only the second time since last fall this weekend, either in the grade II Amsterdam on Saturday or an allowance race on Sunday. Ultimately, Terranova would like to see the colt in the grade I King's Bishop Aug. 24.... Steeplechase jockey Blythe Miller was involved in another scary spill in Wednesday's first race, landing on her neck when her horse, Capeless, fell on the lead attempting to clear the final fence. Miller, who was dumped in the first jump race of the meet last Thursday, was removed from the course by stretcher and taken to Saratoga Hospital, where she was conscious and complaining of neck pain.... Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth winner Booklet has begun galloping for trainers John and Donna Ward, going 1 1/2 miles on Wednesday. Stablemate Mike's Wildcat, who came out of the July 24 Schuylerville with a lung infection, was doing well, Donna Ward.