Seven contenders for what appears will be a big field for the $1 million Travers (gr. I) had their final works Aug. 21 at both Saratoga and Churchill Downs.
With jockey Calvin Borel aboard, Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Super Saver breezed five furlongs in 1:01.13 in company with The Roundhouse on the main track.
“I wanted to keep him focused down the lane, and having a target early on kept him focused,” said trainer Todd Pletcher of the WinStar Farm color-bearer. “Calvin (asked him) at the top of the lane, and he really lengthened out.”
The trainer said he expected an improved performance in the Aug. 28 Travers from Super Saver, who following his Derby win was eighth in the Preakness (gr. I) and fourth in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) on Aug. 1.
“I think he’s going to run an improved race from the Haskell,” he said. “Having that race under his belt has helped him. If you look at his form this year, he ran decently in Tampa, moved forward with a better race in Arkansas, and then another move forward, so I think he’s going to respond the same way.”
After taking to the Oklahoma Training Track with Jose Lezcano aboard, Travers prospect Fly Down drilled four furlongs in :48.40, handily, fourth-fastest of 26 workouts at the distance.
Trainer Nick Zito hopes Fly Down, winner of the Dwyer (gr. II) and runner-up in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), will have a cleaner trip than the one he experienced in the Jim Dandy (gr. II), in which he finished fifth.
“He’s a terrific, consistent horse,” said Zito. “I don’t think he had a good post last time. A mile and a quarter is different, but that mile and eighth last time when he had post nine Jose did a good job of getting him over. But the next thing you know, nothing worked out for him.”
Jim Dandy winner A Little Warm, with exercise rider Tess Bischa up, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.58.
“I am super-duper happy with him,” said Tony Dutrow of A Little Warm, whom he trains for Edward P. Evans. “My horse went around excellently. It’s so rare and so special to feel this good about a horse with such a big race in front of him.”
A Little Warm is looking to become the ninth colt to complete the Jim Dandy-Travers double, most recently accomplished by Street Sense in 2007.
With exercise rider Kelvin Pahal aboard, Gainesway Farm’s Afleet Express breezed six furlongs in 1:13.06.
“We’re satisfied with the work. That’s all we wanted from him,” said trainer James Jerkens, who will saddle his first Travers starter in Afleet Express. “He came back to the barn in great shape. He wasn’t blowing hard. Since he has shipped up here, he has been doing well.”
Mill House’s Trappe Shot, also possible for the King’s Bishop (gr. I), breezed five furlongs over the main track. Working with stablemate Yankee Fourtune, Trappe Shot traveled the distance in 1:01.92, ranked 14th among 29 moves.
“Alan Garcia felt like the track was a little dull and deep, so he had him out in the four path,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “He galloped out strong in 1:14 4/5, and we’re happy. We just have to figure out which race we’re going to enter.”
Also turning in his final breeze at Saratoga was the New York-bred Friend Or Foe, who covered five furlongs over the main track in 1:00.60.
First Dude, runner-up in the Preakness and third in the Belmont Stakes, worked over the sloppy main track at Churchill Downs, negotiating five furlongs in 1:01.40 in his final move for the Travers.
“He worked well this morning; the track was sloppy, but he seemed to handle it fine,” trainer Dale Romans.
First Dude, third in the Haskell, is expected to arrive at Romans’ Saratoga barn on Aug. 24.