Whitney Invitational winner Cross Traffic emerged from his first grade I victory "very well," trainer Todd Pletcher reported Aug. 4, with the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course as his next major target.
"(Cross Traffic) looked good this morning and seemed to take the race really well," said Pletcher of the Aug. 3 Whitney. "The Woodward is certainly a possibility, and if we decide we need more time, the Jockey Club Gold Cup is a back-up plan."
The $750,000 Woodward at 1 1/8 miles is Aug. 31, while the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at 1 1/4 miles is Sept. 28 at Belmont Park.
Cross Traffic's Whitney win was important for a number of reasons, said Pletcher, not just to validate his efforts in the Westchester (gr. III) and the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I), but also for his future at stud. GoldMark Farm's 4-year-old colt is by leading sire Unbridled's Song, who died July 26, and out of the stakes-winning mare Stop Traffic, a daughter of Cure the Blues who won the Ballerina (gr. I) at the Spa in 1998.
"I think when you take a tough beat like he did in the Met, one side of you thinks, 'Well, we'll get one of these,'" said Pletcher. "The other side is, when you blow an opportunity, sometimes you never get it again. I was happy for the horse; he ran two winning races at Belmont and lost by five inches. So, it was nice to get a grade I win for him. He's got a real stallion's pedigree, and that's what you have to do, win races like that to take it to the next level."
In the Whitney, Cross Traffic led through an opening quarter-mile in :24.17, ran the second quarter in :23.11 and the third quarter in :22.96, with the race unfolding just as Pletcher and Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez had hoped.
"That's pretty impressive," said Pletcher. "You don't see that many sub-23's internally, especially in a dirt race.
"He put himself into the race right away," he added. "Every time they turned up the pressure, he was able to turn it up another notch. It was a perfect trip, but it was a self-produced perfect trip."
With the Whitney part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" series, Cross Traffic now has an all-fees-paid entry into the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) at 1 1/4 miles, a distance Pletcher thinks is within the colt's scope.
"What I liked about the race yesterday, it looked like those horses were gaining on him, but then you look at the gallop-out, and he's cleared them again," he said. "It's all a function of pace and he showed yesterday he's ratable, even though he was on the front end. The first quarter showed he has speed, but he's not headstrong."
The lightly raced Cross Traffic has won three of five starts with two seconds while earning $681,300.
On Sunday morning, Pletcher sent out dual grade I winner Princess of Sylmar for a half-mile breeze in :49.60 over the main track. The winner of the Coaching Club American Oaks and the Kentucky Oaks could make her next start in the Alabama (gr. I) Aug. 17.
"Princess of Sylmar worked dynamite this morning," he said. "I'm really, really happy with her. We're hoping she maintains form for a couple more weeks."