Colorful Guillot Works Moreno, Salutos Amigos
Southern Equine Stable's Moreno flashed his speed in an Aug. 17 workout, zipping five furlongs in :59.68 over the Saratoga Race Course main track in preparation for the $1 million Travers Stakes (gr. I) Aug. 24.
Gate-to-wire winner of the July 6 Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park and a game third to Palace Malice and Will Take Charge in the July 27 Jim Dandy (gr. II) at the Spa, Moreno went an opening quarter mile in :24 1/5 seconds, three-eighths in :35 flat, and galloped out in 1:13 1/5.
"He traveled really good for the Travers," Guillot said. "I chose today (to work Moreno) because you know how he's a looky-loo; he's got the earplugs and the blinkers. I figured with the Alabama Stakes (gr. I, being run on the same day), the apron would be full of people, and sure enough I was right. Last Sunday, when I worked him (1:12 flat for six furlongs) he was more focused on the rider. Today, he's got his ears pricked and he's looking around at people eating Dunkin' Donuts."
In the Jim Dandy, Moreno sailed through an opening half-mile in :47.48 and six furlongs in 1:11.13 before a stalking Palace Malice overtook him. With speedy Haskell Invitational (gr. I) winner Verrazano also in the Travers lineup—giving trainer Todd Pletcher an imposing double barreled entry—Guillot believes moderate internal fractions will be critical for Moreno to have a chance to win at 1 1/4 miles.
"It's going to all be about the inner fractions," Guillot said. "Inner fractions make races. If you're any kind of handicapper, you should know that.
"I would imagine Todd wouldn't be pressing his own horse with Palace Malice and Verrazano together; that wouldn't make much sense," he continued. "So, somebody's going to push me, and, hopefully, they push me so far up front, or push me to the point where the other one can't catch up. That would be the best-case scenario."
Guillot also sent out Salutos Amigos, bound for the $500,000 Foxwoods King's Bishop (gr. I) on the Travers undercard, for a five-furlong work in 1:02.53.
In the July 28 Amsterdam (gr. II), the son of Salute the Sarge raced close behind a fast pace, briefly dropped back and then came charging along the rail to finish third, beaten 1 3/4 lengths by winner Forty Tales . The performance earned Salutos Amigos a lifetime-best 98 Beyer figure.
Guillot said the 3-year-old colt has overcome nagging foot issues, and he expects a big run in the seven-furlong King's Bishop.
"When I bought the horse and put him on the shelf, he had real spongy, real crumbly, a real bad horny wall on him," Guillot said of Salutos Amigos' feet. "You couldn't put in any nails; you had to kind of glue—put a nail, glue, put a nail, glue. It would take two hours...to put a shoe job on him.
"I knew it would take six months to grow out. They've grown out. I don't have any more glue on the horse. The day after I shoe him, he goes like a champ. I don't have to keep him on any kind of medication to keep his feet right. The horse went from shuffling like he was on egg shells to striding out like a good horse."
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