A field of eight passed the entry box Wednesday morning for the $1 million Travers Stakes. How many will run is another story. The big news was Funny Cide entering after two weeks of "doubtfuls" and "highly unlikelys," from trainer Barclay Tagg.
Sackatoga Stable's Funny Cide, whose status for Saturday's Travers Stakes has been termed "highly unlikely" by trainer Barclay Tagg, took a step closer to entering Wednesday when he worked a half-mile in :47 4/5 Tuesday morning.
Saratoga Notebook: Frankel Drills Troops; Sky Mesa Dodges Bullet; Funny Cide Update; Strong Hope 'Super'
Looking to beat the rain, Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel had several of his top stars on the main track Saturday morning, led by likely Travers (gr.I) favorite Empire Maker.
Racing was held as scheduled at Saratoga Friday, with only a few changes necessitated by the power outage Thursday that affected an estimated 50 million people in the United States and Canada.
Saratoga Notebook: No Budging Tagg; Wild and Wicked in Travers; Sackatoga Breaks Maiden; Mud Delays Sky Mesa
Sackatoga Stable's Funny Cide was worked on by a chiropractor Thursday morning and his status for the Travers (gr.I) remains in question.
Saratoga Notebook: Volponi's Jockey Audible; Slow Go for Blazing Fury; Sky Mesa Pushed Back; Frankel Plots
Hall of Fame trainer Phil Johnson tried to out-think Breeders' Cup Classic (gr.I) winner Volponi Wednesday. He was at least partially successful.
Mother Goose (gr. I) and Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) winner Spoken Fur breezed four furlongs in :51 2/5 Sunday morning over the muddy Oklahoma training track in preparation for the Alabama (gr. I) on Saturday.
Jockey Edgar Prado will ride Haskell Invitational runner-up Sky Mesa in the Aug. 23 Travers Stakes. Prado took off Sky Mesa, whom he had ridden in the colt's four previous career starts, to ride Peace Rules to victory in the Haskell.
Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Funny Cide drew the number five post position and was installed as the 8-5 morning-line favorite when seven horses were entered for Sunday's $1-million Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I) at Monmouth Park.
A field of seven 3-year-olds is expected for Sunday's $1 million Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Park, topped by Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide.
Saratoga Notebook: Albarado on Sky Mesa; Favorites Rule; No Decision on Congrats; Sackatoga Stable Grows
Jockey Robby Albarado has picked up the mount on Sky Mesa for the Haskell Invitational and trainer Shug McGaughey is undecided on whether to run Congrats in the Haskell or the Jiim Dandy. Also, favorites are having a good Spa meet, Kissin Saint may make his next start on grass, Sackatoga Stable has expanded, and the Dogwood Dominion Award goes to a backstretch "community leader."
Saratoga Notebook: Top 3-Year-Olds Work; Prado Opts for Peace Rules; Volponi Ready for Whitney; Alabama Target for Awesome Humor
Empire Maker, Peace Rules and Sky Mesa all worked Saturday morning on the main track at Saratoga Race Course in preparation for their scheduled starts in stakes races on Aug. 3.
The 3-year-old stars were on parade Saturday morning at Saratoga, as Peace Rules and Sky Mesa worked 5 furlongs for next Sunday's $1 million Haskell Invitational, and Empire Maker worked 6 furlongs for the Jim Dandy Stakes the same day.
Trainer John Ward said Thursday that he is leaning toward running Sky Mesa in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Park on Aug. 3 instead of the Jim Dandy (gr. II) at Saratoga. "I'd say I'm 60-40," Ward said.
Trainer John Ward, believing that Funny Cide will be vulnerable in his first start since the Belmont, has opted to run Sky Mesa against the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner in the $1 million Haskell Invitational on Aug. 3.
Some six weeks after his bid for the Triple Crown ended in the Belmont Stakes (gr.I), the Funny Cide merchandising bandwagon has started rolling into his hometown, Saratoga Springs.
Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide turned in a sharp 6-furlong work in 1:12 4/5 at Belmont Park Monday, in preparation for the $1 million Haskell Invitational on Aug. 3.
Trainer John Ward is hoping the 2003 version of the Go For Wand Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga is better for Forest Secrets than it was last year. Last year, the Debby Oxley-owned mare injured her left front ankle in the 1 1/8-mile race, which sent her to the sidelines for the remainder of the year.
Managing partner Jack Knowlton of Sackatoga Stable said Funny Cide will accept the 123 pounds assigned Friday for the $1 million Haskell Invitational (gr. I) on Aug. 3 at Monmouth Park.
Sackatoga Stable's Funny Cide, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (both gr. I), will carry highweight of 123 pounds in the $1-million Haskell Invitational (gr. I), Monmouth Park's signature event for 3-year-olds, on Aug. 3.
John Ward, trainer of Sky Mesa, having already stated he's not crazy about the weight spread for the Jim Dandy Stakes, said Thursday that his colt's next start will be determined by the weights for the Haskell Invitational, to be released tomorrow.
In the much-anticipated return of Sky Mesa, it was Eugene and Laura Melnyk's rapidly-improving Strong Hope who held on for victory in Sunday's $150,000 Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) by a head over Nacheezmo, with Sky Mesa settling for a non-threatening third.
Belmont Park will celebrate the Fourth of July holiday weekend by offering six graded stakes worth more than $1.35 million. The weekend action gets underway with Friday's running of the Prioress Stakes (gr. I) and also includes the Suburban Handicap (gr. I).
- By Steve Haskin
Edmund Gann's Midas Eyes, breezed 5 furlongs in a sharp 1:00 1/5 Monday morning, in preparation for next Sunday's grade II Dwyer Stakes, which is shaping up to be a classy, competitive race.
Hero's Tribute, Sky Mesa, Dynever, and three of Christophe Clement's fillies turned in recent works at Belmont Park.
Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker worked 5 furlongs in a quick :58 3/5 at Belmont Tuesday, while Sky Mesa, who is pointing for the July 6 Dwyer Stakes, went the same distance in :59 flat.
John C. Oxley announced today that he has entered into an agreement to stand his grade I winner Sky Mesa at Robert N. Clay's Three Chimneys Farm
John Oxley's undefeated Sky Mesa, who has not run since his victory in last fall's Lane's End Breeders' Futurity, breezed 6 furlongs in 1:14 1/5 Monday morning in preparation for the July 6 Dwyer Stakes.
John Oxley's undefeated Sky Mesa, who has not run since suffering an injury on the eve of the Breeder's Cup Juvenile, will make his long-awaited return in the 1 1/16-mile Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park on July 6.
While leading Belmont Stakes (gr. I) contenders Funny Cide, Empire Maker and Dynever are getting most of the attention these days, it wasn't long ago that Sky Mesa, Vindication and Toccet were the darlings of the current 3-year-old class.
After talking to owner John Oxley on Monday, John Ward said that Sky Mesa's Kentucky Derby status is "very clouded," and that he feels the colt should not be a single betting interest in next week's second Derby Future Wager.
In spite of a brutal winter storm that hampered wagering in several key racing markets in the Midwest and East, Pool 1 of Churchill Downs' 2003 Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW) closed strongly on Sunday and ended with the mutuel field as a record-setting favorite.
Odds on Trust N Luck, off the board in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool at greater than 99-1 prior to his Fountain of Youth (gr. I) victory at Gulfstream Saturday, fell to 23-1 near the close of wagering Saturday.
The field remained the solid favorite at 6-5 over each of the 23 named betting interests at the conclusion of the second day of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager's opening pool Friday.
Reflecting the lack of a solid favorite, or any favorite at all, Kentucky Derby Future Wager bettors hammered the field down to the even-money favorite after the first day of wagering in pool one Thursday.
Overlays were the rule on the first day of the 2003 Kentucky Derby Future Derby Wager as the bettors took a cautious approach, making the field the even-money favorite Thursday.
Kafwain and Sky Mesa are among the 3-year-olds nominated to the April 5 race.
Handicapper Mike Battaglia has established the mutuel field as the favorite for the first round of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool that opens at noon on Thursday, Feb. 13 and continues through Sunday, Feb. 16 at 6:30 p.m.
Sky Mesa had his third work toward the Florida Derby; Todd Pletcher counts Bham, Lion Tamer, and Indy Dancer among his charges; plus other workout notes from Florida.
In the first weekly installment looking at leading contenders for the Kentucky Derby, Vindication tops the list compiled by Steve Haskin, senior correspondent for The Blood-Horse.
A bone scan performed Tuesday confirmed that the injury suffered by Sky Mesa was a minor one.
Six of the eight winners on the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships card at Arlington Park Oct. 26 are expected to race in 2003, if all goes according to plans. Three winners--Orientate, Domedriver, and Starine--could run again this year.
John C. Oxley's Sky Mesa, the 3-1 morning-line favorite for the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), was scratched Friday morning after sustaining an apparent sprain of his right front ankle.
When post positions were drawn Wednesday at Arlington Park for the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), the connections of Sky Mesa didn't want to be too far outside or too far inside. After the son of Pulpit was awarded the No. 9 spot, everyone breathed a sigh of relief, according to Donna Ward, who assists her husband, trainer John Ward.
Sky Mesa not only likes to be on time, he likes to be early. And that has made life interesting for his connections.
John Ward Jr. doesn't remember ever running a 2-year-old 1 1/8 miles. And he would prefer not to do so now. But that's the distance for the longest ever Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), and the trainer is blessed with the ideal candidate, Sky Mesa, a colt with stamina in his bloodlines and a running style that fits two turns.
Keeneland had a number of Breeders' Cup contenders on the grounds Monday morning making final preparations for Oct. 26.
When they go to the post for the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), the likely favorite will be Sky Mesa.
Take Charge Lady, Xtra Heat lead Bluegrass parade of Breeders' Cup contenders.
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