Saratoga notes: Paynter out of Travers; Baffert weighs options
SARATOGA SPRINGS Owner Ahmed Zayat tweeted Monday the announcement that Haskell winner Paynter will not run in the Grade I $1 million Travers on Aug. 25.
The tweet, too long for one 140-character snippet, spanned three entries as follows.
“Paynter update. Tack walked again. @JustinZayat and Ben went training with Bob Baffert at Del Mar. Bob told Justin tell your dad to trust me this horse is special. Let’s not run him in Travers. He won’t be ready in time. Too Close. Will never go against my trainers word. Especially when it comes to Bob Baffert. NO TRAVERS FOR PAYNTER. @Midnightlute @JustinZayat #patiencerewardsyou”
Hall of Famer Bob Baffert (twitter handle @Midnightlute) trains Paynter for Zayat Stables. Two days after the July 29 win in the Haskell, Paynter spiked a fever and was sent to the Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center in Ringoes, N.J. He was shipped to Belmont on Friday to resume training.
Paynter was second in the Belmont to now-retired Union Rags, and is 3-2-0 from six career starts.
“We talked yesterday and this morning about it,” Baffert told the New York Racing Association. “It was going to be tough. I wouldn’t be able to get a work into him, and it would be too much. We’ll just get him right and get him back to full steam, and nominate him everywhere.”
A possible next spot for Paynter is the Sept. 22 Grade II $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing.
Bodemeister, who is 2-4-0 from six starts and was second to now-retired I’ll Have Another in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, is also owned by Zayat Stables, but Zayat tweeted that Bodemeister “is not training well !!”
Baffert still will have Liaison in the Travers, who he trains for Arnold Zechter. Liaison worked five furlongs on Saratoga’s main track in 1:00.38.
Runner-up in the Curlin, Five Sixteen breezed for the Travers in 1:00.35 over five furlongs of the main track. Atigun covered four furlongs in 48.55.
Stealcase, third in the Haskell, worked under Shaun Bridgmohan in 1:12.53 over six furlongs.
“We were looking for a big work, and he delivered that,” Norman Casse, son and assistant to Stealcase trainer Mark Casse, told NYRA. “He went out three-quarters in 1:12 and seven-eighths in 1:25. You really can’t work any better than that, so it seems like we’re on track for the Travers, at this point.”
In her last work for Saturday’s Grade I $600,000 Alabama, Zo Impressive went five furlongs in 1:01.90 on the main track for trainer Tom Albertrani.
“She worked very well,” he said. “It looks like she’s keeping in good form, and that’s all we can ask for.”
Others working toward the Alabama included Believe You Can and Sea Island. Believe You Can went four furlongs in 1:02.78, while Sea Island covered four furlongs in a bullet 48.20, the best of 36 at the distance.
Winning for the seventh time in 12 career starts — those over eight different tracks — Sensible Lady claimed the inaugural running of the $100,000 Coronation Cup for Maryland-based trainer Timothy Salzman.
Kiss in the Forest set the early pace through a 22.34 quarter-mile in the 51⁄2-furlong turf race for 3-year-old fillies. Heaven Knows What came on to challenge Kiss in the Forest exiting the turn, and those two ran neck-and-neck for a stretch while Sensible Lady came around the outside to make for the wire, winning by 23⁄4 lengths.
Salzman was worried less by the wide trip into the stretch than the seven pounds Sensible Lady gave to the rest of the field.
“Speed was holding earlier. She sort of broke a step slow, so I told him don’t get nervous,” he said. “He swung up wide and it made me a little nervous, but she still kept running. The seven pounds is what worried me more than anything. She carried the seven pounds, and went on by.”
It was her third straight win, fourth in five races and fifth in seven. It was her first race at Saratoga, which is a special place for Salzman.
“When I was a kid, I came up here with my dad a lot,” he said. “So it means a lot to win. It really does, to come up here on my own, training horses, with a nice filly to come up here and win.”
Kiss in the Forest held on for second, while Spun Cap got a head ahead of Heaven Knows What for third.
The winning ways of this filly have Salzman thinking ambitiously about November and the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
“There’s a $200,000 [five-furlong Turf Amazon, Sept. 3 at Parx] at Philly. We were thinking, we might run against the boys at Philly [five-furlong Grade III $350,000 Turf Monster, Sept. 3], and it’s a win-and-you’re-in into the Breeders’ Cup,” he said. “That’s a big stretch, but you know, she’s a nice filly.”