Firm turf fits Bridgetown fine
SARATOGA SPRINGS Even though Bridgetown won the Troy last year over yielding turf, trainer Todd Pletcher was hoping it would remain firm for Wednesday’s renewal.
After a rainy weekend, Saratoga Race Course dodged early rain before the $100,000 Troy, the fifth race on the card. A few stray drops fell early in the afternoon, but skipped past to keep the grass course firm for the 51⁄2-furlong run for horses 3 and older.
“We thought he might be the speed of the race and wanted to try to get him to settle as best we could and hopefully have something left for the finish,” Pletcher said. “I think we got a little lucky and missed that rain, ended up getting a firm turf course, which seemed to be to his liking.”
Bridgetown went out on the lead, joined throughout by Perfect Officer. Pletcher’s son of Speightstown kept a head in front of Perfect Officer around the bend and was able to maintain his pace through the stretch to win by a half length.
“I knew it was going to be tight,” Pletcher said. “Perfect Officer shows up every time. But when Bridgetown is on his ‘A’ game, he’s pretty hard to get by.”
Bridgetown is 3-3-1 from his last eight starts and is now 4-0-1 in five career starts at Saratoga. He broke his maiden here in 2009, won the Latham in 2010, the Troy in 2011 and began this meet with a third-place finish in the Willard Straight on July 21.
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez returned to the saddle after Corey Nakatani and Javier Castellano rode the last two times out with Bridgetown. He guided Bridgetown through an opening quarter mile in 22.34 and a half mile in 44.08.
“We didn’t expect to be alone on the lead, but we expected that we wouldn’t have to go a fast 21 and change,” Velazquez said. “I was kind of concerned about that first quarter, but felt if we weren’t given too much pressure, we would be OK.”
Four lengths back from Perfect Officer, Wekiva Wachee was third. Night Officer was fourth, a head ahead of fifth-place Regally Ready, who won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and ran two races in Dubai this year.
Pletcher said he had to talk to owner Eugene Melnyk and Winding Oaks Farm manager Phil Hronec about the possibility of a Breeders’ Cup run in November.
“He’s certainly a Breeders’ Cup-caliber sprinter, but it’s 61⁄2 [furlongs] at Santa Anita.” Pletcher said. “I just don’t know if he can get get 61⁄2 . What we might do, I think there’s a race up at Woodbine going six, see how he handles that as a prep, and if he does well, then maybe we could end up there [at the Breeders’ Cup]. But we’ll just have to play it by ear.”
Curlin winner Street Life, trained by Mechanicville native Chad Brown, worked Tuesday over the main track in preparation for the Grade I $1 million Travers, going five furlongs in 1:01.04.
“He came out of his work really well, and he’ll work once more, maybe on Monday,” Brown told the New York Racing Association on Wednesday. “He’s been very consistent since the Curlin, and that’s all I’m really looking for, to maintain where he is.”
Also going five furlongs on the main track Tuesday, Curlin runner-up Neck ‘n Neck went in 1:00.29, the second-fastest of 29 at that distance.
Along with Street Life and Neck ‘n Neck, the Travers field is expected to include Grade II Jim Dandy winner Alpha, Atigun, Cogito, Five Sixteen, Hansen, Liaison, Nonios and Stealcase, according to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes. The field could be one of the biggest in the race’s 143-year history. The largest field was sent out in 1977 with 14 horses.
’BODE’ SENT FOR CHECKUP
Runner-up in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Bodemeister is headed to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Kentucky to find out why he has been training so poorly, owner Ahmed Zayat announced on his twitter account Wednesday.
“Bode arrived at Winstar for diagnostic procedure. He has an appointment tomorrow at Rood n riddle to tell us what’s wrong with him,” he said.
Zayat had posted a comment Monday about how Bodemeister had been training poorly.