November 27, 2021

Travers contender Good Samaritan drills five-eighths in company

Trainer Bill Mott says "We've got to see it again" from Jim Dandy romper Good Samaritan in the Travers (Photo courtesy NYRA/Coglianese/Joe Labozzetta)

Jim Dandy (G2) hero Good Samaritan geared up for Saturday’s Travers (G1) by working five furlongs in company Sunday morning. Taking to the fast Oklahoma training track with regular exercise rider Juan Quintero, the Bill Mott pupil clocked 1:01.65 to catch his workmate/target Boule, a maiden filly who covered the same ground in 1:02.03.

“He went good – went 1:01 and 2, broke off as you can see, a length behind his company, joined up and finished together, finished their last quarter in :24, galloped out well, and galloped out a good six furlongs,” Mott told NYRA publicity. “I was pleased with what I saw.”

Previously a turf performer, Good Samaritan looked a natural in his dirt debut in the Jim Dandy, but Mott expects a sterner challenge in the Travers.

“We’ve got to see it again,” the Hall of Famer said. “I guess he did it effectively enough the first time. He didn’t look like he was struggling, so it would lead you to believe he could reproduce his last race, but it’s a different group of horses. Maybe he’ll have to be better to win. It’s going to be a bigger field, and some new shooters in there. I don’t know that I’d trade places with anybody today.

“I’m just hoping he stays healthy and sound, stays in one piece, that’s it. He’s doing good and he’s training good. I hope he stays the way he is.”

Across the country at Del Mar, Travers rival West Coast negotiated a half-mile in :48.20 for Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. The son of Flatter and champion Caressing brings a three-race winning streak into the Spa, crowned by the Los Alamitos Derby (G3).

Stablemate American Anthem turned in the same time in preparation for Saturday’s H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1), the race formerly known as the King’s Bishop.

Two-time Eclipse Award champion Songbird cruised her four furlongs in :47.20, easily enough to merit the rare “breezing” designation by the Southern California clockers. Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer will send the once-beaten star back East for the Personal Ensign (G1) on Travers Day.

Trainer Chad Brown reported that a decision regarding Preakness (G1) winner Cloud Computing’s status for the Travers would come Monday.

“Cloud Computing looks really good this (Sunday) morning and came out of his work well,” Brown said, referring to the colt’s five-eighths move in 1:01.65 on the Spa main Saturday. “We’re waiting to make a final decision for tomorrow.

Practical Joke looked terrific as well,” the trainer added of his Haskell Invitational (G1) near-miss third who plans to shorten up to seven furlongs for the Jerkens.

Haskell Invitational victor Girvin was on the muscle for his hotwalker at Saratoga Sunday morning, still bursting with energy the morning after his five-furlong bullet in :59.98 on the Oklahoma. That bodes well for the Travers hopeful, whose only finish out of the top two was his 13th in the Kentucky Derby (G1), where well-publicized foot problems compromised his training.

“He’s always been very talented,” trainer Joe Sharp said, “and I think our biggest concerns are behind us as far as anything physical. He’s getting through every work perfectly and doing everything the way you want to see a horse do it coming up to a race like this. He’s going in great and is a bit cocky and full of himself.

“You definitely take a deep breath after you’ve won a Grade 1 with a horse like we did in the Haskell, both for the horse and the barn, being our first Grade 1. It’s good to get that behind us on the big stage. I haven’t really thought about a championship, but I think that if he wins another Grade 1 it definitely moves him to the top of the list as far as the three-year-old division, especially with all the graded stakes wins he has.”

McCraken, just denied by Girvin in the Haskell, schooled in the Saratoga starting gate and turned in a 1 1/4-mile gallop on the main oval.

“He’s doing well; I’m very happy with the horse,” trainer Ian Wilkes said. “It’s all just routine. He walks in (the gate) fine and stands with no problems.

“I’ll do something with him one day this week,” Wilkes added of getting in one final breeze for the Travers. “How I do it and when I do it, I’m not sure.”

Gulfstream Park West-based Gunnevera vanned into Saratoga around 8:30 a.m. (EDT) on Sunday, with his groom Luis Cabello alongside.

“They told me the trip went good,” trainer Antonio Sano told NYRA publicity by phone. “The horse shipped OK, so everything is good.”

After a walk day Monday, Gunnevera is set to gallop Tuesday. Jockey Edgard Zayas, who picked up the mount for his five-length comeback score in the August 6 Tangelo, has the return call.

The Travers draw will be conducted Tuesday evening at Salt & Char at 353 Broadway. While the entire soiree is scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m., NYRA notes that the draw itself will take place around 6 p.m. You can bet on the Travers Stakes at TwinSpires.