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Arcangelo Has Final Work for Travers

There was going to be no heavy lifting for Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Arcangelo  as he had his final work before the Aug. 26 $1.25 million Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course.

Trainer Jena Antonucci got exactly what she wanted to get when the son of Arrogate  went five furlongs in a maintenance work of 1:01.63 on the main track Aug. 16 with jockey Javier Castellano on board.

“He always wants to do more,” Antonucci said outside her barn at the Oklahoma Training Track after the work. “He just loves his job. He literally pulled up today and it was almost like he was saying, ‘that’s it? Where is the rest of my breeze?’ He was bouncy coming off the track, and, honestly, he wasn’t blowing at all. This was exactly what we wanted.”

Arcangelo’s major work for the Midsummer Derby came on Aug. 6 when he went five furlongs in 1:00.21. Antonucci sent the gray out to the track after the first break on the main on Wednesday.

There had been rain in Saratoga Springs in the early morning and the skies were overcast with the threat of more rain which never came. Antonucci wanted to get the work in and was pleased with the condition of the track.

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“I did not want a big gallop out today,” Antonucci said. “I wanted Javier to pull up as he was coming out of the turn. I wanted rhythm and wanted evenness and I wanted him to stretch his lungs and legs and have fun and that is what we got.”

As far as working her horse 10 days apart, she said that has been the regimen for Arcangelo since Day One.

“Whoever said we have to breeze a horse every seven days?” Antonucci said. “It’s definitely not a rule. There is no science behind this. It has just worked for him. There are others I have on seven (days), some are on nine. For him, the space has been right.”

After running in one maiden races as a 2-year-old, Arcangelo got into the winner’s circle at Gulfstream Park March 18 and then quickly moved up the ladder. He won the Peter Pan Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park May 13 and then made the big jump June 10 when he took the Belmont.

He will head to the Travers as one of the favorites.

“”I knew he was an amazing horse, we just did not know when and where he would develop,” Jon Ebbert, whose Blue Rose Farm owns Arcangelo. “We are just blessed to be in the Travers. To have one of the top horses is just amazing.”

Cody’s Wish Likely to Return in Vosburgh at Aqueduct

As much as the connections of Godolphin’s Cody’s Wish  were disappointed by the 5-year-old’s loss in the Aug. 5 Whitney Stakes (G1), there are no regrets about the move and an eagerness to get the son of Curlin   back to what he does best.

Michael Banahan, Godolphin USA’s director of bloodstock, said trainer Bill Mott’s multiple grade 1 winner would return to his preferred slate of shorter distances in his coming races, with the Sept. 30 seven-furlong Vosburgh Stakes (G1) at Aqueduct Racetrack serving as a stepping stone to the homebred’s bid for back-to-back wins in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).

Cody Dorman meets his namesake Cody's Wish who his held by trainer Billy Mott in the barn are on the grounds of the Oklahoma Training enter adjacent to the Saratoga Race Course Friday, Aug. 4, 2023 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.  Dorman was born with a rare genetic disorder called Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, leaving him unable to walk and communicate without using a tablet. In 2018, he and his family participated in a Make-A-Wish at a Kentucky farm, where a foal came up to Dorman. After Cody's Wish laid his head on Dorman's lap, a bond was born.  Photo  by Skip Dickstein
Photo: Skip Dickstein

Cody Dorman and Cody’s Wish visiting Aug. 4 at the Bill Mott barn

“He’s doing good and came out of the race fine. He’s taking it easy now, just cantering. The distance didn’t suit him or maybe he wasn’t feeling well. It was a good opportunity, though we will not do that again,” Banahan said about Cody’s Wish’s third in the 1 1/8-mile Whitney. “We’ll look at the Vosburgh and defending our title in the Breeders’ Cup Mile if all goes well.”

As part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, the winner of the Vosburgh will receive a free, guaranteed spot in the Nov. 4 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). Cody’s Wish already secured a “Win and You’re In” spot in the Dirt Mile through a decisive June 10 victory in the prestigious Metropolitan Handicap (G1).

While Cody’s Wish had yet to win beyond a mile, Banahan said the decision to run in the Whitney was based on a feeling that he could handle the additional furlong and a lack of suitable races at seven furlongs or a mile.

“It looked like he had the pedigree that said he would handle it but maybe the pace of a mile worked in his favor,” Banahan said about the highly popular colt named after Cody Dorman, a teenager suffering from Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. “There was also nothing at that time of year that would have suited him, so we looked at the Whitney. It would have been nearly a three-month gap between the Met Mile and the Forego (G1) Aug. 26 at seven furlongs at Saratoga. The schedule didn’t work for the division he’s in, so it was worth taking a chance in the Whitney. He didn’t look like the same horse we saw in the Met Mile, but we’ll regroup. We lost the race but we had a sound horse go back to the barn and we are happy about that.”

Cody Wish, a $2.4 million earner and winner of nine of 14 career starts, was atop the NTRA Top 10 poll and a frontrunner for Horse of the Year honors until his 10-length loss to White Abbario in the Whitney. He was second in the most recent poll behind the Mott-trained Elite Power .

Starting QB for Pletcher’s Rookie Team is a Pirate

After what he did on the third day of the meet, the top 2-year-old in the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher is a Pirate .

And that is meant in a good way.

After winning his debut July 15, Pirate, owned by Harrell Ventures and Starlight Racing, moved up to the top of the Pletcher depth chart. If this were a football team, Pirate would be the quarterback.

“For now, yeah,” Pletcher said outside his barn at the Oklahoma Training Track. “That is the interesting thing. From week to week, we can have horses step up and the chart can change weekly.”

Pirate came out of the box running and won his 5 1/2-furlong debut by three lengths. Since then, he has stayed in the stall right next to Pletcher’s office. He has had three works since his impressive maiden win, the latest  Aug. 13 when he went five furlongs in 1:02.98.

Pirate - MSW - SAR - 071523
Photo: Coglianese Photos

Pirate breaks his maiden July 15

The next date for Pirate is the $300,000 Hopeful Stakes (G1) at seven furlongs Sept. 4, Labor Day.

Pirate is a son of freshman sire Omaha Beach; Starlight and Harrell Ventures bought him for $350,000 at the 2022 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Pletcher said there was a buzz about Omaha Beach when he was making visits to Ocala, Fla. this past February and March.

“I asked consignors and guys that were breaking horses down there if there were any freshman sires they were liking,” Pletcher said. “(Omaha Beach) repeatedly came up.”

Jack Wolf, who manages Starlight along with his wife Laurie, was immediately drawn to the yearling who would be named Pirate as was Corbin Blumberg, Starlight’s racing manager..

“To have a colt up here that is at that level is very exciting,” Blumberg said. “He has just gotten better as his breezes have gotten longer.”

“It is so hard to find good horses,” Jack Wolf said. “I thought it was a good idea for Todd to skip the other stake (Saratoga Special Stakes (G2) Aug. 12) and then get set up for the Hopeful.”

Pirate, who was 1-5 in his debut, is a half-brother to Preakness Stakes (G1) winner National Treasure . Starlight is part of the ownership group of that colt.

“National Treasure had just broken his maiden at Del Mar (Sept. 3) and we knew he was pretty good,” Blumberg said. “If he had one more start …”

One more start before the sale and the price tag on Pirate might have gone through the roof. Blumberg and Wolf were so satisfied they got the yearling.

“For Starlight and Harrell, the price range was right,” Blumberg said. “He ticked every box for us.”


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