By Blood-Horse Staff
The $1 million Travers, at 1 1/4 miles, is Aug. 25 at Saratoga Race Course.
Nonios, most recently second to Paynter in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I), had his final serious work for Saturday’s race, covering four furlongs in :47 2/5, handily, over the Polytrack surface at Del Mar.
The Pleasantly Perfect colt, owned by Green B. Smith, Jr., is scheduled to arrive at Saratoga Aug. 20, said his Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
"He had a nice blowout this morning," said Hollendorfer by phone from San Diego, where he returned Sunday morning after saddling Via Villaggio to a third-place finish behind Questing in Saratoga's Alabama Stakes (gr. I).
"We have a colt we think is doing well. We try not to bring our horses anywhere that we don’t think they have a good chance, and I don’t think we’re being frivolous or foolish with him."
NONIOS ENJOYING BATH TIME LEADING UP TO THE HASKELL
Photo by Bill Denver/EQUI-Photo
Back at Saratoga, Liaison put in his final timed workout Sunday. Under exercise rider Simon Harris, Liaison clocked five furlongs in 1:00.05 on the Saratoga main track, the eighth-fastest of 29 works at the distance.
“Out in 12 and change,” trainer Bob Baffert said, referring to the gallop-out time for the extra furlong.
Liaison, who won the CashCall Futurity (gr. I) as a 2-year-old, finished third in his most recent start, the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II), behind Travers probables Alpha and Neck 'n Neck.
Shortleaf Stable’s Atigun was also among the Travers contenders that worked out Sunday morning at Saratoga, breezing five furlongs in :59.67 over the main track after the renovation break.
"He worked super," said trainer Ken McPeek. "I was a little worried he went off a little fast, but for the most part it was a very good work. It looks like he’s cooling out happy."
Notable about the work was that the 3-year-old son of Istan was wearing blinkers, a piece of equipment that he has not raced with.
"Mike Smith and I were talking about it yesterday, and he is concerned that the blinkers might make him rank, and he might be right," McPeek said. "I don’t know, we’ll see. If he has a blinker on, it will either be a small one or none at all."
Atigun was third to Union Rags and Paynter in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) June 9, and most recently checked in sixth, beaten seven lengths, in the Jim Dandy.
McPeek acknowledges that Atigun won’t be among the favorites for the 1 1/4-mile Travers but knows the distance won’t be a question mark.
"Our race has got to be well-timed, and he will have to run the race of his life, but it is certainly a distance he can handle," the trainer said.
Meanwhile, Stealcase, looking poised and relaxed, turned in a five-furlong breeze on the main track Sunday morning.
Under regular rider Shaun Bridgmohan, the chestnut son of Lawyer Ron was timed in 1:00.74 by NYRA clockers.
"He looked really slow," said Norm Casse, son and assistant to trainer Mark Casse. "Then we saw the time and how well he went, and that’s usually a good indication that they worked really well. He looked like he was just going easy, and that was the plan."
Sunday’s work came six days after a six-furlong breeze in 1:12.53, also on Saratoga’s main track for Stealcase, who most recently ran third to Paynter in the Haskel.
"Last week, we worked him really hard and made him gallop out real strong," Casse said. "It was a real strong work. We came back this weekend and we were really shooting for 1:01 or 1:02, but he worked really well."
Bridgmohan, aboard for five of Stealcase’s nine career starts, will have the mount in the Travers. Stealcase is still seeking his first stakes victory.