WORK IN PROGRESS: Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott suspects more than a bad stumble at the start cost Tacitus when he missed overtaking Tax by three-quarters of a length in the 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy. According to Mott, jockey Jose Ortiz told him that Tacitus appeared to lose focus as he closed in on the winner at the eighth pole. “Maybe we still have things to work on,” Mott said. The good news is that Tacitus did not appear to be significantly injured after all but sagging to the ground when the starting gate snapped open. “He had a little nick on his foot,” Mott said, “but it didn’t look bad.”
NOT MUCH FIGHT: Preakness Stakes winner War of Will was the only member of his class to compete in all three Triple Crown races. Might he have paid a steep price for that? The ninth-place finisher in the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets faded after setting a reasonable early pace in the Jim Dandy to be fifth of six starters. To his credit, trainer Mark Casse did not attempt to make any excuses and expressed satisfaction with the work of his young jockey, Tyler Gaffalione. “He had a great trip. I don’t think you could ask for any better,” Casse said. “He got outrun.”
GREAT ADVICE: Trainer Luis Carvajal, Jr. thought Imperial Hint might need another workout or two to be fully prepared for his first race since the compactly-built colt finished third in the March 30 Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored by Gulf News. Owner Raymond Mamone, though, believed his horse was ready for the $350,000, Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap. “I got to give credit to Raymond Mamone. He had a feeling he was going to do well in this race,” Carvajal said. To say that Imperial Hint was ready to do well is quite an understatement. He set a track record of 1:07.92 for the six furlongs in registering a decisive four-length decision. The previous mark of 1:08.04 had been shared by Spanish Riddle (Aug. 18, 1972) and Speightstown (Aug. 14, 2004).
PROMISING WORK: Promises Fulfilled began serious preparations for the $600,000 , Grade 1 Forego Stakes Presented by Encore Boston Harbor as part of Runhappy Travers Stakes Day on Aug. 24 by blazing half a mile in 47.85 seconds, the second-fastest of 70 recorded works at that distance over Saratoga’s main track. “Tammy (Fox) worked him and said it was the slowest she could get him to go. He’s on his game,” said trainer Dale Romans. The Shackleford colt appears to thrive at Saratoga. He captured the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes Presented by Runhappy in gate-to-wire fashion last year as part of the Travers undercard.
WASTING NO TIME: Trainer Mike Maker plans to bring Kadar, owned by Phoenix Thoroughbreds III, back on short notice so he can make his second North American start in the $1 million Saratoga Derby next Sunday. The son of Scat Daddy launched a powerful rally from last in a field of 10 to finish third in an allowance-optional claiming race at 1 1/16 miles on July 18 at Saratoga. “He ran a really good race,” Maker said. “He didn’t get away very good and was carried extremely wide. He finished strong and just missed in a very competitive allowance race.” The Saratoga Derby marks the second leg of the newly-established Turf Trinity. Maker also expects to be represented by Henley’s Joy, surprise winner of the opening leg, the July 6 Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes, at 20.80-1.