Creator, Gun Runner work together for Travers; Baffert has two for Midsummer Derby
Creator and Gun Runner breezed in company on the Saratoga main track on Monday morning, working five furlongs in 1:00.60. Gun Runner, ridden by jockey Florent Geroux, and Creator, with exercise rider Abel Flores aboard, put in what trainer Steve Asmussen said were great efforts as they prepare for possible starts in the $1.25 million Travers (G1) on August 27.
"I thought they worked beautifully," said Asmussen, who was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame on Friday. "I thought we got lucky with the racetrack today to stay on schedule, under good circumstances, to get done what we wanted, when we wanted."
Creator, the Belmont S. (G1) winner, is coming off a last-place finish in the Jim Dandy (G2) on July 30. Gun Runner, the Risen Star (G2) and TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) winner, finished fifth in the Haskell Invitational (G1) on July 31. Asmussen said both recent finishes for the three-year-olds prompted him to work the duo together for the first time.
"It's the first time they worked in company, but off of disappointing races for both of them, I did not want to kid myself how they were doing," he said. "But I was very impressed with the work and they both seemed to come out of it in great shape."
Asmussen said he'll leave the next start for Gettysburg, who finished eighth as the pacesetter in the Belmont, in the hands of owners WinStar Farm. The Pioneerof the Nile colt breezed four furlongs in :50.94 seconds on Sunday over the Oklahoma training track. Gettysburg has been nominated to the Travers.
"He's a talented horse and I thought it was a solid work," Asmussen said.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert confirmed Monday morning that both American Freedom, second in the Haskell, and Arrogate, who has beaten older horses in his three most recent starts, are being pointed to the Travers.
American Freedom, the Iowa Derby (G3) winner, led for most of the Haskell before being overtaken late by the Travers-bound Exaggerator. A $500,000 yearling purchase, the Pulpit colt has three victories this year, including the Sir Barton on May 20 at Pimlico.
Arrogate, for whom Juddmonte Farms paid $560,000 as a yearling, finished third after a slow start in his debut in April going six furlongs at Los Alamitos. He returned in June to break his maiden and win a first-level allowance at Santa Anita, and most recently was a front-running victor in a second-level allowance, all at 1 1/16 miles.
"Arrogate is in a position where he's had enough racing experience to take the big leap," Baffert said. "We feel confident that the 1 1/4 miles is a good distance for him. So far, I like what I've seen, so they are both coming."
Meanwhile, trainer Chad Brown reported that Kentucky Derby (G1) runner My Man Sam, who worked four furlongs in :48.93 on Friday, will join stablemates Connect and Gift Box in preparations for a start in the Travers following his second-place finish in an allowance race on July 23 at the Spa.
"My Man Sam is now on target for the Travers," Brown said. "I'm not exactly sure when each will work again, but we'll watch the weather and come up with a plan to have all ready and in contention."
(Adam Coglianese Photography)