Honor Code, Frosted among workers at the Spa
Metropolitan H. (G1) star Honor Code breezed five furlongs in 1:01.05 on Saratoga's fast main track on Saturday, two weeks in advance of his tilt at the August 8 Whitney (G1).
"You couldn't really see him because it was foggy, but he went fine and everybody was pleased. He came back fine and he's on track for the Whitney," Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said.
Whitney rival Noble Bird, coming off a career high in the Stephen Foster (G1), covered the same ground in a bullet :59.90 for Mark Casse.
Also expected in the Whitney, once-beaten Liam's Map worked in 1:00.85.
"He looked very good in the little part we could see," said trainer Todd Pletcher, who was trying to peer through the dense fog. "He seems like he continues to train well and is pointing to the Whitney. He's a very gifted horse, very talented. He's always trained well and he's always run well."
Several sophomores geared up for next Saturday's Jim Dandy (G2), the local prep for the August 29 Travers (G1).
Wood Memorial (G1) winner Frosted, last seen chasing Triple Crown hero American Pharoah in the Belmont S. (G1), sped four furlongs in :47.91 on the main track.
"We were planning to work him in company, but the company couldn't keep up. It got him going, anyway," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. "He worked great. We were pleased. He galloped out strong and kept going.
"We're happy where we are and happier that American Pharoah isn't going to show up this time," he added, alluding to the fact that Pharoah is bound for the August 2 Haskell (G1) at Monmouth. "I'm sure there's others out there that will be tough enough competition. Everything's all set."
Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Texas Red, a useful second in his comeback in the Dwyer (G3), drilled five panels in :59.92 for the Jim Dandy.
Pletcher's duo of Florida Derby (G1) victor Materiality (Jim Dandy) and Peter Pan (G2) scorer Madefromlucky (West Virginia Derby [G2]) worked a half-mile in company in an identical :48.85.
"The 50 yards of it that I could see they looked good," Pletcher deadpanned regarding the Spa fog.
Holy Bull (G2) hero Upstart, who threw in the worst race of his life when trailing in the Kentucky Derby (G1), could be ready to resume in the Jim Dandy. The Rick Violette pupil was credited with a bullet half in :47.20 and was caught going five furlongs in :59.89.
"He looked excellent," Violette said. "He went the last eighth in 12 flat, and I don't think the track is all that fast; it hasn't been in the morning. He was exceptional.
"He's been perfect," he added of the break since the Derby. "We gave him a few weeks off at the farm and he hasn't missed a beat since coming back. Whatever happened in the Derby stays in the Derby, because he didn't run. He didn't pick up his feet.
"Maybe the winter (campaign) got to him, I don't know, but he cooled out today like he just went to school in the paddock. We kind of gave him a few weeks just because we weren't going to run back in the Preakness (G1) off that effort and also weren't going to run back in the Belmont because if you're wrong, you can end a horse. We did the right thing and, hopefully, it pays dividends."
Jim Dandy contender Frammento, most recently fifth in the Belmont, zipped in a bullet :48.33 on the Oklahoma training track Friday.
"He looked good and I was happy," Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito said. "He's an excellent horse. I just hope he has a really, really good month up here because I think the mile and a quarter (of the Travers) will help him. He likes Saratoga.
"He made a nice move in the race (the Belmont) where I thought he was going to be close, so we'll see what happens. He's a funny horse. He's one of those horses that's hard to figure, but he's right around the bulls-eye sometimes. He might hit the bulls-eye someday.
"So far, so good. He's training nice. Hopefully, he makes both of them the right way. He'll definitely run next week, and then we'll see what happens."
Rounding out the Jim Dandy probables is Japan, winner of the Easy Goer on Belmont Day. Keen Ice and Tekton are still listed as possible for the Jim Dandy by NYRA publicity, but the former has been confirmed for the Haskell and the latter is also expected on the Jersey Shore.
Honor Code photo courtesy of NYRA/Coglianese Photography/Susie Raisher.