Saratoga Diary: Hofburg out of Travers

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TwinSpires Staff

August 19th, 2018

by Dick Powell

The big buzz going around the track today was the announcement that Curlin Stakes winner Hofburg would not contest Saturday’s Travers Stakes (G1) due to spiking a fever.

The son of Tapit, who figured to be the second betting choice behind champion Good Magic, has missed a few days of training and hopefully will bounce back as well as Rushing Fall did yesterday when she missed a stakes engagement earlier in the meet due to a fever but came back gangbusters in the Lake Placid Stakes (G2).

The main track was listed as fast today and all five scheduled turf races stayed on. The Mellon turf course was listed as good with the temporary rail at 27 feet and the inner turf course was listed as good as well. When the races began, both turf courses were downgraded to yielding, which makes no sense since it never rained from the time scratches were announced at 11 a.m. (ET).

Race 1 was a two-turn mile on the inner turf course for $25,000 filly and mare claimers. It took a long time but the class edge of GLORY TO KITTEN finally paid off in the final 100 yards and she won going away as part of the odds-on Mike Dubb-owned entry. Dermot Magner claimed the winner as more of these owners continue to drop horses way down in class to win the mythical “owners” title.

Race 2 was an open maiden for three-year-olds and up going six furlongs and our play for today, TIMBER GHOST, drifted from 3-1 to 4-1 to 9-2. He stalked the pace three wide and when Junior Alvarado asked him for run on the far turn, the race was over. The son of Ghostzapper drew off to a 9 1/2-length win and paid a handsome $11 to win. Favored Leinstar held on for second to complete a $36.60 exacta.

Race 3 was a turf sprint for fillies and mares and the public made Chad Brown’s Alternative Energy the odds-on favorite. Manny Franco stalked the pace from post nine aboard TAP TAP TAPAROO and the daughter of Tapit took over in the lane to win as much the best for Jim Toner who was winning his first race of the meet.

Race 4 was a five-horse stakes race for fillies and mare who have not won a graded stakes race in 2018. The race was over going into the clubhouse turn when Jose Ortiz was able to put second-choice MOONLIT GARDEN on the lead and she controlled things from there. She coasted through a series of :12 furlongs and was able to win over A Place to Shine. The winner shipped in from Arlington Park and gave trainer Chris Davis his first win here.

Race 5 was a two-turn maiden turf race for juvenile fillies on the inner turf course and once again, it was the Chad Brown show. The bettors made NEWSPAPEROFRECORD, a first-time starter by Euro sensation Lope de Vega, the favorite and with the give in the ground giving the turf a European flavor, they were right. Irad Ortiz Jr. rode her imperiously and swooped wide coming out of the turn as if she could not be beat. He was right as she held off fellow Brown trainee Sister Kitten by almost seven lengths. The Brown exacta came back a generous $23.60.

Rafael Santana Jr. had WE SHOULD TALK far back in a turf sprint for first-level New York-bred allowance horses, but even off the 266-day layoff, he was dead fit as he lost ground with every stride but had a clear path. Ninth around the far turn, he closed relentlessly and got up by a head for Horacio DePaz in 1:04.21. Outrageous Bet, the second-longest price on the board, got second for the red-hot Gary Contessa.

Race 7 was a rodeo disguised as a horse race for maiden juvenile fillies going six furlongs. First-time starter Shanghai Bonnie gunned to the front with Kendrick Carmouche at long odds and she looked like a winner until the final yards. Junior Alvarado had It Justhitthe Wire rallying on the outside and Johnny Velazquez came up the rail aboard TWO DOZEN ROSES. Alvarado came over in the final strides and tightened Carmouche up and, with nowhere to go, that one took away any running room that Velazquez had. Velazquez almost came out of the saddle and Two Dozen Roses would have gone down had Carmouche not been right next to her. Incredibly, nobody went down and the steward’s inquiry sign was lit. It was ruled that Alvarado caused the whole chain reaction and It Justhitthe Wire was placed third behind Two Dozen Roses and Shanghai Bonnie. The head on replay was even more scary when you were able to see how close they were to disaster.

Last out, Behavioral Bias broke on top and set demanding fractions to lead to the final strides going seven furlongs in blazing-fast time of 1:20.81 – the fastest of the entire meet. He figured to set the pace again in Race 8 but broke slowly and chased the pace surprisingly set by PETROV. Jose Ortiz gunned that one and with some class relief against $80,000 optional claimers, he was a sharp winner at almost 10-1. Favorable Outcome was second for Chad Brown and Behavioral Bias had to be vanned off.

Race 9 went to Chad Brown and ADMISSION OFFICE gave him his 31st win of the meet when he rallied late to nail Nakamura. Brown added blinkers for the first time and Jose Ortiz kept him back where he followed brother Irad Oritz Jr. into the lane. Nakamura looked like he might have it but Irad ran him down as the favorite. The Ortiz-brother exacta paid $15.20.


Monday is the last day of the fifth week and we will try to maintain some momentum from today. In Race 3, Todd Pletcher sends out CHATEAU (#4), who he acquired two starts back and almost won going two turns at Pimlico 85 days ago. He showed good speed that day and he comes in here off a strong, five-furlong breeze on the Oklahoma training track.