Pletcher eyes Travers for Harlem Rocker
ELMONT, N.Y. -- Harlem Rocker, who remained undefeated on dirt with his victory in the Prince of Wales Stakes last Sunday, could make his next start in the $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga, trainer Todd Pletcher said Thursday.
"I would say it's a possibility; I haven't had a chance to speak with the Stronachs yet, but the spacing is good," Pletcher said, referring to owner Frank Stronach and his wife Frieda. "It would make the most sense."
Harlem Rocker won the first three starts of his career, including the Grade 3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct on April 26. Pletcher was pointing Harlem Rocker to the Preakness before Frank Stronach opted to skip that race and point for the Queen's Plate. But Harlem Rocker skipped the Queen's Plate after he ran poorly in the Queen's Plate Trial, run over Woodbine's Polytrack.
In the Prince of Wales, run over Fort Erie's dirt surface, Harlem Rocker rated off the pace, sling-shotted to the lead around the far turn, and, despite waiting on horses in the stretch, went on to win by 1 1/4 lengths.
"I was pleased with it, he's obviously a horse that's a little tricky to ride," Pletcher said. "When he makes the lead, he tends to wait on horses. He's one of those horses you don't know how good he might be because he always wins with something left."
Pletcher said that another of his stakes-winning 3-year-olds, Behindatthebar, remains hampered by a foot abscess and his next start is uncertain. Pletcher had to keep him out of the Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park and added that a start in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga on July 27 is unlikely.
Wait a While likely for Diana
Wait a While, sidelined since January with a stress fracture in her left tibia, is expected to return to the races in the Grade 1 Diana on July 26 at Saratoga, Pletcher said.
Pletcher said Wait a While was to have one more work at Churchill Downs over the weekend and ship to Saratoga on Monday. Wait a While trained last summer at Churchill Downs before romping to a 2 1/4-length victory in Saratoga's Grade 2 Ballston Spa Handicap on Aug. 23. In 2006, Wait a While won the Grade 2 Lake Placid at the Spa.
Pletcher said at Churchill Downs Wait a While "trains a little kinder than she does other places. Kevin Wiley gets on her there and gets along with her real well."
Wait a While, a 5-year-old daughter of Maria's Mon, has won 10 of 20 career starts and has earned more than $1.8 million for Alan Cohen's Arindel Farm.
"She's training better than ever, she loves Saratoga, she likes firm ground, hopefully, we'll have firm ground on race day," Pletcher said. "It's obviously a very tough race, but she's run well fresh in the past."
Wait a While will need a new rider for the Diana as Garrett Gomez, her regular pilot, has committed to ride Rutherienne in that spot.
The Diana, run at 1 1/8 miles, is coming up a terrific race, with at least four Grade 1 winners, including Wait a While, Bit of Whimsy, Rutherienne, and Vacare. Also pointing to the race are Chestoria, Criminologist, Dynaforce, Forever Together, and Lady Digby.
Rewrite heading to Yaddo
Rewrite, who defeated Latitude Forty by a nose in Wednesday's $77,500 Irish Actress Stakes, will make her next start in the $100,000 Yaddo Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 9. She will most likely again face Latitude Forty, who won last year's Yaddo.
"That's the plan as long as she comes back okay," trainer Christophe Clement said.
Rewrite, a daughter of Editor's Note owned and bred by Amherst Stable, won for the ninth time in 16 starts and fifth from her last seven. She has earned $444,195.
Saratoga open house Sunday
Fans who can't wait for Wednesday's opening day at Saratoga can get a jump on the proceedings by attending the annual open house Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.
There will be a bevy of activities throughout the day, including backstretch tours every half-hour beginning at 11 a.m., handicapping seminars at 12:15 and 2:15 p.m., and five nonwagering races. Four of the races are steeplechase events, while one is a flat race consisting of steeplechase runners.
There will be pony rides, clowns, musical acts, and several refreshment stands.
While there is no charge to attend the open house, fans who donate two nonperishable canned items to the Saratoga Economic Opportunity Council, a nonprofit program that provides aid to low and/or fixed-income families in crisis, will receive a commemorative NYRA souvenir, while supplies last.
Spa season passes on sale
Season passes for the Saratoga meet are on sale at Belmont's customer service center through Sunday. They also can be obtained at Saratoga's grandstand customer service center.
The passes cost $75 for clubhouse and $35 for grandstand. The passes are good for the entire 36-day Saratoga meet, including Travers Day, Aug. 23.