SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.— Chad Brown breezed several Runhappy Travers Day hopefuls over the main track Saturday led by Zandon, who covered five furlongs in 1:00.65, while Early Voting, piloted by Jose Ortiz, drilled five-eighths in 1:01 flat in company with Klaravich Stables’ graded stakes-placed Accretive, who is targeting the Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial.
Runhappy Travers contender Artorius, with Irad Ortiz, Jr. up, went a half-mile in 47 flat with Search Results, who is targeting the nine-furlong Grade 1, $600,000 Personal Ensign on Runhappy Travers Day.
“I thought all of the Travers horses worked super,” Brown said. “The track was a lot faster after the break today and a lot faster than it has been for the whole meet. We’ll see what role that plays in the preparation of horses in the afternoon. I know that’s an observation that everyone is going to tell you who has been training on it.”
Brown said his trio of contenders provides him his best ever chance at winning a first Travers.
“Absolutely, by miles,” said Brown, whose best Travers finish came last year with third-place finisher Miles D. “I’m very excited about it. I feel very grateful. These horses are hard to come by. It’s just the reality. To have three in here, I am hoping one of them can get it done.”
Klaravich Stables’ Early Voting, by Gun Runner, captured the Grade 3 Withers in February at Aqueduct Racetrack and followed with a game second in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino in April at the Big A which was won by eventual Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets champ Mo Donegal.
He returned with aplomb to win the Grade 1 Preakness in May at Pimlico Race Course but was a non-threatening fourth last out in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy on July 30 here.
Last week, Early Voting turned Brown’s head with a solid half-mile work in 49.78 to stay in contention for the Travers.
“Today, he even worked better,” Brown said. “When you come off a poor effort, it is a step-by-step process. Last week’s work was one step in the right direction or in the Travers direction. Today was another step to confirm. He kept himself as a possibility with the last work. Today, he confirmed it.”
Jeff Drown’s Zandon, by Upstart, captured the Grade 1 Blue Grass in April at Keeneland ahead of a strong third-place finish in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 7 at Churchill Downs. He chased home Travers rival Epicenter last out in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy.
“He really mirrored the work before the Derby where everyone was sort of drooling over it,” Brown said. “It really led him to be the morning line favorite off a work, which is rare.”
Juddmonte’s Kentucky homebred Artorius has won 2-of-3 starts, including the restricted nine-furlong Curlin last out on July 29 at the Spa. Artorius bested probable Travers rival Gilded Age by 4 3/4-lengths in the Curlin. The regally bred Arrogate colt is out of the Brown-trained multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Paulassilverlining, who is a half-sister to multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Dads Caps.
“I always thought this horse has the ability to get to the Travers. It’s not a surprise at all,” Brown said. “I’ve used the word ‘relieved’ that he has been able to do it, which is a small percentage or chance that he would advance this quick. He has the ability, but things happen. Horses have setbacks. Horses don’t run the way you think they are going to run. For him to hit all of the marks and get there, everything went sort of right.
“Everything went right along the way with his works, his spacing, weather, his health, and such,” Brown added. “I have been relieved that we have gave it a shot to put him on a path to get here and he hit it. The way he worked today, I think [he will have a big effort], but he will have his hands full. This is a different group than the Curlin. It was one of his best works today.”
Brown also breezed Jim Bakke, Gerald Isbister, Coolmore Stud and Peter Brant’s Jack Christopher five-eighths in 59.80 in company to the outside of allowance-winning 3-year-old colt Key Point.
“Jack Christopher did that well within himself,” Brown said. “He’s back to his old self after being a tick sluggish out of the Haskell. He has been working a little bit stronger and I was pleased with that.”
The Munnings chestnut is targeting the seven-furlong Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial on the Runhappy Travers undercard. He won his first four career starts, including Grade 1 scores in the Champagne and Woody Stephens at Belmont Park along with a prominent win in the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs. Last out, Jack Christopher took the lead at the stretch call of the Grade 1 Haskell but settled for third.
NYRA Press Office
Photo: Travers contender Zandon breezes August 20th (NYRA/Coglianese)