Caravel Anticipates Start Against Boys in G3 Troy
G1 Whitney or Jockey Club Gold Cup Possible for West Will Power
Slip Mahoney Makes First Start as Gelding in Sunday Allowance
NYRA Press Office
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.— The graded stakes-winning pair of Hit Show and Angel of Empire breezed five furlongs in company Saturday over Saratoga Race Course’s Oklahoma dirt training track for trainer Brad Cox as both horses eye a start in the Grade 2, $500,000 Jim Dandy presented by DK Horse on July 29 at the Spa.
Under clear skies and temperatures in the mid-60s, the pair stepped onto the fast track right at its 5:30 a.m. opening with Flavien Prat aboard Angel of Empire and Luis Saez in the irons atop Hit Show. The two walked in tandem midway up the stretch before turning back around to assume their starting position and taking off with matching strides. Angel of Empire was positioned to the inside of Hit Show with the two completing their exercise on nearly even terms.
Cox said this week’s work was almost identical to their work last week when the two covered five-eighths in 1:00.90.
“I had them in a minute and four [fifths] this weekend and last. It was really good and very similar to what we saw last week,” said Cox. “I loved that work and I loved this work. They work well together and it went so well last week, I didn’t want to change much. I was very happy with what we saw.”
Gary and Mary West’s Hit Show and Albaugh Family Stables’ Angel of Empire were last seen dead-heating for fourth in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets where the former attended the pace and the latter closed from eighth-of-nine.
Hit Show is in search of his second graded coup after winning the Grade 3 Withers in February at Aqueduct Racetrack, while Angel of Empire looks for his third after wins in the Grade 2 Risen Star in February at Fair Grounds and the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park ahead of a third in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby.
Also on the Saturday work tab for Cox was multiple Grade 1-winning turf sprinter Caravel, who went a half-mile solo over the Oklahoma turf training track ahead of an anticipated start against males in the Grade 3, $300,000 Troy on August 5. The 2022 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint champion worked just after 10 a.m. under regular exercise rider Kelvin Perez.
“It was really good and again, it was similar to last week,” Cox said, noting the mare’s half-mile breeze in 48.88 on July 15. “I was super happy this morning. Kelvin was on her and does a great job with her. He was on her last year. She’s very professional.”
Gary and Mary West’s West Will Power, winner of the Grade 1 Stephen Foster last out on July 1 at Ellis Park, could come under consideration for the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney on August 5 at the Spa. Cox said he would like to see one more work from the son of Bernardini before making a firm decision on his next outing, which could also come in the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 2.
West Will Power worked a half-mile in 51.40 on July 15 at Churchill Downs in his first work back since the Stephen Foster.
“He’s good and breezed a little slow on his own – he can do that sometimes, but overall, super good,” Cox said. “The Whitney is on the table and we’ll see how things go with his next work. It depends on who goes in there and what he does next week. We could always circle back to the Jockey Club as well.”
Cox looked on at Gold Square’s Slip Mahoney schooling in the Saratoga paddock Saturday morning ahead of his first outing off a two-month respite in Sunday’s second race, a salty one-mile allowance for 3-year-olds and up with a field that includes the Todd Pletcher-trained Mount Up and the Bill Mott-trained Set Sail.
The grey son of Arrogate makes his first start since being gelded after finishing an even fourth in the Long Branch on May 13 at Monmouth Park, a change Cox said seems to be for the better.
“He’s been good. He’s got some energy, but we’re excited to get him started again,” said Cox. “I think his works have been a little more consistent in the mornings leading up to this than they were prior to him being castrated. I’m super happy with what I’ve seen.”
Slip Mahoney, who finished a rallying second in the Grade 3 Gotham, will exit post 2 in rein to Luis Saez as the 2-1 morning-line favorite.