Trainer Jim Bond will be in search of his first Grade 1 Woodward win when he saddles William L. Clifton, Jr’s Prioritize in Saturday’s $500,000 10-furlong test on the Saratoga main track.
After making his first nine starts on turf, Bond moved the 5-year-old Tizway gelding to the main track in December at Aqueduct and the bay responded with a 1 1/2-length win in a $35,000 claiming mile.
Following a pair of runner-up efforts on the main track in February at the Big A and in June at Belmont, Prioritize earned a career-best 99 Beyer when capturing a nine-furlong optional-claiming route on July 25 at the Spa.
Bond said he moved the bay to dirt in search of a wake-up call after four off-the-board efforts.
“He just lost a bit of interest for me on the turf and I couldn’t find any rhyme or reason, so I decided to take a shot and try him on dirt,” said Bond. “His works on dirt in the morning were okay, nothing over the top, but boy, he sure has improved.”
The last-out win saw Prioritize rally from seventh to best Kentucky Derby contender Money Moves by a neck.
“Thank God, Tiz the Law’s not in there,” said Bond with a laugh, though Prioritize will have to deal with a probable field that includes Global Campaign, Moretti, Spinoff and Tacitus.
Bond noted that a horse finding success on dirt after racing on turf isn’t without precedent, recalling with a laugh that in 1995, he sent out L’Carriere to finish second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic behind a well-regarded charge for Mott.
“There was a horse I was second to in the Breeders’ Cup Classic named Cigar that made his first few starts on the grass and then switched to dirt and the rest is history,” quipped Bond. “I didn’t ask Billy for any words of wisdom, but maybe I should have a little bit earlier.
“Saying that, I think he’ll get the distance and it’s a handicap so we’ll see what the weights are,” added Bond. “He’s doing good and he’s won on the surface here. Sometimes you throw the ball and hopefully he can catch it.”
Eric Cancel will retain the mount on Prioritize.
Bond will saddle Thomas Coleman’s Mani Pedi in Thursday’s $100,000 NYSSS Park Avenue, a 6 ½-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies.
The Zivo bay, out of Lookin At Lucky mare Phoenix Park, started her career with trainer Chad Brown and finished fourth in her June debut at Belmont Park. She made her first start for Bond a winning one with a stalking effort in a $25,000 maiden-claiming sprint for New York-breds on July 22 at the Spa.
“She’s a light-bodied filly and she seems to like our program,” said Bond. “She ran a great race last time, against lesser company, but I see improvement in her body wise and she’s happy as can be.”
Bond is currently eighth in the Spa trainer standings with 10 wins and said he is happy to take a chance on picking up the barn’s first stakes win of the meet.
“Sometimes you take a shot,” said Bond. “We actually have the mare at the farm for the owner, so if she’s 1-2-3 it’s a positive for the owner and when you’re in the breeding game you like to see the offspring do well because it gives you some recognition for the following foals and keeps your bank account a little bit heavier.”
Bond said he had considered Friday’s nine-furlong $150,000 Fleet Indian for Mani Pedi.
“I looked at it but I thought this was a better spot,” said Bond. “It’s one turn and when you’re going into stakes you don’t want to change too much. This race is a little shorter but it shows a lot of speed in this race. I think the pace will be pretty quick and she looks to be a pretty good stalker. If she improves a little bit, I think she’ll be close.”