Among the highlights of an outrageously busy Saturday morning at Saratoga was the return to the worktab of Belmont Stakes runner-up Gronkowski and Kentucky Derby fourth-place finisher Instilled Regard.
Going to guess that more than 300 horses breezed Saturday morning, their trainers trying to beat the forecast rain expected to permeate the area as early as tonight.
Gronkowski, who has not worked since June 23, breezed a half-mile in 48.09 seconds over the Saratoga main track. He went in company with Kurilov, a Group 1 winner in Chile who has not run since finishing eighth in the Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth last year.
“The horse worked very well,” trainer Chad Brown said of Gronkowski. “I thought he did that as good as a horse can do it.”
Brown said he is going to try and train Gronkowski up to the Grade 1 Travers on Aug. 25. In his lone start in the U.S, Gronkowski finished a late-running second to Justify in the Belmont Stakes. He worked on June 23 but came out of the work with an issue that forced Brown to keep him off the worktab until now.
“He’s got a strong mile-and-a-half race and he did have one breeze post-race that was good and that’s where he aggravated something, since resolved and he looks good,” Brown said. “It’s definitely forced me to make a plan I didn’t think I’d have to make _ train up to a race like this _ but that said, he’s gotten back on track. Hopefully, he stays there.”
Meanwhile, Instilled Regard worked three furlongs in 37.40 seconds, his first work since running fourth in the Kentucky Derby and first since he was transferred by owner Larry Best from Jerry Hollendorfer to Brown.
“Real happy with that horse, he’s moving well, see how he comes out of it and go on from there,” said Brown, who wanted to talk to Best before revealing what he’d like to do with Instilled Regard.
Meanwhile, Vino Rosso, fourth in the Belmont Stakes, worked four furlongs in 48.62 seconds over the Oklahoma training track. He went in company with 2017 Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit. The two galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.07 and six furlongs in 1:13.47 actually brushing entering the far turn.
Vino Rosso, winner of the Grade 2 Wood Memorial in April, is pointing to next Saturday’s Grade 2 Jim Dandy while Tapwrit, fourth in the Suburban last out at Belmont, is expected to run next in the Grade 1 Whitney here on Aug. 4.
Pletcher matched these horses in a workout because he wanted to sharpen them up since both are cutting back in distance to 1 1-8-mile races for their next start.
“I wasn’t concerned about fitness or stamina from either one, I just wanted to sharpen them up a little bit,” Pletcher said. “I thought they both finished nicely and galloped out well. It was a good progressive breeze from both of them.”