Early Voting provided trainer Chad Brown and owner Klaravich Stables with their second straight victory in the Feb. 5 Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct Racetrack and was reported to be in good shape Sunday morning.
“He cooled out well this morning. He seems to have come out of it the right way,” said Brown’s Belmont Park-based assistant Dan Stupp. “We weren’t quite expecting that much speed from him. I know Chad wanted him to break well from that post, get a good forward position, and he broke so well that I think Jose (Oritz) didn’t want to take anything away from him. He ended up doing it pretty comfortably on the backside there. He and Jose did the rest from there.”
Stupp spoke highly of the ride from Ortiz, who shipped up from Florida for the mount.
“The day before, it seemed like everyone was in the middle of the track closing and it played out that way yesterday as well,” Stupp said. “Jose wanted to steer him to the outside. Down the stretch, he said the horse wanted to just stay to the rail and he was trying to school him a little bit. He went to the left hand to get him out in the middle of the track and teach him a little bit.”
Early Voting arrived at Brown’s Saratoga Race Course division in late September from Niall Brennan Stables in Ocala, Fla., before shipping to Belmont in November. He displayed talent on debut winning a one-turn mile Dec. 18 at the Big A.
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Stupp said Early Voting improved exceedingly out of his maiden score.
“When I first got him, he was a little bit far away from a race, unfit, and was difficult to train. As each work progressed and as we got closer to his debut, I saw glimpses of a good horse,” Stupp recalled . “When we ran him first time, we knew he wanted to run longer. We needed him to run once from both a conditioning and a maturity standpoint. This horse was just a totally different horse after his first race. There were small things with him . You had to lead him to the track with a lip chain, he just wanted to act up on the track a little bit. He was just so much better after that first start and I think there’s more room for improvement.”
Stupp oversaw the winter campaign of last year’s Withers winner Risk Taking , who also trained at Belmont through the winter.
“Risk taking and him were totally different,” Stupp said. “Risk Taking was straight forward and was what he was. This horse is a late-developing horse. He needs experience, he needs each race to move him forward from a conditioning standpoint.”
The two remaining Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) preps at Aqueduct are the Gotham Stakes (G3) at a one-turn mile March 5 and the Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by Resorts World Casino (G2) at nine furlongs April 9. Last year, Risk Taking skipped the Gotham in favor of staying around two turns for the Wood Memorial, where he finished seventh.
“Chad and Seth (Klarman of Klaravich) will figure that out. It’s a long way from now until the Wood,” Stupp said.
Cypress Creek Equine’s New York-bred An Ojo finished up well to be second in the Withers in his first start at nine furlongs for trainer Tony Dutrow.
Dutrow said he was hopeful the extra two furlongs in the Withers would be helpful to Un Ojo following a neck defeat in the Dec. 18 Great White Way division of the New York Stallion Stakes Series.
“We believed that the mile and an eighth would be good,” Dutrow said. “We were very happy with his effort. He’s a little New York-bred with one eye. He’s over-accomplishing every time he runs. Horses coming from last have been doing good over the track there, so I told Trevor (McCarthy) to run late and get out in the middle of the track. I’m proud of our horse’s effort.”
Dutrow said Un Ojo’s effort in the Withers confirmed that he will stay at route distances going forward, ruling out a start in the Gotham but leaving the door open for a run in the Wood Memorial.
“The owner is very enthusiastic and wanted to talk yesterday about where to go next, but I wasn’t ready for that yet,” Dutrow said. “We both agreed that we will not be going to the Gotham. It’s possible that we run in a New York-bred allowance going nine furlongs to get him his serving reward for his efforts. That would give him great confidence if we were to go to the Wood Memorial. That would be the distance he likes at a track he likes.”
Drafted Possible for Carter
After making multiple appearances against sprinting stakes company in New York, Dublin Fjord Stables, Racepoint Stables, Kevin Hilbert and Thomas O’Keefe’s veteran Drafted scored a breakthrough victory in Saturday’s re-scheduled Toboggan Stakes (G3).
Drafted takes the Toboggan Stakes at Aqueduct
“He’s been a difficult horse to be around,” trainer David Duggan said. “To get him back to where he’s at, we knew he had the talent but there were some personality issues along the way. There’s no easy races here. The high-end claimers are sometimes the same type of horses as the stakes horses.”
Duggan said pointing Drafted to the seven-furlong Carter Handicap (G1) April 9 would be preferable to the six-furlong Tom Fool Handicap (G3) March 5.
“It would have to be,” said Duggan when asked if the Carter was an option. “He ran a 97 Beyer, so numbers wise, it puts you right there. The numbers yesterday reflected that he’s a better seven-eighths horse. It’s pretty obvious. We ran six furlongs because it was there. We’re just going to enjoy this and go from there.”
Trainer Michelle Nevin said she will give careful thought on where to run Jay Em Ess Stable’s Happy Medium next after the 4-year-old finished a disappointing third in the Toboggan as the 1-5 favorite.
Nevin said the muddy and harrowed main track, along with an inside trip, contributed to his 10 1/2-length defeat.
“The track was a factor in things. It did seem deeper down on the rail yesterday. This morning he’s nice and bright and ate up his food,” Nevin said. “We’ll just have to see how things develop over the next few days. I don’t see an issue. We’ll take our time and wait and see.”