Sunday, July 19, 2020
HALLANDALE BEACH - Ny Traffic stalled briefly at the top of the stretch before shifting into high gear in Saturday’s Gr. I Haskell at Monmouth Park, putting a late scare into front-running Authentic, only to fall an excruciating nose short of victory.
Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. expressed more satisfaction than disappointment in his Gulfstream Park-based Kentucky Derby prospect this morning.
“I think I’ve lost a claimer and been more upset," Joseph said. "For some reason, I didn’t feel any disappointment, because I know where we’re trying to get – to the Derby. I just thought it was another step forward again. I didn’t want to see any regression. That was my biggest thing – not seeing any regression.”
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Ny Traffic, who currently sits fourth in qualifying points for the Sept. 5 Derby at Churchill Downs, chased a loose-on-the-lead Authentic into the stretch, where he made a courageous bid for victory.
“I was proud of him," Joseph said. "At the quarter pole, he was off the bridle and it looked like he wouldn’t be able to get second. To see him trying and keep coming and almost getting there . . . At the 1/16th-pole, I thought he might win. It went from a low to a high. I didn’t take the beat that bad, honestly. I was just happy how he ran and it was another jump forward, like we’re going in the right way for the Derby.”
Ny Traffic, who followed up a dominating Jan. 11 allowance win at Gulfstream in his first start for Joseph with a third-place finish in the Gr. II Risen Star, a runner-up finish in the Gr. II Louisiana Derby and a second-place finish in the Gr. III Matt Winn, is owned by John Fanelli, Cash is King LLC, LC Racing and Paul Braverman.
“I’m sending him to Saratoga and let him train there a little bit," Joseph said. "I don’t know if we’ll ship early to Churchill or ship late. We haven’t decided yet."
The Joseph-trained Tonalist’s Shape didn’t fare nearly as well as her stablemate Saturday, finishing a well-beaten fourth as the 6-5 favorite in the Gr. I Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga. The multiple graded stakes-winner, who wore blinkers for the first time in a race, was rank early and lacked the late punch that carried her to victory in the Gr. III Forward Gal and Gr. II Davona Dale during the Championship Meet and, most recently, the Hollywood Wildcat at Gulfstream.
“The blinkers, I knew, could have that effect," Joseph said. "I thought the blinkers for her was going to be hit or miss. It was either going to make a big difference or it was going to be a big mistake. It turned out to be a big mistake. We thought we were making the right decision. We had to give it a try. I’ll take the blame for that. I can’t blame her. She got a little rank going into the first turn. I think it was a complete throw-out race. I’ll take the blame for that.”
The Sept. 4 Kentucky Oaks is still penciled in for a ‘blinkers-off” Tonalist’s Shape. “I’m not going to let that race distract us," Joseph said. "If all is well, we’re going to stay on plan. She’s earned a spot in the Oaks. If she stays the course, we’ll probably give her a chance there. We’ll see how she does. We’ll talk it over with the owners, but I don’t see any reason not to continue onwards.”
Math Wizard, who gave Joseph his first Gr. 1 success while winning last year’s Pennsylvania Derby at Parx, improved off a pair of disappointing 2020 efforts with a second-place finish behind Global Campaign in Saturday’s Gr. III Monmouth Cup.
“He ran very good . . . he’s just a hard-knocking horse,” Joseph said. “On his day, when he’s doing good, he gives his all. I couldn’t be more proud of him.”