Max Player won the Withers Stakes to earn 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby
Trainer Linda Rice said she is continuing to play the waiting game with promising sophomores Max Player and Montauk Traffic amid the uncertainty around the upcoming national stakes schedule due to circumstances regarding the coronavirus.
Owned by George E. Hall, Rice said the Grade 3 Withers winner Max Player was pointing to the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino slated for April 4 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Chris Fountoukis’ Montauk Traffic captured the Jimmy Winkfield in February at the Big A ahead of a rallying fourth in the Grade 3 Gotham on March 7. Rice said she was targeting the Grade 3, $250,000 Bay Shore with Montauk Traffic, a seven-furlong sprint for sophomores also slated for April 4 at the Big A.
“Right now, I have a couple nice 3-year-olds I was excited about running in the Wood Memorial and the Bay Shore,” said Rice. “I’m anxious to hear of adjustments to the schedule regarding preps for the Belmont Stakes and what they’re going to do with the rest of the three-year-old classics. We know where the Derby is but we’re not sure what other changes there might be.”
Max Player last breezed on March 18 covering seven furlongs in 1:27.20 on the Belmont training track.
“We worked him seven-eighths last time and considering we don’t have a target just yet, we’re spacing his works out a little bit more,” said Rice. “We breezed Montauk Traffic this past week (six furlongs in 1:14.33 on March 25). We had a little rain in the forecast but we should be able to breeze Max Player again shortly.”
Alpha Delta Stables’ Scilly Cay captured the Rego Park on January 12 to provide Rice her 2,000th career win. However, the New York-bred son of Fed Biz was off the board in two subsequent efforts when fourth in the Gander and sixth in the Damon Runyon.
“We sent him out for a break. He tailed off his last two races and with us not racing, it was the right time to do so,” said Rice. “He came out of the last race okay but I felt like his performance had tailed off.”
Rice said Beach Haven Thoroughbreds’ multiple stakes-winning New York-bred Newly Minted is also enjoying some downtime following her runner-up effort last out in the Heavenly Prize Invitational.
“She had been in training for over a year and accomplished a lot,” said Rice of the Central Banker filly who notched stakes wins last season in the NYSSS Park Avenue at the Big A, Bouwerie at Belmont, and Fleet Indian at Saratoga. “I was planning to give her a break this summer but considering where we are right now, I decided to send her out last week.”
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