WAR DANCER (Center) (Coady Photography)

WAR DANCER (Center) (Coady Photography)

According to the Thoroughbred Daily News, trainer Ken McPeek has high hopes for Saratoga, targeting two grade 1 events – the Alabama and the Travers.

McPeek is considering grade 2 Virginia Derby hero War Dancer, who made six of his seven starts on the turf, for the Travers. The colt’s sole dirt start was in a Gulfstream Park maiden Feb. 9, where he was fourth to graded stakes placed Saint Vigeur.

“We know he wants a mile and a quarter,” McPeek said. It’s obviously his distance, but can he handle the surface switch? I think he can. War Front (War Dancer’s sire) himself never ran once on the turf. We’ve got to defend our title with somebody.”

McPeek won last year’s Travers with Golden Ticket in a dead heat with Alpha .

“The other thing we’re looking at is, we do think the three-year-old season is wide open, and the stud value it would add to him would be dramatic. He would be one of the top 3-year-olds if we could sneak our way into a Grade I dirt race.”

Another possibility for War Dancer would have beenthe Grade 1 Secretariat S. on the grass at Arlington Park, but McPeek has decided to point GI Blue Grass S. winner Java’s War at that race instead.

“Why butt heads against ourselves?” McPeek asked. “We could easily get beat over there and wish we had run here. [War Dancer] never worked on the turf once. He’s worked on the dirt every time. He works with all our best horses on the dirt. It just so happens he ended up on the grass in a series of races.”

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