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Still Having Fun “perfect” heading into G1 Jerkens

by | Aug 23, 2018 | Breaking, Maryland, MD Breeding, MD Racing, Racing, Top Stories |

Still Having Fun won the G2 Woody Stephens Stakes. Photo by Viola Jasko/NYRA.

by Ted Black

Just over two months after he rallied from well off the pace to forge an emphatic victory in the Grade 2, $400,000 Woody Stephens Stakes on Belmont Stakes day, Still Having Fun will make the long journey north from his Laurel Park barn to Saratoga Race Course this Saturday for the Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial at seven furlongs on the lucrative undercard of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes.

Still Having Fun, a Maryland-bred sophomore son of Old Fashioned trained by Tim Keefe for owners Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable and Terp Racing and co-bred by Keefe and Charles and Cynthia McGinnes of Thornmar Farm near Chestertown, will head into the Jerkens – formerly the King’s Bishop – off a quartet of workouts over the past four Sunday mornings at Laurel. His most recent workout on Sunday was a four-furlong breeze in 48 1/5 seconds, a bullet move that fit right into his regimen leading to his first Grade 1 outing.

“I thought his workout on Sunday morning was good,” Keefe said. “Sheldon Russell worked him for me and he’s been working him for me the last month and he’s done well. This horse really needed a little time off after the Woody Stephens. He needed a freshening. I was considering the Dwyer at Belmont, but that race was a little close after the Woody Stephens, and I was thinking about the Amsterdam [at Saratoga], but I decided to give him more time off and just bring him into the Jerkens off works.”

Still Having Fun, a winner three times in six starts this year with earnings just shy of $390,000, boasts four wins and over $430,000 banked from eight lifetime tries. He will make the trip Thursday morning to Saratoga for Saturday’s Jerkens, a similar travel plan to the one he followed prior to the Woody Stephens.

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“Prior to the Belmont he went up there on Thursday and stayed at Bill Mott’s barn there and got acclimated to the surroundings pretty quickly,” Keefe said. “He ships pretty well, so I don’t imagine any issues there. Saratoga is a little further than Belmont, but it’s an easy commute for the most part. Once he gets there and gets settled in, he should be fine. That won’t be an excuse. We’ll just hope that he runs his race when the gates open.”

Still Having Fun drew post seven for the nine-horse Jerkens, which is scheduled as the sixth race on the Travers Stakes card, and will have Joel Rosario in the irons. He is 6-1 on the morning line. Promises Fulfilled (8-5), who drew the rail, and Dwyer hero Firenze Fire (5-2), who will start one spot outside of Still Having Fun, loom the top choices.

Still Having Fun had initially been pointing for the Preakness Stakes after capturing both the Frank Whiteley, Jr. and Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel Park during the winter, but he failed to deliver on his promises when stretching out for the Private Terms and the Federico Tesio Stakes. At that point, Keefe went to Plan B and began gearing Still Having Fun for one-turn sprints. He finished second in the $200,000 Chick Lang on Preakness Day before winning the Woody Stephens. Now he seeks his first Grade I score in the Jerkens.

“He obviously had some distance limitations, but I knew he would be fine in the one-turn stakes, especially going seven furlongs,” Keefe said. “He ran well in the Chick Lang over a speed-favoring sloppy track, and then he ran a great race in the Woody Stephens. He’s also handled himself well in front of big crowds on Preakness Day and Belmont Day, and I imagine he’ll be fine on Saturday when they have a big crowd there for the Travers. He’s coming into it perfect, so really he won’t have any excuses.”

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