Work in Progress

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Sometimes a non-traditional approach is just what it takes to get the most of out a horse. That said, if you ask Niall Saville about the program for his starter in today’s 1 5/8-mile John’s Call Stakes on the turf, which includes dressage, jumping, and lots of hill work, he’ll tell you it’s just part of the usual routine.

“He’s not a special-case program here at Fair Hill. Maybe slightly different than being stuck in Belmont for example,” Saville said this week about Moss Code’s training regimen. 

The 4-year-old Congrats gelding came to Saville and his wife Rosella in February after Irv Naylor claimed him for $50,000 at Gulfstream Park to add another hurdle prospect to his successful steeplechase operation. 

“He was a nice horse when we got him,” said Rosella, who works closely with her husband. “He was pretty straightforward.”

Niall Saville said Moss Code was on his radar for about six months before the claim.

“We ran one the same day he was at Belmont,” he said of a start at Belmont in July 2015. “So, he popped on the radar there and Mr. Naylor asked me to look for a couple of horses that would make jumpers in the future. I thought he was a good looking horse, well put together, thought he’d make a nice hurdler. But in the mean time I thought we could win a few races with him. He fit the bill for Mr. Naylor so that’s why I took him.

“They paid a lot of money for him originally, he’s well-bred and has an awful lot of class. That’s what I look for when I claim, because if you can figure out the key to them, they come good for you. I think quite highly of him to be honest.”

Out of the Housebuster mare Fun Project, Moss Code sold to owner Mossarossa for $190,000 at the 2014 Keeneland April 2-year-olds sale. The chestnut was unsuccessful in 10 starts before being claimed.

Moss Code won first time out for the Saville team April 15 at Aqueduct going 1 1/16 miles. 

“I was actually very, very high on him winning up at Aqueduct, I was going to be surprised if he got beat,” Saville said. “He’d improved so much.”

To read the rest of the John’s Call preview, download Wednesday’s digital edition of The Saratoga Special presented by Keeneland Sales.