Photo by NYRA/Coglianese Photos/Chelsea Durand
NYRA Press Release: Fields are taking shape for Travers Day this Saturday at Saratoga Race Course, comprised of seven graded stakes and anchored by the traditional summer showcase of the nation’s top 3-year-olds, the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers.
With as many as 14 eyeing a start in the 147th running of the “Mid-summer Derby” on Saturday, August 27, this year’s edition looks to attract one of the largest fields in the race’s storied history. The largest field in the Travers was in 1977, when 14 went to post. In 1965 and 1990, 13 horses started in the Travers, and in 1956 and 2008, there were 12 runners.
Leading the list of probable contenders is multiple Grade 1 winner Exaggerator, who took the Haskell Invitational last time out by 1 ½ lengths on a sloppy and sealed track for owners Big Chief Racing and trainer Keith Desormeaux.
Chad Brown, currently the leading trainer at Saratoga, could be represented by as many as three runners in the 1 ¼-mile Travers as Connect and Gift Box, the respective 1-2 finishers of the Curlin on July 29, are likely to be joined by My Man Sam, who was beaten a neck coming off an 11-week layoff in a July 23 allowance.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is likely to ship Haskell runner-up American Freedom and impressive allowance winner Arrogate from his California training base, while newly inducted Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen is also likely to send a pair of contenders in Grade 1 Belmont winner Creator and Grade 2 Louisiana Derby winner Gun Runner.
Also pointing to the Travers are multiple Grade 2 winner Mohaymen for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin; Belmont runner-up Destin for two-time Travers-winning trainer Todd Pletcher; Laoban, the front-running upset winner of the Grade 2 Jim Dandy on July 30, trained by Eric Guillot; Jim Dandy runner-up Governor Malibu for trainer Christophe Clement; Forever d’Oro, a half-brother to multiple graded stakes winners Unbridled Forever and Forever Unbridled for the Dallas Stewart barn; and Mikhail Yanakov trainee Anaximandros, fourth last time out in the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby. Mo Tom is also possible.
Also on Travers Day, Juddmonte Farm’s Flintshire will look to defend his title in the Grade 1, $1 million Longines Sword Dancer, one of five additional Grade 1 contests Saturday afternoon and a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Confirmed to take on Flintshire are Grand Tito, runner-up to Flintshire in the Grade 2 Bowling Green on July 30, Applicator, and Inordinate.
The Grade 1, $750,000 Personal Ensign, which carries a “Win and You’re In” berth into the Distaff, is expected to feature a salty showdown between multiple graded stakes winners Cavorting, Curalina, Forever Unbridled, I’m a Chatterbox and Paid Up Subscriber.
The undefeated Lady Eli will step into the starting gate for the Grade 2, $400,000 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa as she looks to make her first start since winning the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks in July 2015. Also likely for the race are Excilly, Miss Temple City, Sentiero Italia, Strike Charmer, and Sweet Acclaim.
A “Win and You’re In” event for the Sprint, the Grade 1, $700,000 Priority One Jets Forego is expected to attract A. P. Indian, All Star Red, Anchor Down, Catalina Red, Dannie’s Deceiver, Limousine Liberal, Marking, Ready for Rye and Stallwalkin’ Dude. Green Gratto and Schivarelli are questionable.
On tap for the Grade 1, $500,000 Ballerina, a “Win and You’re In” for the Filly & Mare Sprint, are Birdatthewire, By the Moon, Carina Mia, Haveyougoneaway, Linda Linda, Paulassilverlining, Sarah Sis, Sheer Drama, Spelling Again and Wavell Avenue. Cali Star and Stopchargingmaria are possible.
The Grade 1, $500,000 Ketel One King’s Bishop for 3-year-old sprinters is expected to draw Bird Song, Drefong, Economic Model, Fish Trappe Road, Jazzy Times, Mind Your Biscuits, Noholdingback Bear, Rated R Superstar, Star Hill, Summer Revolution and Tom’s Ready. Celtic Chaos, Its All Relevant and Voluntario are possible to start.
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