Historic Travers Stakes Set for August 8

by Art Parker

The Triple Crown races and The Breeders’ Cup provide the greatest amount of historical talk when it comes to American thoroughbred racing. When Saratoga rolls around every August a treasure trove of racing history is re-opened, and its importance is second to none.

Saratoga is known for many great graded stakes that always play a role in the various division championships. Of all the races at Saratoga there are two that stand out from the standpoint of importance and historical significance. These two races are the Grade One Travers and the Grade One Alabama. In some ways these races restricted to three year olds serve as the “Derby and the Oaks” at the Spa.

The Alabama will be a topic next week. For now, all eyes are on the Travers, which will be run August 8th.

The Travers is the signature event at Saratoga and has often been referred to as the “Mid-Summer Derby.” The inaugural running was in 1864 and was named for William R. Travers, the president of the old Saratoga Racing Association. It was only fitting that his horse won the first running of the Travers.

The Travers is run at the Kentucky Derby distance of 1 ¼ miles. The race has been run at different distances but the current distance has not changed since 1904.

Since 1961, the colors of the Travers winner have been painted onto a canoe which sits on a pond in the infield. The canoe itself has been a fixture at the track since 1926.

Only ten Kentucky Derby winners have won the Travers. There was a long drought of Derby winners being unsuccessful in the Travers beginning in 1943. Shut Out won the Derby and Travers in 1942 and it was 51 years before the feat was achieved again. Sea Hero broke the long drought in 1993.

Affirmed, American Pharoah, Gallant Fox and Whirlaway are the only Triple Crown winners to race in the Travers. Of the three only Whirlaway, in 1941, became the only Triple Crown legend to win the Travers. Affirmed crossed the finish line first in 1978 but was disqualified, and his arch rival Alydar was elevated to first.

Many claim the 1962 Travers was the best race ever. Jaipur won by a nose-bob in track record time over the arguably more talented Ridan after a long nose-to-nose battle over the entire race.

The biggest upset came in 1930 when Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox lost to a 100-1 shot named Jim Dandy. The winner is memorialized with a race named in his honor and is normally a prep race for the Travers. Due to changes caused by COVID-19, the Jim Dandy Stakes will be run after the Travers on September 5, the same day as the Kentucky Derby.

In 2012 Alpha and Golden Ticket finished in a dead heat for first place – the only dead heat in Travers history resulting in two winners. Two canoes were put in the infield pond to commemorate the winners.

In 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah was in the race and was worn down in a speed duel with Frosted. Keen Ice passed the popular Triple Crown winner in a major upset.

In what was probably the best performance in Travers history, Arrogate destroyed the field by more than 13 lengths in 2016. The roan son of Unbridled’s Song is the only horse to eclipse the two minute mark and reported home in an eye-opening 1:59:36.

Some of the other greats to win the Travers are: Damascus, Point Given, Buckpasser, Thunder Gulch, Easy Goer, Forty Niner, Chief’s Crown, Gallant Man, Native Dancer and Man O’ War.

As of this moment, Tiz the Law, winner of the Belmont Stakes, is the favorite for the 2020 Travers. The purse for the 2020 Travers is $1,000,000.

COVID-19 and Horse Racing

Good luck at sorting this out

By ART PARKER

Like everyone else I was disappointed when the Kentucky Derby was postponed. I did a double take when the proposed new date was September 5, the first Saturday in September. My next thought was the scheduling mess that would most assuredly come, especially since the full impact of the coronavirus  (COVID-19) remains unknown.

The new date of the Derby is not too close to the Breeder’s Cup, scheduled for the first Saturday in November at Keeneland. What happens to the other big races could be the real problem.

The latest on Gulfstream Park, the Florida Derby and COVID-19

The first thought I had was the Travers. I think many will agree that the Travers is the most important three year old race next to the Derby. If a horse wins the Derby and the Preakness then the importance of the Belmont is elevated beyond the Travers, but generally speaking I feel the Travers is second only to the Derby.

Saratoga canopy walk throughThe Travers is scheduled for August 29, just one week before the rescheduled Derby. It can’t happen that way. It just can’t. To make matters worse the Alabama is scheduled for August 22, less than two full weeks for the new Kentucky Oaks date of September 4. To me the Alabama is the premier race for three year old fillies. Having the Alabama that close to the Oaks? Again, it can‘t happen that way.

The Saratoga problems begin with the rescheduling of the Derby, but it could be worse depending upon what happens with the Preakness and the Belmont. I read the other day that someone suggested we start with the Derby on September 5 and then wait two weeks for the Preakness and then wait three weeks for the Belmont – the usual intervals between Triple Crown races. If so, that would put the Belmont on October 10 four weeks before the Breeder’s Cup. Some may think this is workable but it would place the better three year olds in a whirlwind of activity in a very short period of time. I believe it will provide the older horses in the Classic Division a big advantage over the sophomores.

Unless the Preakness and Belmont are run before the Derby then the Triple Crown will cause problems for the Breeder’s Cup, unless those races are cancelled. If the Preakness and Belmont are run before the Derby then huge problems are created for the Saratoga meeting, and possibly others.

Added to this is the difficulty of planning a path for a three year old. Trainers will have a difficult time finding appropriate prep races if the racing world remains in its current state. One major issue that has a guiding hand over the timing of races is television. Racing cannot afford to lose the airwaves for the huge races. Even if television goes along for fall racing broadcasts then there will be a fight with college football early in its season – a fight guaranteed to result in cuts and bruises.

How much leadership does the American racing industry have? We will soon know the answer.

Chad Brown Loaded for Travers Week and Beyond

2018 Travers Stakes Notes – Part I

Trainer Chad Brown sent out a plethora of turf workers to Saratoga’s Oklahoma training track Thursday morning as his contingent readies for the later stages of the summer meet.

A Raving Beauty, targeting the Grade 2, $400,000 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa on Travers Day, August 25, breezed a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.65 in company with Santa Monica, returning off a half-length win in the Grade 2 Dance Smartly on June 30 at Woodbine.

Third behind Ultra Brat and stablemate Sistercharlie in the Grade 1 Diana on July 21, A Raving Beauty will be looking to rebound in the 1 1/16-mile Ballston Spa. The 5-year-old Mastercraftsman mare won the Grade 3 Beaugay on May 12 in her North American debut and then took the Grade 1 Longines Just a Game on June 9, Belmont Stakes Day, at Belmont Park.

walking horse through Saratoga crowdBrown said the English-bred 5-year-old Santa Monica will get the chance to race at the Spa for the first time in the Grade 2, $250,000 Glens Falls on September 1. Contested over 1 3/8 miles on the turf, the Glens Falls is the last turf stakes for fillies and mares before the meet closes.

Santa Monica was originally scheduled to run in the Fasig-Tipton Waya on August 12 but was scratched when the race was moved off the turf to 1 ¼ miles on the main track.

Also under consideration for the Glens Falls is Homeland Security, who breezed four furlongs in 49.31 seconds in company with Onthemoonagain. The 4-year-old Smart Strike filly is coming off a successful stakes debut last out, winning the River Memories on July 8 at Belmont in her sixth career start.

Call Provision, fourth in the Grade 1 Man o’ War on May 12, is set to return to stakes competition following a win and a second-place finish in a pair of optional claimers. The 5-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid will be stretching out to 1 5/8 miles in the $100,000 John’s Call on Wednesday, Brown said.

The trainer added that Good Magic and Gronkowski – his two expected entrants for the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers on August 25 – are training well and are expected to turn in their final works this weekend for the Mid-Summer Derby.

“They’re doing super, so we’ll just base their last workouts around the weather,” Brown said. “I have a little flexibility. They are both fit and doing well. So, we’ll go either Saturday or Sunday.”

Good Magic put in his first breeze on the Saratoga main track on August 11 for his first work overall since winning the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational on July 29 at Monmouth Park. The Eclipse Award-winning 2017 champion juvenile male is 3-3-1 in eight starts with his only off-the-board effort coming with a fourth-place finish in the Preakness on May 19 at Pimlico.

Gronkowski, the runner-up to Triple Crown-winner Justify in the Belmont Stakes, has been training at Saratoga since July.

Rushing Fall, installed as the 9-5 morning-line favorite in Saturday’s Grade 2, $300,000 Lake Placid for 3-year-old fillies on the Mellon turf course, is making her first start since she finished second to Toinette by a neck in the Grade 3 Edgewood on May 4 at Churchill. She started her career 4-for-4, including a win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in November at Del Mar.

Drawing post 6 in the seven-horse field, Rushing Fall will have the services of Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano as she stretches out to the Lake Placid distance of 1 1/8 miles for the first time. Rushing Fall has also done well under soft or yielding turf, with wins in the Grade 3 Jessamine on October 11 and the Grade 2 Appalachian on April 8 at Keeneland under those conditions.

“I’m excited to get her back. She seems to be doing real well,” Brown said. “She shouldn’t have a problem handling the soft turf, if it does rain like it’s [forecast].”

Brown will also saddle Significant Form, who is 3-1 on the morning line and drew post 4 with Irad Ortiz, Jr. named to ride. After running fourth in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational on July 17 at Belmont at 1 ¼ miles, Significant Form will return to the distance at which she ran second to La Signare in the Grade 3 Wonder Again on June 7.

“I think the cutback to a mile and an eighth should help her; she’s doing very well,” Brown said.

Source: NYRA

Girvin Goes for Haskell Travers Double

Source: NYRA

Brad Grady’s Girvin jogged a lap on the Oklahoma training track at about 6:00 a.m. Monday, two days after his final breeze for the Grade 1 Travers. Winner of the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational winner last time out, he must prove he can handle the 10-furlong trip of the race in his second attempt. He was off the board after a troubled trip in the Kentucky Derby over the same distance in May.

“The distance is always an unknown because his trip in the Derby wasn’t a fair testament,” trainer Joe Sharp said. “Based on his running style and how he finishes and has been training, I think he can handle it. He’ll definitely be running from the quarter-pole home and always tries. He’s a horse who really wants to win.”

Girvin will be teaming up again with Robby Albarado, who rode for the first time in the Haskell and employed a deep-closing tactic on the millionaire son of Tale of Ekati. In races prior, the nearly black colt displayed more tactical speed.

“I don’t really give instructions and I don’t think Robby anticipated being that far back either, but Robby knows the horse and he obviously rode him perfectly that day,” Sharp said. “He doesn’t have to be that far back and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is closer this time, but Robby will ride his race. He’s a versatile jockey who does his homework.”

“I don’t think the post is too important with Girvin,” Sharp said. “He has the ability to be wherever you need him to be and he’s a smart horse. Obviously, we don’t want to be stuck all the way on the outside, but also I think he could handle that. He’s a horse who gives you confidence.”

Pletcher Team on Target for 2017 Travers Stakes

Source: NYRA

Trainer Todd Pletcher confirmed Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit will be entered to run in the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers presented by NYRA Bets. Curlin winner Outplay’s status will be determined on Tuesday, Pletcher said, adding that Outplay’s potential jockey assignment is also a factor in the decision.

“We’re definitely planning to run Always Dreaming and Tapwrit and we’ll make a decision tomorrow on Outplay,” Pletcher said from his barn Monday morning.

copyright AGameofSkill.comHall of Fame jockey John Velazquez has been the regular rider of Always Dreaming through his 3-year-old campaign and has ridden Outplay in his last two races. Jose Ortiz has been aboard Tapwrit in all five of the colt’s starts this year.

Pletcher has saddled a pair of Travers winners; Flower Alley in 2005 and Stay Thirsty in 2011. Should he have three entrants in the 148th running, for three separate ownership groups, Pletcher said the possible logistical issues of serving different interests should not be a problem.

“It’s really not that challenging. We’re training all three horses whether they are running in the race or not,” Pletcher said. “The owners are very understanding in these situations. Most of the owners I have also have horses with other trainers, so we’ve been in situations where I might be running a horse against one of theirs, so it’s really not an issue for us. Sometimes it gets a little dicier when you try to maneuver maidens into different races than it is in the big events.”

Pletcher said having multiple horses in a prestigious race can sometimes lessen the pressure.

“Sometimes when you only have one, you’re hoping you get there, but sometimes it’s a little safety net to have more than one,” Pletcher said. “But we don’t really look at it on those terms. We’re just happy that we are fortunate to have three horses who are good enough to be considered for the race.”

All three put in their final breezes before Travers Day on the Oklahoma training track Friday, with Always Dreaming working four furlongs in 49.60 seconds in company with Outplay and Tapwrit also putting in a half-mile in 50.24 seconds.

“My main concern was getting those final works in and with the weather being a little dicey, we wanted to get them in on a good surface and we were able to do that on Friday,” Pletcher said. “They [came out] of it well and once we got to that point, you just hope everything continues to go smoothly with the gate schooling and paddock schooling and routine gallops.”

August 26 Travers Stakes Set for a Great Horse Race

walking horse through Saratoga crowdSource: NYRA

Grade 1 Haskell Invitational winner Girvin shipped in to Barn 77 on Saratoga’s Oklahoma backstretch Monday morning after his victory by a nose over McCraken on Sunday afternoon at Monmouth Park. If all goes well in the next few weeks, the son of Tale of Ekati will make his next start in the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers on August 26, said trainer Joe Sharp.

“More than likely, we’ll run here,” Sharp said. “That is the way we are leaning, but we will also look at the Smarty Jones [at Parx, September 4] and the Pennsylvania Derby [September 23]. We always keep our options open.”

“He gives it his all every time, and he did that yesterday,” he added. “He never wins by a lot. He likes to engage other horses, he likes to be in a dogfight. It makes it fun to be around him. He is a very honest horse, he tries very, very hard. He continues to go above and beyond our expectations.”

The Louisiana Derby winner finished 13th in the Kentucky Derby before finishing as the runner-up to Irap in the Ohio Derby. The Travers would be Girvin’s eighth career start.

A Haskell rematch could be in the works in the Travers as Ian Wilkes, trainer of runner-up McCraken, who also returned to the Spa on Monday, has expressed his team’s intentions to point to the Mid-Summer Derby as well.

“Yeah, I am planning on it, the Travers,” Wilkes said. “As long as he trains well, because I’m not just going to run him just to run him. A final decision will be made in a few days after we get him back to the track.”

The son of Ghostzapper finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby, but returned to win the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs in his previous start before the Haskell.

Travers Day Analysis 2016 by Rich Nilsen

Full Card Selections with Spot Plays

Rich Nilsen handicapperRich Nilsen, founder of AGameofSkill.com and one of the top tournament players in the history of the NHC, offers up his full-card analysis for Saratoga on Saturday, August 27th.  The analysis provides selections for every race plus three best bet spot plays.  Each race includes Nilsen’s detailed pace scenario which explains how the race will set up.  Nilsen has a longshot selection for the Travers’ Stakes that can upset the apple cart.

Put an expert on your side as you attack Saratoga on their biggest day of the year.

2016 Travers’s Day Recap:  Nilsen picks top selection Haveyougoneaway who upsets the G1 Ballerina at odds of 10-1!   Nilsen follows that score up by giving out top selection ARROGATE, track-record winner of the G1 Travers Stakes!  $25.40 to win for followers of the sheet.  Another top pick runs 2nd at odds of 17-1 in race 3 on August 27, 2016.

Only $9.97 for all 13 races, in-depth Travers’ analysis and 3 spot plays
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Download instantly to any device. 9 page PDF document

The Travers Day card features over $1.6 Million in Guaranteed wagers. There is a $400,000 Guaranteed Pick 5 beginning on Race 1. The $250,000 Guaranteed Pick 6 begins on Race 6 and the $1 Million Guaranteed Pick 4 begins on Race 8.

Testimonials:

“Great job, Rich!” ~ Jeff S.

“Rich: nice job Travers Day! Thanks to Arrogate, you gave me a good day. How in the world did you land on him? I suspect you’re doing some kind of voodoo pace analysis. If you ever decide to give lessons or a seminar, let me know.” ~ Kelley S.

Travers Stakes Radio Coverage this Saturday

Headphones with microphone

copyright denrud

Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN), the Eclipse Award-winning broadcast organization based in Lexington, KY and official radio home of the 2016 Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup World Championships, will broadcast live from Saratoga Race Course this Saturday to provide exclusive radio coverage of the 147th Travers Stakes from 3:00-6:00 p.m. ET.

The broadcast, presented by Sunrise Stallions, can be heard throughout North America on SiriusXM channel 93 as well as on terrestrial affiliates across the country with live internet streaming provided on the HRRN website, www.horseracingradio.net. Listeners can also access the live stream on smart phones and tablets.

Travers coverage will also be available in Spanish as part of HRRN’s new HRRN en Español broadcast platform. The Spanish broadcast is available worldwide with live streaming on www.hrrnenespanol.com.

Part of HRRN’s meet long “Saturdays at Saratoga” series, presented by Visitbarbados.org, coverage will include five “Road to the Breeders’ Cup” grade 1 races on the Travers undercard: The

King’s Bishop, Forego and Sword Dancer with the Personal Ensign and Ballerina being aired on taped delay.

The Ballerina is a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint division, while the winner of the Forego will qualify for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The Sword Dancer is a qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Turf and the winner of the Personal Ensign will earn a spot into the Distaff.

HRRN’s full slate of Travers day programming begins Saturday morning with their popular weekly talk show, the Equine Forum, hosted live from Saratoga from 8:00-10:00 a.m. ET. The Equine Forum airs nationwide on SiriusXM 93 along with terrestrial affiliates across the country and is streamed live and podcast on the HRRN website.

HRRN President Mike Penna will anchor the coverage along with analysts Jude Feld and Anthony Stabile. Acacia Courtney will provide paddock commentary and interviews with NYRA announcer Larry Collmus providing the call of the races.

Roberto “El Potro” Rodriguez, Eloy Vielma and Hall of Fame jockey Ramon Dominguez provide the coverage on HRRN en Español with Luis Grandison providing the Spanish call of each race.

A complete schedule of upcoming broadcasts along with SiriusXM and affiliate information can be found on the HRRN website, www.horseracingradio.net and www.hrrnespanol.com.
About HRRN

The Horse Racing Radio Network is your home for Eclipse Award winning coverage of the biggest events in racing throughout the year. In 2016, HRRN will broadcast more than 100 stakes races from racetracks across the United States and around the world. HRRN is the official radio network of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes, and Breeders’ Cup World Championships and produces a series of popular talk shows aired throughout the week on SiriusXM satellite radio: Xpressbet Radio on HRRN (Wednesday – Friday, 3-6 p.m. ET), Jock Talk presented by Tito’s Handmade Vodka (Tuesday, 6-7 p.m. ET), Trainer Talk presented by Fasig-Tipton (Wednesday, 6-7 p.m. ET), Brisnet Call In Show (Thursday, 6-7 p.m. ET), Xpressbet Weekend Stakes Preview (Friday, 6-7 p.m. ET) and the Equine Forum (Saturday, 8-10 a.m. ET). Select race broadcasts are available in Spanish through the HRRN en Español broadcast platform.

No Decision on American Pharoah After Loss in Travers Stakes

Triple Crown SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – They were waiting for their horse, ready to take pictures with cellphones and ready to feed him snacks. On the morning after a startling upset at the Travers Stakes, a small gathering of fans visited racing’s biggest celebrity. This group on Sunday morning was considerably smaller than the throng of 15,000 that… [Read more…]

Great Horse Racing Video Series – Runaway Groom’s Travers

The Great Horse Racing Video Series at Agameofskill.com showcases great horse races in history.  Feel free to post some of your favorite videos in the comment section and we may just feature that race(s) in a future post.

This is horse racing fan Garnet Barnsdale’s favorite, the 1982 Travers Stakes at Saratoga.