Saturday August 23rd saw the 134th running of the Travers Stakes at Saratoga race
course. Although the highly anticipated match-up between Belmont winner EMPIRE MAKER
and Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner FUNNY CIDE did not happen as they both scratched
out of the race the Travers still had much quality.
Six horses went postward for the Travers with PEACE RULES going off as the slight
2-1 favorite. PEACE RULES was Bobby Frankel’s second choice for this race but he entered him
just in case EMPIRE MAKER could not make the gate. Coming off a wire to wire win in the Haskell
Stakes at Monmouth Park PEACE RULES was obviously one of the horses to beat. However, with
the presence of STRONG HOPE right to his inside it would be very tough for him to clear for the lead.
The second choice in the race was SKY MESA, who had just finished second to PEACE RULES
in the Haskell and had only started twice this year. After going undefeated as a two year old, this colt
by PULPIT was injured before the Breeders’ Cup juvenile and it kept him sidelined until July of this
year. However, with and even third in the Dwyer and then a very good second in the Haskell, SKY MESA
looked primed for his best effort. After sitting behind the anticipated speed duel of PEACE RULES
and STRONG HOPE, SKY MESA came up totally empty and finished last of the field of six.
The third choice in the race was Belmont runner-up TEN MOST WANTED. After running
very well to finish second behind EMPIRE MAKER in the Belmont he went back to California and
disappointed in the Swaps finishing second at 3-5. He made the lead that day but then he waited
on horses and lost at the wire. His trainer, Wallace Dollase decided to put the blinkers back on that
he wore early in his career to make him focus more. After laying fourth early on behind a solid
pace in 23:2, 46:1, 1:09:4, TEN MOST WANTED made his move to the lead and got there at the mile
mark. After a slight battle with PEACE RULES, Pat Day, asked TEN MOST WANTED for a little
more and then race was over. TEN MOST WANTED easily drew off to score by four and a half
lengths. PEACE RULES, who had battled in the early pace did well to finish second. STRONG HOPE, the
other pacesetter finished third, ten lengths behind PEACE RULES. WILD AND WICKED, the
longest shot in the race was fourth followed by CONGRATS who never made any impact to finish
fifth. SKY MESA, who did have an awkward start finished dead last with no apparent excuse.
TEN MOST WANTED is now being pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Classic and showed with his
Travers win that he would be a legitimate contender.
On the next day at Del Mar they hosted the Grade I Pacific Classic. This race was run at 1 and ¼ miles
and held a purse of $1,000,000. Even so there were only four horses that made it to the start.
MEDAGLIA D’ORO a leading candidate for Horse of the Year was coming off a hard fought win in
the Whitney handicap at Saratoga. This Bobby Frankel trainee was sent off as the 3-5 favorite of the
field of 4. He went right to the lead and held an advantage until the top of the stretch when he was
passed by CANDY RIDE, the second choice. CANDY RIDE, the Ron McAnally trainee was undefeated
coming into this race with three wins in Argentina and two wins in the United States. Ridden by
Julie Krone (Gary Stevens was injured) they stalked the pace of MEDAGLIA D’ORO and took over
heading into the stretch before drawing away to an easy score of more than three lengths. Krone
never really asked CANDY RIDE for all he had and he looks like he could be a new star on the rise.
The rest of the field was strung out with FLEETSTREET DANCER the outsider in the field
finished a well beaten third, two lengths ahead of the third choice, Bobby Frankel’s other
trainee, MILWAUKEE BREW. MILWAUKEE BREW came out of the race with an injury and will definitely
not run the rest of year and will likely be retired.
CANDY RIDE and TEN MOST WANTED should both have big impacts on this year’s
Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita, in what should be a very competitive race.