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Aug 26, 2011

Travers filled with leading three-year-olds


Saratoga Springs, NY (Sports Network) - Saturday's 142nd running of the $1 million Travers Stakes, also known as the Mid-Summer Derby, will feature 10 of the best three-year-olds in training. The 1 1/4-mile classic has a post- time of 5:45 p.m. (et).

Two of the three Triple Crown race winners are entered along with the Haskell champ and Jim Dandy Stakes winner. Jim Dandy winner Stay Thirsty is the 5-2 favorite followed by Haskell champ Coil at 3-1 and Preakness winner Shackleford is 9-2 in the morning-line. Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice is listed at 6-1.

Stay Thirsty, owned by Mike Repole, will start from the nine post with Javier Castellano riding.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, the Belmont Stakes runner-up took control at the top of the stretch to win the $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga. Prior to his second-place finish to Ruler On Ice in the Belmont, Stay Thirsty was 12th in the Kentucky Derby and in his first two starts this year he won the Gotham Stakes but was seventh in the Florida Derby.

"We probably made a mistake when we came to New York for the Gotham," Pletcher said. "He's a horse that's bred to get better. We're really happy with him. We can let Javier ride his race. He can be close, he can sit back a little bit."

The colt's bankroll stands at $800,000 with three wins in nine career starts.

Coil, trained by Bob Baffert, will be ridden by Martin Garcia from post seven. The colt is owned by a group that includes Mike Pegram and Karl Watson.

"He is doing things right now because of raw talent," Baffert noted. "He is fast, and he is rateable. It's not like he is one dimensional. He has to break better than in the Haskell. There is speed in there, all these good horses have speed."

Coil, ridden by Garcia, came from last in an eight-horse field to defeat 3-2 favorite Shackleford in the Haskell. In six career starts the three-year-old has four wins and $748,560. In June the chestnut colt won the Affirmed Handicap at Hollywood Park and followed with a second in the track's Swaps Stakes.

Baffert is concerned with the other horses entered, but believes Coil can duplicate his sire's Travers victory.

"Stay Thirsty, his last two races have been really big races," Baffert said. "The Belmont he ran great and the Jim Dandy, too. He is the horse to beat. Shackleford always shows up. And the other horses I really don't know that much about. I think that if your horse is doing well you have to give him a chance to run in the Travers, it is such a prestigious race. His daddy (Point Given) won it, I don't know why he can't."

Breaking from the far outside post will be Shackleford and jockey Jesus Castanon. Dale Romans trains for Michael Lauffer and W.D. Cubbedge.

"From the 10-hole may have to open up a couple and see what happens," Romans said. "He has a high cruising speed."

Shackleford, who was second in the Haskell, is the winner of three of nine career starts for just over $1.7 million. This year he began with an allowance victory at Gulfstream Park followed by a fifth in the Fountain of Youth, second to Dialed In in the Florida Derby and a fourth in the Kentucky Derby.

Here is the complete field for the Travers in post position order: Bowman's Causeway, Ramon Dominguez, 12-1; Rattlesnake Bridge, John Velazquez, 8-1; Moonshine Mullin, Emma-Jayne Wilson, 20-1; Ruler On Ice, Jose Valdivia Jr., 6-1, Malibu Glow, Rajiv Maragh, 20-1; Raison d'Etat, Eddie Castro, 10-1; Coil, Martin Garcia, 3-1; J W Blue, Cornelio Velasquez, 20-1; Stay Thirsty, Javier Castellano, 5-2 and Shackleford, Jesus Castanon, 9-2.

The Travers will be televised by NBC Sports.

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