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Aug 22, 2014

Wicked Strong and Tonalist meet again in Travers


Saratoga Springs, NY ( - Wicked Strong and Tonalist, first and second in the Jim Dandy Stakes, meet up again in Saturday's $1.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.

The 1 1/4-mile "Mid-Summer Derby" has attracted a field of 10 3-year-olds, including Haskell Invitational winner Bayern.

Wicked Strong, trained by Jimmy Jerkens for Centennial Farms, will start from post 7 with his regular jockey Rajiv Maragh. The morning line has the Jim Dandy champ as the 7-2 third pick with Tonalist at 3-1 and Bayern the 2-1 program favorite.

Wicked Strong, wearing blinkers for the first time, captured the Jim Dandy over Tonalist on July 26 by a solid 2 1/4 lengths. The victory made the colt a millionaire as he has banked $1,244,610 with three wins in nine career starts.

"We needed to see that from him," Jerkens said about the Jim Dandy. "He's been slowly developing all along. He certainly didn't run bad in those (Triple Crown) races, but he hadn't put it together like that. It was good to see."

The 3-year-old began his 2014 season with a disappointing ninth-place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park. After a fourth in an optional allowance race, he won the Wood Memorial at odds of 9-1.

Wicked Strong overcame some problems in the Kentucky Derby to finish fourth and again finished fourth, in a dead heat with California Chrome, in the Belmont Stakes won by Tonalist.

Tonalist has drawn to Wicked Strong's immediate inside for Saturday. Trained by Christophe Clement, the colt will again have Joel Rosario in the saddle.

"I'm looking forward to the Travers. I'm looking forward to a mile and a quarter. I'm looking forward to the pace scenario. I'm excited. Let's go," Clement said.

Owned by Robert Evans, Tonalist gained national attention with his Belmont Stakes victory, denying California Chrome the Triple Crown. Four weeks prior to the Belmont the colt won the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park.

Tonalist has won half of his six career starts for $1,077,000.

Bayern, trained by Bob Baffert for Kaleem Shah Inc., will break from post 2 with Martin Garcia getting his second straight mount on the colt.

Bayern ran away from the field to win the Haskell by 7 1/4 lengths as he won for the first time beyond a mile. Coming into the Haskell, the colt's biggest win came in the seven-furlong Woody Stephens Stakes on the Belmont Stakes program, He won that stakes by seven lengths.

"The Haskell was pretty impressive," Baffert said. "Will he take a step backward? I don't know, but he looks good. He's not a really big horse, but he's fast. He's a handy horse, and he's got a lot of speed. I'm not totally convinced he can go a mile and a quarter, but he's pretty fast. You just have to let him go and what happens, happens. You can't worry about it. When you have a horse with that kind of brilliant speed, you have to use it."

The 3-year-old, unraced last year, has four wins from seven lifetime starts for $1,077,680.

Here is the field for the Travers in post position order: Commanding Curve, Shaun Bridgmohan, 15-1; Bayern, Martin Garcia, 2-1; Charge Now, Junior Alvarado, 15-1; V. E. Day, Javier Castellano, 15-1; Viva Majorca, Julien Leparoux, 20-1; Tonalist, Joel Rosario, 3-1; Wicked Strong, Rajiv Maragh, 7-2; Kid Cruz, Irad Ortiz Jr., 12-1; Ulanbator, Brian Hernandez Jr., 30-1 and Mr Speaker, Jose Lezcano, 10-1.

The Travers has a scheduled post time of 5:46 p.m. ET and will be televised by NBC Sports Network.

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