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Aug 29, 2014

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD-TRAVERS

By: JOE GIRARDI


               On Saturday August 23rd, Saratoga hosted their highlight of the meeting the Travers Stakes. There were a total of three grade I races that day and we will take a look at all of them.

               The Grade I King’s Bishop was the first of the Grade I races and it was run as race #10. The King’s Bishop, a race for three year olds run over seven furlongs with a purse of $500,000. There was a field of eight horses that went postward with Coup De Grace going off as the slight 2-1 favorite. When the gates opened, Fast Anna was sent to the lead and set fractions of 22:4, 46, 1:09:3 over a track that was playing on the slow side. He held that advantage into the lane but he was being tracked by The Big Beast who was the 5-2 second choice. The Big Beast under jockey Javier Castellano was able to get up to score by a neck over a game Fast Anna who was over a length clear of Coup De Grace with Noble Moon checking in fourth in a good final time of 1:22:1. That was the third win in a row for The Big Beast who was making his first start against stakes competition. This three year old by Yes It’s True has plenty of talent but not sure how far he wants to go. However, he will be very tough in these one turn races.

               In the next race, the Grade I Ballerina, a race for fillies and mares three years old and upward run over seven furlongs with a purse of $500,000. The slight favorite in the race was My Miss Aurelia who was sent off as the lukewarm choice of 3-1. When the gates opened, La Verdad, the speedy New York bred from the Linda Rice barn was sent to the lead and set fractions of 23, 45:3, 1:09:3 while being tracked by another New York bred Artemis Agrotera with Hot Stones and Geeky Gorgeous racing in third and fourth. As they moved around the far turn the positions for the top two runners remained the same, as they turned into the lane Artemis Agrotera took over that lead and started to drew away as La Verdad was tiring. Artemis Agrotera continued to pour it on and went on to score by more than six lengths in a solid final time of 1:21:4 for trainer Michael Hushion and jockey Rajiv Maragh. My Miss Aurelia got up to finish second and another New York bred Willet closed well to finish third. This three year old filly is now 4 for 6 and has a bright future ahead of her possibly with a start in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.

               In the next race the highlight of the meeting, the “Midsummer Derby”, the Travers Stakes was on tap. The race for three year olds, run over 1 and ¼ miles with a purse of $1.25 million dollars. There was a field of 10 horses that went postward with Bayern going off as the slight favorite at 2-1. As the gates opened Bayern was sent right to the lead with Tonalist the co-second choice pressing that leader while the other co-second choice Wicked Strong racing a few lengths back in third. The fractions of the race were 23:3, 47:1, 1:11:1. As they moved around the far turn, Bayern began to tire as Tonalist and Wicked Strong moved to take over the lead. Into the lane Wicked Strong started to get away from Tonalist as V. E. Day was gaining in deep stretch. As they came to the wire V. E. Day got up to score by a nose over Wicked Strong who was another 2 ½ lengths clear of Tonalist who was third, 3 ½ lengths ahead of Kid Cruz who checked in fourth. V. E. Day, an improving three year old who was coming off a win in the Curlin Stakes over this track back on July 25th, is trained by Jimmy Jerkens who also trains Wicked Strong. The final time of the race 2:02:4, not a great time but the track was playing on the slow side. All three of Travers finishers are expected to come back in the Jockey Club Gold Cup On September 27th at Belmont Park.         

               On Sunday at Del Mar they hosted the highlight of their meeting, the Grade I Pacific Classic, a race for three year olds and upward run over 1 and ¼ miles with a purse of $1 million dollars. There was a field of 10 that went postward with the undefeated three year old Shared Belief going off as the 6-5 favorite with Game on Dude sent off as the 5-2 second choice. When the gates opened, Game On Dude came out running for the lead and battled with Mystery Train who went through fractions of 22:2, 45:3, 1:10, 1:35. As they moved around the turn Shared Belief started to gain on the leader Game On Dude, moving three wide into the lane Shared Belief took over that lead while Toast Of New York held on for a clear second over Imperative who closed to get up for third over Game On Dude who checked in fourth. The final time of the race was a solid 2:00:1 and Shared Belief has the look of a superstar, let’s hope for horse racing that he continues his dominance.

 



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