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Aug 29, 2014

V. E. Day edges stablemate Wicked Strong to win Travers


Saratoga Springs, NY ( - Longshot V. E. Day came from far back to catch stablemate Wicked Strong and win Saturday's $1.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.

The victory by the 19-1 longshot with 5-2 co-second pick Wicked Strong second, gave trainer Jimmy Jerkens the exacta in the 1 1/4-mile "Mid-Summer Derby" and puts V. E. Day into this year's Breeders' Cup Classic.

Owned by Magalen O. Bryant, V. E. Day was racing seventh through the early part of the Travers while 2-1 favorite Haskell winner Bayern set the pace with co-second choices Wicked Strong and Belmont Stakes champ Tonalist pressing the leader.

V. E. Day, ridden by Javier Castellano, began to advance through the 10-horse field of 3-year-olds around the turn for home. Wicked Strong and jockey Rajiv Maragh put away Bayern on the final turn with Tonalist and rider Joel Rosario still second.

Wicked Strong surged away from Tonalist and looked to duplicate his Jim Dandy Stakes victory over the rival. V. E. Day came charging through the stretch and caught his stablemate at the wire to register a nose victory in the Breeders' Cup Challenge race.

Tonalist finished third with Dwyer Stakes winner Kid Cruz getting fourth. Completing the order of finish were Mr Speaker, Viva Majorca, Charge Now, Ulanbator, Commanding Curve and Bayern.

The time for the 145th Travers on a fast track was 2:02.93.

Castellano gets his fourth win in the race and Jerkens posts his second Travers victory. The pair teamed up to win with Afleet Express in 2010 and Castellano also won with Stay Thirsty (2011) and Bernardini (2006).

"It means an awful lot, it's unreal," Jerkens said about winning his second . "Mid-Summer Derby." "I feel bad for Wicked Strong that's the only bad thing, he ran so hard."

V. E. Day adds $670,000 to his bankroll which now stands at $829,010. The chestnut colt has won four straight, including last month's Curlin Stakes at Saratoga. The 3-year-old began his career in January at Gulfstream Park but did not break his maiden until the third start at Belmont Park on May 10.

V. E. Day returned $41.00, $13.20 and $7.30. Wicked Strong paid $4.40 and $3.10, and Tonalist paid $3.40 to show.

Two races before the Travers, The Big Beast gobbled up ground down the stretch to catch Fast Anna and go on to win the $500,000 King's Bishop Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters.

Trained by Tony Dutrow for Alan and JoAnn Lieblong, The Big Beast captured his first stakes in just his fifth career start. Also ridden by Castellano, the 5-2 second pick covered the seven furlongs in 1:22.35.

Fast Anna set most of the pace until The Big Beast passed the colt approaching the wire. The Big Beast registered a neck victory with 2-1 favorite Coup de Grace finishing third.

Rounding out the order finish were Noble Moon, Wildcat Red, Noble Cornerstone, Myositis Dan and C. Zee.

The Big Beast pocketed $300,000 for winning his initial stakes effort. The colt has earned $415,500 from three wins in five starts, all this year. The King's Bishop marks the colt's third straight win.

The Big Beast paid $7.70, $4.60 and $3.20. Fast Anna returned $8.00 and $4.70, and Coup de Grace paid $2.80 to show.

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