Birdstone with Edgar Prado up heading out for the Travers.
The $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga is called the Midsummer Derby since it is usually the last time this year's 3-year-old crop remains within its age group, taking on older horses next time out. A field of seven went to post in this Grade 1 event, with Derby runner-up Lion Heart sent off as the lukewarm 5-2 favorite with The Cliff's Edge the second choice at 3-1. Surprisingly, Belmont winner Birdstone was all but dismissed as the almost 5-1 fourth choice. The day was cloudy and humid, but 20 minutes before post for the Travers heavy rain passed through the area and briefly cleared up for the race. Soon after the race ended, thunderstorms returned, causing NYRA to cancel the last race on the card.
As he did in the Derby and Preakness, Lion Heart went right to the front under Joe Bravo and he attempted to slow down the pace through fractions of 24.48, 49.15, and 1:12.82, while remaining over a length clear of 4-1 third choice Purge. Rounding the far turn, Lion Heart tired and quickly dropped out of contention to finish last. Purge briefly inherited the lead through a mile in 1:37.15, but Birdstone, like he did to Smarty Jones in the Belmont, loomed large at the top of the stretch after a ground-saving trip back in fifth. Going three wide, jockey Edgar Prado roused Birdstone and he responded, gaining ground with every stride and easily passed by Purge by the 1/8 pole. Through the final furlong he easily held off the late-closing The Cliff's Edge to win by 2 1/2 lengths in a time of 2:02.45 for the 1 1/4 mile distance over the fast main track. It was another 3 1/2 lengths back to Eddington in third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 5 Birdstone Prado 11.60 5.70 4.00 6 The Cliff's Edge Sellers 3.90 3.00 1 Eddington Migliore 4.30 Winning Time: 2:02.45 $2 Exacta 5-6 46.40 $2 Trifecta 5-6-1 277.50
Winning owner Marylou Whitney said, "It's like a dream come true. I always wanted to see my colors on that canoe out there. It was so wonderful to see my colors at the Belmont on the jockey, but now, the canoe. I am so thrilled with the way Nick (Zito) brought this horse up. He did a brilliant job of training this horse. (Birdstone) has come back a lot, he's gained a lot of weight. He was such a little horse."
Winning trainer Nick Zito said, "Believe me, he's a gift from God. He is easy for a trainer like me, because he trains himself. He's got the heart of a champion. He's got the breeding, and that's what this game is about. I had a feeling he would fire. He's got such a big heart, if he's going to fire, let him fire on the right day at the right time. And that's what he did. I got very confident as we went along. He's just a marvelous horse."
Winning jockey Edgar Prado said, "It feels super. He put in an awesome performance. I felt comfortable with him the while way. At the half-mile pole, I still had a ton of horse and I knew he would be very tough." The win was his fifth on the card.
Second place finisher The Cliff's Edge in the paddock. His jockey Shane Sellers said, "With the fractions I was able to stay in the race. I was on Birdstone's hip, but he got away from me a little on the turn. I made a run at him, got on even terms with him and thought I was going to go by.Birdstone dug in and we couldn't get by. I'm very proud of my horse."
Third place finisher Eddington in the paddock. His trainer Mark Henning said, "Unfortunately, we got boxed in a little coming around the turn. He had been training well all week, like he finally had this game figured out. The way he ran out there is the way he wants to run - in hand. Richie (Migliore) said he hesitated a little bit when he saw Purge. Coming for home, he looked like a winner. As I said all along, he is going to get better with age. I'm not at all disappointed with his effort." Jockey Richard Migliore added, "He ran great. I'm not going to make any excuses for him; we had a shot coming for home. He was a little hesitant when he saw Purge, and I had to angle around him. But he has improved leaps and bounds over the last couple of weeks. He is definitely going to move forward from here."
Last place finisher and post time favorite Lion Heart in the paddock. His trainer Patrick Biancone said, "Too early, too early. I don't know. He quit too early. I don't know what else until I see him." Jockey Joe Bravo added, "He rated good and nice. He felt good, pole to pole. Then, he started shortening his stride." It was discovered later that he had fractured the coffin bone in his right front foot and he will likely be retired.
Pomeroy drawing away in the stretch.
The race was the fourth win on the card for jockey Edgar Prado. He said, "The race just worked out beautiful for us; I just bided my time. He was nice and relaxed. When I needed more, I got it to put the other horse away. It was a very game effort."
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 3 Pomeroy Prado 11.40 6.30 4.80 5 Weigelia Velazquez 8.30 6.10 6 Ice Wynnd Fire Bailey 6.80 Winning Time: 1:20.99 $2 Exacta 3-5 64.50 $2 Trifecta 3-5-6 604.00
Pomeroy and Edgar Prado winning the King's Bishop Stakes. Winning trainer Patrick Biancone said, "He's a lovely horse. Today was the first time he rated in a Grade 1. He produced today the way we expected him to produce. He's going to be a very nice 7-furlong/miler. He had a lot of speed, and he still has the same, but he is a lot more relaxed. Edgar (Prado) rode him extremely well. Hopefully, we'll do the same next. Now, I enjoy champagne."
Nothing to Lose beating Silver Tree
Winning trainer Bobby Frankel said, "Silver Tree has beaten me twice. The last time we ran, I thought I had the best horse, but he got bumped pretty good. This time, he had the best trip and got through."
Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "I thought I had a good trip. We got lucky. We could have got shut off and got beat. The horse ran really, really well. It was nice turning the tables on Silver Tree."
Jerry Bailey, who rode second place finisher Silver Tree, said, "I only had one choice on the turn, and that was to follow Johnny (Velazquez) to Lose) or try to get the jump on them. I didn't think I could follow him and let him get the first move on me. So, I elected to lose a little ground and get the jump on him, which I did, but it wasn't enough. He ran hard."
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 2 Nothing to Lose Velazquez 5.80 3.10 2.60 7 Silver Tree Bailey 3.80 3.00 4 Royal Regalia Chavez 6.30 Winning Time: 1:39.50 $2 Exacta 2-7 16.80 $2 Trifecta 2-7-4 203.50
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