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Birdstone winner of the 2004 Travers
The Travers will be shown live on ESPN's two-hour "SportsCenter at Saratoga" telecast that begins at 5 p.m. Eastern, along with two other Grade 1 races: the $250,000 Hopeful for two-year-olds at seven furlongs (race 9, 5:18 p.m.) and the $250,000 King's Bishop for three-year-old sprinters, featuring undefeated Lost in the Fog, at seven furlongs (race 10, 5:50 p.m.). The Grade 2, $200,000 Fourstardave Handicap for three-year-olds at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf (race 8; 4:38 p.m.), will be shown on ESPN via tape delay. All Saratoga stakes races on Saturday, races 8-11, will be linked by a $1 million guaranteed Pick 4 pool.
For the third straight year, the Travers will pit the winners of Saratoga's Jim Dandy and Monmouth's Haskell against one other, with Flower Alley and Roman Ruler, respectively, meeting for just the second time. This year, however, there is an interesting twist. Bellamy Road, who was the favorite in the Kentucky Derby off his smashing Wood Memorial victory, will be making his first start in the Travers since suffering a splint bone injury in the Derby back on May 7th.
Bellamy Road, owned by George Steinbrenner's Kinsman Stable, caught the attention of the racing world on April 9th, when he won the Wood Memorial by 17 ½ lengths in 1:47 for a mile and an eighth, the fastest Wood edition since the race was made nine furlongs in 1952. Sent off the 5-2 favorite in the Kentucky Derby, Bellamy Road bid for the lead but regressed in the stretch to finish seventh. After the race, a splint bone injury was discovered and that kept him out of racing until Saturday.
Both Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito and Kinsman Stable are seeking rare Saratoga stakes doubles. Only four times since 1954 has a trainer won the Travers and Whitney Handicap in the same year, a feat that has never been accomplished with different horses. The Zito-trained Commentator held off Saint Liam to take this year's Whitney. Just seven times in the rich and storied history of the Alabama and Travers have the same owner won both races (1976 Travers winner Honest Pleasure was owned by Bertram Firestone, while the '76 Alabama winner, Optimistic Gal, was owned by Mrs. Bert (Diane) Firestone; the 1952 Travers winner, One Count, was owned by Mrs. Walter M. (Kay) Jeffords, while '52 Alabama winner Summer Guest was owned by Walter M. Jeffords). It has only happened five times since 1900. Steinbrenner's Sweet Symphony remained undefeated by taking the Alabama last weekend.
[See charts below].
"Seven furlongs is a great distance to come back, but you've got to run against Lost in the Fog," said Zito, outlining the pros and cons of both races. "On the other hand, the mile-and-a-quarter Travers, I don't think the competition is as good as Lost in the Fog, but that mile and a quarter, he hasn't run in four months."
Zito will also saddle Robert LaPenta's Andromeda's Hero in the Travers. The runner-up in the Belmont Stakes behind Afleet Alex, Andromeda's Hero came back off a short rest to run a distant third in the Jim Dandy. Andromeda's Hero, who drew post 2, will have new equipment and a new rider aboard for the Travers. Zito worked the colt with open blinkers the last two times and will use them in the Travers.
Roman Ruler and Flower Alley squared off for the first time at Belmont Park in the Grade 2 Dwyer at a mile and a sixteenth on July 4th. Both horses were very game through the stretch, but it was Roman Ruler coming out on top by one-half length. The Dwyer was Roman Ruler's first race since March, as he had been suffering from nagging foot problems. His gutsy effort in the Dwyer set him up perfectly for the Grade 1 Haskell at Monmouth August 7th, a race the Fog City Stable colt won by 1 1/4 lengths over pacesetter Sun King.
Harry Aleo's sensational three-year-old sprinter Lost in the Fog will not be wearing a bar shoe in his first Grade 1 attempt, the $250,000 King's Bishop at seven furlongs when he tries to vault his record to a perfect 9-for-9. After dominating Calder's Grade 2 Carry Back at odds of 1-20, a quarter crack was discovered in Lost in the Fog's left-hind hoof. He has been training with a bar shoe, but trainer Greg Gilchrist said the bar shoe would be removed before Saturday. "I could leave the bar shoe on, but the foot looks really good," Gilchrist said. "It doesn't concern me."
What lies ahead for Lost in the Fog after the King's Bishop is uncertain. One must think if all is well two months from now, he will be appearing in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Belmont Park on October 29th, even though he is not nominated to the Cup. Lost in the Fog would be a "Nine-percent supplement," meaning his connections would have to put up $90,000 to get into the race.
"If he wins this race, I'll have to sit down with Mr. Aleo and make a decision about the Breeders' Cup," Gilchrist said. "We would have to decide if we want to train him up to the race or find something in between. He's not Breeders' Cup nominated. I get unlucky that way. In 1994, I had Soviet Problem and we had to supplement her."
The field for Saturday's 136th running of the Grade 1 Travers:
PP. HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY WGT. 1. Bellamy Road Nick Zito Javier Castellano 126 2. Andromeda's Hero Nick Zito Corey Nakatani 126 3. Chekhov Patrick Biancone Gary Stevens 126 4. Roman Ruler Bob Baffert Jerry Bailey 126 5. Don't Get Mad Ron Ellis Edgar Prado 126 6. Reverberate Sal Russo Jose Santos 126 7. Flower Alley Todd Pletcher John Velazquez 126Andromeda's Hero will race with blinkers.
The field for Saturday's 21st running of the Grade 1 King's Bishop:
PP. HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY WGT. 1. Fusaichi Rock Star Bob Baffert John Velazquez 121 2. Social Probation Carl Nafzger Calvin Borel 117 3. Lost in the Fog Greg Gilchrist Russell Baze 123 4. The Daddy Salvador Gonzalez Robby Albarado 117 5. Santana Strings Steve Asmussen Eibar Coa 121 6. Storm Surge Dallas Stewart Rafael Bejarano 119 7. Better Than Bonds Robert Reinacher Richard Migliore 119
Trainers That Completed The Whitney-Travers Double
YEAR TRAINER WHITNEY TRAVERS 1989 Shug McGaughey Easy Goer Easy Goer 1987 Mack Miller Java Gold Java Gold 1978 John Veitch Alydar Alydar (by DQ) 1972 Elliott Burch Key to the Mint Key to the Mint
Owners That Completed The Alabama-Travers Double:
YEAR OWNER ALABAMA TRAVERS 1972 Rokeby Stable Summer Guest Key to the Mint 1934 Morton Schwartz Hindu Queen Observant 1909 James R. Keene Maskette Hilarious 1892 Bashford Manor Ignite Azra 1888 Dwyer Brothers Bella B. Sir Dixon 1886 Dwyer Brothers Millie Inspector B. 1883 Dwyer Brothers Miss Woodford Barnes
1976 Travers winner Honest Pleasure was owned by Bertram Firestone, while the '76 Alabama winner, Optimistic Gal, was owned by Mrs. Bertram (Diane) Firestone.
1952 Travers winner One Count was owned by Mrs. Walter M. (Kay) Jeffords, while '52 Alabama winner Summer Guest was owned by Walter M. Jeffords.
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