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2005 Travers Day Preview

Date: 08/24/2005

Birdstone winner of the 2004 Travers
With names like Bellamy Road, Flower Alley, undefeated Lost in the Fog, and Roman Ruler populating Saturday's 12-race card at Saratoga Race Course, Travers Day 2005 will surely not be forgotten anytime soon. The 136th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Travers for three-year-olds at a mile and a quarter is the highlight of the summer at the Spa. The "Mid-Summer Derby," which attracted a field of seven, will be run as race 11 with a 6:30 p.m. post time. Check here for free past performances for the 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 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].

Zito, who won his first Travers last year with Birdstone, had long considered Bellamy Road a possible starter for either the seven-furlong King's Bishop or the Travers. Despite his layoff, Bellamy Road is the 2-1 morning-line favorite, and drew the rail on Wednesday morning.

"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     126
Andromeda'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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