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Saratoga Opening Day
Owner Willis D. Horton and jockey Luis Saez celebrate Will Take Charge's win in the 2013 Travers Stakes.
The highlight of the Saratoga meeting is the $1 million Travers Stakes (G1), featuring the best 3-year-olds on the east coast going 1 1/4 miles on the main track. A field of 9 contested the 144th "Midsummer Derby" before 47,597 fans enjoying the sunny weather and temperatures in the high 70's. Verrazano, winner of the Wood Memorial (G1), Pegasus (G3), and Haskell (G1), was sent off as the 8-5 favorite. In to challenge him included 5-2 second choice and Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Palace Malice, coming off his Jim Dandy (G2) win, and 3-1 third choice Orb, winner of the Florida Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1) but fourth in the Preakness (G1) and third in the Belmont (G1).
Will Take Charge rallies on the outside in the stretch
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 5 Will Take Charge Saez 21.20 8.60 5.20 6 Moreno Ortiz 25.40 9.80 2 Orb Lezcano 4.30 Winning Time: 2:02.68 $2 Exacta 5-6 313.00 $2 Trifecta 5-6-2 1,950.00 $2 Superfecta 5-6-2-8 5,098.00
Left: Will Take Charge in the winner's circle. Winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas said, "I changed up a few things. I took a chance on an up-and-coming rider. I thought my horse trained well, but these things are so tough. At the 3/8 pole, I thought we'll get a piece of it, but I didn't know if we'd get up. He's a little over 17 hands and just starting to find himself. This is a horse who's going to get better. He's getting his act together. It feels pretty good. They were reminding me it's been a long time between drinks, but when they come like this, they come double."
Right: Will Take Charge circles with his flowers.
Left: Will Take Charge heads in to the paddock to be saddled. Winning jockey Luis Saez said, "I want to say thanks to God, Mr. Lukas and everyone who's coming here to see these champions. This horse was training good. Last time, when he finished second, I saw the replays and I knew how to ride him. I tried to ride him like he runs."
Right: Will Take Charge in the walking ring. Lukas added, "These races, the Triple Crown races, the Breeders' Cup and the Travers, especially at this time of year when horses have had hard campaigns, they're special. There has never been a bad Travers. This one was really solid, but they're all great. They don't put up a million bucks on a Grade 1 and just hand it to them. You better get on your belly and have a horse ready to run, or you're not going to win one of these."
Left: Second place finisher Moreno returns after the race. Trainer Eric Guillot said, "Brutal, huh? Last jump. He couldn't have done any better, stay in the 3 path, stay off the rail, make them come to you, don't let them go inside you, don't let them pinch you on the rail. (Jockey Jose Ortiz) rode him just like I told him. He knows the horse and he rode him perfect; we got beat. He said the horse kind of waited on them that last part. What are you going to do?"
Right: Third place finisher Orb in the paddock before the race. Jockey Jose Lezcano said, "I got a very good trip. I got the position I wanted. The break was good, and he gave me his race. At the 1/4 pole, he accelerated, but the other horses kept going, too." Trainer Shug McGaughey added, "He ran a good race. You can't cry over spilled milk. We got him back on the right track, and now we'll point for something else."
Left: Seventh place finisher and beaten favorite Verrazano heads out to the track before the race. Trainer Todd Pletcher said, "Verrazano got a beautiful trip. He got exactly where we thought he'd be; the only difference was we thought he'd be stalking Palace Malice. It's horse racing. It happens every day, every race, 14 times a day sometimes. We would have liked to have won it, but we've had a great meet and we're not going to cry about it. We'll regroup and try again."
Right: The horses break from the gate for the Travers. John Velazquez aboard beaten favorite Verrazano said, "I was very happy where I was. By the 1/2 mile pole, he was off the bridle and just went through the motions. He really didn't put in much effort."
Down the stretch in the King's Bishop
Let Em Shine and 7-1 Mentor Cane battled for the lead down the backstretch through fractions of 22.34 and 44.60 while stalked by 46-1 Integrity and 21-1 No Distinction. Entering the stretch, Mentor Cane pulled away from the field, opening up a 4 length advantage at the 1/8 pole through 3/4 in 1:09.33. 28-1 Capo Bastone, 11th early, came out 3 wide into the lane and closed fast, passing Mentor Cane just inside the 1/16 pole to win going away by 2 lengths in 1:22.22. It was another 3 1/4 lengths back to 22-1 Central Banker third, and a neck back to favorite Forty Tales fourth.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 3 Capo Bastone Ortiz Jr. 54.50 25.80 12.40 7 Mentor Cane Prado 10.80 8.00 12 Central Banker Albarado 14.20 Winning Time: 1:22.22 $2 Exacta 3-7 759.00 $2 Trifecta 3-7-12 16,639.00 $2 Superfecta 3-7-12-2 61,232.00
Left: Capo Bastone in the winner's circle. Trainer Todd Pletcher said, "He's shown, on his good days, that he's good enough to compete in a race like this. He was pretty close to Forty Tales in the Derby Trial, and it seemed like he was training better than ever. Based off his breeze with Verrazano, we felt like it was time to take a shot. It seemed like everything was gelling at the right time, and he was sitting on a good one, so we felt like, 'Let's try a big one.' It seems like he has found his niche. I think he gets a mile, no problem, but this was a good set-up for him today."
Right: Capo Bastone gets hosed off after the race.
Left: Capo Bastone in the walking ring before the race. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "I had a good trip on the outside all the way. When I asked him, he picked it up, and he did the job. He was ready today. The trainer put me on the right horse. The horse was great, that's all I can say. I just waited to the 3/8 pole like the trainer told me. I just followed the instructions."
Right: Second place finisher Mentor Cane in the walking ring. Jockey Edgar Prado said, "He came out of there running. There were horses outside of me, and I thought I was going to sit right off of it. I think I was in a pretty good spot all the way. He took command around the turn very easily. He fought hard, but the other horse came from the outside. I thought the last 1/8 mile that I won the race."
Left: Third place finisher Central Banker in the post parade. Trainer Al Stall Jr. said, "This was a really good race for him, especially since this was the second race off a really long layoff. I thought he really ran well under these conditions. It has been a speed-biased track all day long. Sometimes when that happens, the jocks go out there in 44 and change. We thought there would be a good chance that the speed would come back, and it did a little bit."
Right: Fourth place finisher and beaten favorite Forty Tales returns after the race. Jockey Julien Leparoux said, "He got in a little traffic, but when he got in the clear, he really came running. No more dirt in his face. Around the turn, I asked him to run; he took a little time to get going, but he ran big."
Also on the card: Test and Ballston Spa Stakes results
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