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Saratoga Opening Day
Jockey Javier Castellano celebrates V. E. Day's win in the 2014 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 10 contested the 145th "Midsummer Derby" before 46,557 fans under cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid 70's. Bayern was sent off as the 2-1 favorite off wins in the Woody Stephens (G2) and Haskell Invitational (G1). In to challenge him included Wicked Strong and Tonalist, both at 5-2. Wicked Strong won the Jim Dandy (G2), the major local prep for the Travers, while Tonalist was second in the Jim Dandy after winning the Belmont (G1).
Wicked Strong leads as V. E. Day rallies in the stretch
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 4 V. E. Day Castellano 41.00 13.20 7.30 7 Wicked Strong Maragh 4.40 3.10 6 Tonalist Rosario 3.40 Winning Time: 2:02.93 $2 Exacta 4-7 167.50 $2 Trifecta 4-7-6 535.00 $2 Superfecta 4-7-6-8 3,049.00
Left: V. E. Day in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Jimmy Jerkens said, "It means an awful lot. It's unreal. I loved the way he was sitting on the backside. Horses are in that spot all day today and doing good. It looked like it was a very fair racetrack today, and that was good to see."
Right: The trophy presentation for the Travers with trainer Jimmy Jerkens on the left and owner Magalan Bryant in the wheelchair.
Left: V. E. Day in the walking ring. Winning jockey Javier Castellano said, "I was very satisfied, the way my horse did it today. I'm happy for Jimmy; he's a great horseman. He does such a good job. We've had good experiences in the past, winning the Travers with Afleet Express. The way I handicapped the race, a couple of horses had speed. In the Curlin he came from way back. I learned a lot watching that race. I just took my time. I had a lot of patience, and it paid off today. I'm very fortunate to ride a lot of good horses. I'm very blessed to win four Travers."
Right: V. E. Day heads out to the track.
Left: Second place finisher Wicked Strong in the walking ring. Jockey Rajiv Maragh said, "Bayern wasn't loose on the lead and I had them both on my side, it's just a tough beat. I just kept on riding when I saw V. E. Day down the lane, it was just an unfortunate bob. When I saw Tonalist doing that work for me, I kind of backed off them and just tracked. Then midway in the turn, I thought I'm going to take over. It's 1 1/4, it's a steady kind of race, so I figured if I kind of got a jump on them, on Tonalist, then it'll be hard for them to re-rally. But then comes V. E. Day."
Right: Third place finisher Tonalist returns after the race. Jockey Joel Rosario said, "It looked like there was one horse with speed and then me and Wicked Strong. I tried to get my position early and he can run like that, so I was happy where I was. He's the kind of horse that keeps on going. We were just third-best today. I thought he was fine where he was early, but he just didn't have it today in the end."
Left: Last place finisher and beaten favorite Bayern leads first time by. Trainer Bob Baffert said, "He broke well and was in a good position. But when he turned for home, he was out of horse. The Haskell might have taken something out of him. I think you have to prep for the Travers in the Jim Dandy. But he's been so brilliant his last few outs, you had to take a shot. I was hoping they'd go in 48 and change. We were hoping to steal it, but the secret was out."
Right: The horses break from the gate for the Travers.
Down the stretch in the King's Bishop
Jockey John Velazquez sent 7-1 Fast Anna to the lead exiting the chute and he set fractions of 22.88 and 46.08 while as many as 2 lengths in front of Wildcat Red pressing him in second. Into the lane Fast Anna continued to lead through 3/4 in 1:09.77. The Big Beast, who stalked the leaders in third, came out 5 wide for room and got up to win by a neck in 1:22.35. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to late-running Coup de Grace third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 7 The Big Beast Castellano 7.70 4.60 3.20 6 Fast Anna Velazquez 8.00 4.70 8 Coup de Grace Napravnik 2.80 Winning Time: 1:22.35 $2 Exacta 7-6 56.50 $2 Trifecta 7-6-8 147.00 $2 Superfecta 7-6-8-5 1,540.00
Left: The Big Beast in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Tony Dutrow said, "He's the biggest horse I've ever trained, and everybody loves him. I learned from my days with Bobby Frankel, when your horse is really, really good not to waste a race. You need to make these races count when your horse is really good. Our horse was really good today, and we saw no reason not to take a crack at the very best."
Right: The Big Beast in the post parade. Winning jockey Javier Castellano said, "Taking back was part of the strategy, to come from behind. This is the first time he went 7/8 and we wanted to monitor it. He's a big horse. I thought he could go the distance, and I'm happy with the way he did it. The way I handicapped the race, there was a lot of speed inside me with Wildcat Red and Fast Anna. I didn't want to hook them in a speed duel. I could have gone to the lead, but he rated so beautifully."
Left: Second place finisher Fast Anna returns after the race. Trainer Kathy Ritvo said, "He ran a great race, he tried so hard. I'm proud of him, I'm happy with the way he ran."
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Coup de Grace heads out to the track. Jockey Rosie Napravnik said, "It looked there was going to be a lot of speed in the race and they had a pretty good pace. We kind of just had to maneuver all the way through traffic the whole race. He was really sharp and he ran great, but we didn't have a lot of room to maneuver in the stretch."
Also on the card: Ballerina and Ballston Spa Stakes results
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