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2023 Travers Stakes Undercard Results

Echo Zulu heads to the winner's circle after the Ballerina Handicap (G1)

Travers Stakes Results won by Arcangelo

Date: 08/26/2023

The 48,292 fans who crammed into historic Saratoga Race Course for the 154th Travers Stakes were also treated to 3 additional Grade 1 stakes on the main track. The track was fast for the Forego but rain fell soon after, downgrading the track to muddy for the Allen Jerkens and the Ballerina, as well as the Travers.

The $500,000 Ballerina Handicap (G1) featured a field of 7 older fillies and mares sprinting 7 furlongs in a Breeders' Cup Challenge event in the Filly and Mare Sprint division. 2022 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) runner-up Echo Zulu was sent off as the 3-5 favorite off wins in the Winning Colors (G3) and Honorable Miss Handicap (G2). In to challenge her included 2-1 second choice Goodnight Olive, winner of the Bed o'Roses (G2) at Churchill Downs, and 9-1 third choice Matareya, a distant third in the Chicago Stakes (G3) after winning the Derby City Distaff (G1).

Jockey Florent Geroux sent Echo Zulu to the lead out of the chute through fractions of 22.45 and 45.23 while pressed by Goodnight Olive and stalked by Matareya. Into the stretch Echo Zulu continued to lead through 3/4 in 1:08.72, and drew clear late to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Goodnight Olive in 1:20.95. It was a long 6 1/4 lengths back to Matareya third.

Previous winners of the Ballerina
Full results chart

Left: Echo Zulu after winning the Ballerina. Winning trainer Steve Asmussen said, "She was unbelievable coming out of her last race and coming into this. Just had a tremendous amount of confidence that she would do exactly how she did. The development that she has shown is so much like her father Gun Runner. The longer you had him, the faster he was and that's how she's been. As great as she ran in the Honorable Miss and coming out of her first triple-digit Beyer, you're confidence was it was a prep. She's 4-for-4 here at Saratoga and has another Grade 1 win on her resume. Obviously, she's as fast as a horse can go."

Right: Echo Zulu heads to the winner's circle. Winning jockey Florent Geroux said, "She was picking it up nicely when I asked her to. Felt like I was in control pretty much all the way through the race, and when I asked her turning for home, she gave me this other gear. She's amazing. I'm just very grateful for the opportunity the owners and Steve Asmussen have given me to ride her. She's a champion and I'm just the lucky pilot. I felt like I had [Goodnight Olive]. She went to me, but never really went by me when I asked my filly, so I knew I had her measured from there."

Left: Second place finisher Goodnight Olive in the post parade. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "We had a beautiful trip. No excuses. It was a perfect trip, we were just second best."

Right: Third place finisher Matareya returns after the race. Jockey Flavien Prat said, "We had a good trip. I was traveling well. Felt best. Felt fine [about closing up the rail]. Yeah, I had a good trip." 

Kicking off the stakes action, the $500,000 Forego Stakes (G1) featured a field of 5 older horses sprinting 7 furlongs. Elite Power was sent off as the 3-4 favorite off an 8 race winning streak including the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1), Riyadh Dirt Sprint (G3), and Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1). In to challenge him included 6-5 second choice Gunite, second in the Vanderbilt after winning the Aristides Stakes, and 17-2 third choice Pipeline, winless in April 2022 and 6th in an allowance last out after finishing last of 9 in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1).

Jockey Tyler Gaffalione sent Gunite to the lead through fractions of 23.16 and 46.20 while pressed by Pipeline and stalked by Elite Power. Into the lane Gunite opened up a 1 1/2 length lead through 3/4 in 1:09.67, and held off Elite Power the rest of the way to win by 1 3/4 length in 1:21.53. It was another 4 lengths back to 18-1 High Oak third.

Previous winners of the Forego
Full results chart

Left: Gunite heads to the winner's circle. Winning trainer Steve Asmussen said, "Gunite is just a very special horse to race at the level he has for as long as he has and do it consistently. It was a very tough defeat for him in the Vanderbilt and for him to not blink an eye, come back and lay it down again today just proves what a special horse he actually is. He likes racing. He's never been a flashy trainer. I believe he'll need another race (before the Breeders' Cup)."

Right: Gunite in the post parade. Winning jockey Tyler Gaffalione said,  "He broke alertly, put himself in a good spot. The difference between today and last time was, going the three quarters, you've got to use him a little more than you'd like to. Seven-eighths suits him a little bit better. He's a big colt, just let him get into his stride and let him do his thing."

Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Elite Power warms up before the race. Trainer Bill Mott said, "Maybe I've seen him run a little better before, but I can't give any big excuse. We gave the winner six pounds, I don't know if that's enough to use as an excuse." Asked if he will run again before the Breeders' Cup, Mott answered "Probably not."

Right: Third place finisher High Oak warms up before the race. Jockey Katie Davis said, "It was just a very patient ride. There was a lot of speed in the race, so turning for home he was really engaged and it was something you really wanted to see in him after these last couple of races. He's changed completely and we're looking forward to moving forward with him. He tried his heart out and I couldn't ask for anything else." 

The $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes (G1) featured a field of 6 three-year-olds sprinting 7 furlongs on the main track. New York Thunder was sent off as the 3-2 favorite, undefeated in 4 strts including the Amsterdam (G2) last out. In to challenge him included 9-5 second choice Arabian Lion, winner of the Woody Stephens (G1) on Belmont day, and 4-1 third choice Fort Bragg, winner of the Dwyer (G3) after just missing in the Pat Day Mile (G2).

Jockey Tyler Gaffalione sent New York Thunder to the front out of the chute through fractions of 22.29 and 44.40 while pressed by Arabian Lion and stalked by 9-2 fourth choice Verifying. Turning for home New York Thunder opened up a 5 length lead through 3/4 in 1:08.78 but broke down at the 1/16 pole, unseating Gaffalione. 19-1 One in Vermilion, last early under Irad Ortiz Jr., came out 7 wide into the stretch to win going away by 1 3/4 lengths over Verifying in 1:22.63. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to Arabian Lion third. Sadly, New York Thunder suffered a catastrophic injury to his left front leg and was euthanized on the track.

Previous winners of the H. Allen Jerkens
Full results chart

Left: One in Vermilion in the post parade. Winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "It's sad. [New York Thunder] was already a winner I think, to be honest. Unfortunately, that happened. I asked about (Gaffalione), they say he's OK, so I'm glad Tyler is okay. He's a friend of mine. It's not the way you want it to happen. You don't want to win a Grade 1 that way, but it is what it is. The horse won, ran a great race. They ran away from me [early], I wait. Deep in the stretch I was closing, I wasn't going to catch the winner. Speechless. Nothing you can say about it. It's so sad for everybody who loved this horse."

Right: Favorite New York Thunder in the post parade. Despite the immediate response of on-site veterinarians, he was humanely euthanized due to the severity of the injury. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione walked onto the ambulance under his own power, visited first aid and was uninjured.

On to the Travers Stakes won by Arcangelo

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