Weekend Recap: Travers, Sword Dancer, Personal Ensign and More
MONDAY, AUGUST 27, 2018
Saturday at Saratoga: A Recap of Travers Day
On a sunny, warm day in Saratoga Springs, New York, the crowd gathered for the long awaited Travers Day. Saratoga Race Course featured seven exciting stakes races Saturday and with a lot of money to be made for horse players.
$500,000 H Allen Jerkens Stakes (G1) - 7 Furlongs
After a morning of undercard races, it was riders up for the H Allen Jerkens Stakes worth $500,000 in purse money. The favorites for the day were ENGAGE, PROMISES FULFILLED and FIRENZE FIRE.
All week there had been a lot of speculation as to the top choice for this race. Many handicappers were choosing the Florida-bred FIRENZE FIRE for the win, as the combination of jockey Irad Ortiz and trainer Jason Servis has been a hard to beat duo. However, we put FIRENZE FIRE for the show on our Travers Day tipsheet. ENGAGE was also a favorite amongst the field with Chad Brown training. To say Brown is at home at Saratoga would be an understatement, having grown up there he has a lot of support from the community and feels right at home at the track. And then, there's PROMISES FULFILLED. Trained by Dale Romans, with hopes of winning the Jerkens, as the late H. Allen Jerkens was his friend and mentor.
As the gates opened, it was PROMISES FULFILLED, GIDU and ENGAGE dueling along the backstretch. As TELEKINESIS gained ground, SEVEN TRUMPETS moved ahead of both and FIRENZE FIRE held back. Along the home stretch it was a dual between SEVEN TRUMPETS and ENGAGE, but PROMISES FULFILLED gained ground and pulled ahead to take the win over stablemate SEVEN TRUMPETS in second. FIRENZE FIRE rallied but was too late taking third, exactly where we had him in our 9-page Travers Wagering Guide.
"It's a special, special win," said Romans, "I think I might have had a little divine intervention to run one-two." "He was perfect," said jockey Saez, "Last time he ran pretty big. Today he proved he's a champion." Watch the replay:
$700,000 Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles
Bob Baffert and Mike Smith paired up once again on ABEL TASMAN bringing the filly to the East Coast. This was a special weekend for Baffert, as he was inducted into the Saratoga Walk of Fame. As he sat in his red coat, amongst other horse racing greats, it would be the start to a excellent weekend for Baffert. Also a contender in the Personal Ensign was the filly ELATE. Trained by Bill Mott, the trainer believes her to be one of the best fillies he's trained in the last ten to fifteen years. A dual between ABEL TASMAN and ELATE conjured memories of last summer at the Spa. Last year, the two had a controversial run in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) that resulted in contact and two jockeys fighting for their mounts.
And a rematch with controversy it was. SHE TAKES HEART held the lead through the first turn and along most of the backstretch, but faded as ABEL TASMAN took the lead. FARRELL and ELATE gained ground. In the homestretch, it was a dual between ABEL TASMAN on the rail and ELATE on the outside. ELATE drifted in as ABEL TASMAN drifted out. ABEL TASMAN earned the win by a neck. Ortiz lodged an objection, but the stewards ruled no change to the order of finish, just as they did in their dual last year. With Mike Smith stating, "We just came together nice and easy and then after that, we actually did the same thing again when she came down. It didn't cost either filly anything, and the best filly won today." Ortiz claimed to be knocked off balance. Trainer Bill Mott was sorely disappointed in the result, "I try to be objective, and being objective, I don't like the call. The head-on looks like it was a no-brainer. Very disappointing. Very disappointing."
Baffert was quite happy with the daughter of QUALITY ROAD. "She's just phenomenal. She's getting better with age, and she's brought us so much satisfaction. I could have easily run her at Del Mar, but I wanted to come to Saratoga. It doesn't get any bigger than this, when you can win here in front of all these people on Travers Day."
Behind ABEL TASMAN and ELATE was WOW CAT to bring up third, 9 3/4 lengths behind. Our picks for the day put ELATE on top, WOW CAT second and ABEL TASMAN third. Watch the race replay:
$500,000 Ketel One Ballerina Stakes (G1) - 7 Furlongs
For the Ballerina Stakes, Baffert also brought in the BLAME filly, MARLEY'S FREEDOM. Baffert is one out of three races with shippers and since he proved victorious with ABEL TASMAN, he was having a pretty good day so far. The other favorites for the Ballerina Stakes were FINLEY'SLUCKYCHARM and CAIRENN with LEWIS BAY being a wild card pick. CAIRENN had good outings in her last 10 starts and LEWIS BAY was also a top choice with the Irad Ortiz and Chad Brown pairing yet again.
As the gates opened, FINLEY'SLUCKYCHARM surged ahead to take the lead with IVY HILL and LEWIS BAY trailing. Around the turn, MARLEY'S FREEDOM gained ground to dual head to head with the frontrunners before surging on an outside run and taking the win by 3 1/4 lengths. A $35,000 yearling, MARLEY'S FREEDOM earned her first grade 1 to top off her four-race win streak. STILL THERE earned the place despite a stumble at the start. Trainer Dane Kobiskie was very happy with the filly's first graded stakes. LEWIS BAY earned the show. Replay:
$600,000 Forego Stakes (G1) - 7 Furlongs
With CITY OF LIGHT the obvious favorite going into the 7 furlong Forego Stakes, WHITMORE decided it was time for an upset on the Travers Day card. As the race started, it was HEARTWOOD setting the early fractions in the first quarter mile and made the trip for CITY OF LIGHT a tough one leaving him four back on the backstretch. Around the turn CITY OF LIGHT held on while WHITMORE took the lead leaving CITY OF LIGHT and LIMOUSINE LIBERAL in the dust.
However, the future of WHITMORE is a little more complicated. With the Forego Stakes being a "Win and You're In" spot for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and not the six-furlong Sprint. Having not raced beyond 7 furlongs, will the colt find his way to the Dirt Mile? Trainer LaPenta says, "We'll have to think about whether he goes in the Sprint or the Dirt Mile. He definitely ran today like he can get (a mile)." Race Replay:
$1M Sword Dancer Stakes (G1) - 1 1/2 Miles - Turf
With the $1 Million Sword Dancer Stakes, the field took to the turf. Our picks for this stakes race were GLORIOUS EMPIRE, SPRING QUALITY and CHANNEL MAKER respectively.
It doesn't get more exciting than a gate to wire win and that was what GLORIOUS EMPIRE gave racing fans on Saturday. The gelding by HOLY ROMAN EMPEROR (IRE) broke from the gates and never looked back. He took the inside track all the way around the turf with CHANNEL MAKER and FUNTASTIC tailing him. As they entered the backstretch, the three horses remained in order with GLORIOUS EMPIRE taking the win by 1 3/4 lengths. CHANNEL MAKER took second but FUNTASTIC lost ground and drifted back. SPRING QUALITY placed third.
This race was a huge hit for our tipsheet and wagering guide with a $33.40 WINNER ON TOP, $255.50 Exacta, $1221.00 Trifecta and $6682.00 Superfecta! Watch the exciting replay:
$1.25 Million Travers Stakes (G1) - 1 1/4 miles
By post time for the Travers Stakes, it had already been an exciting day of horse racing. The favorites going into the race included the filly WONDER GADOT, GRONKOWSKIE (who ran second to JUSTIFY in the Belmont), GOOD MAGIC (who was the early favorite all week), and TENFOLD. The longshots included Lukas' BRAVAZO, VINO ROSSO, KING ZACHARY and CATHOLIC BOY, who has had limited starts on the dirt. We anticipated that the winner would likely come from the super filly WONDER GADOT, GOOD MAGIC and CATHOLIC BOY on the outside.
The result of the Travers was a stunner. As the field of eleven broke from the gates, WONDER GADOT went straight to the front with MENDELSSOHN coming on strong. Through the first turn, it was MENDELSSOHN, CATHOLIC BOY and WONDER GADOT. CATHOLIC BOY pressed the pace through the backstretch. As they rounded the far turn, MENDELSSOHN and CATHOLIC BOY dueled through the turn, but CATHOLIC BOY dug in, pulling away. The son of MORE THAN READY romped under the wire 4 lengths ahead of the pack.
CATHOLIC BOY may have very well shown how versatile he is, but that he may be even better on the dirt than he is on the turf. The ridgling's other big wins this year include the 1 1/8 mile Remsen Stakes (G2) on the dirt and the Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (G1T) as well as the Pennine Ridge Stakes (G3T) on the turf.
The final results for the Travers was CATHOLIC BOY completing the distance in 2:01.94, MENDELSSOHN for the place and BRAVAZO for the show. Favorites GOOD MAGIC and WONDER GADOT placed second to last and last respectively. Chad Brown commented that, "(GOOD MAGIC) didn't break well and from there he was in trouble." Watch the full Travers Stakes replay:
$400,000 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa Stakes (G2) - 1 1/16 miles - Turf
The final stakes race for the day went back to the turf for the $400,000 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa Stakes. One might say that Chad Brown couldn't lose in this race with three of his trainees starting - A RAVING BEAUTY, QUIDURA and OFF LIMITS. With a small field of six, the three horses were all top contenders for the race with PROCTOR'S LEDGE and HAWKSMOOR being the two longshots.
As the fillies and mares took to the turf, QUIDURA went straight to the front with A RAVING BEAUTY just behind and HAWKSMOOR on the outside. QUIDURA led the first half mile by a length and a half. She continued to keep the lead coming into the far turn, HAWKSMOOR, PROCTOR'S LEDGE and A RAVING BEAUTY pressed. But QUIDURA held onto the lead winning by 1 3/4 lengths with HAWKSMOOR second and INDIAN BLESSING third in a photo finish. The final time was 1:39.67.
The win of QUIDURA piloted by jockey Jose Ortiz proved to be another prosperous combination for Chad Brown. "Perfect trip," said Ortiz. "We wanted to go to the lead, but it didn't matter I had the whole inside, if I wasn't going to go, but once I led her there, she kept going. Good job by Chad." Brown's other two horses, A RAVING BEAUTY and OFF LIMITS took fourth and fifth.
QUIDURA has an interesting back story having raced in Germany before shipping to the U.S. two years ago. The mare was then purchased last year by Chad Brown for $3.6 million in The November Sale. Brown discovered that she likes firm ground and today's Ballston Spa was her ideal footing. Watch the race:
Even without the Triple Crown winner in the field for the Travers, the New York Racing Association reported a record-breaking handle for Travers Day. The all-sources handle for the day was $52,086,597, nearly $2.5 million higher than 2015's record when AMERICAN PHARAOH was upset by KEEN ICE. The on track handle was $11,466,264, just $6,187 shy of breaking the 2015 handle record.
We hope that everyone had a profitable Travers Day with the help of our tipsheet and wagering guide. We'll see you next weekend for the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga!
Have a great week!
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