In a contentious field of 11
three-year-olds encompassing everything from the Kentucky Derby hero to a
maiden winner making only his second start, A Little Warm was made the lukewarm
favorite for Saturday’s 141st running of the Grade 1, $1 million
Travers at Saratoga Race Course.
Winner of the Grade 2 Jim Dandy,
the Spa’s traditional local prep for the “Midsummer Derby,” A Little Warm edged
out Trappe Shot, whose connections made a last-minute decision to opt for the
Travers over the Grade 1 King’s Bishop, for the favorite’s role in the 1 ¼ mile
With John Velazquez aboard, A
Little Warm was tabbed at 7-2 on the morning line from post position 5, while
Trappe Shot, who drew post position 2 under Alan Garcia, was listed at 4-1.
A Little Warm, who will be picking
up 11 pounds, under the race’s impost of 126 pounds, and stretching out an
extra furlong from the Jim Dandy, comes into the Travers off two straight wins,
the first of which was an optional claimer at Delaware Park following a
three-month layoff, in which he earned a Beyer speed figure of 105.
Having missed the spring classics
– first the Derby,
for which he did not have enough graded stakes earnings, and then the
Preakness, having bled in a workout five days prior to the race –
A Little Warm’s connections are
eagerly anticipating the Travers, which will be his first Grade 1 start and
which could propel him into the mix for year-end divisional honors.
“We are so looking forward to the
Travers with him,” said Tony Dutrow, who trains A Little Warm for Edward P.
Evans. “We couldn’t feel better about the horse’s ability or how he’s coming
into the race.”
A Little Warm is seeking to become
the ninth colt to complete the Jim Dandy-Travers double, the most recent of
which was Street Sense in 2007.
The decision to run Mill House’s
Trappe Shot, who won four straight before finishing second to Lookin At Lucky
in the Grade 1 Haskell, was not made until Wednesday morning, just before the
“We feel like he can get the mile
and a quarter, and not too often will you be second choice in the Travers,”
said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin of Trappe Shot, who is looking to duplicate
Summer Bird’s 2009 feat of parlaying a second-place Haskell finish into a
Travers win. “Both [the Travers and the seven-furlong King’s Bishop] are great
races, we didn’t have to worry about shipping or getting our rider to go
somewhere different; both races are here on the same day, so we just waited
until the last minute to see if everyone was going where they thought they were
Winner of the Kentucky Derby,
Super Saver was co-third choice on the morning line at 6-1 with Afleet Express,
who was third to A Little Warm in the Jim Dandy.
While he followed his Derby win
with an eighth-place finish in the Preakness and a fourth in the Haskell, Super
Saver, who drew the far outside with Calvin Borel aboard, is the only Travers
starter to have won a race at the distance.
“His versatility and the kind of
tactics Calvin was able to employ in the Derby
should bode well in there,” said Todd Pletcher, who trains Super Saver for
WinStar Farm. “Sometimes, the No. 11 might be a little further out there than
you’d ideally like, but I think with a mile and a quarter it’s okay; you get a
decent run to the first turn so Calvin should have the option to survey
everything inside and see who’s using their horse and fall into a cozy spot,
“Super Saver is capable of doing
anything,” added Pletcher, who won the 2005 Travers with Flower Alley. “He’s
won on the lead and he’s settled pretty well off the pace in the Derby so I
think it’s more about how fast they’re going and where Calvin feels comfortable
tucking him in.”
Super Saver is looking to become
the 11th Derby winner overall to take the Travers, with the three
most recent Derby winners to run in the race all having won – Street Sense
(2007), Thunder Gulch (1995), and Sea Hero (1993).
Afleet Express, who won the Grade
3 Pegasus in his first start around two turns, drew post position 7 for his
first Grade 1 effort.
“He tends to break a little on the
slow side, so it’s probably better to be a little bit out of the way than being
down in there,” said trainer Jimmy Jerkens of the Gainesway Farm color-bearer,
who will be ridden by Javier Castellano. “I thought he would run well in his
earlier races. The water’s a lot deeper now but he’s doing great, and he’d
better be. He’ll have to run better than he did the last time to win it,
there’s no doubt about it.”
First Dude, who drew post position
4 with Ramon Dominguez riding, will be making his sixth straight Grade 1
appearance, having along the way collected a third-place finish in the Blue
Grass, a second-place finish in the Preakness, and third-place finishes in both
the Belmont Stakes and the Haskell.
“He’s doing great,” said trainer
Dale Romans of First Dude, who carries the colors of Donald Dizney. “He shipped
in well on Tuesday and galloped perfectly over the track this morning. The post
position is perfect. It’s a good spot; best we’ve had his past few starts.”
First Dude was listed at 8-1 on
the morning line, along with Fly Down, the first of a trio from Hall of
Famer Nick Zito, who will also send out Derby
runner-up Ice Box and Jim Dandy runner-up Miner’s Reserve as his 23rd,
24th and 25th Travers starters, more than any other
trainer in history.
Richard C. Pell’s Fly Down, most
recently fifth in the Jim Dandy, drew post position 8 with Jose Lezcano up,
while Ice Box, who was sixth in the Haskell, drew post 6 at 10-1 on the morning
line under new rider Julien Leparoux.
Miner’s Reserve, 12-1 on the
morning line, drew the rail with David Cohen named.
“I would have preferred to be a
little outside with Miner’s,” said Zito, who won the Travers in 2004 with
Birdstone. “It’s a tough post. We’ll see. First Dude is outside of him. Trappe
shot is outside of him. It doesn’t look too promising there. I’ll be honest
with you. The other two are fine, they come from behind.”
Hall of Fame jockey Kent
Desormeaux, winner of the 2009 Travers with Summer Bird, will be seeking his
second straight Travers victory aboard Admiral Alex, whose lone start was a
one-length victory in a Saratoga
maiden race going 1 1/8 miles on July 31. Admiral Alex, 12-1 morning line, will
be the third Travers starter for owner-trainer Leon Blusiewicz, who sent out
Lejoli, fourth in 1982, and Tong Po, who was eased in 1991.
“I don’t think I’m in that deep,”
said Blusiewicz, pointing out he win the 1981 Grade 1 Selima with Snow plow off
a debut maiden win. “I’ve done it before. He’ll make a good showing, I think.”
Chester and Mary Broman’s Friend Or Foe, who did not start until
March 6 of this year, registered three straight wins, two against New
York-breds, before finishing fourth, beaten just three lengths, in his first
start around two turns in the Jim Dandy.
“I really think the horse is going
to benefit greatly from his Jim Dandy effort,” said trainer John Kimmel. “We
were asking the horse to go from seven-eighths of a mile to a mile and an
eighth against some improved horses and he showed very well. He got bounced
around a little bit, continued on well, and galloped out well. The gallop-out
was a good sign for me – he galloped up right past the winner [A Little Warm].
I think that now that he’s had that experience, he should move forward off the
race and that’s why we’re here.
“Hopefully, he’ll continue the
tradition of New York-breds like Thunder Rumble [who won the Travers in 1992],”
added the trainer.
Listed at 15-1 on the morning
line, Friend Or Foe will be ridden by Rajiv Maragh from post 9.
The outsider in the field at 30-1
is Cash is King’s Afleet Again, who was second to Afleet Express in the Pegasus
and fifth behind Lookin At Lucky in the Haskell. Winner of the Grade 3 Withers
at Aqueduct, the son of Afleet Alex drew post 10 with Cornelio Velasquez
Post time for the Travers, race 12
on a 13-race card, is approximately 5:46 p.m EDT. The race will be telecast
from 5 – 6 p.m. on MSGPlus and MASN.