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Breeders' Cup 2017

A Little Warm Tepid Choice in Wide Open Travers

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 race.


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 draw.


“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 going.”


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, hopefully.


“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 riding.


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.





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Older Comments about A Little Warm Tepid Choice in Wide Open Travers...

Nice job, Cugel. Was right there with you. Caught the super here for 50-cents... which paid nicely with the 10 in fourth.
My prediction was bang on. Fly Down and Afleet Express passed the early leaders in mid-stretch and dueled to the wire with Afleet prevailing by half a nose. First Dude a distant third. Ice Box and Super Saver confirmed again that they were one-race wonders.
Harvey Pack said this race was so wide open that you could throw the horse's names up in the air and bet the one that landed first. So I did. Looks like me and First Dude...so I tune into HRN to see what you guys are saying and NO ONE even mentions poor little First Dude! Does he have absolutely no chance?????
Trappe shot is an intruiguing choice but is so late a runner as to have to be a beneficiary of a collapsed pace to get to the line first. A good choice in exotics underneath however.
Arazi, you could be right about Fly Down at 9-2 or less. The sheets guys are on him.
Cugel, I agree, Fly Down looks good. The speed sets up for closers. I see Trappe Shot taking the lead mid-stretch with Afleet Express behind him and Ice Box flying late, but it will be Fly Down that rolls past these three. Agree Fly Down is a great bet at 8-1.... but I'm starting to feel like he goes off at 9-2 here, unfortunately. He makes a lot of sense with the speed and a lot of people like him. It depends how much they still want to be the Derby 1-2 finishers.
Agreed that this is a wide open race, but the abundance of early speed will setup perfectly for a deep closer. But, it won't be Ice Box..... after throwing in two clunkers after the Derby, it's clear that he (like Super Saver) ran a career race there and he's really not a top caliber horse. Fly Down and Afleet Express will run down the early speed and finish 1-2. Fly Down, at 8-1 M/L is by far the best value bet in this race.
Having re-watch the Haskell & Jim Dandy races and the track at Saratoga should be dry & fast- I see A Little warm up near a hot early pace, easing into the lead mid-stretch, but he gets run down late by Ice Box in a "Colonel John-like" manner. I don't think Trappe shot has the bottom at this distance to get there. Good betting race.
I really like Trappe Shot for this race to, but even though A little Warm is the Favorite, I still like this horse a lot. I liked this horse in the Jim Dandy and I was impressed how well he raced off of those big numbers he got in the Allowance race, but he might bounce a little bit from those two races. He has not been heavily raced this year and he had some rest so I think that A Little Warm is rightfully the favorite, because I think he will progress form the Jim Dandy. I like Trappe Shot as well. His recent works have been exceptional, and I really like how McLaughlin trains his horses, he always does a great job with them and I think he has prepared Trappe Shot very professionally up to the Travers so far. One work I did not go nuts over was Super Savers work. He went 5 furlongs in 1:02 and a piece, but I didnt like how he started and finished up. He started a little to quick which is alright, but the way he finshed up was not great, he went his last quarter in 26. The work wasn't bad, i think it's a work that will keep him fit,but It's not the best of works leading up to the Travers. my top 3 picks would be A little Warm Trappe Shot and Ice Box.
Trappe Shot could be real danger here. If he can get the 1-1/4. I think Super Saver is totally over-rated. A horse that caught a break with a swimming pool for a racetrack at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby. I think Lookin At Lucky exposed him, and pardon the pun, as a lucky winner of the Kentucky Derby in the Haskell Invitational. If Trappe Shot and the front end speed run fast fractions in the Travers? I believe the race will set up perfectly for Ice Box's late closing antics. He was just a stride away from catching Super Saver in the slop at Churchill Downs. And did time his run perfectly to run down Rule in the Florida Derby on a fast Gulfstream Park Track. If Trappe Shot can handle 10 furlongs? I believe he wins the Travers. If he fades off of blistering fractions? Then I believe Ice Box will be the colt to beat here. JMO.
Don't get hung up in the hoopola. TOO many time the Conquistador Cielo's and Gallant Fox's are on down swings but the PR folks don't want to know it.

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