First Look: Travers, Personal Ensign lead 12 graded stakes

First Look: Travers, Personal Ensign lead 12 graded stakes
Photo: Dan Heary/Eclipse Sportswire

With Essential Quality in the Travers and Letruska in the Personal Ensign, Saratoga will have plenty of star power on Saturday.

But the Spa is hosting five other graded stakes this weekend, for a total of six Grade 1 races and one Grade 2. Plus, Del Mar will host the Pat O'Brien Handicap, and Parx and Charles Town each have two graded stakes this week.

Here is an early look at the fields.


Parx Dash (G3), Parx, 5 furlongs (turf), 3-year-olds and up

The Critical Way has finished in the money for nine consecutive starts. In his only other graded-stakes attempt, he finished third in the Shakertown (G2). I Got a Rock is making his graded-stakes debut in his second start of the year; he won a claiming race at Pimlico on Aug. 1.

2021 Parx Dash (G3)

Smarty Jones (G3), Parx, 1 1/16 miles, 3-year-olds

Brad Cox is bringing Matt Winn (G2) winner Fulsome, who finished third in the Indiana Derby (G3) last out. Anti Gravity made his graded-stakes debut when finishing third in the Haskell (G1), 18 1/4 lengths behind Mandaloun. Ridin with Biden finished 1 3/4 lengths behind First Captain to finish second in the Dwyer (G3), his first graded-stakes attempt.

2021 Smarty Jones (G3)


Charles Town Classic (G2), Charles Town, 1 1/8 miles, 3-year-olds and up

Art Collector is coming off a win in the listed Alydar Stakes in his second start of the year. Ny Traffic started the year with an allowance win in May followed by a runner-up effort in the Salvatore Mile (G3) and a fourth-place finish in the Monmouth Mile (G3).

2021 Charles Town Classic (G2)

Charles Town Oaks (G3), Charles Town, 7 furlongs, 3-year-old fillies

Pauline's Pearl's third-place finish in the Iowa Oaks (G3) was her first start since finishing eighth in the Kentucky Oaks. Allworthy had won two in a row before her fourth-place finish in her first graded stakes, the Monmouth Oaks (G3).

2021 Charles Town Oaks (G3)


Travers (G1), Saratoga, 1 1/4 miles, 3-year-olds

Six starters are expected to challenge Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality. They include Keepmeinmind and Masqueparade, who finished second and third to Brad Cox's star in the Jim Dandy (G1). Dynamic One will look for a second straight win after coming back from an 18th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby to win the Curlin Stakes.

2021 Travers Stakes (G1)

Personal Ensign (G1), Saratoga, 1 1/8 miles, fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up

Can Letruska win her fourth graded stakes in a row? Swiss Skydiver, who came in third to the Mexican star in the Apple Blossom (G1), is expected to take her on again after finishing fourth in the Whitney (G1). In her two starts this year, Royal Flag finished second in the Doubledogdare (G3) and scored in the Shuvee (G3). This race is a win-and-you're-in qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

2021 Personal Ensign (G1)

Sword Dancer (G1), Saratoga, 1 1/2 miles (turf), 4-year-olds and up

Channel Maker's seventh-place finish in the Bowling Green (G2) was his first start since finishing eighth in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1). Before winning the United Nations (G1), Tribhuvan was second in the Manhattan (G1) and won the Fort Marcy (G2). Gufo, winner of the Grand Courturier (G2), was third in the Manhattan and won the Man o' War (G1) in his only other starts this year. This race is a win-and-you're-in qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Turf.

2021 Sword Dancer (G1)

H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1), Saratoga, 7 furlongs, 3-year-olds

Only three probables here, led by Life is Good, who would be making his first start for Todd Pletcher after going 3-for-3 with Bob Baffert. He also is returning from surgery for an ankle chip. Jackie's Warrior won the Amsterdam (G2) by 7 1/2 lengths over Drain the Clock in their last start.

2021 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1)

*Rating is based on HRN fan votes, which rank the Top Active Horses in training.

Forego (G1), Saratoga, 7 furlongs, 4-year-olds and up

Whitmore was 1 3/4 lengths behind winner Lexitonian in finishing third in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1) and will look for his first win of the year. Mind Control dueled with Firenze Fire to win the John A. Nerud (G2) by a head. Mischevious Alex's eighth-place finish in the Vanderbilt was his first out-of-the-money finish in five starts this year.

2021 Forego (G1)

Ballerina (G1), Saratoga, 7 furlongs, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up

Gamine is expected to bring her four-race winning streak here for Bob Baffert. This is a win-and-you're-in qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. Ce Ce beat Estilo Talentoso by 3 1/4 lengths in the Princess Rooney (G1). This race is a win-and-you're in qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.

2021 Ballerina (G1)

Ballston Spa (G2), Saratoga, 1 1/16 miles (turf), fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up

Viadera's fourth-place finish in the listed De La Rose stakes was her first start of the year after she closed out 2020 with a three-race win streak. She is one of three probable entries for Chad Brown. High Opinion is coming off an allowance win at Saratoga and has a 4: 1-2-0 record this year.

2021 Ballston Spa Handicap (G2)

Pat O'Brien (G2), Del Mar, 7 furlongs, 3-year-olds and up

Flagstaff has finished in the money in each of his four starts this year, winning the Commonwealth (G3) and the Churchill Downs (G1) before coming in second to Firenze Fire in the True North (G2). Eight Rings lost by a neck to Dr. Schivel in the Bing Crosby (G1) last out. This is a win-and-you're-in qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

2021 Pat O'Brien Handicap (G2)

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