Stay Thirsty Steals the Show in Travers

With a powerful performance that catapulted him to the head the 3-year-old division, Stay Thirsty took command at the top of the stretch and rolled to a decisive 1 ¼-length victory over Rattlesnake Bridge in Saturday's 142nd running of the Grade 1, $1 million Travers at Saratoga Race Course.

Leaving from post position 9 as the 5-2 favorite, Stay Thirsty found himself on the lead between horses as the field of 10 barreled toward the first turn and through an opening quarter in 23.45 seconds. Eased back by Javier Castellano into second as Preakness winner Shackleford took over through a half in 47.63 and three-quarters in 1:11.91, Stay Thirsty ranged up to challenge for the lead on the far turn and spun into the stretch with a lead that was never seriously threatened.

"He gave me a little bit of a hard time for the first part of the race," said Castellano, who won the Travers last year with Afleet Express and in 2006 with Stay Thirsty's sire, Bernardini. "He settled down and I was able to put him outside. I think that was the key to winning the race. I had a lot of horse. At some point, he was going to respond to me. He ran huge today. He showed he's the best 3-year-old in the country, and I'm so happy with the way he did it."

Stay Thirsty's winning time for the 1 ¼ miles was 2:03.03 as he vanquished a field that included not only the Preakness winner, who finished eighth, but Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice, who was fourth, and Grade 1 Haskell Invitational winner Coil, the second choice who was last in the field of 10.

Coming on the heels of his four-length domination of the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at the Spa on July 30, Stay Thirsty put himself atop a division that has been without a clear leader since Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness runner-up Animal Kingdom was sidelined following his sixth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes.

"Stay Thirsty separates himself from every other 3-year-old by far right now," said winning owner Mike Repole, who 32 minutes earlier had his 2010 2-year-old champion Uncle Mo nosed out at the wire by Caleb's Posse in the Grade 1 Foxwoods King's Bishop. "He should have won the Belmont, but he didn't. He recovered in the Jim Dandy. There's no doubt in my mind he's the best 3-year-old in the country. The other three horses you could say were the best 3-year-olds in the country were in this race."

Stay Thirsty returned $6.80 for a $2 win bet to his backers in the crowd of 43,050, and earned $600,000 to boost his bankroll to $1.4 million. Winner of the Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct Racetrack in his 2011 debut, Stay Thirsty finished seventh in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and 12th in the Kentucky Derby prior to his second-place finish in the Belmont on June 11.

"To me, this horse ran a really, really huge race," said winning trainer Todd Pletcher. "He ran from the gate to the wire, a mile and a quarter, every step of the way. Nothing was handed to him at any point. He was in between horses, under pressure, the whole way and he just kept finding more. To me this was a really, really courageous effort."

Rattlesnake Bridge, who was fourth in the Grade 2 Jerome in his only other graded stakes start, was 1 ½ lengths clear of 32-1 shot J W Blue.

"We ran great," said Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of the runner-up. "We were pointing toward this race, we ran our race, and we were second-best."

Completing the order of finish behind J W Blue were Ruler On Ice, Malibu Glow, Moonshine Mullin, Bowman's Causeway, Shackleford, Raison d'Etat and Coil.

"I think when he broke, he should have gone," said Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who trains Coil. "When I saw him back there...he's still green, we'll learn more about him."

While Castellano became the first jockey since Eddie Maple in 1980-81 to win back-to-back editions of the "Mid-Summer Derby," Stay Thirsty became the ninth horse to complete the Jim Dandy-Travers double. Along with Bernardini, the others to win both were Arts and Letters (1969), Willow Hour (1981), Carr de Naskra (1984), Thunder Rumble (1992), Medaglia d'Oro (2002), Flower Alley (2005) and Street Sense (2007).

Since the advent of naming divisional championships in 1936, 18 Travers winners have been named champion 3-year-old male, most recently Summer Bird, who also won the Belmont and the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup in 2009.

The 1 ¼ mile Jockey Club Gold Cup on October 1 will likely be the next start for Stay Thirsty as he looks to wrap up the season in the Grade 1, $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on November 5.

"That's the plan that we had coming into this," said Pletcher. "We need to see how he comes out of the race, and make sure that we want to have a start between now and the Breeders' Cup Classic. But he's in such a good rhythm right now and he's doing so well that if he continues to progress the way he is, I think the Jockey Club is what fits."


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Older Comments about Stay Thirsty Steals the Show in Travers...

Tim, go back aways in some of my blogs :) Said there was a good possiblility he could take hold of the division since the top races were on his stomping grounds and his breed sugests he would get better as he gets older and more distance.
Stay Thirsty..solid performance. Wish I just had money on him. Hope he stays healthy and keeps getting better for BC Classic..we know he can run the distance.
Stay Thirsty becoming this good really is surprising to me. There was some Hype attached to him but if someone said hed win the Dandy/Travers id have said NO way.... Good Job STAY THIRSTY you are for real!!
CauseForConcern: I made no mention of who is the better horse! Since you choose to answer an honest statement with your usual sarcasm PLEASEread my post again. It did not state, could have, should have, would have, etc. It stated, DID NOT in reference to times . What is your problem?
Well, you can mark this down. When it comes to the BCC, if Stay Thirsty is in the race, and so is To Honor And Serve, I'll put my money on the THAS. He was dominant as a 2 yr old, ran in the Derby preps this year, and then was sidelined. If he comes back, I think he's the better horse. I could be blowing in the wind, but that's where I'm going. Nice to know that Wm Mott has a horse, since he's not much of a trainer(sic). And, by the way, he closed in :37.99 for the last 3 furlongs, when he was pulling away, despite the fact that he was opening up 8 1/2 lengths. I believe he can go under 26 for the last 2 furlongs.
For the last 2 seasons to the best of my knowledge no horse has run faster than 26: in the last quarter of a route Including last year when it was almost a dead heat and they were 8 lengths in front of 3rd place finisher First Dude. That is a very tiring track and is the reason you have only 25% winners coming from deep closers.
I love your feedback, DeadHeat, but, if he's 8 1/2 at the finish, he's on cruise control. He doesn't have to turn on the after burners. It's all his race. He could've run faster.
THAS ran his final quarter in 13 and 1. He was slowing and the track was taking effect.
Again, you never know. The field he beat was a weak on. Stay Thirsty ran 9f in right around the same time as THAS. What was his final eighth? He may have been cruising, but just because he looked powerful against a weaker field does not say he would dominate at 10f against graded winners while getting pace pressure that long.
How about this? In comparing the races of yesterday and the day before, THAS would have to run the additional 1/8 of a mile in 14.73 seconds, to equal ST's Travers time. With the way he was opening up(winning by 8 lengths), I think he could better the Travers time.
My bad. I was looking at the Travers chart.
I understand your point, but, the charts indicate that Stay Thirsty was no worse than 2nd at the 1/2 & 3/4 mark, one length off the lead. He led at every other call. Based on the chart, he ran the same type of race.
two different races. THAS was right up on the pace the whole way, Stay Thirsty let others set it in front of him. The pace was much quicker throughout, which suggest that Stay Thirsty quickened much better later. Both won with plenty in reserve, but you cannot compare the two races when they were won by two contrasting styles.
He ran a great race, but, did anyone notice that To Honor And Serve bested his 1 1/8 time in the Jim Dandy, just the day before, in a Allow Opt Claiming? He is dominating in NY, but he resembles Albert The Great and Easy Goer, in that aspect. He'll have to go back to Churchill. Hope you're right Michael and DeadHeat.
I think now that he has come into his own that he will be fine out of state. He did have excuses in his two non efforts. He's grown up a lot now, he'll be fine.
Stay Thirsty can run anywhere or any state. J W Blue had the antithisis of a nice trip
Great race. Coil dead last and no real factor. Rattlesnake Bridge and JW Blue had some nice trips and made the exotics healthy. Liked what I saw from all of the contenders who hit the board.
He sure loves New York and especially Saratoga! Can he run the same out of town?
In my mind, Stay Thirsty just stamped himself as the #1 contender among the American horses for this year's Breeders Cup Classic!! This horse hits the lead and just keeps rolling like a locomotive with that long, powerful stride of his. It's often said that 1-1/4 at Churchill Downs is as testing as it is anywhere. Because of that long, forever Churchill Downs straight. But after seeing Stay Thirsty handle 1-1/2 in the slop in this year's Belmont Stakes. I don't believe stamina is going to be an issue for him at all in the Classic. After that 1-1/4 in the Travers today, Stay Thirsty looked like he could have gone around the Saratoga oval again, to me!! JMO.

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