SARATOGA SPRINGS – The New York Racing Association has put together a monster racing card for Travers Day, which includes six straight Grade 1 races followed by the Grade 2 Ballston Spa after the Travers.
The three graded stakes races preceding the $1.25 million Grade 1 Travers Stakes on Saturday afternoon will be on the undercard of a super day of racing at Saratoga Race Course. The King’s Bishop Stakes for 3-years-old will start off an all-Grade 1 stakes Pick-4 followed by the Forego, a 7-furlong sprint for three-year-olds and up. Following the Forego, the $1 million Sword Dancer for 3-years-old and up going one-and-a-half miles on the turf will precede the Travers Stakes on the Spa's signature day.
There will be 13 races in all with the first race going to post at 11:35 a.m. The Sword Dancer and the Travers will be on NBC Sports (4:30 - 6:00 p.m.) with the Travers scheduled to go off at 5:44 p.m. local time. A Travers preview will be in Saturday's print edition tomorrow morning.
Let's take a look at the three undercard races and some thoughts when building a Pick-3 ticket that starts with the King’s Bishop in Race 8 and finishes with the Sword Dancer in Race 10.
Race 8 - Grade 1 King’s Bishop: The first leg in the Pick-3 sequence is wide open and sprint races have been my Achilles heel on big race days in the past, so no shocker that we’re going deep in here. Two cutback horses are my top two in here with 1-Economic Model (6-1) and 6-Mohaymen (5-1). Chad Brown, who won his 1,000th career race on Wednesday puts the blinkers on Economic Model and is hitting 25 percent of the time when making this equipment change. Mohaymen steps down from routing against the top 3-year-olds and the cutback may be just what the doctor ordered.
The 11 post produced last year’s winner in Runhappy, and this year that post will have Woodbine shipper 11-Noholdingback Bear (10-1), a Mike De Paulo trained son of Put It Back. Eurico Rosa da Silva, one of the top jockeys on the Canadian circuit will ride a horse that has only missed the board once in nine career races.
We’ll include the lightly raced 3-Summer Revolution (6-1), a son of Summer Bird with Javier Castellano in the irons and Grade 2 Amsterdam winner 8-Mind Your Biscuits (15-1), who has Hall of Famer Johnny Velazquez aboard. Add 12-Tom’s Ready (12-1), the Woody Stephens winner and the Bob Baffert-trained 13-Drefong who should be on the engine early from the outside post and we’re seven deep.
Race 9 - Grade 1 Forego: A competitive race for older sprinters, we’ll go with the two favorites and two longer shots in the middle leg of the Pick-3. The favorites are the top two finishers in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt, 11-A.P. Indian (5-2) and 12-Marking (3-1), both who should be win threats.
While I don’t favor the rail for 1-Catalina Red (8-1), it’s hard to ignore his 3-for-3 at the distance and the rough start encountered in the Vanderbilt. Javier Castellano loves the big races and 3-Limosine Liberal (15-1), last year’s runner-up to Runhappy in the King’s Bishop, is a classy gelding. We’ll add 8-Stallwalkin’ Dude (8-1) who seems to be in form for trainer David Jacobson and comes in third off the layoff.
Race 10 - Grade 1 Sword Dancer: The very talented 6-Flintshire (1-5) is the morning line favorite and has won both of his races in the States this year, including the Grade 2 Bowling Green overcoming a troubled trip to win by ¾-length. We’ll single the son of Dansilli. 1-Grand Tito (8-1) will try to avenge his loss in the Bowling Green.
Post Time $1 Pick-3: 1,3,6, 8,11,12,13 with 1,3,8,12,13 with 6 (cost $35)
The other Grade 1’s on the card include the Personal Ensign (Race 6) which will be a rematch of last year’s controversial disqualification between 2-Curalina (9-5) and 1-I’m a Chatterbox (4-1). The quality field also includes Ogden Phipps winner 5-Cavorting (2-1) and 3-Forever Unbridled (7-2). It’s only a five-horse race, but any of the five in the race is capable of winning.
Race 7 is the Ballerina featuring 8-Wavell Avenue (3-1), 9-Carina Mia (7-2) and 4-Sheer Drama (5-1).
Today’s action on New York-bred Showcase Day with the $250,000 Albany Stakes, the last leg of the Big Apple Triple in Race 5, which includes the New York Derby winner Hit It Once More (8-5) for trainer Gary Sciacca.
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, tweets @EquiSpace