Saturday is Travers Day at Saratoga. The day is a FEAST for racing fans. Six Grade 1’s, equine and human stars everywhere, an excellent betting race in the Travers, and if you’re able to get to the Spa, good for you, have fun. If you’re taking in the action at home like me, there’s still a ton of great races to watch and bet on. You’ll see Songbird in the Personal Ensign, this year’s Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont winners in the Travers, last year’s Eclipse Sprinter Drefong in the Forego. It’s a really fun way to end the summer, before we have to close up shop at the Spa and Del Mar, go back to school, get ready for yearling sales, and the days get shorter. (For what it’s worth, I like Cloud Computing and West Coast in the 148th running of the Mid-Summer Derby.)
Collected won the Pacific Classic at Del Mar last Saturday Replay here. It wasn’t, or at least shouldn’t have been, a huge shock (he was 3-1 when the gate opened, so it wasn’t a HUGE surprise). He set a pretty comfortable pace, shook off a nice horse in Accelerate, and held off his all-world stablemate to score his first Grade 1 win. Collected’s now four for four in 2017, and in good form heading into the fall. Where does that leave runner-up Arrogate? This was better than the San Diego, that’s for sure. Still, there has to be some uncertainty about where he is right now. Does he have a Dubai hangover that’s been hard to shake? He really dislikes Del Mar? Lost a step? It appears he’ll be incognito until the Breeders’ Cup, as Baffert is electing to train him up to the Classic with no prep, so we’ll just have to see what those works look like in October, and go from there. You can’t count Arrogate out, but, it’s also a leap of faith with him at the moment. To be continued.
Elate won the Alabama.Replay here (it’s worth the watch) She gave Abel Tasman everything she could handle last out in the Coaching Club Oaks, and put in a powerful run this time. That’s the third Alabama win for trainer Bill Mott, who had champion three-year-old filly Royal Delta in 2011, and Sweet Symphony in 2005. It’s also the second year in a row a daughter of Travers winner Medaglia D’ Oro won the Alabama. Medagalia D’ Oro is an INCREDIBLE sire of fillies and mares. Here are just a few of those: Rachel Alexandra, Plum Pretty, Elate, New Money Honey, Marketing Mix, Dickinson, and 2016’s Alabama winner and champion three-year-old filly, Songbird. Medaglia D’ Oro gets good colts; Violence, Mshawish, Vancouver, Warrior’s Reward and Fast Anna were solid on the track and are showing signs at stud. But, there’s a reason that a Medaglia D’ Oro filly went for $1 million at Fasig Tipton in July, when the next price in the sale was $310k.
Mendelssohn, the $3 million September sale-topping son of Scat Daddy, half-brother to Beholder, is a maiden no more. He won going a mile at the Curragh, in Ireland. Another high profile two-year-old, American Pharoah’s full brother St. Patrick’s Day, ran a good second at Del Mar, and may run in the Del Mar Futurity in September. More to come from both.
If you primarily follow American racing like I do, you may not be familiar with Australian Hall of Famer Winx. No problem. Winx is a daughter of Street Cry, like Zenyatta, and also like Zenyatta, has thrived as an older runner. She’s won over $13 million Australian in her career, and is currently ranked as the second-best horse in the world, behind Arrogate. Check out her race from Sunday, doing a pretty good Arrogate impression.
I like that it’s almost Labor Day, and the Horse of the Year, champion three-year-old and other Eclipse races are wide open. It’s more fun this way, like NFL Playoffs that come down to the Super Bowl, or in our case, the Breeders’ Cup. The most recent NTRA poll has Gun Runner first, followed by Arrogate, Songbird, Collected, Stellar Wind, and others. That’s reasonable. The Eclipse Trainer award is up for grabs (Jerry Hollendorfer? He’s gotta have a good Breeders’ Cup weekend but throwing his name out there.) The Travers will help with champion three-year-old, or could just leave us scratching our heads. It’s incredible to watch once in a generation talents like American Pharaoh, but they don’t inspire much competition, whereas with tomorrow’s Travers, I could make a case for just about every colt.
Finally, thank you to everyone who works with, volunteers for, donates to, or is even loosely connected to Thoroughbred aftercare organizations. The TAA, CARMA in California, Old Friends in Kentucky (shout out to Danthebluegrassman), Go here to see all of the accredited organizations. We’re really lucky to be involved in this sport, and we owe it to the athletes (and our friends) to make sure they’re cared for.
Christmas in August on Saturday! Win some money! If you’re going to the Spa, or your local track, take a friend who’s never been. If you’re at home, make fake bets (or real ones, that’s your call), do Travers bingo (a popular one may be how often broadcasters compare West Coast to Arrogate), and maybe mix up a few Saratoga Sunrises. Fox Sports will have the Personal Ensign, the Ballerina and the Forego from 2-4:30 Saturday, NBC will have the Sword Dancer and Travers, starting at 4:30.
See you next time!