Excitement was in the air on a perfect Saturday afternoon, as the 147th running of the Travers Stakes was run at Saratoga Race Course. An original full 14 horse field would have made for the largest Travers since 1977, but it was cut back to 13 horses after Majesto became a morning-line scratch. Not as much fanfare came with this year’s running of the Midsummer Derby as last year, as there was no Triple Crown winner this year, so it would not be a repeat of American Pharoah coming to Saratoga in 2015. A season-high 13 races were on Saturday’s card, and the Travers was the 11th race of the afternoon. The Travers would highlight six Grade 1 stakes races on Saturday.
The 12th race of the afternoon also had an emotional side to it, as it was the first race of the miracle comeback for Lady Eli. On July 4, 2015, she won the Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes by 2 ½ lengths at Belmont Park. Following the race, while walking back to trainer Chad Brown’s barn from the training barn, she stepped on a nail. She seemed to be okay at first, but about a week later she showed signs of laminitis in both of her front feet. At that point, she was fighting for her life. She battled and won, and began training for her comeback at Saratoga on July 3, and returned to racing on Saturday.
Race 11 (The 147th running of the Travers Stakes): In the 2016 edition of the Midsummer Derby, the biggest race of the summer, it would be Arrogate (11/1) ridden by Mike Smith and trained by Bob Baffert, who got his redemption from losing it last year with American Pharaoh, and his horses finished 1-2. It was close the whole way with Arrogate still leading most of the way, pulled away in the stretch and won it by a huge margin in 13 ½ lengths, and breaking the race and track record with a time of 1:59.36 in the 1 ¼ mile race. For Smith, who is not a Saratoga regular, but was before going to California and coming back this year and winning the race, this would be his third Travers victory, also winning it in 1994 and 1998. American Freedom finished second and Gun Runner came home third. This was Arrogate’s first major stakes win, and it came in his Saratoga debut.
Race One: It was a dominant performance to kick off the day, as Reckling (5/2) with Ricardo Santana Jr. up, led wire-to-wire and held off a hard-charging Mo Town and Javier Castellano to win the opener on Travers Day 2016. Mo Town would come in second and it was Souper Catch finishing third, pulling ahead of the field in the final furlong. For Reckling, it was the second race of the two year old’s life, and first win. Both of his races have come at Saratoga Race Course. It is Santana Jr’s 13th win of the Saratoga meet.
Race Two: In a thriller with multiple lead changes, the outlaster proved to be Patterson Cross (5/1) ridden by Jose Lezcano taking race two, passing for the lead in the stretch. Ballagh Rocks finished second, and Brianbakescookies came home third. Jockey Kent Desormeaux rode Admiral Blue in his first race at the Spa in the 2016 meet, led going into the final corner, only to lose the lead and fail to finish in the top three. It was Lezcano’s 15th win of the meet. For Patterson Cross, it was his first career win in two lifetime starts, and it was also his debut at Saratoga Race Course.
Race Three: In another exciting race that also featured many lead changes, Threefiveindia (2/1) with Irad Ortiz Jr. up held on to a lead he took at the top of stretch. 17/1 long shot Story to Tell came up just short, finishing second by less than a length, and it was Cerro, who led a great deal of the race finishing third. With this win, Ortiz Jr. would take the lead in the winner’s list with his 43rd of the meet, breaking a tie with his brother Jose. For Threefiveindia, it was his third win in his fourth career start, and it was his first race in Saratoga.
Race Four: 30/1 long shot Maura’s Pass nearly pulled off an upset leading the whole way, but it would be Stella Rose (2/1) ridden by Joel Rosario making the winning pass in the final furlong and winning by a length. Penjade finished second and Mighty Souper was named third after a photo for show. Maura’s Pass, who nearly finished off the upset, came in fourth in the field of nine. It was Rosario’s 26th win of the Saratoga meet, breaking a tie with Luis Saez for 5th on the jockey win leaderboard. It was Stella Rose’s second lifetime victory in four starts, and it was her first race at Saratoga.
Race Five (The 15th annual Copeland Cup Memorial Race): It was Revved Up (7/1) with Jose Ortiz taking the lead coming off the final turn to take the win in the fifth race of the afternoon, taking the win from Archie, who led most of the way. It was an Ortiz 1-2 finish, as Deeply Undervalued, piloted by Irad Ortiz Jr. came in second. Imperia was declared third after a photo for that position. It was Revved Up’s second career win in his seventh start, and it was his first win in three starts at Saratoga.
Race Six (The 69th running of The Personal Ensign Stakes): In the first of six grade 1 stakes races of the day, it was another thriller as Cavorting (2/1) and Javier Castellano went from last to first in the five horse field to take the win in a three-wide finish. Curalina was second and Forever Unbridled was third. I’m a Chatterbox, the most well-known horse in the race, led much of the way but ended up finishing fourth.
“The way the race developed was amazing. I was able to cover up a little bit, and then turning for home, the way she did it was amazing. I had a lot of horse under me and I absolutely felt the power.” Winning jockey Javier Castellano said of his horse. “I like the way she did it today. She was amazing the way she finished, coming from behind like that, was unbelievable. I give her all the credit.”
For the filly, it was her eighth career win in her 13th career race, and continues a perfect four-for-four winning streak at Saratoga Race Course, and all four races are stakes races, as she won the Adirondack Stakes in 2014 and the Prioress and Test Stakes in 2015. This is the third time Castellano has won The Personal Ensign, and first time since 2011. He also did so in 2007 on board Miss Shop.
Race Seven (The 38th running of The Ballerina): It was another down to the wire finish, but it was Haveyougoneaway (10/1) with John Velazquez up winning the 38th running of The Ballerina after taking the lead in the stretch and holding on to win by half a length. By the Moon finished second and Carina Mia was third.
“I’m dripping in sweat. I’m glad my assistant hosed me down. What a thrill. You can’t beat that. It’s Saratoga, we just won a Grade 1. It’s as good as it gets, it really is,” winning trainer Tom Morley said on his first Grade 1 victory. “First one means everything. It’s the Ballerina, it doesn’t get much bigger than this. It’s Travers Day, we’re here in Saratoga. That’s the icing on the cake.” The winner of the Breeders Cup, Wavell Avenue, finished a disappointing sixth out of 10 horses after leading most of the way. It was her 11th career win in 26 starts, and second win in just two starts at Saratoga. This is the fourth time Velazquez has won The Ballerina, and second consecutive year he has done so. He also won this race in 2012 and 2005. It was also his 38th win of the meet, ranking him third among all Saratoga jockeys.
Race Eight (The 32nd running of The Ketel One King’s Bishop Stakes): It was Drefong (3/1) ridden by Mike Smith winning the third stakes race of the day, holding off the field in the stretch after taking the lead early. The win will be part of the redemption for trainer Bob Baffert, as American Pharoah, his horse last year, was denied a perfect season at The Travers last year. Economic Model was second and Noholdingback Bear was third. This was the fourth win in five starts for Drefong, and it was his Saratoga debut. This continues a perfect three win 2016 season for the winning horse.
Race Nine (The 37th running of The Priority One Jets Forego Stakes): A.P. Indian (even) ridden by Joe Bravo blew away the competition to win the 2016 Forego. He would pull away immensely in the final stretch to win the race by 2 ½ lengths. In the process, he would break the stake record for time in the seven furlong race, finishing the race in an astonishing 1:20.99. The previous record was set in 1978.
“I was really shocked, he was just so relaxed all the way through to the wire. It’s really a pleasure to be able to ride a horse like that. It just shows the control and different dimensions he possesses,” Bravo said.
Tamarkuz finished second, and Stallwalkin’ Dude was third. This is the second stakes win this year for A.P. Indian at Saratoga, as he won the Vanderbilt on July 30. This is his 10th win in 16 lifetime starts, and second win in three career races at Saratoga Race Course.
Race Ten (The 42nd running of The Longines Sword Dancer): 51/1 long shot Inordinate led most of the way, but it was the favorite, Flintshire (⅕) with Javier Castellano up winning the Sword Dancer, pulling away in the final stretch and winning by four lengths. With this win, Castellano became the first jockey of the day to win multiple races. Flintshire pulls off the rare feat of winning the same race twice, as he won this race last year, as it is a 3 year old and up race. Money Multiplier finished second, and Twilight Eclipse was third. This is the second time Castellano has won this race, as he won it in 2009 with Telling, who coincidentally also won the same race a year later in 2010. This is Flintshire’s eighth career win in 22 starts, and his third win in three starts at Saratoga Race Course.
For results from race 12 and 13 CLICK HERE