Summertime Jewel – The Travers at Saratoga

August 29, 2009 | Gary Quill



One of the signs that Summer is coming to an end when The Travers Stakes is run at Saratoga. Unfortunately, it appears that Mother Nature will have a hand in deciding the outcome of the 140th running of this SummerTime jewel for 3 year old thoroughbreds. The forecast at Saratoga Springs around race Post Time (5:46pm) calls for an 80% chance of rain. Considering the entire northeast has received more than its fair share of rain over the past few days, there is no doubt that the track surface will be sloppy.    


With that being said, the field of seven (7) vying for their share of the $1 million purse might be shaved to six (6) as Hold Me Back (#1; 15-1) gets repulsed by an off-track. Whether he runs or not, he will not be a factor in this race. The Morning Line and likely betting favorite is Quality Road, whose quarter-crack issues derailed his chances to run in the Kentucky Derby. His return to the track on August 3rd in the Grade 2, 6½ furlong Amsterdam Stakes was a smashing success. The field also features Belmont winner Summer Bird who was a distant runner-up a few weeks ago in  the Haskell at Monmouth to Preakness winning filly Rachel Alexandra.         


The Travers is run at the Classic distance (1¼ miles) with all runners carrying Derby weight of 126 lb. These two factors are significant, along with the sloppy track conditions, in handicapping this race. Quality Road (#4) and Our Edge (#5) will be the front-runners for the first 7 furlongs, while Charitable Man (#2) and Kensei (#7) will be stalking that pace. IF the pace is quick enough, it will bode well for the stretch runners Summer Bird (#6) and Warrior’s Reward (#3).  


In the end, I see Summer Bird chasing down a tiring Quality Road who will hold off Kensi followed by Charitable Man.


Opening Day at “The Big T” was “nothing to write home to mother about”. It was a day of 4th place finishes. The Best Bet (Vehement) ran 4th as the 2-1 betting favorite in the 1strace; Longshot (Silver Bay) went off at 8-1 in the night cap, plodding along to finish 4th as did SHOW Parlay of the Day (Seeking Options) in the 8th race at 7-2. No joy on York Road, but Saturday is another day at the fair, so for what it is worth, here are my selections for Saturday, August 29th.


Best Bet: Wacko For Flacco  (#2 – 7thrace; M/L 4-1) is a 2 year old making his debut for trainer Tim Salzman who does a good job getting babies ready to race in the afternoon. Ravens fans will be all over this one.      


Longshot: Stormy Again (#4 – 5thrace; M/L 15-1) gets the services of half mile track veteran jock Sunday Diaz. Being it’s her only mount, my bet is she didn’t make the trip to Timonium to ride the Ferris Wheel and eat cotton candy after the race. 


SHOW Parlay Play of the Day: Windy Angel (#7 – 9thrace; M/L 2-1) looks to be “the goods” as trainer Howard Wolfendale’s only entry on the card has an excellent ITM percentage.


Enjoy the remaining 10, er uh, 6 days of horse racing at the 2009 Maryland State Fair in Timonium.