Kaitlin Free recaps the action on the Saturday Travers Stakes card at Saratoga.
Allen Jerkens Stakes
Promises Fulfilled captured the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes in an eye-catching performance. He was asked to go on the backstretch and kept that response into the lane under strong urging to win by a 1 ½ lengths. Seven Trumpets and Firenze Fire both finished strong to complete the trifecta. The runner up ran extremely credible given his start from the gate. This race was the first stakes of the day that a speed bias on the track became evident.
Promsies Fulfilled became a G1 winner with his win in the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes. He earned a 99 Beyer Speed Figure for the victory. Future plans for Promsies Fulfilled have not been announced.
Personal Ensign Stakes
Abel Tasman earned the victory in the Personal Ensign Stakes in a hard fought battle over 2nd place finisher Elate. Abel Tasman was let out a notch on the backstretch and immediately accelerated, never relinquishing the lead. The 2nd place finisher Elate was valiant and tried desperately to go by Abel Tasman who won by a neck. Wow Cat (CHI) rounded out the trifecta.
An objection was launched by Jose Ortiz aboard Elate for contact in the stretch. Both fillies came in on each other with Abel Tasman bumping Elate a bit harder. The stewards determined not enough had happened for a DQ and that Elate did not lose enough momentum to cost her the victory. Both trainers made comments regarding the matter to NYRA.
Bob Baffert : “I didn’t even know there would be an objection because I really didn’t see it, and then I heard the crowd. I wasn’t too worried because it wasn’t like it was a nose or something pretty close. You don’t like to see objections. I told Mike [Smith] when he came back, ‘Mike, you’re killing me.’ I’m just proud of the fact that we had her ready and brought her here and she ran really well.”
Bill Mott : “Very disappointing, very disappointing.”
Abel Tasman earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure for the win. Abel Tasman would have also scored an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff as the Personal Ensign Stakes is a Win and You’re In, but she punched her ticket in the Ogden Phipps Stakes earlier this summer. She will move on to the Distaff and may have another prep in between. Bill Mott has been quoted as saying Elate could be under consideration for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Ketel One Ballerina Stakes
Marley’s Freedom scored an easy victory in the Ketel One Ballerina Stakes under minimal urging from jockey Mike Smith. She was kept just off the pace and was wide throughout. She was clear under a drive to the finish and won by 3 ¼ lengths. Still There and Lewis Bay finished strong to round out the trifecta.
Marley’s Freedom became a G1 winner with her win in the Ketel One Ballerina Stakes. She earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure.
Marley’s Freedom now has an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint as this race was a Win and You’re In. The filly could race once more before that, according to Bob Baffert as quoted by NYRA.
Bob Baffert : “She handled it well and we saw what’s she’s made of. Not sure what she’ll do next. We’ll just get her back and see if she needs another race.”
Whitmore cruised home to win the Forego Stakes and captured his first G1 in several tries. He was sat just off of the pace in the early stages before being asked around the turn. Whitmore burst through an opening at the sixteeth-pole and powered home by 1 ½ lengths. Favored City of Light and Limousine Liberal closed in to make up the rest of the trifecta.
Whitmore’s victory earned him a 104 Beyer Speed Figure. He also scored an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint as the Forego Stakes is a Win and You’re In.
No future plans for the winner or other runners have been announced.
Sword Dancer Stakes
Glorious Empire (IRE) soared to victory in the Sword Dancer Stakes in front running fashion under a masterful ride from jockey Julien Leparoux. He broke on top and set the fractions throughout the race, picking up tempo around the final turn. Glorious Empire never relinquised the lead and dug in deep to score by 2 lengths. Consistent runners Channel Maker and Spring Quality finished out the trifecta.
Glorious Empire became a G1 winner with his victory in the Sword Dancer Stakes. He earned a 106 Beyer Speed Figure, the highest of the day. Glorious Empire also earned an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf as the race was a Win and You’re In.
Future plans for Glorious Empire have yet to be announced.
Runhappy Travers Stakes
Catholic Boy sat the perfect trip and flashed home to a convincing win in the Runhappy Travers Stakes. He tracked just behind the pace setter Mendelssohn throughout, and the two widened away from the field into the stretch. After brief contact with Mendelssohn, Catholic Boy straightened out without slight urging and won by 4 lengths with authority. Pace setting Mendelssohn and the fast closing Bravazo completed the trifecta.
The trainers of Catholic Boy as well as the 2nd and 3rd place finishers made the following comments to NYRA regarding their horses performances in the Runhappy Travers Stakes :
Jonathan Thomas : “It just doesn’t get any better. I’m just so proud of this horse, and Javier [Castellano] was incredible. We’ve always believed that he’s a top talent despite the surface. He’s a much stronger, mature horse and this really shows that patience helps.
“It means we can survive another year and hopefully train some more like him, but right now, I’m just going to soak this up.”
T.J. Comerford (assistant trainer to Aidan O’Brien) : “This was a big improvement. Aidan planned on bringing him here, and he stuck to his guns. Aidan could have easily run him on the turf at home, but he stuck with it over here. It just shows he’s coming back to his best. I’m sure he’ll be back [in the United States] soon.
Wayne Lukas spoke about Bravazo’s run:
“Wayne Lukas : “He’s been through the whole series. He’s keeping it honest. Nobody’s stealing anything, and he’s beaten some pretty good horses. I’d like to see it a jump or two longer, he might have gotten second. I liked the way he ran. He continues to add to his income and his resume.”
Catholic Boy became a dual G1 winner with his victory in the Runhappy Travers Stakes. He is the 2nd horse along with California Chrome this decade to win a G1 on both dirt and turf at age 3. He earned a 104 Beyer Speed Figure for the win. It must be noted that both Catholic Boy and runner-up Mendelssohn came out of strong performances in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last year, making it the key prep for the race.
The winner Catholic Boy will target the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. Trainer Jonathan Thomas indicated that the horse would have one more start before the race and that it would most likely come on the turf. Runner-up Mendelssohn will train up to a start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic although a start in the Pennsylvania Derby had been previously mentioned.
Future plans for 3rd place finisher Bravazo and the other runners have not been announced.
Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa Stakes
Quidura (GB) saved all the ground and came home commandingly to win the Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa Stakes. She set the early pace with moderate fractions, sticking to the rail and hedges along the way. Quidura dismissed a challenge from runner-up Hawksmoor in the stretch and won under a hand ride by 1 ¾ lengths. Hawksmoor (IRE) and Indian Blessing (GB) completed the trifecta.
Quidura has been lightly raced in 2018 with a win and a 2nd. She was purchased for a cool $3.6 million last November. Jockey Jose Ortiz had nothing but praise for Quidura when quoted by NYRA.
Jose Ortiz : “Perfect trip. We wanted to go to the lead, but it didn’t matter I had the whole inside, if I wasn’t going to go, but once I led her there, she kept going. Good job by Chad.”
Trainer Chad Brown was also quoted as saying that he was very shocked his other horse, A Raving Beauty (GER) did not fire and that he would re-evaluate her.
Quidura earned a 103 Beyer Speed Figure for her victory in the Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa. Future plans for her have not been announced.
It was a great day of racing in Saratoga and the card and the day had a Kentucky Derby or Breeders’ Cup feel to it. The racing did not disappoint and it showed in the wagering. All sources handle on the card hit the 50 million mark for the first time. On track handle was $11,466,264, and the record all sources handle topped out at $52,086,597.