Saratoga Diary: Travers Hangover

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TwinSpires Staff

August 26th, 2018

by Dick Powell

The Travers Stakes (G1) is over and there was a bit of a letdown today. The racing was good but the humidity is back and it is supposed to warm up with hazy, hot and humid conditions. For now, it is fast and firm.

Tomorrow is supposed to be extremely hot and humid. There is a chance of thunderstorms Sunday night but hopefully we can get a full week in of fast and firm conditions.

Race 1 was a killer for me since it cost me a nice Pick 5. The race had a cutthroat speed duel between Mr. Fixit and Flatexcel. Kendrick Carmouche, who almost always gets his speed horses to make the lead, was brushed coming out of the gate and never got involved. The two speed horses duked it out through a first half-mile in :45.52 but here came Can’tweallgetalong to loom boldly. When it looked like he was going to get by, Joel Rosario, who is the master of the late run, got HOKULEA up in the final strides to win at 8-1 for the red-hot Gary Contessa barn, who swept the top two finishes.

Race 2 was a 1 1/16-mile turf event for juvenile fillies on the Mellon turf course and it was a crazy pace duel early with Rotate and Blahnik duking it out through a first quarter-mile in :22.18 and a half in :45.41. Not sure what they were doing but the pack closed in rapidly. Irad Ortiz Jr. had SPEEDY SOLUTION farther back than expected, but she was full of run on the far turn and weaved in between horses to find running room. Hidden Facts took over in the stretch but could not hang on, as the winner was the beneficiary of a well-timed move from Irad Ortiz Jr.

Race 3 was an inner turf course race for $35,000 claimers who have not won three races. Rudy Rodriguez added blinkers for the first time on TRICKED UP, Manny Franco promptly put him on the lead and you could have said “Goodnight everybody!” The race was over as Manny kept his advantage around both turns to go gate to wire and pay a generous $15.40. Once again, not sure what everybody else was doing when Manny stole the race.

Race 4 was a very tough starter allowance dirt sprint for fillies and mares. The public made Maho the odds-on favorite but she faded badly. Manny Franco put Leah’s Dream on the lead, but in deep stretch here came stablemate CURIOUSERNCURIOUSER to run her down for Chris Englehart and Irad Ortiz Jr. The exacta, in a five-horse field, paid $43.

Race 5 was a maiden special weight for juvenile fillies going six furlongs on the dirt. I had negatives on all but INTO THE SOUTH, who was making her third career start. I thought she would be up with the leaders but Julien Leparoux had her back in third. Second-time starter Malibu Mischief went to the front for the Gary Contessa barn and was chased by first-time starter Enliven. In deep stretch, Leparoux got Into the South up to the leaders and her experience edge showed as she surged to a two-length victory over fast-closing Wheedle.

Race 6 was a ding-dong battle through the stretch between HOLIDAY BONUS and Dr. Edgar. The latter runner held on to win it but Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard Holiday Bonus claimed foul, as he was carried out repeatedly in the stretch. The stewards took a long look and finally took Dr. Edgar down despite not flashing the inquiry sign. It was the right call, in my opinion, as the second bump looked like it sealed Dr. Edgar’s fate. It was the third winner of the day for Irad, who has been in a bit of a slump lately.

Race 7 was a first-level allowance event on the inner turf course for New York-breds. JODY’S SONG won her career debut at Belmont Park 11 months ago and returned here for Jorge Abreu. The daughter of Scat Daddy ran well last year, and with a flawless ride from Manny Franco today, she split horses and won at 7-2 odds. Classic Lady, off at 76-1, did all the dirt work up front and held on well to just miss being second.

Race 8 was a $62,500 optional claimer for older horses going 1 1/8 miles on the dirt. The prevailing speed bias fell apart as CARLINO rallied from last in the field of six to win going away for Jose Lezcano and Mark Hennig. Despite running in a stakes race here last out, he went off as the third choice and paid $9.10.

Race 9 was the Smart N Fancy Stakes for filly and mare turf sprinters. Girls Know Best did not know best as she went the first quarter-mile in :20.85. She hit the top of the stretch still in front but Ricardo Santana Jr. had dead aim aboard a ground-saving CHANTELINE and the Steve Asmussen trainee went on to a handy score. Girls Know Best held on for second over Morticia in the meet-best time of 1:00.85.


In Monday’s Race 9, Jim Ryerson sends out first-time starter KATHY’S CAUSE (#9). The two-year-old daughter of Giant’s Causeway is out of a dam by Unbridled’s Song who is a half-sister to the dam of super filly Wonder Gadot. Her workout pattern is not that fast but Ryerson wins 12 percent with his debut runners and the last 49 of them show a healthy flat-bet profit.