Big Weekend Everywhere
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, July 27, 2014—With apologies to any venue that puts up a million dollars for a Grade 1 event, and to call the William Hill Haskell Invitational a prep for the Travers is more than a little cheeky but many fans regarded Sunday’s War at the Shore as round three of Travers prep weekend.
What was supposed by many to be a triumphant victory by a sensational filly over males, or a competitive race rich in talent, turned into a romp for the brilliant Bayern
, giving Bob Baffert a record seventh victory in this race and jockey Martin Garcia a record-tying third.
In the process, Bayern ran himself out of the Grade 1 7-furlong King’s Bishop on August 23rd here. Does that mean a run in the Travers off this devastating 7-1/4 length score in 1:47.82?
This was a Breeders' Cup Classic
“win and you’re in” event, not by definition a stepping stone to the Travers. All Baffert would say after the race was: “I don’t think I’ll back him up after this.” Who could blame him
And while Steve Asmussen didn’t say it, I don’t think he or his connections want any part of Grade 1 colts anytime soon, although Untapable
did get bumped at the start then raced wide throughout, legitimate excuses. But neither did she truly fire.
? Can we officially stop the madness now?
The Prep Killer
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NT, July 26, 2014—With “the Chief” somewhere in Hallandale Beach looking on, the “Prep Killer” emerged with a huge weekend.
“The Prep Killer,” a.k.a. “Peanuts” in the barn where he was growing up into a top assistant to his legendary father, H. Allen Jerkens, Jimmy Jerkens took a page from dad’s book and slew a pair of heavy favorites in Saratoga's two Travers preps this weekend.
But it had to be the victory of Wicked Strong, he of the occasional wicked will, that must have been the most gratifying of all--considering the addition of blinkers and all.
And, oh, what a difference a change of equipment made.
Jerkens has dealt with the temperamental colt in the run-up to, and through, the Triple Crown series. Crowds made the colt antsy, he tended to run very spottily in his races, turning himself off and on whenever it suited his fancy.
It was time to find out if a set of blinkers would work; get him in the game earlier, help him focus throughout a race.
In the G2 Jim Dandy, the blinkers carried Wicked Strong with a rush into contention despite a wide post draw, allowing him to reach near even terms with the speedy Legend soon after the leader entered the backstretch straight.
From there, Wicked Strong, under stout restraint from regular partner Rajiv Maragh, kept the leader in his sights, stalking him throughout, and when Tonalist loomed up alongside approaching headstretch, the winner came out to greet him and the real running began. In the end, the Belmont winner could not match strides with the Wood Memorial hero.