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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


By NYRA Press StaffG1 Runhappy Travers Draw Quotes: —

Barclay Tagg, trainer of even-money favorite Tiz the Law (No. 6): “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. We’ve been very fortunate. I don’t think any distance makes a difference for this horse. From what I’ve seen, I just don’t have any feeling that he can’t handle it. It would be nice to win it if we could.

“I think he’s matured enough now that outside or inside is not going to bother him too much. I’d prefer that he’s on the outside just because you have less chance of getting in trouble. Not that you can’t, but you have less chance. I think post 6 is fine. Five would have been fine. Four would have been fine. Any of those three would have been fine with me.

“I’ve never seen him take a deep breath. I’ve never had him out of breath after a workout. I’ve never had him way out of breath after a race and he [cools] off very quickly. His lungs settle right down and nothing seems to be a hazard. I could be all wrong in that. It might change in another eighth of a mile, I don’t know, but I’ve got no reason to worry about it.

“Bob Baffert [trainer of No. 3 Uncle Chuck] does very, very well. He’s got fresh stock all the time and good horses, so you’ve always got to be concerned. But if you let the concern bother you too much, you wouldn’t be racing horses. You can’t worry about that. All I worry about his having my horse get there the best we can get him there. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do.

Bob Baffert, trainer of 5-2 Uncle Chuck (No. 3): “I won it out of the one-hole once [Arrogate’s track-setting win in 2016]. It doesn’t matter, whatever the post is. Going a mile and a quarter, they’ve got plenty of time to sort things out.

“He’s been training well, and I thought he deserves a chance to run in it. He’s only had two races, but they were pretty impressive. The talent is there, he’s just still figuring it out and putting it together. He’s still a little green, but I thought the mile and a quarter might be good for him. He’s got a big, long stride. He’s got speed, so as long as he gets in a nice, relaxed rhythm we’ll see how he handles the mile and a quarter. You’ve got a horse like Tiz the Law in there, and he scared a lot of them away.”

Linda Rice, trainer of 6-1 Max Player (No. 4): “We’ll try to save a little ground into both turns and I’d rather not get too far to the outside.

“He’s training fine. I’ve been training at Belmont, not at Saratoga, which is a little unusual. Coming in from the Belmont, he was coming off a bit of a brea,k so I trained pretty aggressively. Coming into this race, I backed off him a little bit and did more maintenance breezes. I wasn’t quite as aggressive with him, but I think he’s ready.”

Chad Brown, trainer of 6-1 Country Grammer (No. 2): “Hopefully, this horse can get the distance. I’m confident that he can. He’ll have to step forward in this race and hope that maybe some of the top contenders can’t go this far.

“I’m always concerned for more time in between races with my horses, but this is a rare opportunity to take a shot at a race like the Travers. It’s a shorter field than it usually is. This is such a unique year to give this a shot and the horse just keeps improving. Even on short rest, I think the reward is greater than the risk.”

On drawing post 2 after winning from that post in the G3 Peter Pan on July 16: “This horse has been a real pro that way. A similar trip as last time would be good for me.”

On possibly winning first Travers: “It’s been a race that I’ve wanted to win the most since I was a child here at the track. It’s definitely a disappointing year to participate with no fans, but nevertheless, it’s still the Travers, and it’s still something that we would be extremely appreciative of if we were able to win.”

Orlando Noda, trainer of 30-1 First Line (No. 1): “I think we got a perfect post. He’s going to come out running when the gates open and he might just fight the whole mile and a quarter. It is a quick turnaround, but I’ve hyped this horse up from before he even debuted. These are my points for the Derby. He’s a longshot for a reason but he’s going to outrun his odds and, God willing, we will win this race.”

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13 Responses

  1. Is there a race that on average is talked about as such a huge, important, great race as much as the Travers is, but the fields don’t usually justify the praise? The Met Mile it is not.

    1. Considering it’s 1-1/4 miles and four weeks from the same-distance KY Derby, I think the Travers drew a very good field this year, including the Belmont winner–everyone had a chance to run in the Belmont, whoever showed up, showed up.

      The Travers usually gets at least one Triple Crown performer/winner, the Haskell winner, a good late developer–Arrogate, so I’m not sure your critique hits the mark squarely.

      Let’s face it. Those of us lucky enough to experience the 1970s, the last golden age, set a high bar. Like everything else, when you think in terms of it being a half-century ago, that’s a very long time.

      And not many races in America measure up, in my view, to the Met Mile, then again that’s more apple than orange.

      1. Yes, I miss my bell bottom pants just as much as enjoying those miniskirts while Cream,CCR and Steppenwolf were being played on WNEW Fm. and Cordero was scaring E. Maple on the stretch.. ‘ Those were the days my friend..”

      2. I wasn’t lucky enough to catch the 70s races other than on replays on youtube, but i’m just saying when you look back at the fields in recent years, the races themselves just haven’t been fields that would measure up to the hype of the midsummer derby.

        Of course you will have a great performance from time to time like Arrogate; and personally, I really enjoyed the Catholic Boy win a couple of years ago due to that horse matching his great grass resume in an important dirt race.

        I will agree with you that it is probably unfair to compare any non-BC race to the Met Mile. When it comes down to it, some of my animosity is simply downstate provincialism & bad taste left from great Belmont races being moved to Saratoga over the last 10 years.

  2. I did a bucket list thing moving to Saratoga for 12 good years–as said previously, I miss it–but I also resented stakes being moved from Belmont (Woodward just off the top), even if Saratoga is the best racetrack brand in America, and Top Five world-wide (Ascot, Longchamps, to name two).

    But, truly, on balance, the breed is weaker now, witness the spare training programs that require more time between races, etc., etc. But it’s a good Travers this year, enjoy it!

  3. On a more positive note, the jockey race has been entertaining to follow so far, though I suspect that Irad is just starting to hit stride and could open up here over the next week. And the depth of the jockey colony at this meet is so far ahead of the rest of the country, it isn’t even worth discussion. Much respect to Carmouche, Dylan Davis, Cancel, and the 2 bug boys for taking on 10 or 11 of the best jockeys in the game, all at the same time. I think Gaffalione is a good example of a great young jockey that was riding high heading in, and got absolutely schooled last summer, but has returned now having built off the experience.

    The more interesting race could very well be the trainer’s battle. Clement on top with 15, but I don’t know if his bench is deep enough to maintain this pace. Pletcher is up to 13 wins, and his barn is really firing. I wonder if he could hold off Chad, who is at 9 wins and should be good for a big 2nd half of the meet.

    1. In its way, Christophe Clement has been the story of the meet. Todd is having a strong meet and while Chad has numbers, his horses are underperforming. Indeed, it will be interesting.

      The jockey battle is something else! Irad is just so prolific, winning in bunches. Jose is back in top form. Losing his left iron and winning a photo overcoming a glacial place was magical. Joel Rosario is just the strongest finisher, one of the best I’ve seen in that department.

      And I’m a big Tyler fan (he was born one town over), watching him grow from leading apprentice at GP into a good journeyman, then into an elite rider and has, IMO, Hall of Fame talent. The Ortiz brothers and Tyler are so young!

  4. Today’s program does not seem to be a Saratoga example and besides that ,my cable company for which I shell over 200 bucks monthly did not have Nyra until 2 pm.No , I dislike watching it on U Tube.All in all ,a card to dismiss,not worthy of my time with short line ups in lousy races with prohibitive favorites.Verticals? To win what ? As for the jockeys’ ability in New York I was reminded of what had happened to Cauthen,and to a lesser way to Cash Asmussen, that is , two young jockeys who were ” contracted” by British and French- Greek billionaires. If some moguls are interested it would not surprise me that some ” Offers that Irad Could Not Refuse ” would come his way. A day to skip.

    1. Great line, JP, but some might say the Devil made him do it. LOL

      Even w/o fans in the stands, the remote view of Saratoga brings tears to my eyes as it reminds me of so many wonderful memories.

  5. I,

    I’ve been telling Toni every day since the meeting began: “Damn, another sunny day in Saratoga!” In the language of the day, I feel you.

    I’ve written this before but this is the first year in the last 53 that I won’t see a live race in Saratoga, but there are tens of thousands who are exactly like me. Simulcasting is our lifeboat…

    1. John / I:

      I’ve seen at least one day of racing at Saratoga every year for the last 35. Maybe we should box the 3-5 combination somewhere. Our consecutive streaks should continue (and without an asterisk) because all spectators are banned from attending this year. We can’t be penalized if we can’t get in.

      Agreed that it’s super-tough to watch Spa races being run in front of the empty stands. But equally important is missing out on an extremely vibrant summer community, where the racing is always a front page item. You walk into a restaurant for breakfast and everyone is carrying the DRF, Pink Sheet or at least they are discussing the upcoming racing day. Same thing at night, as racing fans recall big wins, close finishes and another day of outstanding racing over dinner and drinks. Plus, add in all the people we know up there that we won’t get to see in person over the 8 week meet. Damn, it’s enough to make one completely depressed.

      I sure hope that our Spa streaks number 54 and 36 respectively, in 2021.

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