Led by the meeting’s signature event, the $ 1.25 million traverser, Saratoga will be offering a loaded race card that includes seven tiered stakes and six grade 1 stakes, for a total of $ 4.6 million in cash offers.
While the business unit manager Essential Quality is the headliner in the Travers, the other stars on the big map of the spa include Letruska and Swiss Skydiver in the Personal Ensign worth 600,000 US dollars; Gamine surpasses the $ 500,000 ballerina; Whitmore seeks a win in the $ 600,000 Forego; and Jackie’s Warriors and Life is Good at the $ 500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial.
This weekend we won’t look anywhere other than Saratoga as we focus on all six Grade 1 races on the superb Travers Day map, starting with the 152nd edition of the Midsummer Derby.
Travers Stakes (G1), Saratoga, 1 1/4 miles (dirt), 3 year old
Godolphin home breeder Essential Quality, a six-time stakes winner and only beaten once, stands above the rest as the odds favorite in a seven-man field seeded for Saturday’s Grade 1 Travers Stakes in Saratoga. The Brad Cox-trained champion has won twice in a row since his only career defeat in the Kentucky Derby. Two starts back he had one of his major wins in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes. Most recently, Tapit’s son got his first taste of the main track in Saratoga when he defeated Keepmeinmind in Grade 2 Jim Dandy.
Of the others, Midnight Bourbon, runner-up in Preakness, had the toughest resistance. Tiznow’s graduate stakes-winning son has the early pace to take the lead from the start after his rail draw. Keepmeinmind, a solid penultimate time but 0-for-5 against Essential Quality overall, and Dynamic One, a handsome Saratoga’s Curlin Stakes winner last, seem to be making strong late runs in the Travers.
Our choice: Essential Quality (4/5) – The champ looks primed and ready to add another large feather to his hat.
Rely on essential quality!
The Sword Dancer (G1), Saratoga, 1 1/2 miles (lawn), ages 3+
Upstate native New Yorker, multiple Eclipse Award-winning coach Chad Brown will look to the turf for another Grade 1 win when he brings the pair of Tribhuvan and Rockemperor into the wide field for the $ 750,000 Sword Dancer on Saturday sends. The 12-lane test is a win and you’re in challenge race for the $ 4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf on November 6th in Del Mar. Tribhuvan, a United Nations grade 1 winner , seems to be the preferred half of the duo
The main challenger to Brown’s strong pair will be Japan, a multiple Group 1 winner from Europe for coach Aiden O’Brien; Gufo, a consistent late-run Class 1 winner; and Cross Border, who has won six times on the Saratoga lawn, including the Class 2 bowling green at the start of this meeting.
Our choice: Gufo (4/1) – His powerful, late run will be hard to stop in this race he is aimed at.
Rely on Gufo!
Personal Ensign Stakes (G1), Saratoga, 1 1/8 miles (dirt), 3 year old mares and mares
Letruska is the headliner in a large field of nine older mares and mares who will compete for the main prize in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Personal Ensign on Saturday. The daughter of Super Saver, who lived in Mexico to start her career, has taken impressive straight wins at the Grade 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park, the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park and the Grade 2 Fleur. took the top spot in the division de Lis at Churchill Downs.
Last year’s preakness winner, Swiss Skydiver, is at the top of her competition. Despite two defeats in a row, the 4-year-old daughter of Daredevil earned respect with six staggered stakes wins. Aside from beating the boys in Preakness, she has class 1 Beholder Mile wins this year and Alabama grade 1 last year, the latter coming over the mainline from Saratoga.
Our choice: Swiss Skydiver (4/1) – With a tough race over the track under our belt, we want to see whether she can stalk and jump into the heavily favored Letruska.
Bet on Swiss Skydiver!
Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1), Saratoga, 7 stages (dirt), 3 year old
Jackie’s Warrior, a big Grade 2 Amsterdam winner earlier this month, will seek to perfectly hold his record at Saratoga and bolster his credentials as the nation’s best sprinter when he takes on a speed-packed field on Saturday in Grade 1H . Allen Jerkens Memorial. The son of Maclean’s Music, already the winner of three staggered missions in Saratoga, was to be tested in the 7-season test from the start.
At the top of its competition will be the unbeaten Life Is Good. Into Mischief’s son arrives after a nearly six-month hiatus and will make his debut for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. Previously trained by Bob Baffert, he has never been beheaded in his three starts and last time he raged in Grade 2 San Felipe over Medina Spirit. This will be his first launch outside of Southern California.
Our choice: Jackie’s Warrior (1/1) – It will be interesting to see what he can do about Life Is Good and all that speed, but his record at Saratoga is flawless.
Rely on Jackie’s warriors!
The Forego (G1), Saratoga, 7 stages (dirt), from 3 years
As proof of how difficult the handicap puzzle of the Class 1 Forego will be on Saturday, five of the eight horses entered in the race are Class 1 winners, but another was chosen as the morning line favorite. This honor goes to the fast Yaupon, who impressively won his two starts in Saratoga last year, including the Grade 2 Amsterdam. He returned to conquer Pimlicos Lite the Fuse on July 4th in its most recent launch.
The five class 1 winners in the field include Firenze Fire, Lexitonian, Mind Control, Mischevious Alex and Whitmore. Each of the five veterans have scored in tiered sprints this year, with the exception of Whitmore, who ended last year with a pivotal victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, which won an Eclipse Award as America’s best male sprinter.
Our choice: Whitmore (4/1) – The veteran knocked on the door this year and looks fine on this wide-open affair.
Rely on Whitmore!
Ballerina Handicap (G1), Saratoga, 7 stages (dirt), 3-year-old mares and mares
Gamine, a runaway winner of last year’s Grade 1 test in Saratoga, returns to the Upstate New York Oval on Saturday and will be a strong favorite to add the Grade 1 ballerina handicap to her growing list of achievements. The Eclipse Award-winning female sprinter of the year 2020 was not at the top in three starts in tiered stakes races in Santa Anita, Churchill Downs and Los Alamitos this year.
The most important of her rivals is Ce Ce, who was the impressive Class 2 winner, Princess Rooney, at Gulfstream Park last month. As the millionaire daughter of Elusive Quality, she counts her two victories this year in the 7-trunk ballerina, including a sharp season opener at Santa Anita.
Our choice: Gamine (3/5) – Impossible to see the nation’s best sprinter.