SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – e Five Racing Thoroughbreds and Stonestreet Stables’ Good Magic drew post 9 and has been installed as the 2/1 morning line favorite for the 149th running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday.
For trainer Chad Brown, who will saddle both the favorite and the second choice (Gronkowski, post 9, 4/1 morning line), it couldn’t have gone much better.
“I’m real happy with both posts, it’s exactly what I wanted,” Brown said. “I wanted Gronkowski inside and Good Magic outside, so we got lucky. I’ll have to look at the pace once we handicap the race, but that’s what we wanted, the outside post, just leave out of there and use (Good Magic’s) speed early, to get a good, forward position. Gronkowski will probably drop behind again and hopefully break a little better than he did in the Belmont (where he finished second).”
Good Magic’s triumph last out in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational was a main reason for his slotted favoritism here. Though the Travers is an extra furlong (10) longer than the Haskell (9), Brown isn’t concerned with the 3-year-old son of Curlin’s ability to handle the distance.
“I’d say mile and 1/4 would be his limit, but he’s certainly bred for it,” said Brown, who heads into the week atop the trainer’s standings with 31 winners – 15 more than second-place Todd Pletcher. “I thought he ran a great race in the Derby. If he runs that mile and 1/4 race back on Saturday, he’ll be tough.”
Gronkowski made a splashy stateside debut in the Belmont Stakes, his first start for Brown after spending his entire career overseas. Though he had never before competed on dirt, the son of Lonhro overcame a poor break to close strongly in the 1 1/2-mile event while finishing less than 2 lengths behind Triple Crown champion Justify.
“He’s training sharper in the morning,” Brown said. “Whether that leads to a better break out of the gate, we’ll see. He’s definitely more aggressive. Now that we’ve had more time with the horse, we’ve gotten to know him better. I just feel he’s in a nice rhythm right now. He’s been breezing a lot sharper.”
Either way, the local hero from nearby Mechanicville is well-suited to win the prestigious event for the first time in his career.
“I’ve been trying to win this race for a little while and having the top two choices in the race is a good spot to be in,” he said.
Third on the morning line is Wonder Gadot, the field’s lone filly who will attempt to become the first such horse to win the Travers in over a century. Already a proven winner both at the distance and against males, trainer Mark Casse wasn’t afraid to run here, rather than in the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes last weekend, which is a 1 1/4-mile dirt race restricted to 3-year-old fillies.
“There were a few reasons (to run in the Travers instead of the Alabama),” Casse said. “One, (owner) Gary Barber is never afraid to step out of the box. We believe the mile and 1/4 really suits her. Obviously, she’s also going to get that also in the Alabama. She gets five pounds (of relief here). We got an extra week off the Prince of Wales, and, voilà. We’re all right with trying to make history.”
Here is the full field for the 149th Travers Stakes:
|11||Catholic Boy||Javier Castellano||Jonathan Thomas||16.20||8.20||5.80|
|8||Mendelssohn||Ryan Moore||Aidan O’Brien||12.00||8.70|
|4||Bravazo||Luis Saez||D. Wayne Lukas||6.60|