Weekend Lineup: Travers Day At The Spa

by | 08.25.2017 | 5:31pm

Saturday's high-powered card at Saratoga features four Breeders' Cup Challenge races as well as the $1.25 million Travers Stakes, and the day's racing closes out with another Breeders' Cup berth on the line in Del Mar's G2 Pat O'Brien Stakes.

The action kicks off with champion Songbird facing off with Forever Unbridled in the G1 Personal Ensign. Offering a berth to the Longines Distaff, the race drew a field of five fillies and mares to compete for the $700,000 purse.

The seven-furlong G1 Ballerina is a “Win and You're In” for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. This year's running offers a well-matched group between Paulassilverlining, winner of all three of her 2017 starts, last out winners Carina Mia and Curlin's Approval, and the always-contentious By The Moon.

Also at seven furlongs, the newly-renamed G1 Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes features an intriguing lineup of 3-year-olds, including Bob Baffert trainee American Anthem, winner of the G2 Woody Stephens in his most recent effort, and Chad Brown dirt star Practical Joke, who just missed last out in the Haskell and shortens up in distance. Trainer Todd Pletcher is also in on the action with the promising Coal Front, moving up to top-level company for the first time.

Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile hopefuls will line up in the G1 Forego Stakes, also over seven furlongs at Saratoga. Last year's Sprint champion Drefong has shipped east for the contest, and will face off with the talented New York-bred Mind Your Biscuits, an impressive winner in Dubai in March, as well as eight other older sprinters.

The Grade 1 Sword Dancer offers a $1 million purse and a Breeders' Cup berth to the Longines Turf to the winner of the 1 1/2-mile turf race. International invaders Idaho and Erupt are favored over their American counterparts; locally-based Money Multiplier for trainer Chad Brown will try to fend them off.

The G1 Travers is a heck of a betting race, with 12 sophomores all attempting to lay claim on the year-end honors. Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit is favored on the morning line over Baffert trainee West Coast, and the winners of both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness will be trying to rebound from losses in the Jim Dandy last out. Haskell one-two finishers Girvin and McCraken could pose a major threat, but the field appears to be wide open.

Lady Eli stars in the day's final G1 race at Saratoga, the Ballston Spa. She will face a field of five other fillies and mares, including Antonoe, Roca Rojo, Dickinson and Time and Motion.

The G2 Pat O'Brien at Del Mar offers a Breeders' Cup berth to the Dirt Mile as well, and is led by the Baffert-trained Danzing Candy.

Sunday's card at Del Mar features Santa Anita Oaks winner Paradise Woods in the G3 Torrey Pines, running for the first time since a disappointing loss in the Kentucky Oaks.

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