Weekend Lineup: Travers Showdown

by | 08.24.2018 | 10:14pm
Mendelssohn was swamped in the mud and traffic at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Derby

Saturday's Travers card at Saratoga offers a number of intriguing lonshots across six Grade 1 stakes, as well as a chance to see some of the industry's stars lay their hearts on the line.

Kicking off the afternoon is the G1 H. Allen Jerkens, in which the speedy G3 Amsterdam winner Promises Fulfilled takes on G3 Dwyer winner Firenze Fire over seven furlongs. Gidu makes the interesting switch to dirt for trainer Todd Pletcher, and the son of Frankel may offer value at 10-1 on the morning line.

The Personal Ensign features an intriguing match-up between Abel Tasman and Elate, two of last year's top sophomore fillies back again at 4 years old. Abel Tasman won the Ogden Phipps last out, and Elate made her seasonal debut a winning one in the Delaware Handicap.

In the Ballerina, G1 winner Union Strike makes her first start for Steve Asmussen, and is 15-1 on the morning line. Bob Baffert has shipped in the favorite in Marley's Freedom, but Finley'sluckycharm should pose a threat for trainer Bret Calhoun.

West Coasters have another favorite with City of Light in the G1 Forego, though Limousine Liberal has been solid this season and Warrior's Club is always running at the end.

The Sword Dancer offers a relatively open field with choices like Spring Quality, Funtastic, Hi Happy, Channel Maker and Sadler's Joy all possible contenders.

In the Travers itself, Chad Brown will saddle the top two choices on the morning line in Good Magic and Gronkowski. Wonder Gadot will try to become the first filly in over 100 years to win the Mid-Summer Derby, while Tenfold and Bravazo are both dangerous. Catholic Boy makes the switch back to dirt after a gutsy win in the G1 Belmont Derby, and the Aidan O'Brien-trained Mendelssohn is a complete wildcard. The latter ran away with the UAE Derby in Dubai by over 18 lengths, but struggled to maintain his composure at Churchill Downs and was eased to last. He ran third, well-beaten in the Dwyer Stakes over a one-turn mile last out. Still, O'Brien is pointing the half-brother to Beholder and Into Mischief toward the Breeders' Cup Classic, so he can't be counted out.

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