Bob Baffert didn't bring a Triple Crown winner with him, and he didn't even have a 3-year-old for the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers at Saratoga Race Course, but he still showed up for the races on Travers Day.
And so did the two horses he sent out, with Abel Tasman edging Elate by a head and winning the Grade 1, $700,000 Personal Ensign and Marley's Freedomtaking the Grade 1, $500,000 Ketel One Ballerina.
Baffert and both of his 4-year-old fillies were on their way back to California early Sunday, taking with them free rides to the Breeders' Cup in November.
Abel Tasman, now with five Grade 1 victories, could run in a prep race at Santa Anita before the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Distaff, but Baffert added his daughter of Quality Road could train up to the race.
“There's a little prep at Santa Anita, but I don't know,” said Baffert. “I want to get them back with my main goal getting them at their best for the Breeders' Cup.”
Abel Tasman, ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, survived an interference claim by Elate's jockey, Jose Ortiz, during the stretch duel to the wire, but stewards allowed the results to stand. A year ago, Abel Tasman beat Elate by a neck after a stretch-long battle in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga.
Trainer Bill Mott was understandably frustrated by Saturday's results, as Abel Tasman bested his filly Elate and survived and objection for the second time.
“Very disappointing,” he told NYRA publicity.
On Sunday, Mott told drf.com that he will take a serious look at pointing Elate to the Breeders' Cup Classic at 1 1/4 miles, rather than the Distaff, at 1 1/8.
Mott said: “I just think she's that good. In all due respect to all our other competition — I'm not taking anything away from anybody — I just believe in our horse. Not trying to be cocky or arrogant, I think we're going to take it under serious consideration.”
Elate will be pointed to the G1 Beldame at Belmont Mark on Oct. 6 for her next start.
Read more at drf.com.
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