08/25/2015 7:33PM

American Pharoah draws post 2 for Travers

Benoit Photo
American Pharoah was made the 1-5 against nine opponents for the 146th Travers.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.  -- Trainer Bob Baffert said he wasn’t surprised that nine horses were entered against his Triple Crown winner American Pharoah for Saturday’s Grade 1, $1.6 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

“I think the Travers is an important race, they’re already there, they’re not shipping,” Baffert said Tuesday by phone from Southern California. “A lot of crazy things happen. The horse hasn’t shipped yet. It’s a big deal. What if he doesn’t bring his ‘A’ game? What if something happens?”

American Pharoah drew post 2 and was installed as the 1-5 favorite by NYRA linemaker Eric Donovan for Saturday’s 146th Travers, a race American Pharoah enters riding an eight-race winning streak.

“I’m not really worried about the post,” Baffert said. “We just worry about getting him there. He’s sharp. As long as he’s sharp and ready to roll that’s half the battle.”

American Pharoah was scheduled to ship to New York on Wednesday on a Tex Sutton flight that makes a stop in Lexington, Ky., where Funny Cide, the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, will board and come East. Funny Cide is expected to be paraded at Saratoga on Thursday before spending some time at Old Friends, a retirement facility nearby.

Fans will be able to watch American Pharoah train on Friday during a special 15-window from 8:45-9 a.m. reserved for horses racing in the Travers.

Frosted, the Wood Memorial winner and Jim Dandy runner-up drew post 6 and was made the 6-1 second choice over Jim Dandy winner Texas Red, who drew post 4 and was made the 8-1 third choice.

Kiaran McLaughlin, the trainer of Frosted, said he is concerned with the seeming lack of pace in the field, which could leave American Pharoah alone on the lead as he was in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

“Yes, you have to be concerned, but our horse is doing great,” McLaughlin said. “We’ll let Joel [Rosario] work out a trip. He’s going to run a big race. We can’t worry about the pace.”

After finishing last to American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby and third to him in the Haskell at Monmouth Park, Violette said he didn’t want to run against American Pharoah in the Travers especially since there is the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on Sept. 19, a race that American Pharoah is most certainly not going to be in.

With each passing day, trainer Rick Violette seems to be warming up to the idea of running Upstart in the race. Violette loves the way his horse is training at Saratoga, a track where he went 2 for 2 last summer, albeit against New York-breds.

“There are a lot of reasons to run here,” Violette said. “It’s home, he’s won twice here, he’s training really well, and he’s doing well on the day.”

Violette said he liked the rail because he believes in a race where so many horses have an outside post, horses drawn outside could get hung wide.

“None of us, except for American Pharoah, can afford a compromised trip,” Violette said.

Keen Ice has faced American Pharoah three straight times, running seventh to him in the Kentucky Derby, third in the Belmont, and second in the Haskell.

“We’re getting closer,” Romans said. “Maybe one of these days we can catch him.”

Before leaving an interview with NYRA’s Andy Serling at Tuesday’s post position draw, Romans made a reference to NYRA’s decision to cap attendance on Travers Day at 50,000.

“On behalf of Donegal Racing and myself, we want thank Chris Kay to limiting the number of people that are going to boo us,” Romans said.

The Travers field, from the rail out, is: Upstart (Irad Ortiz Jr.), American Pharoah (Victor Espinoza), Mid Ocean (Manny Franco), Texas Red (Kent Desormeaux), Frammento (Jose Ortiz), Frosted (Joel Rosario), Keen Ice (Javier Castellano), Tale of Verve (Gary Stevens), King of New York (Julien Leparoux), and Smart Transition (John Velazquez).

The Travers will be the 11th race on a 13-race card that begins at 11:45 a.m. and includes five other Grade 1 races.

NBC Sports will show the Travers in a two-hour broadcast beginning at 4 p.m.