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.

Nick Mascia More than 1 year ago
AP: BFD. The horse has 1 1/2X the lung capacity of a normal thoroughbred. Because of that anomaly, as verified by the Vet who encouraged the sale by the Zayats, it only makes him a freak of nature and NOT a super horse as all here are anointing him as. Secretariat would leave him gasping for air in a match race as Big Red had an enlarged heart to go along with the enhanced lung capacity. Mutant Pharaoh is gonna spit the bit and I'm playing his remaining races to do so.
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
My uncle had an enlarged heart.It killed him.
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
Id never thought Id say this but Parx may have the best betting card Sat overall. Lets see if they can lower the take and I'm there. I like R5, R8, R9, R13 in NY. I'll play them four. Some good races.
Michael Jacob More than 1 year ago
saratoga is a bull ring. you never know what can happen.
Fred Reardon More than 1 year ago
1-5 makes the $3.50 he paid in The Belmont seem a gift. And it will be a Great Race to Watch. Can't wait.
john g More than 1 year ago
Great race to watch, only good to bet if your playing somebody besides AP on top, and then hope he beats himself. Which isn't too likely, but, they all lose. Value wise, I won't have much on the race but will play against AP on top in tri's/supers. I'll mix it up a little with Frosted and Keen Ice on top, and maybe AP will only be at 65%. . Now, the BC Classic might be a different race, AP may need to step up his game in the Classic. There are several in their that if they run a big race their capable of running they could beat AP., but some of the older colts are not real consistent. The Classic will be a really great race, and would be the icing on the cake for Pharoah.. A win would be a great way to go out.
Paul Mitchell More than 1 year ago
john g, normally, I would agree with you, but in this case I think it is best to watch and just enjoy the race. In 40 years you can say, " I remember that Pharoah crushing everyone." There will be plenty of other opportunities to hit a $200 exacta and a nice tri. It isn't here!
john g More than 1 year ago
Paul, your probably right, but I can't resist a small wager. I won't be playing very much against Pharoah. Not much at all. I think he will crush this field, and do it easily.
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
Bet against,but like Paul said not so much you cannot appreciate the race years from now.he will be way overbet.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Looks like the Saratoga Track Maintenance crew worked overtime to mess with the surface for Travers week. Are they trying to make it slower for Pharoah? Wonder how many of the crew had the early double on Wednesday August 26, 2015. The payout was low enough to think a lot of the crew cashed in on it.
Chuck Seddio More than 1 year ago
you can take this to the bank,track will be rock hard,inside speed bias,and you will be able to confirm by watching any horse that has speed in an earlier dirt race,carry his speed further and faster than the usual.
Maynard Runkle More than 1 year ago
I hope Anonymous is right. AP's luck has been out of sight. No genuine speed, No War Chant or Spend a Buck. A deluge before the slowest Preakness since 1950, closers without a break when Dortmund could have had the lead he let AP take. But Garcia's kind of shifty. Garcia took Dortmund wide because he was riding more for Baffert's pride. Garcia rode AP in his training and Dortmund in the Derby though it wasn't raining. How is that for conflict of interest, or so it seems to me? It would be disallowed in most any other sport.They'd be hauled to civil court. I am sad that Japan has been hurt as he would have given AP some competition for the lead. AP is good but not the greatest steed. I hope Upstart's trainer will not be a shrinking violet and will let Upstart run fast and free. He'll really challenge the TC winner whose had average speed ratings for TC races since 1993.Texas Red, Frosted and Keen Ice. Tale of Verve and Frammento can all close at a price. If Upstart starts too, AP will have a lot to do.
Bob More than 1 year ago
Texas Red here. Will get up by head over AP
MrRossss More than 1 year ago
I'm curious as to how you pictured the race? AP running up front, clean ride and TR just catching him by a head?
Jerry Chasin More than 1 year ago
Up by a head? When will this occur, during their last gallop on Thursday? Barely winning a Grade 2, for his first win this year, does not qualify beating AP. This will be another Pharoah win, jogging the last 1/16 to keep plenty left for BC.
SaratogaBob More than 1 year ago
Game on!
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
I haven't followed NY racing in some time. Will watch AP though.
Henry Bedoy More than 1 year ago
Our pride and joy ready to show his greatness Saturday!