08/20/2008 12:00AM

Da' Tara no longer the only speed in Travers


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The complexion of Saturday's $1 million Travers Stakes changed significantly Wednesday when Tizbig entered the race, adding some speed into a field that was light on that commodity.

Before Tizbig's inclusion in the field, it looked as though Da' Tara - who went gate to wire to win the Belmont Stakes - would be the main speed. But Tizbig has been on the lead in each of his last two starts, including a runner-up finish in a nonwinners-of-two-lifetime allowance race here last Sunday.

"I never thought he was a speed horse, to be honest, but the last couple of times he's shown more speed," said trainer Allen Jerkens, whose horse is the least accomplished in the field with just one win from 12 starts.

Tizbig drew post 4 and will be immediately outside of Da' Tara in post 3.

"Da' Tara is going to do what he has to do," said Nick Zito, who trains Da' Tara. "[Jerkens] doesn't believe in that suicide stuff. Maybe me and Allen will hang around the track together all day like two friendly snakes and let them guess what we're going to do."

Zito also has Cool Coal Man in post 6 and Amped in post 7. Zito said he decided to point Amped to the Travers after an overnight stakes failed to fill last weekend.

Pyro, a three-time graded stakes winner this year who was beaten a half-length in the Jim Dandy, drew post 11 and was made the 7-2 morning-line favorite by Eric Donovan, the New York Racing Association's oddsmaker.

"Eleven or 12 is not ideal at Saratoga," said Scott Blasi, assistant to Steve Asmussen, the trainer of Pyro. "With his style, hopefully, he can get over and save some ground and finish up like we know he can."

The 12-horse field is the largest for the Travers since 1990, when 13 ran.

The competitiveness of the Travers was underscored by the fact that Macho Again, the Jim Dandy winner, was made the 6-1 fourth choice on the morning line. Since NYRA moved the Jim Dandy from three to four weeks before the Travers, Jim Dandy winners are 3 for 3 in the Travers.

Macho Again drew post 5, just outside the two main speed horses.

"It's a good spot for him; he's right in the middle of the racetrack and we'll just have to see what happens from there," said Dallas Stewart, trainer of Macho Again. "Hopefully we won't get bothered leaving the gate. Hopefully he'll behave in the gate and we'll have a good safe trip around there."

Harlem Rocker, who is undefeated in four regular dirt starts, will break from post 8 under Eibar Coa and was made the 4-1 second choice. Mambo in Seattle, who has won three consecutive races including the Henry Walton Stakes here on July 27, was made the 5-1 third choice from post 9 under Robby Albarado.

"The more speed the better, because we'll be sitting probably in the second tier," said Neil Howard, trainer of Mambo in Seattle.

You and I Forever and Acai did not go in the Travers and instead will be pointed to the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 1.

The Travers field:

1 Tale of Ekati - Barclay Tagg - Edgar Prado - 20-1

2 Colonel John - Eoin Harty - Garrett Gomez - 8-1

3 Da' Tara - Nick Zito - Alan Garcia - 8-1

4 Tizbig - Allen Jerkens - Cornelio Velasquez - 30-1

5 Macho Again - Dallas Stewart - Julien Leparoux - 6-1

6 Cool Coal Man - Nick Zito - John Velazquez - 15-1

7 Amped - Nick Zito - Jorge Chavez - 30-1

8 Harlem Rocker - Todd Pletcher - Eibar Coa - 4-1

9 Mambo in Seattle - Neil Howard - Robby Albarado - 5-1

10 Tres Borrachos - Beau Greely - Tyler Baze - 15-1

11 Pyro - Steve Asmussen - Shaun Bridgmohan - 7-2

12 Court Vision - Bill Mott - Kent Desormeaux - 12-1

* All carry 126 pounds

* Television: ESPN 4:30-6 p.m. Eastern