08/22/2011 2:49PM

Saratoga: Stay Thirsty may have edge in Travers

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Barbara D. Livingston
Stay Thirsty (left) works five furlongs in 1:01.62 with stablemate Super Espresso on Sunday at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – As many as 10 horses could be entered Wednesday when post positions are assigned for Saturday’s $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Only one of those 10 has a proven affinity for Saratoga’s main track.

TRAVERS STAKES: Updates from Saratoga, workout reports, and more »

Stay Thirsty is 2 for 3 at Saratoga, with a dominant four-length win in the Jim Dandy last month and a 5 1/2-length maiden victory here last year. Stay Thirsty, a son of Jim Dandy and Travers winner Bernardini, also finished second, 1 3/4 lengths behind Boys At Tosconova in the Grade 1 Hopeful. Only two of the other eight horses under consideration for the Travers – Jim Dandy runner-up Moonshine Mullin and Curlin Stakes runner-up Raison d’Etat – have even run over Saratoga’s main track.

“I think with the way he ran over this track and the way he’s doing, we’re happy to be in the position we’re in,” said Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Stay Thirsty.

Pletcher spoke following Stay Thirsty’s final workout Sunday morning in which Stay Thirsty went five furlongs in 1:01.62. Stay Thirsty worked in company with the filly Super Espresso, who is pointing to Sunday’s Grade 1 Personal Ensign Invitational.

Stay Thirsty had some spotty form earlier this year. After beginning his 3-year-old campaign with a victory in the Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct, Stay Thirsty put in a non-effort in the Florida Derby, where he finished seventh of eight and then finished 12th of 19 in the Kentucky Derby. Pletcher said that Stay Thirsty got very hot in the paddock before the Florida Derby and that he had trained just average at Churchill Downs over sloppy tracks leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

Once back in New York, however, Stay Thirsty began to flourish and ran a terrific second to Ruler On Ice in the Belmont Stakes.

“I think he’s a better horse right now,” Pletcher said. “He showed us at Belmont; it’s not just Saratoga. We could leave here and go back to Belmont and run in the Jockey Club Gold Cup if he’s doing as well as he is right now.”

Seven of the last 12 Travers winners have come out of the Jim Dandy, including four of six since the race was moved from three to four weeks out from the Travers. Stay Thirsty’s prowess at Saratoga is something at least one of his rival trainers is thinking about.

“That’s one thing Todd doesn’t have to worry about that the rest of us do,” said Dale Romans, trainer of Preakness winner Shackleford. “He’s proven he likes this track. My horse has run well over all different surfaces though and he’s trained well here, so I don’t think it’s going to be a problem, but it’s always in the back of your mind.”

The definite starters, with riders, for the Travers, are: Bowman’s Causeway (Ramon Dominguez), J W Blue (Cornelio Velasquez), Moonshine Mullin (Emma Jayne Wilson), Raison d’Etat (Eddie Castro), Rattlesnake Bridge (John Velazquez), Ruler On Ice (Jose Valdivia), Shackleford (Jesus Castanon), and Stay Thirsty (Javier Castellano).

Trainer Bob Baffert flew to New York on Monday and was scheduled to work both Haskell winner Coil and West Virginia Derby winner Prayer for Relief in company here Tuesday before deciding if either or neither would run in the Travers.