Updated on 09/15/2011 12:55PM

Time for division to regroup

Michael J. Marten/Horsephotos
Point Given adds a Travers victory to his record. His next stop may be the Jockey Club Gold Cup or Goodwood.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y - Point Given left an indelible mark on not only the record crowd of 60,486 he helped pack into historic Saratoga for Saturday's Travers Stakes, but also the trainers of the horses he left in his wake.

Point Given won Saturday's Travers by 3 1/2 lengths over E Dubai, a victory that cemented 3-year-old divisional honors for the colt while also thrusting him to the head of the class in the Horse of the Year chase. Point Given, a son of 1995 Kentucky Derby, Belmont and Travers winner Thunder Gulch, added the Travers to a resume that includes the Preakness, Belmont Stakes, Haskell Invitational, Santa Anita Derby and San Felipe. His only loss this year came in the Kentucky Derby, where he finished fifth.

"He's like the Gladiator," said Dallas Stewart, trainer of Travers third-place finisher Dollar Bill. "He comes into the arena and he kicked everybody's [butt], the lions, the tigers, everybody."

Nick Zito, trainer of Travers fourth-place finisher A P Valentine, was more amazed with how Point Given looked following the race than during it.

"The winner looks like he could come under the word greatness now," Zito said. "There's no question. I watched Point Given cool out. He cooled out in five minutes, like he never ran. He's a magnificent specimen."

Indeed. Sunday morning Point Given did not look like a horse who only 15 hours earlier had run 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.40, the fastest Travers since Thunder Rumble in 1992. The mammoth chestnut held his head high and had his ears pricked as he posed for pictures from curious fans and media. In between snapshots, he chomped at his hayrack as though it were his last meal.

Trainer Bob Baffert made a quick stop by the barn Sunday morning before catching a plane to California, where he watched Habibti win the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante.

"It was nothing for him, he never took a deep breath," Baffert said Monday of Point Given. "He's just something else, I don't know if I'll ever have one like him again, they don't come around very often. I just enjoy watching him run."

Point Given left New York Monday morning on a California-bound plane. There he will train up to either the $500,000 Goodwood Handicap at Santa Anita on Oct. 7 or possibly the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont on Oct. 6. Either race will be Point Given's final prep before the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Belmont on Oct. 27.

"Nothing's set," Baffert said. "I just got to get him back and see what's going on. I'd like to keep him with me because he's such a handful, but we'll play it by ear."

Although Travers runner-up E Dubai will be vanned down to Belmont next week, plans for his next start are uncertain. His connections, Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum's Godolphin Racing Inc., were pleased with E Dubai's effort, his first try at the distance and around two turns. After dueling with Free of Love for seven furlongs, E Dubai put that one away and competed with Point Given until inside the final eighth, when he gave away. Still, he finished 1 1/4 lengths clear of Dollar Bill.

"It was a performance by a top-class horse who put his best foot forward on the day," said Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager. "He was beaten by a better horse - a champion. Our horse is top-class and he's going to win plenty of top races."

Considering Dollar Bill had not been out in 11 weeks, his third-place finish - beaten 4 3/4 lengths - had his connections smiling Sunday morning.

"I thought he ran great," said Stewart, who trains Dollar Bill for Gary and Mary West. "I thought he was climbing on that horse at the end, and just missed second by a couple of jumps. Those were two real good horses in front of him."

Stewart said that he would point Dollar Bill to the $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 23.

Zito felt that A P Valentine may have been compromised by racing so close to the pace. He broke sharply under John Velazquez, and Zito had told his rider not to give up his inside position. Zito said A P Valentine came out of the race fine and would most likely be pointed to the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on Oct. 6, a race Zito won with 3-year-old Albert the Great last year.

Rick Violette, the trainer of the Travers fifth-place finisher, Free of Love, said he would look at softer spots such as the $300,000 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park on Oct. 6. There is also the $300,000 Ohio Derby at Thistledown a week earlier.

Like Zito, trainer D. Wayne Lukas felt Scorpion, the Jim Dandy winner, was too close to the pace early, finishing sixth. Lukas said he would point Scorpion to the $150,000 Jerome Handicap at Belmont on Sept. 15.

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