Updated on 08/25/2012 10:34AM

Travers: Field of 11 entered with new pace scenario

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Barbara D. Livingston
Speightscity will start from the rail in Saturday's Grade 1 Travers at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – In keeping with the theme of the summer in the 3-year-old division, the focal point of Wednesday’s post position draw for Saturday’s Grade 1 Travers Stakes was more about who was not in the race than who is running.

Two hours before posts were drawn for the 143rd Travers, the connections of Hansen, last year’s champion 2-year-old, announced the horse had a 20 percent to 30 percent tear of the tendon in his left foreleg and would not only miss the race, but would most likely be retired. That news came one day after Bodemeister, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness runner-up, was retired. Paynter, the Haskell winner – who unlike his stablemate Bodemeister was at one time considered for the Travers – is recovering from an illness. Ironically, he arrived in Saratoga on Wednesday afternoon. On July 20, Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags was retired due to injury.

But they will still run the Travers and disperse $1 million in purse money to the 11 horses that were entered for the 1 1/4-mile race, the 12th of 13 races on a card that begins at 11:35 a.m.

[TRAVERS STAKES: Get PPs, latest news, and video]

The defection of Hansen figures to have a serious impact on the pace scenario in the Travers. Hansen was a confirmed front-runner in a field seemingly void of speed. However, Gary Contessa, trainer of longshot Speightscity, announced his intention to have jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. send his horse – who has not been out since running second to Alpha in the Feb. 4 Withers at Aqueduct – to the front from the rail.

“We’re going to the lead,” said Contessa, who had wanted to run Speightscity in an overnight stakes here Friday that failed to fill. “Hansen’s not in here. I was thinking about whether I wanted to go head-and-head with Hansen or not, but from the rail, if all goes well, we will be on the lead.”

Alpha drew post 6 and was installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite by NYRA’s Eric Donovan to become the 10th Jim Dandy winner since 1969 to also win the Travers. Alpha, who will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez, won the Jim Dandy in front-running fashion over a sloppy track. He also has been effective from off the pace.

“Most of it will be up to Ramon, how he breaks and where we are early,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said of how the pace changed without Hansen in the field. “If they go from the one-hole, we’ll lay second like we thought we might have to to Hansen anyway. We’ll leave it up to Ramon, but we will be forwardly placed.”

Chad Brown, trainer of the late-running Street Life, was perhaps the most deflated by the defection of Hansen.

“I definitely would rather him be in the race, I thought he would help the pace for sure,” Brown said. “But he’s not in there; we’ll have to see how it plays out. Our horse has shown in his last race he may be a little more willing to lay closer than he has been. If the pace is slow, I’m sure Jose [Lezcano] will keep him within earshot of the field.”

Speightscity was not the only late addition to the field. Ken McPeek entered Golden Ticket, runner-up in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby in March who has not been out since finishing second in a first-level allowance race at Churchill on May 5. Like Speightscity, Golden Ticket was entered in the Bernardini Stakes, which didn’t fill.

“I think this thing is wide open,” McPeek said. “I think there is more to gain than there is to lose.”

[TRAVERS STAKES: Past performances and video updates]

McPeek also will saddle Atigun, the third-place finisher in the Belmont Stakes. However, McPeek will not add blinkers to the colt’s equipment, fearing they will make him too aggressive in the race.

McPeek thought a soft pace compromised Atigun’s chances in the Jim Dandy, where he finished sixth, beaten seven lengths.

Asked if he was concerned about a similar scenario developing Saturday, McPeek said, “Sometimes you think there’s going to be a lot of pace and there isn’t, and sometimes you think there isn’t going to be and if everybody thinks there isn’t going to be there might be some.”

The Travers field, from the rail out, with rider and odds, is: 1. Speightscity (Irad Ortiz Jr., 30-1); 2. Five Sixteen (Rosie Napravnik, 15-1); 3. Golden Ticket (David Cohen, 20-1); 4. Stealcase (Shaun Bridgmohan, 15-1); 5. Street Life (Jose Lezcano, 5-1); 6. Alpha (Ramon Dominguez, 5-2); 7. Atigun (Mike Smith, 12-1); 8. Neck ’n Neck (Leandro Goncalves, 9-2), 9. Liaison (Rafael Bejarano, 8-1); 10. Nonios (John Velazquez, 4-1); 11. Fast Falcon (Junior Alvarado, 20-1).

2012 Travers Stakes Field

Purse: $1,000,000; 1 1/4 miles

Post

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

Watchmaker Odds

ML Odds

1

Speightscity

G. Contessa

I. Ortiz, Jr.

30-1

30-1

1

Five Sixteen

D. Schettino

R. Napravnik

20-1

15-1

1

Golden Ticket

K. McPeek

D. Cohen

20-1

20-1

1

Stealcase

M. Casse

S. Bridgemohan

20-1

15-1

1

Street Life

C. Brown

J. Lezcano

6-1

5-1

1

Alpha

K. McLaughlin

R. Dominguez

5-2

5-2

1

Atigun

K. McPeek

M. Smith

8-1

12-1

1

Neck 'n Neck

I. Wilkes

L. Goncalves

7-2

9-2

1

Liaison

B. Baffert

R. Bejarano

8-1

8-1

1

Nonios

J. Hollendorfer

J. Velazquez

5-1

4-1

1

Fast Falcon

N. Zito

J. Alvarado

30-1

20-1

 

TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
WOW!! a Travers wo Pletcher? how can this be?
Lance Sr. More than 1 year ago
Let's all take a breath and be nice. Although the Horse's that were showing the most are no longer going to be in this. The fact is all of these are good Horses. And I for one would be proud to have any of them in my stable. I will let my bet's do the talking for me, and will not down-grade anyone who believes differently from me. I have done well so far in the Fantasy Pool, and hope my good fortune continues. To the rest of you out there, Good Luck. Let's all have some fun with this. Lance "THE HORSEMEN' PROCTER
Frank More than 1 year ago
So who ever wins gets to retire next -- is that the way it is with these 3yr olds?
ss More than 1 year ago
All these horses make up a terrible field for the Travers, roll the dice and take the horses over 20-1 they will be as good as any of the favorites If Stealcase got out the gate in the Haskell, he would have been place for sure and gave Paynter a challenge for the win and he is sitting at 20-1 proving Watchmaker must not have paid any attention to the Haskell,,, Nonios should be 20-1 and Stealcase 5-1
Ponies Payme More than 1 year ago
I was at the Haskell and in the Travers, Stealcase couldn't beat Nonios with a head start. Different race. Different pace. Different players. 3rd or 4th
Frank More than 1 year ago
Neck N Neck -- you wont be sorry
Andy More than 1 year ago
Hope Nonios is overlooked that much, but he won't. Anything over 5 or 6-1 would be a gift.
Ponies Payme More than 1 year ago
Nonios will be second choice at 2-1. 5/2 would be a gift.
Gee More than 1 year ago
Alpha will be at the wire first against this mediocre field.
Ponies Payme More than 1 year ago
He has the only real shot to beat Nonios. Alpha still has upside to him.
Tim More than 1 year ago
You guys are idiots. Neck n neck will win this race or at least run a big race. There are some terrible horses and the saddest thing is you fools are actually picking them. Neck n neck by 2 lengths at least.
Ponies Payme More than 1 year ago
No shot. Sign up for lesson at www.ineedhelp.com
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
I look for Street life to be a lot closer early.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Neck n Neck should run big. Would have been worried if Atigun added,blinkers. Nonios w JV HAS GOOD SHOT. Alpha n Street Life.
Lucio Clerico More than 1 year ago
the game is dying horses retiring here horse retiring there, whos going to be left for the breederscup? we can learn from europe, check how their big horses stay on the track, we have to keep our big horses racing!! or the game is surely going to die!!! where are our kelsos, forgos and john henrys?
neigh sayer More than 1 year ago
I"m not sure if you're joking or not. Kelso's, Forego's, John Henry's. Gelding, gelding, gelding. Sad but true.
Lucio Clerico More than 1 year ago
todays top 3 year olds!!!cant even make it to the breeders cup, retired before the travers it a shame how the game has changec and not for the bettor!!!
Ponies Payme More than 1 year ago
Joking-no. Clueless-yes. THIS is the reason racing is dying. Uninformed people who think GAMBLING at the casino is better than pari-mutual wagering at the track. Add to that the morons picking horses on TvG and you have the perfect recipe. ...... For a declining fan base!! If they put a face on tv like, me for instance and people could cash a bet, we might just breathe some life into this sport. Believe me-you give out one winner a day to the masses on tv and the next thing you know they will flock to the track to wager.
Lisa Griffith-Baker More than 1 year ago
How about not forcing them to compete at 2 and allowing them to develop. The difference between a two year old and a three year old is like a 10 year old and an 18 year old. Remember all horses turn two on January 1st whether they are born in January or May. There are many components to keeping horses healthy and ready to run.
B More than 1 year ago
Nothing special here, but it's a decent enough Grade II race.