The artist Greg Montgomery is saying that this year's Travers poster is selling like gangbusters. Montgomery has produced a Travers poster every year since 1985, making his series the longest continuing series of sporting art in the world. When he began the series, he never expected the string to last this long. The first poster - a collection of famous racing silks - was meant to serve as a gift for people in attendance at the Travers Ball, that's all.
Well, in any case, this year's poster portrays Colonel John en route to the track for last year's Travers on the horse path to the west of the clubhouse. The path to the track didn't always run here. It used to proceed slightly east of where it's at, bringing the horses through the clubhouse. The path didn't have fences either. Security guards accompanied the runners to make certain they were safe from the crowds and vice versa.
There's a famous photo of the once-beaten Native Dancer making the walk to the track for the Travers surrounded by cops. The public record reveals that onlookers did all that they could to touch the "Grey Ghost," going so far as to pluck hairs from his tail. Tales like this are what prompt zealous officials to react with unnecessary precaution. It would surprise nobody if some NYRA do-gooder would do badly by suggesting removal of the path that brings horses to the walking ring. After all, think of how many more picnic tables you could squeeze in then.
Eoin Harty says he'd like nothing more than to have his WinStar Travers winner take Montgomery's depicted poster path again this summer. If that would happen, it would be for the $500,000 Grade I Woodward on September 5. That's one of the five races under consideration for Rachel Alexandra. Jess Jackson's fabulous 3-year-old filly is working diligently in preparation for something. If that something's the Pennsylvania Derby, the Spa faithful will be greatly disillusioned.
Thursday's stakes race was the New York Stallion Statue of Liberty Division Stakes, the filly counterpart to Wednesday's Cab Calloway for colts. Ramon Dominguez, riding of late as well as humanly possible, kept the 2-1 Mother Russia from giving in to the onrushing Es Mia. Linda Rice trained the winner. Nearly 50 head jammed the winner's circle.
In the first race steeplechase, Dynaski trained by Thomas Voss for Armata Stable, is now three for five over jumps despite hurdling the last fence clumsily. The Giant's Causeway gelding Arcadius came in second, denying his rider's chances for staying undefeated in Saratoga races. That jockey, of course, was Danielle Hodsdon.
Cot Campbell's Dogwood Stable unveiled another top 2-year-old in the second. The 9-1 winner, a filly by Lion Heart, was Calvin Borel's first and only triumphant ride of the meet. Two races later, D. Wayne Lukas hit with another longshot.