All in a Day's Rain

The rain that changed Travers Day wasn't the typical Saratoga rain.  Typical Saratoga rain comes at the end of an afternoon in buckets that flood the streets and thunderclaps that rock the town's quiet.  No, this rain began innocently - a small drizzle, then a steady patter and finally a presence lasting through the night and into the morning and afternoon that made the backyard unpleasant and the track swampy like a dirty martini.

Someone blamed the rain on Hurricane Danny.  NYRA saw the 140th Travers go from a showdown of Triple Crown race winners to a contest in a quagmire that Summer Bird won.  Trainer Tim Ice had taken heat for not pushing his horse harder in the morning, but he got the final chance to say how the result came about. 

"For this race, he was already a proven Grade 1 winner. It was just a matter of getting the right trip and the way he handled the track," Ice reported.  Summer Bird stayed near the pace throughout, made his move on the turn, was on top at the quarter pole and won by a comfortable margin. By the way, Hold Me Back, the 11-1 shot to complete the exacta, was the only other starter to have run in this year's Kentucky Derby.

The Travers undercard featured five additional stakes - four that were graded.  The two most entertaining of these were the grade 2 Ballston Spa Handicap and the grade 1 King's Bishop.  In addition, the eighth race was of note, as Bob Baffert unveiled a fast Dixie Union 2-year-old colt named Bulldogger in a maiden sprint.

The field for the Ballston Spa was so bunched with a quarter-mile to go you had no idea which horse would win and then the most unlikely did.  Salve Germania, an Irish-bred filly that won once in Dusseldorf, nipped her opponents at 24-1 after acting up in the paddock and post parade.

Vineyard Haven, now racing in Godolphin blue, returned to the site of his Hopeful Stakes triumph, appeared headed for glory in the King's Bishop and then body-slammed Capt. Candyman Can, the steward's choice for laurels.

The rain finally stopped by the cocktail hour. At Siro's, the Audiostars, an offshoot of Saratoga's all-time favorite band - Burners UK, took its time getting people to dance, but once people did they kept on with it.

Meanwhile, Kent Desormeaux celebrated his winning ride on Summer Bird with dinner at Sergio's.  The place was so packed that people such as representative Matty de Castro and Wall Streeter Micah Zajic waited an hour for their reservations to be honored.  The author/handicapper Steve Davidowitz, who signed copies of his new book at the track earlier, was among the last to arrive and depart.

No late night sightings of New York Gov. David Paterson or Marylou Whitney, both who presided in the presentation of the Man O' War Cup to Drs. Kalarikkal and Vilasini Jayaraman, have been reported.

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