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
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 Facebook.com 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.