And now we are in full Travers mode.
I kicked off what feels like the official beginning of Travers week at the barn of Dale Romans, to interview Tammy Fox for a feature that will appear in the Saratogian later this week. First Dude, Romans’s Travers starter, arrived in fine fettle yesterday from his Churchill base, and Fox took him out for a gallop around the track over which he’ll run this Saturday.
On the way back, Fox and First Dude hooked up with Kent Desormeaux aboard Lisa’s Booby Trap; to the assembled press waiting to talk to Romans and Fox and taking pictures of First Dude, Desormeaux called, “You’re waiting for the wrong horse! It’s Lisa you should be paying attention to!” Lisa’s Booby Trap is pointed to the Riskaverse at Saratoga on September 2nd.
Kiaran McLaughlin and Team Trappe Shoppe, having waited until the last possible moment to announce where the son of Tapit will start next, entered him in the Travers. Said McLaughlin at the Travers draw, “We thought we’d be second [choice] without Lookin at Lucky,” and indeed, his horse was installed as the second choice at 4-1.
Leon Blusiewicz, owner and trainer of 12-1 Admiral Alex, was hailed by Tom Durkin as a man not afraid to fire on his own horses. “If you can’t bet, get out of the game,” the man known as “Blu” responded.
Admiral Alex comes into the race with just one previous start, a win here on July 31st. His owner/trainer didn’t hesitate to remind those assembled that in 1981, his Snow Plow won a maiden special weight at Belmont on October 3rd and won the Grade I Selima in her next start, on October 31st. She followed that up with a win in the Grade I Demoiselle on November 15th.
John Kimmel, trainer of 15-1 Friend or Foe, noted that the horse is particularly special to him and to the owners, Chester and Mary Broman, because he’s a homebred son of a homebred sire—Friends Lake.
Todd Pletcher was drafted by Tom Durkin to analyze the race; noting that the speed was all on the inside, Pletcher said that Super Saver, coming from post 11, had a “decent run” to the first turn in the mile and a quarter race here, leaving jockey Calvin Borel the option to sit back, survey, and see which jockeys are using their horses.
Nick Zito was not present to discuss his three entrants (Miner’s Reserve, 12-1, post 1; Ice Box, 10-1, post 6; Fly Down, 8-1, post 8); though Romans was present, he didn’t take the podium. Anthony Dutrow’s wife Kim spoke on behalf of her husband, saying that 7-2 favorite A Little Warm is in great shape, and that the trainer is very pleased with post position 5.
We may well have the most alliterative Travers ever, with A Little Warm, Admiral Alex, Afleet Again, and Afleet Express; First Dude, Fly Down, and Friend or Foe; and Super Saver. There’s a hunch bet in there somewhere.