With the three-year-old class diminishing after just about every race, this years Travers Stakes did not have the usual hype surrounding it. But once again, the horses that loaded the gates put on quite a show and what a show it was as we witnessed the first ever dead-heat in the 143rd running of the historical "Midsummer Derby."
Alpha, the post time favorite at 2-1 stalked the leaders the entire race and heading into the far turn it looked like he was going to pass on the outside and cruise to victory. But when they were heading for home it was Golden Ticket who shot through along the rail and was the one to catch. I guess you can say Alpha caught him just barely as they both had to share the winners circle. You couldn't have asked for or scripted a better finish than what was provided to us this past Saturday.
Out on the West Coast Dullahan stepped up to the older competition in the Pacific Classic(G1) at Del Mar and showed he is a force to be reckoned with on the poly track. By upsetting the rest of the older field he is now 3 for 3 in his career on the synthetic surface and in doing so punched his ticket to the Breeders' Cup Classic (If that is where his connections point him). While he did not capture one of the Triple Crown races, if he were able to carry over his success on the Poly to the Dirt and take down the Classic, he certainly would be tough to deny an Eclipse Award.
Now this three-year-old class has Alpha, Dullahan and Paynter sitting atop the division but unfortunately each one has a cloud hanging over them. Can Alpha, who now has a grade one win on his resume despite running against less superior competition, be able to hold his own against the older competition? What about Dullahan, who is 0 for 6 when it comes to running on dirt. Will he even run in the Classic? Paynter was supposed to challenge Alpha in the Travers, but he is currently sidelined for who knows how long. November will be here before you know it, so I guess many of these questions will be answered sooner than later.
With Labor Day right around the corner, the races for the two-year-olds will be heating up over the next couple of weeks. Starting on Monday, September 3rd is the 7f Hopeful Stakes(G2) at Saratoga. Wednesday, September 5th is the 7f Del Mar Futurity(G1) at Del Mar. Saturday, September 8th is the 1 mile Arlington-Washington Futurity(G3) at Arlington Park. Keep an eye on these races over the next couple of weeks as you never know if the 2013 Derby winner may come from one of these.
*Had Alpha pegged to win the Travers as we thought he was in a class above the others. While he did win, Golden Ticket surprised many by having a share of the winners circle in another historic Travers Stakes.