By JOHN KEKIS, AP Sports activities Author
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) — Belmont Stakes winner Important High quality gained the $1.25 million Travers Stakes on Saturday, holding off Midnight Bourbon in a stirring stretch duel at Saratoga Race Course for his eighth victory in 9 profession begins.
The 152nd working of the so-called Mid-Summer time Derby had a area of seven 3-year-olds, and solely Midnight Bourbon, the runner-up within the Preakness, supplied a problem for the reigning 2-year-old champion. The 2 led the sphere from the gate, with Midnight Bourbon setting the tempo. He was forward by as a lot as 3 1/2 lengths down the again stretch earlier than Important High quality started to shut.
Jockey Luis Saez pulled Important High quality even on the high of the stretch and the 2 battled facet by facet to the wire, with Important High quality successful by a neck over Midnight Bourbon and jockey Ricardo Santana Jr.
The grey son of Tapit lined the 1 1/4 miles in 2 minutes, 1.96 seconds on a observe that was labeled as quick regardless of an intermittent drizzle. Miles D, with jockey Flavien Prat aboard, was third.
Important High quality has by no means had a nasty race. His huge journey within the Kentucky Derby in Could — he completed fourth — is the one blemish on that sterling file. Identical to Saturday, Important High quality displayed grit in successful the Jim Dandy 4 weeks in the past, storming from behind on the high of the stretch within the five-horse area and holding off Keepmeinmind by a neck within the conventional prep race at Saratoga for the Travers.
Important High quality’s coach Brad Cox gained one of the prestigious races for older horses on the Saratoga assembly when Knicks Go gained the Grade 1 Whitney earlier this month. He grew to become simply the third coach — and the primary since John M. Gaver Sr. in 1942 — to win the Travers and Whitney in the identical 12 months with totally different horses. Gaver gained the 1942 Travers with Shut Out and the Whitney with Swing and Sway. James G. Rowe, Jr. was the primary, successful the Travers with Twenty Grand and Whitney with St. Brideaux in 1931.
Important High quality is the primary horse to finish the Jim Dandy-Travers sweep in a decade, since Alpha dead-heated with Golden Ticket in 2012. He is additionally the twenty ninth horse to drag off the Belmont-Travers double, the tenth Juvenile champion to win the Travers, and first since Avenue Sense in 2007.
9 of the previous 13 Travers winners, together with the final six in a row, entered the Travers coming off a victory.
The Travers was sixth and ultimate Grade I stakes race Saturday. The others: within the forty third working of the $500,000 Ballerina for fillies and mares 3 years previous and up, closely favored Gamine, skilled by Bob Baffert, gained for the ninth time in 10 begins, main wire-to-wire and simply holding off Lake Avenue by 1 3/4 lengths in a light-weight, regular drizzle; Yaupon edged Firenze Hearth by a head to win the forty second working of the $600,000 Forego for 4-year-olds and up; Jackie’s Warrior edged Life Is Good by a neck to seize the thirty seventh working $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial for 3-year-olds; Letruska held off Bonny South, Royal Flag and Dunbar Street in a stretch duel to seize the 74th working of the $600,000 Private Ensign for fillies and mares 4 years previous and up; and Gufo outran Japan by a head to win the forty seventh working of the $750,000 Sword Dancer, a 1.5-mile race on the turf for 4-year-olds and up.
Baffert was banned by the New York Racing Affiliation from getting into any horses at its tracks after his Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit twice examined constructive for steroids, however a New York decide granted an injunction in opposition to that ban. The Corridor of Fame coach made an look in Saratoga for the Fasig-Tipton Yearlings Sale earlier this month however has stayed away from the observe. Gamine was one of many few horses he is entered on the meet.
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