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Posted by on 8/27/2014 10:59:20 PM

The word travesty defines an absurd or grotesque misrepresentation but those handicappers that took in the Midsummer Derby at Saratoga last Saturday know that it was a travesty that Wicked Strong did not win the Travers Stakes.

Wicked Strong , who is by the sire Hard Spun and trained by James Jerkens, did everything but get unsaddled on Saturday. He sat the ideal 3-hole trip early behind :23 3/5, :47 1/5 and 1:11 1/5 splits. By the time they got the miler marker in 1:36 3/5 he had a head in front. He extended at the top of the lane to take a length and a half lead but was inhaled at the wire by stablemate V. E. Day, who won by a nose and is also trained by Jerkens.

The favorite Bayern spit out the bit after 3 quarters of a mile and finished dead last. As far as the final time of 2:02.98, it stands up decently as last year’s winner Will Take Charge was closed in 2:02.68 while earned a 107 Beyer Speed Figure.

V. E. Day , ridden by Rajiv Maragh, recorded a 102 Beyer Saturday.

Take nothing away from V. E. Day, he won on the square, proved his grit and added to the bankroll. He is now 4 for 6 for his career, is rolling on a 4-race winning streak and he clearly has a nice turn of late foot.

Wicked Strong , under Javier Castellano, was racing with blinkers for the second time and that allowed him to be fairly close up and get first run on everybody but the winner.

The winning trainer was emotional after the victory, Jerkens: “As great as I felt for V. E. Day winning, I felt bad for Wicked Strong also. He ran his guts out, no question about it. My father (Hall of Famer Allen) was always partial to horses like V. E. Day, a big, strong, colt that looks like he wants to go all day. That’s his kind of horse since he started training.

The riders in this race had to make decisions early and it may have changed the outcome of the race. Bayern was the clear speed but he had distance question marks. Joel Rosario aboard Tonalist decided he could not let the front-runner have his way on the front end and by forcing the pace; the writing was on the wall.

Wicked Strong figured to be sent along, considering the blinks, and sometimes handicappers have to be okay with the fact that everything went according to plan except cashing a ticket. Think of it this way, if Rosario and Castellano sat back and let Bayern cruise up front, that runner could have just kept on going.

Because the pace was legit, no that the last quarter mile was run in :26.33 so in other words, they were walking late.

The lesson to learn is that day in and day out, pace makes the race.

The top 2 finishers exited the Travers no worse for wear while show horse Tonalist came out a ‘touch stiff’ according to his trainer Christophe Clement.

As for what is in the future, don’t be shocked if the top 3 in the Travers line up again in the Jockey Club Gold Cup September 27 at Belmont Park.

The Eclipse Award is still up for grabs and it will only get more interesting from here on out.



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