You can try to fool yourself into thinking you’re focusing on work, family or society’s concerns, but it’s really all about the Travers on Saturday. Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting facts about the race and this year’s field.
— Since 1867, 29 Belmont winners have won the Travers, most recently Summer Bird in 2009. Since 1875, 10 Kentucky Derby winners won the Travers, most recently Street Sense in 2007. Since 1877, eight Preakness winners won the Travers, most recently Bernardini in 2006.
Six of the past seven Travers have resulted in double-digit payouts. The smallest of those was Afleet Express ($16 in 2010).
If you’re a believer in cyclical things, trainer Bill Mott won the Alabama in 2005, 2011 and 2017. That’s good news for trainer Todd Pletcher, who won the Travers those same years with Flower Alley (2005) and Stay Thirsty (2011). He’s got Always Dreaming and Tapwrit running this year.
Four of the horses in the field (Cloud Computing, Fayeq, Giuseppe the Great and West Coast) were unraced at age 2.
Cloud Computing’s sire is Maclean’s Music, who recorded an impressive 114 Beyer Speed Figure in his first start before being retired prematurely due to complications from the removal of a fractured splint bone.
Girvin is named after the hometown (Girvin, Texas, population 30) of owner Brad Grady.
No trainer has started more horses in the Travers than Nick Zito (28), who sends out Giuseppe The Great this year. The horse is named after owner Nena Moss’ favorite Italian restaurant owner in New York City.
The Travers will be Good Samaritan’s second start on dirt. If he wins, I don’t know for certain, but it’s hard to imagine any previous winner has had fewer starts on dirt.
Gunnevera was orphaned when his dam, Unbridled Rage, died shortly after giving birth. He gets his name from a small town in Spain.
McCraken is named after a small town in owner Janis Whitham’s home state of Kansas.
Leading is best
Speed has held remarkably well this meet, and it’s no less the case in long turf races. Infinite Wisdom showed that Wednesday with his gate-to-wire victory in the $100,000 John’s Call at 1 5/8 miles.
With Irad Ortiz aboard, Infinite Wisdom set slow fractions of 51.68 seconds for a half-mile and 1:17.90 for three-quarters of a mile, but all that mattered to trainer Brian Lynch and Ortiz was the win.
“I broke out of there, let him get comfortable,” Ortiz said. “He’s got a long stride, so I let him be happy the whole way, and when I called him, he was there for me. Brian did a great job with him; he had him ready to run a mile and five-eighths. It’s not easy.”
It’s rare enough when a horse is a double winner at the 40-day meet, but Voodoo Song became the meet’s first triple winner Wednesday by winning the ninth, a $78,000 allowance. The final time was 1:39.99, just .92 off the track record for 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf course.
The 3-year-old colt is ridden by Jose Lezcano and trained by Linda Rice.