Travers Stakes Recap

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Travers Stakes Recap

Bernardini powers away to win 2006 Travers Stakes by 7 1/2 lengths
by Horse Handicapper Kenneth Strong

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Bernardini surged to the front in the race for the 3-year-old championship of 2006 with an impressive 7 1/2-length victory over Bluegrass Cat in the 137th running of the $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday.

The bay colt by A.P. Indy-Cara Rafaela by Quiet American needed a dominating win to convince voters that he was a deserving choice over injured Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro and he certainly got it in the Travers.


Surging to the front quickly under jockey Javier Castellano and setting the pace under pressure from Haskell winner Bluegrass Cat, Bernardini cut fractions 23.53, 48.17, 1:12.72 before opening a length advantage on that rival and getting the mile in 1:36.83. He then opened up in early stretch and drew out in workmanlike fashion to stop the timer in 2:01.60 for the 1 1/4 miles over a fast dirt strip that was favoring speed all day. His 7 1/2-length win margin over Bluegrass Cat was the largest since General Assembly won the race in 1979.

It was a further 6 1/2-lengths back to Dr. Pleasure, who was pinched back at the start before making a belated run at the top pair and flattening out. He’sanoldsalt finished fourth, a length behind Dr. Pleasure after stumbling at the start and being in striking position to the stretch.

Trained by Tom Albertrani for Darley Stable, Bernardini returned a paltry $2.70, 2.10. 2.10 across the board and topped a $2 Exacta of $5 and a $2 Trifecta of $35.20. The winner’s purse of $600,000 in the Travers increased Bernardini’s career earnings to $1,610,480 from a record of 5-0-0 in six starts.

Extremely well managed for a thoroughbred race horse, Bernardini was extending his win streak to five in the Travers, having already accounted for the Withers, Preakness and Jim Dandy Stakes. He will now probably take on older horses in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and/or the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The former race could feature a match up between Bernardini and triple Grade-1 winner Invasor, which would be a real treat for longtime fans starving for a great horserace.

The news after the Travers wasn’t so good for Bluegrass Cat, who ran a strong race only to reveal later that he had suffered a hairline fracture of his right-hind pastern bone. The Storm Cat colt will be retired to his owner-breeder’s WinStar Farm in Kentucky with a record of five wins and four seconds in 11 starts and earnings of $1,756,280. He will be breeding mare’s next spring.

Full order of finish and payoffs for the 2006 Travers Stakes-G1Saturday, August, 26 2006

5 Bernardini 2.70 2.10 2.10
7 Bluegrass Cat 2.50 2.60
3 Dr. Pleasure 4.70

$2 Exacta 5-7 paid $5.00
$2 Trifecta 5-7-3 paid 35.20
$2 Pick 3 1-2-5 (3 correct) paid 7.60
$2 Pick 4 7-1-2-5 (4 correct) paid 58.00
$2 Pick 6 (5 correct) 1-6-7-1-2-5 paid 13.60
$2 Pick 6 (6 correct) 1-6-7-1-2-5 paid 515.00
$2 Daily Double 2-5 paid 5.40

Also ran in finishing order: He’sanoldsalt, High Cotton, Minister’s Bid

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