Point Given Draws Post Seven; Other Travers Notes

Point Given Draws Post Seven; Other Travers Notes
Photo: AP/Jim McKnight
Exercise rider Pepe Aragon was aboard as Point Given galloped at Saratoga on Wednesday.
Edited press release from NYRA
The Thoroughbred Corporation's Point Given, even-money morning line favorite in for Saturday's grade 1, $1 million Travers, drew post seven in the field of nine. The Preakness, Belmont and Haskell winner arrived safely in Saratoga Tuesday afternoon after leaving California at 4:30 a.m. (Pacific). The Travers, the "Mid-Summer Derby" for 3-year-olds at a mile and a quarter will be televised live by ESPN during its 90-minute program that begins at 4:30 p.m. Eastern. Post time for the Travers, the 10th of an 11-race card and the third leg of a guaranteed $500,000 Pick 4, is 5:45 pm. (EDT).

The field, in post position order: A P Valentine, John Velazquez; Volponi, Richard Migliore; Free Of Love, Pat Day 4; Harrisand, Edgar Prado; Scorpion, Mark Guidry; E Dubai, Jerry Bailey; Point Given, Gary Stevens; Dollar Bill, Jorge Chavez; and Hadrian's Wall, Robbie Davis.

"He shipped in well," said Jim Barnes, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert. "He's got a good post, equal weights and a mile and a quarter. It's all in our favor."

Point Given was known earlier in the year to be a handful to train but he has mellowed out, according to Barnes.

"He's really getting used to it," Barnes said. "The photographers don't seem to bother him when he steps off the plane. When he steps off the plane, he always glances over and usually lets out a holler. This time, he just glanced over, walked off and right into the van. He's had his moments, but he's maturing now and he's a lot easier to be around. It's much easier to train him."

With a Preakness win under his belt, Point Given won the Belmont Stakes with authority to claim the lead in the 3-year-old division. He did not run again until the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth. Point Given was affected by an abscess in his left hind hoof and missed about three weeks of training leading up to the Haskell, a race he struggled to win by a half length.

A P Valentine on Rail
Ol Memorial Stable's A P Valentine drew the inside post for the Travers. The son of A.P. Indy is trying for his first win since taking an optional claiming race at Hialeah in March. He was second in the Preakness and Belmont to favorite Point Given.

A P Valentine had no kick in the Jim Dandy, his first start since the Belmont, finishing fourth. Running near race winner Scorpion, A P Valentine had no rally.

"I wasn't thrilled with the Jim Dandy, but I wasn't too disappointed either," trainer Nick Zito said. "There were a lot of reasons why we think he didn't fire. The track was a little wet and he was kind of slipping in the first part, plus he hadn't run in two months, even though we thought we had him ready. He's had three good weeks and we're in a positive frame of mind. I asked Coach (Rick) Pitino what he thought about having a local rider ride and when the opportunity presented itself that Johnny was open, we thought it was a great choice."

E Dubai Works
Peter Pan winner E Dubai breezed five furlongs over the main track Wednesday morning, his final prep for the Travers. The son of Mr. Prospector, who has sired two Travers winners (1988 Forty Niner and 1990 Rhythm), will be making his first start since winning Belmont's Dwyer over a sloppy track on July 8.

The Godolphin runner has shown high levels of early speed and figures to be in front in the Travers. He will break from post six.

"He's got a great cruising speed and in all the races that he's won, he's accelerated in the stretch," assistant trainer Tom Albertrani said. "I don't think a mile and a quarter will be a problem for him."
E Dubai will be making his first start around two turns in the Travers. I don't think he'll have a problem with that. He's won over three tracks. He's a talented horse and he can overcome that."
Godolphin's first Travers starter, Curule, finished last in the 2000 running.E Dubai is the 7-2 second choice.

Dollar Bill Adds Blinkers
Dollar Bill, owned by Gary and Mary West and trained by Dallas Stewart, drew post No. 8 for the Travers. Dollar Bill, who has had little racing luck for most of his 3-year-old career, will be equipped with blinkers and be ridden by Jorge Chavez in the Travers.

"We just want to pick his head up and help get him a little more forward into the first part of the race," Stewart explained for the reason of putting blinkers on Dollar Bill.

Other Notes

Hall of Fame trainer Phillip G. Johnson watched his horse, Amherst Stable's Volponi, draw the No. 2 post for the Travers. After coming off three consecutive races on the grass, Volponi ran a huge race, under jockey Richard Migliore, by winning an allowance race by 13 ½ lengths over the Saratoga main track.

"He ran big and got me in a lot of trouble by coming to this race," Johnson joked. "When Richie got off in the winner's circle, he told me this was my Travers horse. I figured since horses get a little dehydrated and flip out after the race, I thought that also happened to him (Richard Migliore). When he came back to the barn, he told me this horse will win the Travers. I told him those horses that he beat should be in claiming races, but they cost too much money. He told me the way he did it and the way he accelerated, he will win the Travers. I talked to the family (who owns the horse) and they wanted to go in the Travers."

Johnson indicated that he would have preferred if trainer Bob Baffert and Point Given stayed, but he also understands why the horse came for the Mid-Summer Derby.

When Ralph M. Evans' Free of Love was caught at the wire by Scorpion in the Jim Dandy, trainer Richard Violette Jr. said he would probably make a decision on whether or not his horse was running in the Travers until the week of the race. A decision was solidified this morning when Violette entered Free of Love and the horse got the No. 3 post for the race.

"It was a good day, but with the last two jumps," Violette said about his horse finishing second in the Jim Dandy. "We beat the horses we thought we had to beat to win it, but here came Scorpion. We were thrilled with it. It wasn't totally unexpected. We went into the race trying to win it. He really ran to the wire. He didn't blow up at the sixteenth pole. Scorpion came and got him. That is why I think he can get the mile and a quarter."

Free of Love will get the services of Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day after Richard Migliore made a commitment to Volponi. Dollar Bill will be Day's 17th career Travers mount, tying him with the late Eddie Arcaro for second; the most Travers appearances by a jockey is 19 by Hall of Famer Angel Cordero Jr.

"We were disappointed that Richie couldn't ride our horse," Violette said. "But he made a commitment early and we were very fortunate to end up with Pat Day. Stretching out from a mile and an eighth to a mile and a quarter, Pat seems to always have some horse left inside the eight pole."

In other draw developments, Jim Dandy winner Scorpion drew post five and is the 6-1 third choice on the morning line...Edmund Gann's Harrisand drew post four and is 15-1 on the line for his first start on dirt.

Ross S. Gilbert's Hadrian's Wall was a mild surprise entrant for the Travers, and trainer Mark Hennig believes his horse will love the mile and a quarter.

"I've only had him for three races," said Hennig, whose charge was previously trained in Ireland by Aidan O'Brien, in Kentucky by Patrick Gallagher and in California by Andrew McKeever. "His first two races for me (both victories) were pretty impressive. Then, we ran him here at Saratoga and that was a disappointment."

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