The horse nicknamed "The Big Red Train" rolled through Saratoga Saturday, solidifying his chances at a championship season with his fourth straight grade I victory in the $1-million Travers Stakes (gr. I). The Thoroughbred Corp.'s Point Given earned a 3 1/2-length win in the 1 1/4-mile "Mid-Summer Derby" to help make amends for his only blemish on the season, a fifth-place finish as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Since the Derby, the strapping chestnut son of Thunder Gulch has made stops at Pimlico, Belmont Park and Monmouth Park, picking up grade I wins in the Preakness, Belmont Stakes and Haskell Invitational, respectively. Prior to the Derby, the Bob Baffert trainee earned his first grade I win of the season in the Santa Anita Derby after making a victorious 3-year-old debut in the San Felipe (gr. II).
In the Travers, Point Given raced wide around the first turn while just off the pace set by Free of Love. He continued to race wide along the backstretch, ranged up to new leader E Dubai on the second turn under no urging from jockey Gary Stevens, and then went by that one in the stretch en route to the win. Point Given stopped the timer in 2:01.40 on a fast track.
"I still don't think you've seen the best of him," Stevens said. "I was very confident coming into this race. I knew he would be better than he was last time."
"I think he's the best horse I've been around," Baffert said. "He knows he's a great horse. He's cool."
E Dubai held off third-place Dollar Bill for second. A P Valentine, Free of Love, Scorpion, Volponi, Hadrian's Wall, and Harrisand completed the order of finish.
The odds-on favorite, Point Given returned $3.30, $2.80, and $2.30. E Dubai paid $4.10 and $3.40. Dollar Bill returned $3.60. The winning exacta combination paid $12.20.
The $600,000 winner's share of the purse boosts Point Given's career earnings to just under $4 million on a career record of nine wins and three seconds in 13 starts. When he returned to the winner's circle, he was cheered and applauded by the Travers day reord crowd of 60,486.
"It's a pleasure to watch this horse," Baffert said. "He's got a following."
In his most recent start prior to Saturday, Point Given won the $1.5 million Haskell Invitational Handicap on Aug. 5 before a record Monmouth Park crowd of more than 47,000.