Pyro Morning Line Favorite for Travers
Photo: Skip Dickstein
A field of 12 was entered Aug. 20 for the $1-million Travers Presented by Shadwell Farm at Saratoga Aug. 23.

That the morning-line favorite, Pyro, is 7-2 is demonstrative of the wide-open nature of the Travers.  Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Da' Tara is 8-1, which is reflective of his last-place finish in the Jim Dandy (gr. II).

The Steven Asmussen-trained Pyro ran second in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga July 27. The Travers field also includes Jim Dandy winner Macho Again, who is 6-1 in the morning line.

The Todd Pletcher-trained Harlem Rocker, the second choice at 4-1, is coming off a win in the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie July 13.

Acai, an expected runner for IEAH Stables, was not entered. IEAH principal Michael Iavarone said since Acai would have been a longshot, coupled with the fact the Travers is run at 1¼ miles, a distance the colt might find too long, was the reason he wasn’t entered.

IEAH will be represented by the Bill Mott-trained Court Vision in the Travers. Court Vision drew post 12 in the Travers, a post that Iavarone was not happy with.

“The post doesn’t help us,” Iavarone said. “He will have to find himself a good position.”

Conversely, trainer Barclay Tagg who will saddle Tale of Ekati, his first Travers starter, was pleased with his colt’s inside post.

“He loves the inside,” Tagg told the crowd at the Travers draw, which was held in the paddock. “Edgar (Prado) is a genius on the inside.”

Tagg, who usually is very low-key about his chances in races, was uncharacteristically upbeat about Tale of Ekati’s prospects in the Travers. Tale of Ekati enters the Travers off a fourth-place finish in the Jim Dandy.

“I am pretty high on my horse,” Tagg said. “I think he is good enough to win this (wide-open) race.”

To read more about the fascinating history of the Travers Stakes, check out the new book by Vic Zast, The History and Art of 25 Travers.
Mambo in Seattle enters the Travers following three consecutive wins for trainer Neil Howard. Howard, who nearly upset the Travers last year with Grasshopper, who finished second to Street Sense, said Mambo in Seattle has the looks of a 10-furlong horse. Mambo in Seattle is byKingmamboout of the Seattle Slew mare Weekend in Seattle.

 “Mambo in Seattle is meant for this type of thing—a mile and a quarter,” Howard said.

Dallas Stewart, the trainer of Macho Again, said he wasn’t concerned about the distance of the Travers. The 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy was Macho Again’s first win around two turns. He finished fifth, beaten 11 lengths, in the Belmont Stakes.

“I think he will handle (the distance) just fine,” Stewart said.

Tizbig was a surprise entry for trainer Allen Jerkens. Tizbig finished second in an allowance race at Saratoga Aug. 17. Jerkens is known for his unconventional ways, and running horses back on six days' rest isn’t uncommon for the Hall of Fame trainer.

Colonel John, a West Coast shipper for trainer Eoin Harty, has been dynamite on synthetic tracks in California. In his one start on a conventional surface, Colonel John was sixth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Harty said that performance might have had more to do with the trip the colt had, rather than the surface.

“(The Kentucky Derby) is the only bad trip he had,” Harty said.

Swaps (gr. II) winner Tres Borrachos, trained by Beau Greely, is the other California shipper in the field.

Trainer Nick Zito, who did not attend the Travers draw, will be represented by three runners in the Travers: Belmont Stakes winner Da’ Tara, Cool Coal Man, and Amped. Amped, third behind Mambo in Seattle in an overnight stakes at Saratoga July 27, was a surprise entry. Each of the Zito runners are owned by Robert V. LaPenta, but are not coupled in the wagering because the rules in New York don’t require couplings in $1-million races.

The Travers is race 11 on a 12-race card, and will be run at 5:45 p.m. ET. First post Aug. 23 is at noon. ESPN will telecast the 139th running of the Travers on ESPN at 4:30 to 6 p.m. ET.

1. Tale of Ekati, Edgar Prado, 20-1
2. Colonel John, Garrett Gomez, 8-1
3. Da' Tara, Alan Garcia, 8-1
4. Tizbig, Cornelio Velasquez, 30-1
5. Macho Again, Julien Leparoux, 6-1
6. Cool Coal Man, John Velazquez, 15-1
7. Amped, Jorge Chavez, 30-1
8. Harlem Rocker, Eibar Coa, 4-1
9. Mambo in Seattle, Robby Albarado, 5-1
10. Tres Borrachos, Tyler Baze, 15-1
11. Pyro, Shaun Bridgmohan, 7-2
12. Court Vision, Kent Desormeaux, 12-1

All runners carry 126 pounds
There are no coupled entries
The Travers Stakes is featured on this week's "That Handicapping Show".

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