Point Given, heavy favorite for Saturday's 132nd Travers Stakes (gr. I), arrived at Saratoga racecourse at 4:20 p.m. (EDT) Tuesday afternoon, nearly 12 hours after leaving trainer Bob Baffert's barn at Del Mar near San Diego, Calif. The Thunder Gulch colt was bedded down in trainer John Terranova's barn after an uneventful trip in which he was accompanied by Baffert assistant Jim Barnes, groom Roberto Luna, exercise rider Pepe Aragon.
Point Given and Co. (joined also by a Saint Ballado maiden 2-year-old named Popular) left Del Mar at 1:30 a.m. (PDT), vanned to Ontario Airport to catch a 4:30 a.m. plane that stopped in Louisville and Chicago. "It was a pretty uneventful flight," said Barnes, as Aragon walked him beneath the elms as a mixed collection of about 20 media and backstretch people watched his every move. "It was long, but we passed the time sleeping or reading the paper. We were only in Louisville for about 15 minutes to pick up two horses. We had a longer layover in Chicago because we had to pick up seven, but everything went smoothly."
Although the race will be televised live by ESPN (5:45 p.m. EDT), New York Racing Association officials are hoping the presence of Point Given -- winner of the Preakness, Belmont, and Haskell this summer after losing as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby -- could lead to an all-time record crowd. The current record 54,116 set last year when Unshaded nosed out Albert the Great in the Travers. That day, the record crowd also wagered an on-track record $7,371,991. The total commingled handle of $28,281,322 was also a record.
Barnes said he would talk to Baffert to finalize Point Given's schedule leading to the Travers, but expected that the horse would gallop early on the main track on Wednesday morning.
The Travers will be race 10 of an 11-race card that begins with a first race post time of 12:30 p.m. Eastern on Saturday. There will be a $500,000 guaranteed Pick 4 on races 8-11, starting with the Grade 2, $200,000 Fourstardave for three-year-olds and up at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf (4:27 p.m. Eastern; ESPN tape delay); the Grade 1, $200,000 King's Bishop for three-year-olds at seven furlongs (5:02 p.m. Eastern; ESPN live); the Travers and the last race set to go off at 6:20 p.m. Eastern.