Unshaded Nips Albert the Great in Travers

James B. Tafel's Unshaded split horses on the second turn and dueled outside Albert the Great through the stretch, pulling to the lead in the final strides to win an exciting renewal of the $1-million Travers Stakes (gr. I) Saturday at Saratoga. Albert the Great finished second, followed by Commendable. The win marks the first win for the gelding since the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland in April and moves his career earnings past $1-million.

"He was the class horse today," winning jockey Shane Sellers said. "I was confident and coming into the stretch I just hoped I had enough horse to finish."

Unshaded paid $8.90, $5.30, and $3.60. Albert the Great, who ran without blinkers for the first time since April, returned $8.90 and $5.60. Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Commendable returned $5.30. The winning exacta paid $43.

As the field raced well off the rail around the first turn, Commendable took the lead, followed by Dixie Union -- on the inside -- and Albert the Great. On the backstretch, Albert the Great took the lead from the outside as Dixie Union moved by Commendable on the inside. Albert the Great maintained his lead around the turn and into the stretch as Unshaded moved into contention, split horses, and closed in on the leader. Albert the Great edged gradually toward the rail in the stretch with Unshaded a half-length back to his outside. In the final strides Unshaded dug in to win by a head, completing the 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.59.

Dixie Union finished fourth, despite losing his left front shoe, according to trainer Richard Mandella. Impeachment, Postponed, Milwaukee Brew, Country Coast, and Curule completed the order of finish.

Jockey Jerry Bailey said Milwaukee Brew tried to bolt during the race. "I thought we were doing all right until we came to the turn. Then, he tried to bolt as we went around. When a horse does that he loses all chance."

Unshaded (Unbridled--Shade the Flame, by Caucasus) was bred in Kentucky by Shawnna Sorenson and is trained by Carl Nafzger. He earned $600,000 for the win, his fourth in nine starts. The top two finishers in the Travers both prepped in the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) earlier this month. Unshaded finished third in the Jim Dandy; Albert the Great was last of seven.

"The horse wasn't focused (in the Jim Dandy) after seven weeks off, but that race did him a lot of good," Nafzger said. "He got focused from that race."

Earlier in the year, Unshaded finished third in the Belmont Stakes after a second-place finish in the Peter Pan (gr. II). (Chart, Equibase)