The Grade 1 $1,000,000 Travers Stakes, the highlight of the Saratoga meet and a race that may determine the year's three-year-old champion, went to Mike Repole's Stay Thirsty. Sent off as the slight favorite in the field of ten, the Todd Pletcher trained runner vied for the lead briefly with Dale Romans' Preakness Stakes winner, Shackleford, and the Kelly Breen trained Belmont Stakes winner, Ruler On Ice. The quick-paced Shackleford won out for the lead, while Stay Thirsty sat just behind him, along with Moonshine Mullin and Ruler On Ice.
After setting a fast pace, Shackleford tired a mile into the 1 1/4 mile race, as Stay Thirsty and Moonshine Mullin led the field toward home. Others making their move going into the stretch were Rattlesnake Bridge, JW Blue, and Ruler On Ice. Rattlesnake Bridge was able to get up to place, while a fast closing JW Blue was able to take third. Ruler On Ice finished fourth.
Shackleford was the third choice in the field and appeared to be standing still as the field quickly gobbled him up at the mile pole. He finished eighth, beaten more than twenty lengths. The two runners Shackleford beat were longshot Raison d'Etat and the Haskell Invitational winner Coil, who was never able to move out of ninth place. Ruler On Ice faired the best of the three Grade 1 winners, but could do no better than fourth.
This year's three-year-old division has seen upset after upset and a different horse win every notable race. With Grade 1 victories already in the bag for Shackleford, Ruler On Ice, and Coil, a win in the Travers by one of these three could have also guaranteed the victor the three-year-old championship. However, with these three finishing eighth, fourth and tenth, respectively, the championship continues to be up for grabs.
Four months ago, Stay Thirsty was not the horse one might expect to be considered for the championship. However, Stay Thirsty is the one three-year-old that has been able to find success and improve upon it. After finishing second in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, Stay Thirsty came back to win the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes by four lengths. His impressive 1 1/4 length win in Saturday's Travers Stakes now sets him at the top of this year's three-year-olds.
Stay Thirsty returned $6.80, $4.20 and $3.40. Rattlesnake Bridge paid $10.80 and $7.60 for second place and JW Blue returned $11.40 for third. The $2 exacta paid $78 and the triple paid $1,312.
Photo: Courtesy Travers Stakes
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