December 2, 2023

Mitole, Shancelot, Come Dancing headline Travers undercard sprints

Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. celebrates as Mitole scores in the Churchill Downs Stakes (G1) on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs on May 4, 2019 (c) Gustavsson

Sprinters of various shades will be in abundance at Saratoga on Travers Saturday, with established stars like Mitole in the Forego (G1) and up-and-comers like Shancelot in the H. Allen Jerkens (G1) the marquee names.

Mitole was considered the nation’s top specialist after three consecutive stakes wins earlier this season, including a victory in the star-studded Metropolitan H. (G1). However, that claim, and any longshot Horse of the Year aspirations, were dealt a blow when he finished a distant third to Imperial Hint in last month’s Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1).

The Steve Asmussen trainee will attempt to rebound against five others in the seven-furlong Forego. Among these is Promises Fulfilled. Though behind Mitole in two earlier meetings this term, Promises Fulfilled is two-for-two at Saratoga and exits an impressive victory in the John A. Nerud (G2) over this distance at Belmont.

Multiple graded winner Firenze Fire is also in the cast, but has run below his very best in the Met Mile and Vanderbilt in his last two.

Shancelot and jockey Emisael Jaramillo romp home in the Amsterdam Stakes (G2) at Saratoga on Sunday, July 28, 2019 (c) Adam Coglianese Photography

Shancelot will be a heavy favorite to improve his record to four-for-four in the seven-furlong Jerkens for three-year-olds.

The Jorge Navarro-trained son of Shanghai Bobby was a dominating winner of the Amsterdam (G2) earlier in the Saratoga meet, scoring by 12 1/2 lengths and setting a new track record of 1:14. He earned a 114 BRIS Speed rating for the performance.

“I will never see that again,” Navarro said. “The last time I saw something like that was Secretariat. I will be lucky if he runs like that again. I knew he was good, but I didn’t expect anything that amazing.”

The top three finishers from the June 8 Woody Stephens (G1) — Hog Creek Hustle, Nitrous, and Borrachos — are also in the Jerkens lineup. Of the trio, Nitrous has already taken one stab at Shancelot to no avail, finishing a distant second in the Amsterdam.

Mind Control and Call Paul both won graded stakes at two last summer at Saratoga, while Rowayton should appreciate the cutback in trip from nine furlongs.

Come Dancing will be nominated to bigger events after her first stakes score in the Royal Delta (Photo by NYRA/Coglianese/Chelsea Durand)

Come Dancing is the likely favorite in the $500,000 Ballerina (G1), a seven-furlong “Win & You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge event for the Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).

A dominating winner of the Distaff H. (G3) and Ruffian (G2) to start the season, Come Dancing found only Midnight Bisou too good in the Ogden Phipps (G1) last time.

Also in the lineup is Separationofpowers, who won the Test (G1) over the track and trip last summer and the Bed o’ Roses (G3) comfortably most recently. Humana Distaff (G1) heroine Mia Mischief looks to rebound off a fourth in the Honorable Miss H. (G2), won by Louisiana-bred longshot Minit to Stardom.