SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Midsummer Derby will be a little earlier this year due to changes caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The race will run on Saturday, August 8 instead of its usual spot at the end of the month. Post time is set for 6:15 p.m.
The race is being considered a prep race for the Kentucky Derby after that race was postponed until Sept. 5. The top four finishers in the Travers will receive 100-40-20-10 points to the Kentucky Derby. The Preakness will run in October. The Belmont Stakes, usually the final jewel of the Triple Crown, has already run. Winner Tiz The Law will also run in the 2020 Travers.
#1 – FIRST LINE Jockey: David Cohen, Trainer: Orlando Noda
#2 – COUNTRY GRAMMER Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr., Trainer: Chad Brown
#3 – UNCLE CHUCK Jockey: Luis Saez, Trainer: Bob Baffert
#4 – MAX PLAYER Jockey: Joel Rosario, Trainer: Linda Rice
#5 – SHIVAREE Jockey: Junior Alvarado, Trainer: Ralph Nicks
#6 – TIZ THE LAW Jockey: Manny Franco, Trainer: Barclay Tagg
#7 – CARACARO Jockey: Javier Castellano, Trainer: Gustavo Delgado
#8 – SOUTH BEND Jockey: Jose Ortiz, Trainer: Bill Mott
Be sure to watch NEWS10‘s Travers Special Friday, August 7 at 7:30 p.m. on FOX23. On Saturday, August 8, FOX23 will show five of our previous specials reaching back to 2015. That starts at noon and leads right into FOX’s coverage of the Travers starting at 5 p.m.
Barclay Tagg, trainer of even-money favorite Tiz the Law (No. 6): “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. We’ve been very fortunate. I don’t think any distance makes a difference for this horse. From what I’ve seen, I just don’t have any feeling that he can’t handle it. It would be nice to win it if we could. “I think he’s matured enough now that outside or inside is not going to bother him too much. I’d prefer that he’s on the outside just because you have less chance of getting in trouble. Not that you can’t, but you have less chance. I think post 6 is fine. Five would have been fine. Four would have been fine. Any of those three would have been fine with me. “I’ve never seen him take a deep breath. I’ve never had him out of breath after a workout. I’ve never had him way out of breath after a race and he [cools] off very quickly. His lungs settle right down and nothing seems to be a hazard. I could be all wrong in that. It might change in another eighth of a mile, I don’t know, but I’ve got no reason to worry about it. “Bob Baffert [trainer of No. 3 Uncle Chuck] does very, very well. He’s got fresh stock all the time and good horses, so you’ve always got to be concerned. But if you let the concern bother you too much, you wouldn’t be racing horses. You can’t worry about that. All I worry about his having my horse get there the best we can get him there. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do.
Bob Baffert, trainer of 5-2 Uncle Chuck (No. 3): “I won it out of the one-hole once [Arrogate’s track-setting win in 2016]. It doesn’t matter, whatever the post is. Going a mile and a quarter, they’ve got plenty of time to sort things out. “He’s been training well, and I thought he deserves a chance to run in it. He’s only had two races, but they were pretty impressive. The talent is there, he’s just still figuring it out and putting it together. He’s still a little green, but I thought the mile and a quarter might be good for him. He’s got a big, long stride. He’s got speed, so as long as he gets in a nice, relaxed rhythm we’ll see how he handles the mile and a quarter. You’ve got a horse like Tiz the Law in there, and he scared a lot of them away.”
Linda Rice, trainer of 6-1 Max Player (No. 4): “We’ll try to save a little ground into both turns and I’d rather not get too far to the outside. “He’s training fine. I’ve been training at Belmont, not at Saratoga, which is a little unusual. Coming in from the Belmont, he was coming off a bit of a break so I trained pretty aggressively. Coming into this race, I backed off him a little bit and did more maintenance breezes. I wasn’t quite as aggressive with him, but I think he’s ready.”
Chad Brown, trainer of 6-1 Country Grammer (No. 2): “Hopefully, this horse can get the distance. I’m confident that he can. He’ll have to step forward in this race and hope that maybe some of the top contenders can’t go this far.
“I’m always concerned for more time in between races with my horses, but this is a rare opportunity to take a shot at a race like the Travers. It’s a shorter field than it usually is. This is such a unique year to give this a shot and the horse just keeps improving. Even on short rest, I think the reward is greater than the risk.”
On drawing post 2 after winning from that post in the G3 Peter Pan on July 16: “This horse has been a real pro that way. A similar trip as last time would be good for me.”
On possibly winning first Travers: “It’s been a race that I’ve wanted to win the most since I was a child here at the track. It’s definitely a disappointing year to participate with no fans, but nevertheless, it’s still the Travers, and it’s still something that we would be extremely appreciative of if we were able to win.”
Orlando Noda, trainer of 30-1 First Line (No. 1): “I think we got a perfect post. He’s going to come out running when the gates open and he might just fight the whole mile and a quarter. It is a quick turnaround, but I’ve hyped this horse up from before he even debuted. These are my points for the Derby. He’s a longshot for a reason but he’s going to outrun his odds and, God willing, we will win this race.”
NYRA contributed to this article
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