Saratoga Springs provided us all with a fantastic summer carnival this year, and just when you thought that you been given all the excitement you could handle, it throwed up one last piece for us all.
We can’t say it was an historical day as a quick check of the books let us know that in 1874 the result was the same, but wow, what a race! A dead heat between the heavily favored Godolphin runner Alpha and the unlikely Golden Ticket, who maybe was named after the ticket that got Charlie his trip into the chocolate factory? I’m sure his connections felt like they had been given something special as well….a 35-1 winner of a one of America’s most revered Grade I races, some even call it the 4th leg of the Triple Crown.
Fast Falcon, sent off at 32-1, was a neck behind the winners in third place. Atigun, also trained by McPeek, was fourth, followed by Nonios, Neck ‘n Neck, Stealcase, Speightscity, Liaison, Five Sixteen and Street Life. The winning time for the 1 1/4 miles was 2:02.74.
Alpha returned $4.10, $5.10 and $3.90, and Golden Ticket paid $26.80, $26.40 and $11.80. Fast Falcon, trained by Nick Zito, returned $13.60.
This Travers may have been without what many believe are the best of the 3-year-old bunch, including retired Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another and Belmont winner Union Rags, but it turned into a race for the record books. As expected, Speightscity shot straight to the lead from the rail, with Stealcase second and Alpha racing comfortably in third place. With a quarter mile to go, Golden Ticket took the lead with a beautiful inside rail ride courtesy of Cohen and Alpha moved up to second. With the crowd cheering as the two raced to the finish, Alpha closed ground steadily down the straight and Durkin shout from high atop the Spa that it was too close to call as they hit the line. It also seemed neither Jockey was to sure of their mounts claim to the title as they both kept a lid on any celebrations after the post.
In the end we all waited with our breath held and finally saw the numbers pop up with the words “dead heat” lit up alongside. It was a fitting end to what was truly an amazing and exciting race, both horses deserved to be winners and thats how it ended.
The only problem for the near future now, is whether there will be two canoes sitting in the lake painted with the winners colors, or will it be one canoe with a very different paint job!