Stay Thirsty can't escape the shadow of stablemate Uncle Mo.
Though a win in the $1 million Travers Stakes today would elevate Stay Thirsty to the top of his class, owner Mike Repole is just as eager to see Uncle Mo in the $250,000 King's Bishop. The Grade I events are among five graded stakes on the 13-race card at Saratoga Race Track in Sarasota Springs, N.Y.
The Travers (Race 12, 5:45 p.m.) is expected to go a long way in determining the nation's leading 3-year-old male this year. Stay Thirsty, who is bidding to become the first Jim Dandy winner to win the Midsummer Derby since Kentucky Derby and Tampa Bay Derby winner Street Sense in 2007, faces Shackleford (Preakness winner), Ruler On Ice (Belmont) and Coil (Haskell Invitational) in the 10-horse field.
"If any of those four win it, they become the leader in the 3-year-old category," Repole said Tuesday during a media teleconference. "I think if anybody else wins it, it just becomes wide open."
Uncle Mo, not Stay Thirsty, was supposed to be Repole's main threat in the 11/4-mile Travers. Uncle Mo captured the 2010 Eclipse Award for 2-year-old males and was undefeated after four starts. But a liver disease, detected after Uncle Mo was scratched from the Kentucky Derby, sidelined the son of Indian Charlie.
The 7-furlong King's Bishop (Race 11, 5:12 p.m.) will be Uncle Mo's first start since April 9. Todd Pletcher trains the duo, both favored in their respective races.
"I believe 90 percent of the owners probably would have retired (Uncle Mo) on May 1," Repole said. "To get this horse to where he is … the odds were so stacked against him. I want to win both (races). But if Mo wins and Stay Thirsty runs second, I'd be happy because I would feel like I knew (Uncle Mo) would be this great 3-year-old."
Stay Thirsty's sire, Bernardini, won the Jim Dandy and the Travers in 2006. Stay Thirsty has excelled at Saratoga, where he has two wins and a second from three starts. The other Travers starters have only three total starts on the track, with Malibu Glow owning the lone victory.
Shackleford, who will be ridden by two-time Tampa Bay Downs leading jockey Jesus Castanon, is the third Preakness winner in the past 11 years to run in the Travers. The previous two, Bernardini and Point Given (2001), won and went on to claim 3-year-old male awards. Point Given also was the horse of the year.
MORE HORSES: Calder Race Course in Miami Gardens today holds its Juvenile Showcase card with 13 races for 2-year-olds. There are six stakes totaling $550,000, highlighted by the $125,000 Affirmed (Race 11, 5:07 p.m.) and $125,000 Susan's Girl (Race 8, 3:43 p.m.), both middle legs of the three-race Florida Stallion Stakes series.
GREYHOUNDS: Jw Titleist of Capabal kennel is the top dog at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg with nine wins.