Five weeks into a Saratoga Race Course meet that has had many sparkling performances from starting gate to finish line and one that has posted significant gains on the business front, Street Sense, this year's
Kentucky Derby champion, starts as a deserving and anticipated favorite in the marquee race of the summer, Saturday's 138th Travers at one mile and a quarter.
The Grade 1, $1 million Travers, presented by New York Lottery, is race 9 of a 12-race card that begins at 12:45 p.m. It has attracted a field of seven three-year-olds in search of the top prize in the Mid-Summer
But let's be realistic, Street Sense enters the Travers a man among boys, a colt who is all about firsts.
In May, Street Sense became the first horse in more than two decades to win the Kentucky Derby after having won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, putting an end to the dreaded and seemingly unstoppable "Juvenile Jinx." Saturday, he is expected to complete the first ever Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Kentucky Derby and Travers triple. Talk about doing things on your own terms.
"He's always done everything good," said trainer Carl Nafzger, who conditions Street Sense for the colt's owner and breeder, James Tafel. "He's always been a natural. He's always had a great mind."
Even rival trainers like Shug McGaughey and Nick Zito, two guys that have won the Travers and are enshrined in racing's Hall of Fame, can't seem to get past Street Sense.
"You go into a race like this hoping your horse has a great day," said Zito, who won the Travers in 2004 with Birdstone. "You also hope Street Sense has an off day. He is a champion."
For those that can't make it to historic Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, the Travers will be televised on ESPN during its two-hour broadcast that begins at 4 p.m. Eastern.