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Sunday, August 24, 2003


TEN MOST WANTED WINS AMERICA’S TRAVERS STAKES


Yesterday (Saturday) afternoon, in the long-awaited warmth of a summer sun and a soothing breeze, in the allure of a high quality, 12-race card and in the faces of the 66,122 who made up the largest Travers Day crowd ever, negative vibes evaporated. This day belonged to the Saratoga fan in New York –– and to Ten Most Wanted.


The Belmont Stakes runner-up capped the happiest day of the Saratoga racecourse season by waltzing passed dueling speedsters Peace Rules and Strong Hope to win the 134th running of the Grade 1 $1 million Travers for three-year-olds at a mile and a quarter.

His 4.5-length victory came in 2m 2s, and it was an memorable one for trainer Wally Dollase and Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day.


Dollase became only the second person to ever win a Travers and then win the “Mid-Summer Derby” with that horse’s son. Bert Mulholland did it with Eighty Thirty (1939) and with Eighty Thirty’s son Lights Up (1950). Dollase trained Ten Most Wanted’’s sire, 1997 Travers winner Deputy Commander. Dollase is now undefeated in two Travers starts.

“He’s an awesome looking horse and looks so much like his sire,” Dollase said of Ten Most Wanted, who returned $7.50 for each $2 win ticket. “Both got it together mentally at this time of year. I love to train route horses; that’’s my specialty. It takes patience. I gave this horse a lot of time in between races and trained him not to hurry so he can close like a really good horse. He did that today. He put it all together.”

Ten Most Wanted certainly had help, first in the defections of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide and Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker, both of whom were less than 100 percent because of illness.

He was also aided by Jim Dandy winner Strong Hope and Saratoga’s leading jockey John Velazquez and Haskell Invitational winner Peace Rules and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, who dueled themselves into defeat by running as fast as they could for as long as they could. With Strong Hope poking a head in front, the duo went the first quarter in :23 2/5 and the half-mile in :46 1/5.


So lively was the early pace, that when the clock clicked off the three-quarter time of 1:09 4/5, it was the second fastest six furlongs in Travers history, bested only by North Sea’s clocking of 1:09 3/5 in 1972, which set up Key to the Mint’’s victory.


The torrid pace kept up, and the mile fell in 1:35 2/5, topped only by Honest Pleasure’s 1:35 clocking in 1976 when he won the Travers. Finally, it took its toll.


“I couldn’t believe how the race set up for us,” Dollase said. “They (Peace Rules and Strong Hope) ran a great race until they got tired. You just can’t do that going a mile and a quarter.”

Peace Rules hung tough to be second, 10 lengths ahead of Strong Hope, but Ten Most Wanted had the victory all to himself. And to Pat Day.


The 50-year-old Hall of Fame jockey became the fourth jockey to win four Travers, tying him with Eddie Arcaro, Braulio Baeza and Jimmy McLaughlin. It was Day’’s 18th Travers mount, bringing him to within one of Angel Cordero Jr.’s record total.


“We thought we would be fourth, right in behind those horses and that’s pretty much the way it developed,” Day said. “We thought the way the track was playing Jerry (Bailey) and Johnny (Velazquez) would do what they could to slow it down. I thought that given the way those horses have been in the past - pretty enthusiastic and aggressive - that one of them in there by themself might have had some success slowing it down. With both of them in there, they were going to look each other in the eye and it was going to get competitive. I thought they’d run along pretty quick, so I was just going to let my horse coast along there and, really, I hadn’t anticipated going after them until we turned for home.


For Day, who had previously won the Travers with Play Fellow (1983), Java Gold (1987) and Easy Goer (1989), Ten Most Wanted earned respect.


“I think he’s going to better as time progresses and later in the year and even as a four-year-old,” Day said. “I think he’’s grown and matured dramatically from early in the year to now and I think there’’s still a considerable amount of room for improvement. It’s a jockey’s dream to participate in these kinds of races and subsequently to win them is the ‘cat’s meow’ if you would. It feels great. It’s the reason why we keep getting up and coming out here and plying our trade, hopefully to get a mount like this and to be able to get a victory in a race like this. I kind of go with Kenny Rogers, ‘there’s time enough for counting when the dealing’s done.’

“I’’ll wait until the dust settles and then reflect back on the awesome career that God has blessed me with, then I’’ll count them up. Victories like that are probably sweeter today then they were six, eight, or 10 years ago. At my age and at this point in my career, how many more of these is God going to bless me with? There’’s a time in your life when you think you’’re going to live forever and keep doing this forever and the victories, you kind of grow to expect them. At this point in the game, I appreciate the victories, they’re very sweet each and every one of them, but to win a $1 million race is extra special.”

Completing the order of finish were Wild and Wicked, Congrats and Sky Mesa.


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