Great racing on Travers Day

August, 26, 2011
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Tomorrow is Travers Day at Saratoga Race Course. It's always a great card and a great afternoon of racing and we all look forward to it here. Even people who don't have stakes contenders will save their best horses for the undercard events, so it's basically the biggest day of the summer.

I could have had a horse in the Travers but we opted to go to the King's Bishop with Dominus, the Steve Asmussen runner who just finished third in the Jim Dandy on July 30. They're both Grade 1 races but the King's Bishop is seven furlongs versus the Travers' mile and a quarter, and it looks like the shorter distance will suit him better.

I rode Dominus his first time out at Belmont last September 18 and I liked him then, just the way he ran. He broke well but kind of stumbled a couple jumps after leaving the gate, and he still finished second in a good way for a first-time starter. I didn't ride him his next time out because he was in California this March. He won over there by five-and-a-quarter lengths going about seven furlongs, and when he came back here this April and ran in the Derby Trial, we missed that by a neck.

I always loved this horse and I think the one-turn mile, or a mile and a sixteenth-type of distance would be good for him, which it obviously was since he won the Grade 2 Dwyer going the latter distance by a length and three-quarters. I thought a mile and an eighth wouldn't be a big deal either; he looked like he was going to win easy in the Jim Dandy but he kind of got tired, so we thought maybe the distance was the problem with him, and that's why he's cutting back to seven furlongs.

A horse like Dominus is just a very nice horse, very classy, so I enjoy riding him. Especially when you ride a horse as a 2-year-old, then come back and ride him as a 3-year-old, you get to see him progress and hopefully get better. That's what this one has done. He's a good horse and I think he's got a great chance tomorrow. It's a tough race, but he's got a chance.

The King's Bishop, of course, is getting a lot of attention because of Uncle Mo's comeback -- and don't get me wrong, he's a very good horse -- but coming back, you never know. He's training well but the way he acts on race day could be different. People forget that this race isn't only Uncle Mo, it's a lot of good horses. But he's going to be the one with the bull's-eye on his back, there's going to be a lot of pressure on him and Johnny Velazquez, so maybe we can beat him on the day. If they want to go fast in front I think my horse will be able to sit off it a little bit and come running.

In the Ballerina, I'm riding Bronx City Girl. I haven't been on her since January in Gulfstream; I rode her a couple times in stakes races there and she finished fourth both times with me. Both times the trainer, Marty Wolfson, wanted her to relax the first part of the race and finish, so that's how I rode her. But I've noticed in her past couple of races she's been a little closer to the pace, so maybe that's what he wants to do with her now. I'll have to talk to him first since I don't know exactly what he wants to do with her. Her last start was a runner-up finish by a neck in the Regret Stakes at Monmouth Park and she hasn't been worse than third for her past four starts, so she's trying to be a good horse.

In the Ballston Spa, I'm on Aviate. Her last race, the Diana, was at a mile and an eighth; this race is a mile and a sixteenth, so she's cutting back distance. She's the kind of filly that needs a little bit of pace, so hopefully we get that, she relaxes well and we get a good trip to put it all together. She won the Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs this May, which is a Grade 2, so she's a nice filly.

The meet has been going well for me so far, thanks to all the trainers and owners who have given me the chance to ride their horses. I'm winning good races, a few little stakes and the Adirondack, which is a Grade 2, but of course I want to keep winning and hopefully get some big stakes wins as well -- and tomorrow is a good day to do it!



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