Big three will 'Point' to Travers
By Noel Michaels
Daily Racing Form
ELMONT N.Y. -- The morning after Point Given's stunning 12 1/4-length Belmont Stakes victory which gave him two-thirds of the Triple Crown, trainer Bob Baffert looked back on his star 3-year-old's accomplishments, and looked ahead toward the remainder of the season. "This big dude has everything. He's big, he's bad, he's good," said Baffert Sunday morning. "We knew he was a great horse, and the Belmont showed what kind of horse he really is. I got excited when he turned for home, but for a while it looked like A P Valentine was going to make a race out of it. Then I just watched him draw off through the stretch. We ran up the score."
The lone blemish on Point Given's season remains his unexplainable fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. However, Baffert believes his horse has now more than made up for his one miscue.
"It was not his day Derby Day, but today he showed what he's really made of," said Baffert. [Prince] Ahmed could have fired me after the Derby, but he had a good day in the Preakness and a good Belmont. We'll have a lot of fun with him the rest of the year." Baffert was at barn #7 on the Belmont backstretch early Sunday morning to put Point Given on a van to J.F.K. Airport at 8:50 a.m. He is scheduled to fly back to Kentucky and then continue on to California later next week.
"If he stays sound, he should get better with age," said Baffert. "I haven't thought about what his campaign might be, but the Travers is definitely on his schedule. It's a million dollar race and I've never won it."
Eventually, Baffert predicts a showdown between Point Given and his top older horse, Captain Steve, in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Baffert's other top 3-year-old, Congaree, is expected to point to the 1 1/8-mile Haskell at Monmouth Park. Baffert indicated the 1 1/4-mile Travers is probably a bit too far for Congaree.
Best horses danced
Monarchos had his head poked out of his stall at barn #3 Sunday morning, as he munched on his hay rack and gazed with interest at the goings on around him in the shedrow.
"He's tired, but he came out of the race fine and he's a very happy horse this morning," said Ward. "The Triple Crown probably took more out of me than it did the horse."
Ward also offered no excuses for Monarchos' Belmont defeat. "Monarchos ran his race and I'm not disappointed. We ran into Point Given on top of his game, just like Point Given ran into us at the top of our game in the Derby."
Ward outlined a campaign for Monarchos that is likely to include both the Jim Dandy and Travers at Saratoga. "Everyone right now is probably thinking Breeders' Cup, but the hardest call to make is where to go after the Travers," said Ward. "It will be interesting now that everybody will be able to get to go back to their normal training style the rest of the year. We'll see what happens without fatigue being a factor."
A P Valentine to Jim Dandy, Travers
"A P Valentine, he's tough. We're grateful for the way he ran. He was so gallant for second. He could have easily spit it out, but he didn't. We ran great, but it was just a one horse performance yesterday," Zito said of the Belmont. "It was their race, but I always knew [A P Valentine] was a top horse, and one these days he's going to have his race."
Even though A P Valentine failed to win a Triple Crown race, Zito believes his horse made a very good account of himself in the Preakness and Belmont following a terrible trip in the Derby.
"The day after the Derby I went home and cried. There was no way this horse was going to be worse than third, maybe second," said Zito of A P Valentine's bad luck in Louisville. "But the Triple Crown is significant enough where all three races have meaning, and I think now he's got a good reputation again." In addition to his own horse, Zito was also quick to praise Point Given. "This horse has a chance to be one of the all-time great horses. He's only lost once this year, and he doesn't just win. It's the way he wins." Zito believes A P Valentine will continue to fill out and improve throughout the year, and perhaps narrow the gap between himself and Point Given in races like the Jim Dandy and Travers.
"We're not going to get off any beaten path, and we're not going to worry where Point Given goes. That's not how we run things here. I'm anxious to get him up to Saratoga and go from there," said Zito. "There's a lot of races to go this year, and you can't worry about who else is good and who else is bad. This fall, we're going to be tough."