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My 2006 Kentucky Derby pick: Steppenwolfer, who finished 3rd
Yup, I thought his name was badass and he was a beauty. Yes I heard of Barbaro, but Barbaro is not as badass a name as Steppenwolfer and hey I was a dumb 16-year-old. Glad to say this is Steppenwolfer in his new forever home as a happy, foxhunting kind of gelding down the road from Michael Matz and Jonathan Sheppard. (Photo Courtesy of Gail Thayer)

My 2006 Kentucky Derby pick: Steppenwolfer, who finished 3rd

Yup, I thought his name was badass and he was a beauty. Yes I heard of Barbaro, but Barbaro is not as badass a name as Steppenwolfer and hey I was a dumb 16-year-old. Glad to say this is Steppenwolfer in his new forever home as a happy, foxhunting kind of gelding down the road from Michael Matz and Jonathan Sheppard. (Photo Courtesy of Gail Thayer)

Why We Watch: Michael Matz, From Rags to Roses — The day I picked Union Rags to win on the program for the Saratoga Special (II) last year, it was chiefly because I believed in Michael Matz’s abilities as a horseman… the reasoning behind that notion in his history.

Today is the fifth anniversary of Barbaro's death. Remember him for his courage and his brilliance, not his untimely tragedy.

Today is the fifth anniversary of Barbaro's death. Remember him for his courage and his brilliance, not his untimely tragedy.

Mine That Bird

Mine That Bird

Top 5 Memorable Travers Victories

The Travers Stakes is one of America’s oldest races, having been established since 1864 when Kentucky won the inaugural outing. Since then, so many greats have won the “Midsummer Derby” including Man o’ War, Native Dancer [pictured], and Buckpasser. But who won some of the most memorable outings of the greatest American summer classic? Here’s five worth mentioning once or twice next time you’re talking down the shed row (click the names for videos):

#5 - 2006 - Bernardini: When Bluegrass Cat, the runner-up to Barbaro in the Kentucky Derby, broke the winning margin record of the Haskell (winning by 7 lengths), it was obvious he was the biggest challenge to Jim Dandy winner Bernardini going into the “Midsummer Derby.” Or was he?: Bernardini turned Bluegrass Cat away turning for home, winning by 7.

#4 - 1967 - Damascus: After a huge sophomore season— winning the Preakness, Belmont, Wood Memorial, and Dwyer— Damascus was the huge favorite to win the ‘67 Travers. He clearly wasn’t done obliterating the competition, winning by a romping 22 lengths with only 3 horses willing to challenge him. Truly, he’s among the all-time greats.

#3 - 1979 - General Assembly: One of Secretariat’s first sons, General Assembly wired the field on a very muddy Travers Day. He took up a sharp pace, eventually turning away the field in grand style to win by 15 lengths and set up a new track record for the 1 1/4 mile at Saratoga— which still stands today.

#2 - 1930 - Jim Dandy: In 1930, Gallant Fox became America’s newest Triple Crown champion, and was seemingly invincible challenging just three others on Travers Day. The track was a bit muddy, especially down toward the center of the homestretch. Gallant Fox’s jockey knew he only had one horse to worry about and dueled side-by-side with him throughout most of the race. Gallant Fox got stuck on the slow-going center of the homestretch and was tiring when the 100-1 shot Jim Dandy spurted past him in the mud to launch an impossible upset.

#1 - 1962 - Jaipur: One of racing’s most memorable moments period was Jaipur’s enthralling struggle versus Ridan in the 1962 Travers, the two taking jabs at each other again and again from wire to wire. Ridan had seemed to have conquered Jaipur when the latter came on again courageously, winning by a nostril.

In 2006, Bernardini completed the Jim Dandy-Travers Stakes double and became Three-Year-Old Male of the Year. His son, Stay Thirsty, is attempting the same feat five years later. 

In 2006, Bernardini completed the Jim Dandy-Travers Stakes double and became Three-Year-Old Male of the Year. His son, Stay Thirsty, is attempting the same feat five years later. 

Winner of the 2006 Haskell Invitational: Bluegrass Cat with John Velazquez in the irons. Bluegrass Cat also holds the winning margin record in the race, which he won by 7 lengths.

Winner of the 2006 Haskell Invitational: Bluegrass Cat with John Velazquez in the irons. Bluegrass Cat also holds the winning margin record in the race, which he won by 7 lengths.

Going to the Thoroughbred races, keeping "track" of the memories. Obsessively providing a comprehensive and personal glance at the sport of kings through original photography, handicapping analysis, editorials, and much more.

Tracks visited: Calder, Saratoga, Belmont, Suffolk, Aqueduct.


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