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POINT GIVEN TO RACE IN $1 MILLION TRAVERS STAKES ON "THE ROAD TO THE WORLD THOROUGHBRED CHAMPIONSHIPS"
Shows to Air Friday, Saturday & Sunday on ESPN, ESPN2; ESPN Classic to Air Travers Retrospective
Preakness and Belmont winner Point Given, the current points leader in the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships Classic Division standings, will be the horse everyone is watching in Saturday's "Midsummer Derby," otherwise known as the Travers Stakes. The Grade I, $1 Million Travers is one of four premier Saratoga stakes races that will be shown Friday, Saturday and Sunday, along with the $350,000 Philip H. Iselin Handicap from Monmouth Park, on this week's editions of "The Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships," the three-month racing series airing on the ESPN networks.
This week's "The Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships" begins with Friday's Grade I, $400,000 Personal Ensign Handicap, a 1¼-mile race for fillies and mares, 3-and-up, airing on ESPN2 from 4:00-5:00 p.m. (ET). The series continues on Saturday with both the 1¼-mile Travers and the Grade I, $200,000 King's Bishop Stakes, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds, airing on ESPN from 4:30-6:00 p.m. (ET). It concludes on Sunday with Saratoga's Grade I, $250,000 Ballerina, also at seven furlongs for fillies and mares, 3-and-up, and Monmouth's Grade II Iselin Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile race for horses 3-and-up on ESPN from 5:00-6:00 p.m. (ET). The five races will feature some of the top contenders for the October 27 Breeders' Cup Classic, Distaff and Sprint, with the top three finishers in each race receiving Breeders' Cup points in their respective divisional standings.
In Saturday's Travers, Point Given, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Gary Stevens, goes for a fourth straight Grade I win since his defeat as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby. Fresh off a victory in last month's Haskell Invitational, the horse is being pointed towards the Breeders' Cup Classic. Expected to challenge in the Travers is Scorpion, who took last month's Jim Dandy Stakes, upsetting Point Given's stablemate Congaree in the process. Also expected is Preakness and Belmont runner-up A P Valentine.
Beautiful Pleasure, who won the 1999 Breeders' Cup Distaff after winning the Personal Ensign that same year, is expected to go for her third straight Personal Ensign victory; City Zip, a perfect four-for-four at Saratoga, should be the favorite in the King's Bishop; 2000 Ballerina winner Dream Supreme will be challenged by 2000 Breeders' Cup Distaff champion Spain in Sunday's Ballerina, which was won in 1985 by Lady's Secret, the 1986 Breeders' Cup Distaff champion; and Broken Vow and Sir Bear head the field in the Iselin. Hosting all three shows will be Jim Kelly, joined by Randy Moss, Charlsie Cantey and Jack Whitaker.
ESPN Classic will air highlights from past Travers Stakes on its series, "Thoroughbred Classics." The half-hour program can be seen tonight at 6:30 p.m., tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. and twice Friday at 9:30 a.m. and again at 5:30 p.m. (all times Eastern). Jim McKay and Whitaker are the hosts.
"The Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships" began in mid-July and culminates with a one-hour Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships special on October 26 on ESPN2, the day before the eight-race, $13 million Championships is held at Belmont Park. (See below for complete schedule.)
The NTRA is a broad-based coalition of horseracing interests, including the American Quarter Horse Association, charged with increasing awareness of Thoroughbred racing and improving economic conditions for industry participants. The NTRA also conducts the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, racing's year-end Championship consisting of eight races and $13 million in purses and awards, and the Breeders' Cup National Stakes Program, which are funded by the industry's owners and breeders. The NTRA has offices in Lexington, Ky., and New York City. A compendium of NTRA press releases appears on the NTRA Web site, ntra.com, and at the Web site for the Breeders' Cup Championship, breederscup.com. Contact the NTRA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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