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Travers Stakes running before Kentucky Derby

Only in 2020 could “The Mid-Summer Derby” – better known as the Travers Stakes – be run before the Kentucky Derby. In fact, the Travers becomes a 1-1/4 miles Kentucky Derby prep, with 100-40-20-10 Derby qualifying points awarded to the first four finishers. 

Tiz the Law will be heavily favored in Saturday’s Travers at Saratoga and does not need to worry about Kentucky Derby points. With victories in the Florida Derby and most recently the Belmont Stakes, Tiz the Law has accumulated more than enough points to assure his spot in the starting gate at Churchill Downs. 

Owned by the New York-based Sackatoga stable of Funny Cide fame and trained by Barclay Tagg, the Travers at Saratoga has been a major goal even before the coronavirus pandemic altered the dates of the 2020 Triple Crown. 

One horse that needs Derby qualifying points is Uncle Chuck. The Bob Baffert-trained son of Uncle Mo did not make his career debut until June 12, which would have been after the entire Triple Crown series had been completed if run on their original dates. 

Uncle Chuck toyed with Maidens in his debut, and wheeled back in the Grade III Los Alamitos Derby to defeat subsequent Shared Belief Stakes winner Thousand Words on July 4. In each start he galloped out like he will run all day long. 

New York-based jockey Luis Saez flew in for the Los Alamitos Derby win, then tested positive for the coronavirus when he returned to New York. Saez has since returned to riding and has the call again. 

Max Player was making his first start since February when rallying to be third in the Belmont Stakes behind Tiz the Law. He appeared to be an improved horse in the Belmont, though his deep closing style has been a negative over the Saratoga main track this summer. 

The 1-2 finishers in the opening day Peter Pan Stakes – Country Grammer and Carocaro, are expected to be in the lineup when post positions are drawn on Wednesday. Also expected to run are First Line, Shivaree, and South Bend. 

Derby jockeys make choice 

Churchill Downs has announced that all jockeys who are riding in the Sept. 4 Kentucky Oaks and the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby must be in Kentucky no later than Monday, August 24. 

The list of protocols released by Churchill requires all jockeys to take two COVID-19 tests at Churchill Downs, the first no later than 6 p.m. on Aug. 24 and the second no later than noon on Aug. 31. Any jockey who tests positive in their first test would be allowed to ride 11 days later (the day of the Kentucky Oaks) provided they have shown no COVID-19 symptoms. 

Jockeys based at Del Mar and Saratoga would be required to forego the final two weeks of those important summer meets, with multiple lucrative Graded Stakes races yet to be contested. Both Del Mar and Saratoga have enacted policies that will not allow riders back to those tracks if they have ridden elsewhere during the meet. 

Del Mar bars Desormeaux 

Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux was removed from his only mount Friday at Del Mar and was subsequently banned from riding the remainder of the meet by track management. 

Desormeaux, 50, reportedly got into an argument that escalated into a physical altercation with a member of the camera crew earlier in the week on the racetrack grounds. 

“Our action is not related to racing, but as a result of conduct that is not consistent with our standards and values,” Del Mar track president Josh Rubinstein told Daily Racing Form. 

The California Horse Racing Board allows a racetrack to remove or deny racetrack access “for any reason deemed appropriate by the association.” Desormeaux’s riding license remains in good standing even though he will not be allowed to ride at Del Mar. 

Lindo Report Play for Gaming Today: Del Mar Friday, Race 9 – Leggs Galore (No. 6). Stablemate That’s Amare gets Flavien Prat in her debut and may draw the most attention, but this filly outworked her in a team drill July 26 and drops in with Cal-breds while exiting a very fast race vs. open company at Oaklawn Park. She also earns a 20 percent “Ship and Win” purse bonus with a victory.