Nail-biting Racing at Travers Stakes

Spectators were on their feet at Saratoga Racecourse on Saturday, 23 August 2008, as the final stretch of the Grade 1 $1 million Travers Stakes became the scene of determination, disbelief, elation and thrilling horse racing action with a battle between Colonel John and Mambo in Seattle unfolding before the crowd. Deafening screams of excitement and encouragement drowned out the sound of thundering hooves, jockeys pushed their horses to the limit, and both Colonel John and Mambo in Seattle were giving it their all down to the wire.

The twelve horse line-up at Saratoga Racecourse made the Travers Stakes field the biggest that had run since 1990, when Rhythm took the victory over a thirteen horse lineup. There were many big names in starting gate, such as Tale of Ekati, Pyro, Da’ Tara, Harlem Rocker, Macho Again, Tizbig, Court Vision, Amped, Cool Coal Man and Tres Borrachos. As the starting gates swung open for the running of the 139th Travers Stakes, some of the best three year olds in horse racing sped out the gates with winning in mind.

With a quarter mile remaining, the field found themselves in a massive traffic jam, as the strong competitors battled it out to get into the lead. With pace setter Da’ Tara tiring and the rest of the field bumping and weaving to make it out of the bundle of runners, race favorites such as Macho Again found himself stumbling and out of the running after clipping heels with another contender. Pyro could not find his way out of the pack until it was too late to make a run for lead position, although a valiant effort by him saw him closing the gap and finishing in third position.

But as Mambo in Seattle and Colonel John went head to head, it seemed as if the wire was never going to be reached. Colonel John, who had fought his way out of the traffic to lead on the rail, and Mambo in Seattle who had cleared the bundle of contenders on the outside, were neck on neck, and as the camera on the finish line went off, Mambo in Seattle brought his head down, just as Colonel John stretched his neck to win the Travers Stakes in one of the closest finishes in the history of the racing event. Mambo in Seattle jockey Robby Albarado was under the impression he had won, and raised his crop in celebration, only to find out that Colonel John had stolen the victory away from him by a nose.

All the contenders in the 2008 Travers Stakes were worthy and brilliant, each running to the best of their ability. Saturday, however belonged to Colonel John, his jockey Garret Gomez and trainer Eoin Harty.