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Baffert Plans to Run Pair in Bid for Fourth Travers Win

As the days draw closer to the huge 3-year-old showdown in the Travers Stakes (G1), two hopefuls for trainer Bob Baffert are prepping in solid fashion on the West Coast for the Aug. 26 Midsummer Derby at Saratoga Race Course.

Both Preakness Stakes (G1) winner National Treasure  and grade 3 victor Reincarnate  have been impressing the Hall of Famer and three-time Travers winner in recent weeks at Del Mar.

“They are both doing very well, but they won’t be heavy favorites,” Baffert said. “I think it’s going to be a very competitive and exciting Travers.”

With Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mage  and Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Arcangelo  also pointing to the Travers, all three winners of the Triple Crown races and 2-year-old male champ and Belmont Stakes runner-up Forte  are in the mix for what should be a blockbuster edition of the Travers, which seems destined to crown the division champ.

National Treasure has not raced since finishing sixth in the June 10 Belmont Stakes at 1 1/2 miles. Three weeks earlier, he controlled the pace and posted a head victory in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown at Pimlico Race Course.

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“National Treasure is back to 100%. He needed time to fill out and he’s relaxing a lot better now. I’ve been working him without blinkers to get him to relax. He’s been a little keen,” Baffert said. “He came back a little quick in the Belmont. He had just won the Preakness and some trainers are afraid to get beat and wouldn’t have run him. No one wants to run anymore. I’ve never been like that. (Trainer) Wayne Lukas and I have won a lot of races because we weren’t afraid to get beat.”

In his last two works at Del Mar, the son of Quality Road   bred by Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds covered six furlongs in 1:12 3/5 Aug. 6 and five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 July 31.

Reincarnate was 13th in the Kentucky Derby and was a candidate for the Belmont Stakes but needed more time to recover from weight loss after the Run for the Roses.

He resumed racing July 8 with a 2 1/2-length win in the Los Alamitos Derby.

“The Los Alamitos race showed us the spark is back. I used that race as a prep for West Coast   (Baffert’s 2017 Travers winner) and he ran really well coming out of it,” Baffert said. “He’s getting better and is a big, strong horse who should handle the mile and a quarter.”

Reincarnate, a son of Good Magic   bred by Woods Edge Farm, worked five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 Aug. 5 and a bullet :58 July 30.

Both 3-year-old colts are owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stable, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital, and Catherine Donovan and are expected to work two more times before shipping to Saratoga.

Baffert said he will also be shipping Fort Bragg  and Arabian Lion  to Saratoga for the seven-furlong H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) on the Travers Day card.

“I’m sending two real good horses for that race,” he said.

Both 3-year-olds are coming off graded stakes wins. Fort Bragg (Tapit  ) beat Saudi Crown , runner-up to Forte in the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2), in the Dwyer Stakes (G3) and Arabian Lion (Justify  ) took the seven-furlong Woody Stephens Stakes (G1) on Belmont Stakes Day.


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