Afleet Express outlasted Fly Down in a riveting run down the stretch to win the $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course yesterday in a photo finish.
Afleet Express, with Javier Castellano aboard, had taken the lead from Miner’s Reserve along the rail with about an eighth of a mile to go before Fly Down unleashed a furious rally that came up a nose short.
The victory in the “Midsummer Derby’’ was a sweet one for trainer Jimmy Jerkens, who called it the biggest win of his career.
“Yes this is it,’’ Jerkens said. “It’s at Saratoga, so it’s extra special.’’
A diverse field of 11 3-year-olds was entered in the 1 1/4-mile Travers, ranging from Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver to the runners-up in all three Triple Crown races.
Super Saver finished a disappointing eighth for his third straight defeat since winning the Run for the Roses May 1.
First Dude finished third, 6 3/4 lengths behind Fly Down, followed by Afleet Again, A Little Warm, Friend Or Foe, Miner’s Reserve, Ice Box, 3-1 favorite Trappe Shot, Super Saver, and Admiral Alex.
The winning time was 2 minutes 3.28 seconds. Afleet Express returned $16, $7.80, and $4.90. Fly Down, trained by Nick Zito, paid $6.90 and $5.20 and First Dude paid $4.60 to show.
In earlier races at the Spa, Discreetly Mine went wire-to-wire to win the $250,000 King’s Bishop, and Rightly So blazed to a 4-length win over Warbling in the $250,000 Ballerina.
Pacific Classic — Richard’s Kid, with Mike Smith aboard, outlasted Crowded House by three-quarters of a length to win the $1 million Pacific Classic for the second consecutive year at Del Mar.