McCraken, who proved to the racing world that his grit and grind matches his incredible talent with his tough-luck second in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Sunday, may make his next public appearance in the Grade 1, $1.25 Million Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 26.
If he does make the trek north to check out The Spa, he is likely to face an incredible collection of the best 3YOs in the country and the likes of
- Girvin, who inched past him on the wire to win the Haskell;
- Good Samaritan, who impressed in winning the G2 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday in his career debut on the dirt;
- Tapwrit, who captured the final leg of this year’s Triple Crown series in the Belmont Stakes for trainer Todd Pletcher;
- Irap, who has come back from a poor showing in the Kentucky Derby to capture both the Ohio Derby (over Girvin) and the Indiana Derby (over Colonelsdarktemper, who ran a bang up second to McCraken in the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill earlier this summer);
- Giuseppe the Great, a fast-closing second in the Jim Dandy for trainer Nick Zito;
- Another one or two from the barn of Pletcher, in either Always Dreaming (third in the Jim Dandy), Patch, who was third in the Belmont Stakes and will try the West Virginia Derby this Saturday, and/or Outplay, an impressive winner of the Curlin Stakes already this meet at Saratoga,
- A representative or two from the stable of Chad Brown, which includes Timeline, Cloud Computing and the always determined Practical Joke;
- And, Bob Baffert? West Coast, the impressive son of Flatter who has won three in a row after a tough-beat second in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, worked at Del Mar on Thursday (July 27) going 6F in 1:12.80 — for the fastest work out of 12 that day. He won the G3 Los Alamitos Derby on July 15 going 11/8 miles by an easy-as-pie 2 3/4 lengths. He hasn’t faced the likes of these before, but, then again, neither had Arrogate, who shipped in to capture the 2016 version of The Travers.
On Tuesday morning, I caught up with McCraken’s trainer, Ian Wilkes, via text. When asked if he was sending McCraken back to Kentucky and Churchill Downs, his home base and the track where he prepped right up to the Haskell, or North to Saratoga, Wilkes replied:
That is a good sign for all McCraken fans, who would love to see him have a crack at the Summer Time Derby. It is a sign that he is doing well after the near victory. It is a sign that he may be ready for a rematch. It is a sign that racing is about to have another thriller.