“A race lacking starpower nevertheless delivered excitement at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 25, as longshot Golden Ticket and 2-1 favorite Alpha made history with the first dead heat in the modern history of the 143-year-old Travers Stakes.
In 1874 there was a dead heat in the Travers, then run at 1 3/4 miles, between Attila and Acrobat — but the two had a run-off and Attila was awarded the official victory. One hundred and thirty eight years later, the principals of Godolphin Racing and Magic City Thoroughbreds were content to share the purse and trophy earned by their 3-year-old runners in the $1 million race. The pair provided quite a show in spite of failing to clear up their murky division for the second half of the season.
“It’s a dead-heat, but it goes in the ‘W’ column,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said of Alpha’s tie with the Ken McPeek-trained Golden Ticket. “It doesn’t happen very often in a grade I, $1 million race, but we’re all happy it happened today for two guys from Lexington, Kentucky. We’re happy to win a grade I with this horse.”
It was the first Travers since 2005 in which a winner of a Triple Crown classic did not participate, with I’ll Have Another and Union Rags both retired. Even Haskell Invitational winner Paynter missed the race due to a fever.
Still, 46,528 racing fans in attendance witnessed thrilling history when Jim Dandy winner Alpha ranged up four-wide to take the lead and 33-1 shot Golden Ticket snuck through along the rail.
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