Stay Thirsty became the third Group 1 winner from Bernardini’s first crop in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday.
A crowd of 43,050 witnessed Stay Thirsty hold off Rattlesnake Bridge (Tapit) in the 142nd running of the Travers.
Stay Thirsty (3c Bernardini – Marozia by Storm Bird) joined A Z Warrior and Biondetti at the elite level and is now firmly established as the leader of the three-year-old division in North America.
The Todd Pletcher trained colt had won the G3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct and G2 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga before an authoritative victory in the “Midsummer Derby” on Saturday.
Bernardini (A P Indy) also won the Jim Dandy and Travers in 2006.
Stay Thirsty challenged front-runner Shackleford for the lead approaching the home turn and had all the momentum in the straight. “I had a lot of horse,” jockey Xavier Castellano said. “He ran huge and showed he’s the best three-year-old in the country.”
Castellano was also the regular rider of Bernardini. “It’s not easy to win races at Saratoga, especially the Travers. Stay Thirsty is a late-developing horse and is more mature now. He’s just like Bernardini.”
The G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup (2000m) at Belmont Park on October 1 is a possible stepping-stone to the $5 million G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic for Stay Thirsty.
Bernardini also won the Jockey Club Gold Cup five years ago but was unlucky when beaten by Invasor in the BC Classic.
Pletcher trains Stay Thirsty and top colt Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) for Mike Repole. Uncle Mo was beaten a nose in the G1 King’s Bishop Stakes on the Travers support card.
Stay Thirsty was bred in Kentucky by John Gunther and was a $500,000 buy at the Fasig-Tipton Florida 2YO Sale in February 2010. The $600,000 payday at Saratoga increased his prizemoney to more than $1.40 million.
He is a half-brother to the Fusaichi Pegasus stakes winners Andromeda’s Hero and Superfly. Their dam Marozia is closely related to G1 winner Whywhywhy (Mr. Greeley) and, further back, the family includes Prove Out (Graustark) who famously defeated Secretariat in the 1973 Woodward Stakes.
Bernardini colt To Honor And Serve gave his sire another boost at Saratoga on Friday with a stylish victory in an allowance event over 1800m. The Bill Mott trained colt won by 8 lengths and will be set for the G2 Pennsylvania Derby or G2 Super Derby.
To Honor And Serve was winter favourite for the 2011 Kentucky Derby after victories in the G2 Nashua Stakes and G2 Remsen Stakes late last year. His classic campaign was derailed after sustaining a suspensory ligament injury in the G1 Florida Derby.
Bernardini will stand the forthcoming breeding season at Darley Kelvinside for a fee of $38,500 (inc gst).