Updated 08/29/2012 04:13 PM
Dueling Travers canoes set sail on Saratoga's infield pond
In its 143 years, Saratoga's Travers Stakes has had no shortage of thrilling finishes, but it's hard to argue Saturday's dead heat isn't right near the top of the list. YNN's Matt Hunter has more on an old Travers tradition that underwent a bit of a makeover Wednesday morning.
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SARATOGA RACE COURSE – Saturday's thrilling and historic dead heat finish between Alpha and Golden Ticket in the Travers is still all anybody's talking about at Saratoga. For the two winning trainers, it's a whirlwind that's yet to stop spinning.
"I'm still sobering up,” joked Kenny McPeek on Wednesday, who trains Golden Ticket. “We had a really fun time Saturday night. We're going to enjoy it as long as we can but we're back to the work routine."
"I say it's going to be with us for a long time, it's just you're in the fast pace up here of go, go, go," said Kiaran McLaughlin, who trained Alpha to victories in the Jim Dandy and Travers this summer at Saratoga.
Wednesday morning may have been one to treasure as well. As they do every year, NYRA officials launched a canoe painted in the Travers winner's silks on the infield pond, only as you might have guessed, this year they needed two.
"I think fans who are in the stands like looking out and having the one canoe out there. This year they're going to get to look out and next year, until the Travers, will get to see the two competing canoes,” NYRA’s communications director Dan Silver said.
While the race itself was first run in 1864, the tradition of launching Travers canoes only dates back to 1961. In that 51 years of history, this is the first time two canoes have floated side by side. The 1874 Travers resulted in a dead heat between Atilla and Acrobat.
"Now, I don't know if the two canoes are ever going to be dead heated, one will probably always be in front of the other, but hey, you never know," Silver said.
"I thought mine had a nose in front though," said McPeek, referring to the position of the two pieces of watercraft.
"No, I couldn't see, I couldn't tell,” McLaughlin joked. “I think that they're together and it's nice that we have one out there."
Floating side by side, just as the two horses were at the finish, the canoes now provide a yearlong reminder of the unforgettable finish Saratoga's fans were lucky enough to see up close.
“We'll look back and really treasure these days,” McLaughlin said.
"I hope 100 years ago [from now], whether it's my name or Kiaran's name or David Cohen or Ramon Dominguez, we come up in conversation, so that's really neat," McPeek said.