Updated 08/13/2012 04:03 PM
The Spa Spot: Travers out for Paynter
Paynter on the track for morning exercise prior to the Belmont Stakes.
The $1 million Travers lost a star and likely favorite Monday when owner Ahmed Zayat announced that his Haskell Invitational winner would not make Saratoga's marquee race on August 25.
On his Twitter account Zayat said: "This colt is special. Let's not run him in Travers. He won't be ready in time. Too close. Will never go against my trainers word. Especially when it comes to Bob Baffert. NO TRAVERS FOR PAYNTER."
The announcement is not a surprise. Paynter spiked a fever two days after winning the Haskell on July 29 and the resulting treatment and interruption of his training put his status for the race in doubt.
Trainer Bob Baffert scrapped plans to ship Paynter back to California and left him at Monmouth Park. The colt was later transferred to the Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center and was moved to Belmont Park late last week.
Baffert and Zayat discussed whether the Travers was a viable option for the colt before Zayat punched out his tweet.
“We talked yesterday and this morning about it,” Baffert said. “It was going to be tough. I wouldn’t be able to get a work into him, and it would be too much. We’ll just get him right and get him back to full steam and nominate him everywhere.”
Paynter was a little slow to develop this year and was in the shadow of stablemate Bodemeister, who won the Arkansas Derby and was a strong second in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. Baffert ran Paynter in the Belmont Stakes and he led the way and looked like a winner until Union Rags slipped through on the rail to snatch the victory. Paynter came back to the East and secured Baffert's sixth Haskell victory.
Baffert still has Arnold Zechter’s Liaison on track for the 1 ¼-mile Travers. The Indian Charlie colt worked five furlongs in 1:00.38 on Saratoga’s main track Monday morning.
“Liaison is doing well,” Baffert said.
Expected for the Travers as well are Jim Dandy winner Alpha and runner-up Neck 'n Neck; Street Life and Five Sixteen, first and second in the Curlin; Haskell runner-up Nonios and third-place finisher Stealcase; and Hansen, most recently fourth in the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby, along with Cogito, Atigun, and possibly Teeth of the Dog, according to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes.