SARATOGA SPRINGS -- The Travers Stakes was rocked by a huge 1-2 punch Thursday when it lost both Game Winner and Maximum Security from the field for the Aug. 24 race.
Trainer Bob Baffert said he was pulling Game Winner out of consideration for the race because the colt spiked a fever, and later Thursday afternoon trainer Jason Servis told Monmouth Park that Maximum Security was out of the Travers because he hasn't been eating well and has lost some weight.
Game Winner, who won the 2018 Eclipse Award for 2-Year-Old Male, was the likely Travers favorite if Maximum Security didn't make it to the race, but now will put his racing schedule on hold temporarily.
"We're still absorbing the disappointment," Baffert told the New York Racing Association. "He's going to be fine, but it's the timing."
Game Winner breezed six furlongs in 1:12 Tuesday at Del Mar, but by Thursday morning had come down with a virus.
"He worked great, but today he had a little temperature," Baffert said. "There's been a little virus going through the barn. He was my second one this week. I hope it stays away from the others."
Maximum Security was the first horse across the wire in the Kentucky Derby, but was disqualified for interference and placed 17th. Game Winner finished sixth and was elevated to fifth by the DQ.
Servis, who has a barn at Saratoga but is based at Monmouth, said Maximum Security would point toward the Sept. 21 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx. That would now be a logical next race for Game Winner, too.
Maximum Security is coming off a victory in the $1 million Haskell at Monmouth. Game Winner had been on the shelf since the Kentucky Derby, but came back with an easy victory in the Los Alamitos Derby on July 13.
The post position draw for the Travers will be held Tuesday.
"It's too bad, because he couldn't be doing better right now," Baffert said. "I haven't thought about anything [next race] now."
Trainer Brad Cox said that Preakness third-place finisher Owendale would breeze Saturday at Churchill Downs this weekend before shipping to Saratoga next week.
Jim Dandy winner Tax is scheduled to breeze on the Saratoga main track Friday morning, and Dwyer winner Code of Honor will get his final serious workout Monday morning.
A bad step wasn't all that bad for Carrera Cat in the Thursday's feature, the $100,000 Union Avenue sprint for New York-bred fillies and mares.
She quickly recovered under Rajiv Maragh, then used an uncharacteristic stalking trip to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Holiday Disguise for trainer John Morrison, a 1980 Shaker High graduate who always takes extra pleasure when he wins at his hometown track.
Carrera Cat had won four straight with pacesetting trips before falling a half-length short against Special Relativity at Saratoga on July 17. Special Relativity came right back to win the Shine Again on July 31.
On Thursday, Carrera Cat stumbled out of the gate, but it didn't cost her. In fact, Morrison said it might've helped.
"I told Rajiv, 'She doesn't have to have the lead,'" he said. "She's got high speed, and I wasn't sure if there was anybody in there who could stay with her running. But I thought she'd be better sitting off of somebody. It just worked out fine.
"I would prefer she break clean, but sometimes she breaks so sharp, you can't get her back behind anybody. But turning for home, when he's looking both ways, I felt pretty good. I know Rajiv, and I can tell when he knows he has a lot of horse."
Friday's feature is the $100,000 Skidmore for 2-year-olds at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf.
The 7-5 morning-line favorite is Another Miracle, a son of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah who won by a length and a quarter at Saratoga in a race of the same distance, but taken off the turf.
"I wouldn't mind if the race came off the turf, but if you look at the American Pharoah winners, there's been eight maiden winners, and seven have been on the grass," trainer Gary Contessa said. "His last two works have been on the grass and have been absolutely stellar."
Contessa said he had also been considering the Grade I Hopeful at seven furlongs on the dirt closing weekend.
In his career debut July 4 at Belmont Park, Another Miracle finished second to Green Light Go, who went on to win the Grade II Saratoga Special last weekend.
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3146 or [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.