GI – The Travers
$1,250.000 Graded Stake 1 1/4 Miles on Dirt for Three Year Olds
2016 Champ: Copper Beast
Travers weekend at SAR is always a bittersweet weekend. The Travers may be the biggest race of the summer at SAR but also is a sign the summer is coming to an end and soon enough we will be all back at BEL getting ready for the winter. The race has drawn a full field of fourteen. All the news early in the week when the field was announced was the immediate scratch of super star three year old Clash Study. The race features a diverse group of three year olds and we had a great week catching up with the connections of all the entries.
1- Lord High Admiral (Trained by John Henry, Ridden by Albarado R J)
Lord High Admiral went into the Derby as the post time favorite but could only muster a sixth place finish and hasn’t found his way into the winners circle since then. The trainer may taken the blame for recent performance issues when we meet with him at the barn earlier in the week but thinks he has the winning formula again. “Too much thinking by the trainer may have hurt his past performances, but now we are ready.” He drew the rail again after getting the same spot in the race last year which he happened to win. Lord High Admiral will team up again with Albarado R who worked well together last time out in the Haskell and are looking improve on that performance.
2- Bronx Bomber (Trained by Aer Stables, Ridden by Alvarado J)
The GII Dandy winner was Bronx Bomber, he was able to bounce back after two consecutive seventh place runs in the TC races. It was the best race hes been able to run up to this point and will look to continue to improve upon that start in the Travers. The improvement in his last start could be credited to a add change the trainer made before the race, “made an add change coming into the last race and just before the last race until now he has been working fantastic.” He gets Alvarado J again for a fifth straight race, his familiarity with the horse should help get him where he needs to be early in the race. The owners explain why the Travers is a highlight of their summer schedule “Living within 10 minutes of SAR, all you hear this time of year is Travers, Travers. Some of the best horses show up for this race and it can feel like a TC win. I would be proud and honored to win!”
3- City Ball Drop (Trained by Pan Farms, Ridden by Cancel E)
City Ball Drop only has five career starts to his credit and two wins in those five starts and the owner has a ton of confidence in his horse leading up to the race, “He will win, this is a prep for the BC he should crush this field.” At over 50-1 last time out he was able to finish a closing fourth in the GI Haskell. This ON bred is continuing to improve day by day in the mornings and afternoon. The trainer is looking at finding a new jock as he explained back at the barn earlier in the week, “jockey will probably change i did not draw my selected jock.” He will likely be a nice price when they leave the gate and could be worth taking a look at.
4- Made To Sin (Trained by John Henry, Ridden by Velazquez J R)
The second of two from the stable of John Henry. Coming into the race the connections feel like he is ready to go “Made To Sin is working great, and should be a factor.” Not overly happy with where the horse has been placed early on in races as of late they have decided a jockey change was in order and picking up Velazquez J R is never a bad thing. The importance of the Travers isn’t lost on the stable as they know not only is it great to win the race but it is just as much about setting yourself up for the BC, “The Travers is a big time race, with enough momentum to carry the winner into the bc.”
5- Range Of The Sun (Trained by Team 7 Illusions, Ridden by Elliott S)
Two straight wins for this three year old gelding has put himself on the map. After winning the LA Derby he will team back up with jockey Elliott S. When we went to see what the connections had to say about the horse and the race he was in a hurry so only got a quick quote on what he is expecting to happen this weekend and isn’t lacking any confidence in his horse. “The best bred horse in the race is working great and looking forward to showing himself at 10 furlongs.”
6- Profound Connection (Trained by Mb Stables, Ridden by Pennington F)
The stable is also happy to see only sun in the forecast as he has struggled mightily in the slop on back to back occasions. The owners also explained that not only is he a pain in the rain but back at the barn as well. “He’s a tough horse to deal with because of his inconsistency in training, but as long as it’s not wet I feel that he has the potential to run a big race.” The connections also let us know they went back to Pennington F who was the rider in the GII TAM Derby because he has been his regular jock in the mornings as of late and been working well together. Most would just assume Mb Stables has won the Travers in the past but in fact this is one of the races that have eluded them so far and that isn’t lost on them, “It’s a huge race that I’ve never won so of course I’d love to win the race. There’s also a phenomenal field so to win would mean the horse I have is in prime position for the BC”.
7- Indiana Jones (Trained by Our Athletes, Ridden by Castellano J J)
When talking to the connections of Indiana Jones they admitted themselves the barn and the horse are still trying to get to know each other after having purchased him last month from previous owners John Henry for $160.000. “We are still figuring each other out and although a tough first placement the 10 furlongs should be ideal with his style if he can run back to his springtime form with these.” It has been since last October since he was able to find the winners circle but the connections are hoping a change of scenery will do the trick and they can pull the upset. As a young up and coming stable they also realize this would be their biggest win yet, “The Summer Derby would be the biggest win of my career and I’d love to win. “
8- Heez On Fire (Trained by Aml Racing, Ridden by Smith M E)
With only five career starts Heez On Fire is a bit of a late bloomer just starting to hit his stride. His connections have been around for over ten years but consider this as one of their fastest ever, “I have never had one this quick before.” They are very happy with how he has been training coming into the race. The owner explained that this race is one they have circled on the calendar, “Would be my biggest win, bought the horse especially for this race in mind”. He will likely be a big price when post time comes but could be a good bet if looking someone for the upset.
9- Shake (Trained by Mb Stables, Ridden by Lezcano J)
Three straight wins coming into the race for Shake. His most recent start was his first graded stake of his career and was able to win it despite a slow start to the race with a very slow early pace which isn’t lost on his connections “He ran a fantastic race to win last time overcoming being far off a slow pace.” The stable knows they may be in tough with this horse as he has shown a liking to coming from behind and may not have many options thanks to the post position. Even with the win last time out they have made a bit of a jockey change from Ortiz J to Lezcano J, “Switching up the jockey I’m looking for a jock who won’t want to take him to last place” as explained by the trainer himself.
10- Positive Thinking (Trained by Mb Stables, Ridden by Ortiz J L)
The third and final entry for Mb Stables is Positive Thinking. He is the 2017 BEL winner so the distance should not be a problem at all. Like her stable mate Profound Connection he has struggled on off tracks. In talking to them this week they think he should be ready to go “(After) the off track in the Queens Plate he should be better primed for this race.” Ortiz J has become his regular rider and will be riding again which could be a good sign for bettors as everyone knows Ortiz J has had a strong year and is always in high demand.
11- Winter Is Coming (Trained by D J C Racing Stables, Ridden by Moran D)
Moran D gets the mount again for Winter Is Coming as the duo teamed up for a second place finish in the GII WV Derby last time out. The connections told us “He recently ran in the WV Derby and coming out of that with a 2nd place finish and after his follow up work of 1:11.4B on the farm I decided to go ahead and bounce right back in the Travers.” This is the stables sixth straight year running in the Travers and are hoping this is the year they can break through and win. This will be the first time he goes this far in a race but the breeding suggests he will be able to handle it.
12- Banshee Star (Trained by Joseph Racing, Ridden by Geroux F)
The third place finisher in the Derby this year also ran a very solid second place in the GII Dandy last time out. He hasn’t been able to find the winners circle in seven starts this year but has still managed over $700.000 in earnings showing he has come close a lot and because of that the connections know he is due when I caught up with them earlier this week, “Although the PP is not optimal I feel he is due for a big win.” They were hoping to land on of the Ortiz dynamic duo as they have been the rider in all but two of his starts this season, including all of Banshee Star’s best races but both decided to go with Geroux F “upon analysis of the best jockeys remaining, I went with Geroux. He fits the running style fairly well and has some good numbers at SAR and under the race conditions” owner of Joseph Racing told us.
13- Clash Study (SCRATCHED)
A surprising scratch the day the field was announced is Clash Study. He has won six straight races and likely would have been the post time favorite in the race. When his connections were asked why he was scratched from the race they said ” I scratched due to the outside post, and I was already on the fence between the Woodward and the Travers”. It is unfortunate we wont get to see him in one of summers biggest races but the Woodward could possibly mean a match up against another superstar in Atomic Twister.
14- Hidden Slew Laff (Trained by Gdp Inc, Ridden by Ortiz I Jr)
The GIII Ohio Derby winner followed up that race with a solid fifth place finish in the GI Haskell. At the end of that Haskell he was moving quicker then any horse in that race and would likely of won if the race was a few strides longer. The extra eighth of a mile in the Travers should be to his liking. His owners are happy with his outside post as “Hidden Slew Laff seems to benefit from a little outside push, as he won the allowance at Pimlico and The Ohio Derby from an outside post.” They are also happy about getting Ortiz I for a third straight start and are excited to see if he can work some magic with the outside post “He is a beast at any distance, surface, or post position. His five wins from seventeen starts in the outside posts makes me thrilled to have him up again.”
15- Prince Absolutely (Trained by Grimley, Ridden by Bejarano R)
The benefactor of the scratch of Clash Study is Prince Absolutely who draws into the race and will get post position fourteen. After a rough start to the year on the Derby trail he has been showing signs of improvement all coming together to get him his second win of the year in a top allowance race here at SAR last time out. His connections are obviously not thrilled with the post position but are just happy to get into the race as an AE. They are also very excited to be able to pick up Bejarano when drawing into the race. Despite the long shot status his connections are excited for the race and a chance at running in a race they grew up watching. “I grew up in Saratoga and have gone to (the) track since I was a kid watching Cordero, Krone, Bailey, Shoemaker etc…The likes of Easy Goer and Sunday Silence started my passion for Travers.”
My Selections: 14/2/3