It’s Travers Time Already!

The Travers (Grade 1)- $1,125.000 Purse
SAR- For Three Year Olds
One Mile and One Quarter on the Dirt
August 8, 2020

It might seem a little too early, as the month of August is just getting underway, but the Midsummer Derby is upon us. The differences between the Travers within our game and in the real world are pretty interesting right now, but here, it really is business as usual other then the early date. The gate is full, and this will include many of the top runners in the division, even with the KYD and the PRK winners not being here. Mb Stables will be looking for his third win in a row in the race, but that will be a tough task as there is plenty of quality in here to knock him off. Overall, it is an interesting field with those who have already proven themselves at this level, others who are on the cusp on doing so, and as always new stars hoping for a breakout. Let’s hope for a great race! Here is a look at our field of fourteen going to post!

#1- Scafati (Fractious, ridden by D Davis)- A horse that is still looking to show that he can compete against the best in the division. He has had several opportunities, and the trainer has plenty of confidence in him, but a dismal performance in the KYD as well as a ninth place finish in his last start, the Grade 3 Dwyer, do not create much optimism. Scafati is a quality runner, but he needs to do something to get excited about. This would be it, but I won’t be picking him.

#2- Groovy (Mb Stables, ridden by S X Bridgmohan)- There was some excitement about him during the prep race season, thanks to finishing second in the San Felipe as well as the SA Derby, and in the KYD he ran seventh. That was a unique race of course, and it was good for him that he was part of the back group. He comes off a win in the Grade 3 Los Alamitos Derby, and looks like he can make some noise in here though perhaps not a top choice.

#3- Black and Red (Australia Wide, ridden by J Stein)- The horse bypassed the TC chase, which is pretty typical for this trainer. It was a good purchase for him, getting him in private sales in late February for $124.990. He did run the TX Derby while better horses were in the TC picture, but the race that suggests he can be a factor here was his last start, placing second in the Haskell. He likes running second, doing so in seven of ten career starts.

#4- Sars (Aer Stables, ridden by J R Velazquez)- Good to see Aer with a couple of his strongest horses in this race, and Sars is a pretty good example. He’s been entered in a couple races over the last few weeks, but ultimately, the trainer has decided to run him in the Travers, which seems like the best decision. Ran third in both the PRK and the BEL, and those runs set him up to be a contender over the ten furlongs here.

#5- Orion Nebula (John Henry, ridden by D E Centeno)- After winning the SA Derby, Orion Nebula was not able to make an impact in either the KYD or the BEL, running 8th and 14th respectively. He would change things up dramatically for the Haskell in terms of tactics, going from a closer to a pace setter, and it led to fourth place run. It will be interesting to see the tactical decision employed for him here.

#6- Silent Commander (Serenity Stables, ridden by M J Sanchez)- Ran decently during the prep season, dating back to his second place finish in the RP Springboard Mile. Later on, he was third in the AR Derby, but this would not be enough to get him into the KYD. No worries, as he was sent to the Grade 3 Peter Pan at BEL and got the win. However, in the BEL, he struggled, finishing near the back. Must be at his absolute best here.

#7- Jolly Rook (Angelos Stable, ridden by R Bejarano)– Ran in the Coolmore Lexington directly after breaking his maiden, and was able to run second in the race, showing his potential. Two starts later, he would get his signature win, topping the field at the Haskell with Bejarano aboard. He has now arrived within this division, and with a win here you would have to increase his status another notch as potentially one of the top horses for the BC Classic. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

#8- Fortaleza (Mb Stables, ridden by G Franco)- Was a great claim off of Arindel, for $40.000, and with Mb Stables, he has shined. Right now, that is mainly against other Canadians, winning the Plate Trial before placing second in the Queens Plate itself. That was a race won by Anoush Command, who is pretty much seen as one of the elites in this division by everyone. This would be a big signature win for him as he hopes to be in his best form this fall.

#9- Obeah Mon (Night Rider Stables, ridden by J R Leparoux)- After a seventh place finish in the Wood Memorial, Obeah Mon was gelded, and the trainer is hoping that this decision will pay off. He was not able to run in any of the TC races, and bypassed other stronger races to run in stakes like the PRX Derby, where he was second. He also tried the grass in his last outing, a race that he won. Does he fit with this company? It could go either way but won’t be my pick.

#10- Graveyard (Mb Stables, ridden by R M Hernandez)- A horse that is performing better then his past races will seem to indicate. He failed to hit the board in either of the PRK or BEL, but in both races he was within a length of a win. In the AR Derby, he placed second, so it is good to see that he knows how to run with the leaders at the end of a race, and might just need a little luck or a dream trip to get him over the top.

#11- Brittle (Aer Stables, ridden by J K Court)- One of the most exciting horses in the division, but if he is going to have success here in the Travers, it will come without regular rider S X Bridgmohan, who will be aboard Groovy. It would seem like this was Aer’s decision, perhaps not being impressed with his second place run in the IND Derby. That race came after his win in the BEL, making him the only TC winner that is a part of this field. Should be poised to have a good run here on Saturday.

#12- Sexy Back (Night Rider Stables, ridden by F Pennington)- Several similarities between he and his stablemate, Obeah Mon. Both were gelded in April and have run in three less exciting races then others here have been in. Sexy Back’s best test recently was the Grade 3 Affirmed, where he was a complete afterthought. He was better in the NY Derby, but would have liked to have seen a win here to have more confidence in him here.

#13- Anoush Command (Fractious, ridden by K J Desormeaux)- One of the best horses in this division, if not the best, and he must be seen as one of the horses to beat. He has been a steady favorite of mine for quite some time, as I have picked him often and that is not about to change here in the Travers. Did not hit the board in either the KYD or PRK, but has excuses for them, and showed he is still formidable by winning the Queens Plate. Perhaps, there will come a time where he doesn’t have to start on the outside or directly on the rail, but he can rise to the challenge of this post as he has in the past.

#14- Stark (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by M Franco)- A winner of two out of thirteen in his career, with neither being a stake. He ran in a few preps, but after finishing dead last in the AR Derby, he was dropped into a N1X allowance at CD on the same day that many of these were running in the BEL. He did win the race, but then disappointed again in the Grade 3 Dwyer. Might be over his head, but the trainer clearly believes in him.

Prediction: 13-4-11-8

— NS

Categories: Grade I, STAKES ARTICLES

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