A strong field of nine is expected for Saturday’s 2013 Travers Stakes at Saratoga Racetrack in a race that, at this point in the season, should clearly mark the pro-tem three year old male division leader when entries are drawn on Wednesday.
With three different winners of the three Triple Crown races (Orb-Kentucky Derby, Oxbow-Preakness Stakes and Palace Malice-Belmont Stakes) and add in the fact that Verrazano dazzled in the 2013 Haskell Invitational, make the three year old picture as scrambled as my eggs were this morning.
The “Mid-Summer Derby” will be sans Calumet Farms Oxbow as he has been put away for the year with an ankle injury that he suffered in the aforementioned Haskell according to trainer D Wayne Lukas.
“I don’t want to push him,” Lukas said last Friday. “He has done a lot for us.”
“It has been a fun year, and Oxbow kind of put Calumet back on the map.” Calumet manager Eddie Kane said.
A quick look at the nine (in alphabetical order) with their respective riders:
**Golden Soul (Robby Albarado)- ran huge to be second in the Derby but has thoroughly disappointed since (beaten a total of 41 lengths combined in the Belmont and Haskell) worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.2 last Thursday. It looks like he’s going to need a pretty serious form reversal to contend come Saturday afternoon.
**Moreno (Jose Ortiz), – led the Jim Dandy for most of the way but wound up third, beaten a little more than three lengths, went five furlongs in 59.4 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.3 last Saturday. The gelding by the wickedly fast Ghostzapper completed his final quarter in solid :24.2.
“My horse worked great,” said trainer Eric Guillot “He went off slow and came home the last half-mile in 47 with his ears pricked. What more can you ask? Now it’s going to be up to the kid to ride a smart race and get some better fractions. It’s all about the fractions.”
** Orb (Joel Rosario)- The Derby winner arrived at Saratoga from Fair Hill last week after a few weeks of rest. Before he left, he recorded two quick five furlongs moves (Aug 3- 1:00 and Aug 10-:59.1).
The good looking colt by Malibu Moon had his final tune-up this (Monday) morning while getting a half mile in :47.3, out five furlongs in 1:01 flat.
“After his opening eighth (:12.3) he went in :23′s from there,” trainer Shug McGaughey said. “We’re very pleased with the way he’s coming up to the Travers. To go that way over the training track surprised me, and he did it effortlessly by himself. I couldn’t have asked him to go any better. He did great when he was at Fair Hill and he’s doing great here. It’s Monday and we’ve done all we can do except wait until Saturday.”
** Palace Malice-(Mike Smith) - the Belmont and Jim Dandy Stakes winner went four furlongs :48.1, galloped out five furlongs in 1:01 flat, six furlongs in 1:14.4, and pulled up seven furlongs in 1:29.3.
“I thought he was very good,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “He was going very well, well within himself. It was pretty much what we’ve come to expect from him every time we breeze him.”
** Romansh (Javier Castellano)- is an improving colt by Bernardini after breaking his maiden in the mud by 5 ¼ lengths then awarded the win in the Curlin Stakes via disqualification.
He also worked five panels in 1:01.3 last Thursday and will probably be a healthy sized long-shot for this race.
** Transparent (Irad Ortiz Jr.), – is another colt by Bernardini and was the actual winner of the Curlin Stakes but was taken down (DQ-ed) for interference in the stretch.
He shows a very average work (4 furlongs – :49.4) last Thursday in preparation for this and he, too, should have enormous odds on Saturday.
** Verrazano (John Velazquez)-the Haskell and Wood Memorial winner worked four furlongs in 48.4 seconds in company with the stretch running Capo Bastone.
The absolutely gorgeous More Than Ready colt went five furlongs in 1:01.1, six furlongs in 1:14.3, and galloped out seven furlongs in 1:28.4 yesterday (Sunday).
“I thought it was very good,” Pletcher said. “We flip-flopped their gallop-outs from last week. As far as time-wise, Palace Malice last week was a little bit stronger, so we wanted to do a little bit more with Verrazano on the gallop-out, and I think we got what we’re looking for.”…you better have Mr. Pletcher, this race is going to be a tough one.
**War Dancer (Alan Garcia) is a good looking, late running turf colt who will only be trying the dirt for just second time out of seven career races after winning the Virginia Derby (turf) on July 13.
The War Front colt went five furlongs in 1:02.1 over the Oklahoma training track this past Saturday at Saratoga for trainer Ken McPeek.
“It was a nice breeze,” said McPeek. “Bryan Walls, the clocker over there at Oklahoma, said not much breaks 1:02 on that track. I’m real pleased with him. I just think the upside for him as a stallion if he runs well in the Travers is dramatic. He’s only been given one shot on the dirt and he ran respectable. He seems to be better now and he’s already won at a mile and one-quarter.”
** Will Take Charge (Junior Alvarado)- who was absolutely abysmal in all three Triple Crown races but was charging hard late to get second in the Jim Dandy Stakes at almost 18-1, drilled five furlongs in 1:01.4 over the Oklahoma training track this (Monday) morning as well.
I will be curious to see who goes off as the post-time favortie. I expect it’ll either be Orb, Palace Malice or Verrazano and if either of those three win, that colt would then obviously take over as the division leader. Then again, it’s only August and there it a lot of racing season left.
Thanks for reading….
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