Saturday, August 27, 2011

Travers Preview

With all the excitement around my filly Blazing Reflection and her winning debut I haven't thought too much about handicapping, but with the Travers and Pacific Classic this weekend, what better time to get back in the game.  The Travers features the Preakness, Belmont and Haskell winners and could go along way in determining the 3yo champion this year.  Sunday's $1m Pacific Classic features the best of the west with Twirling Candy leading the entries.

The 3yo division can be described both as "modest" and highly competitive.  Last month's Haskell Invitational was a key race with the top 3 finishers coming back to run again in the Travers Stakes.  Video replay below.

Bob Baffert trained Coil ran a big one passing an extremely game Shackleford to win by a neck.  I love Shackleford who won the Preakness at 1 3/16 miles but couldn't quite get extra distance of the Kentucky Derby or the Belmont.  Today's Travers is at the Derby distance of 10 furlongs so the logic would be that he'll take the lead early, but fade late.  I always felt the Saratoga race track favored front runners, and there really isn't another runner with the early pace of Shackleford, so I think its definitely possible he could hold off the stretch runners. Though it won't be my top selection, I will have him in my exactas.

While Coil was able to win the Gr. 1 Haskell, he has run 3 straight 96 Beyers which doesn't exactly set him apart in this field, even from the longshots.  He's really done nothing wrong and is certainly capable, but I'm leaning against him.

Belmont winner Ruler On Ice is the 3rd and final Grade I winner in this field that also competed in the Haskell finishing 3rd, 2 1/2 lengths behind Coil.  His Belmont score was clearly benefitted by a sloppy racetrack, and unless a preview of Hurricane Irene comes prior to post time, I don't see him finishing first or second.

Belmont runner-up Stay Thirsty is a horse I like alot in this race.  He's coming out of an impressive 4 length score in the Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes, is 2-2 on the Saratoga main track, and is conditioned by leading trainer Todd Pletcher.  He has been installed as the morning line favorite at 5/2, but I could see him starting closer to 3-1 or more as this field is extremely tightly matched.  His sire Bernardini was a Travers winner and I think he does the same.

Of the remaining entries, #5 Malibu Glow is intriguing coming off a win at the Spa, and #6 Raison d'Etat, a Juddmonte homebred by AP Indy out of millionaire multi-G1 winner Sightseek has the pedigree to win this, but will be a longshot.  If the pace implodes #8 J W Blue will be coming late.

#9 Stay Thirsty to win (5/2 or better)
Exacta box #9 with #10 Shackleford
Longshot win bet on #5 Malibu Glow

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