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HRN Original Blog:
Dead Heat Debates

Deciding the Best Route for Cross Traffic

Horse racing is a game of risk and reward. Sometimes you have to take a risk in order to make it big. This could not be any more true when it comes to the brilliant son of Unbridled’s Song, Cross Traffic. The Todd Pletcher trainee has always been a brilliant one. Freakishly fast with an indomitable fighting spirit. He made his career debut at Gulfstream Park, at four years old, a late start by thoroughbred racing standards. He won by nearly two lengths in a snappy 1.15.79. Cross Traffic returned two months later, back at Gulfstream, in an allowance optional claimer, where he made mincemeat of grade one placed Fast Falcon, winning by over seven lengths, in 1.35.17.

 
His next outing would be at Belmont in the one mile Westchester stakes, against none other than the King of Belmont himself, Flat Out. He took the lead early, setting a blistering pace, 22.77, 45.33, and a blistering 1.08.87. He burned away anyone who came near him, but the pace had set it up for the old veteran, Flat Out who came with his run. Cross Traffic refused to fold as his older, more experienced foe came to him, but the early pace took its toll, and at the end Flat Out got up in the last jump.
 
The margin that separated Cross Traffic from victory was a heartbreaking nose, and it would be the same story again in the grade one Met Mile. The California based Sahara Sky would nip the front running colt in the final jump, giving the colt his second heartbreaker in a row. Cross Traffic had run two amazing, courageous races. It is rare that you see a horse run as fast as he did, earning the ratings he did, and still run second.
 
After that loss, Pletcher decided to give Cross Traffic his first try at two turns, in the grade one Whitney Stakes, against multiple grade one winner Fort Larned,  Breeders Cup Classic runner-up Mucho Macho Man, the fleet-footed Successful Dan, 2012 Travers winning Alpha, and Sunshine Millions runaway winner Ron the Greek. It was a stacked field, and Fort Larned was an undisputed favorite, off of his runaway victory in the Grade one Stephen Foster.
 
 
When the gates opened Cross Traffic broke on top, and luckily for him, Fort Larned, his front running rival, missed the break. Cross Traffic was allowed a leisurely opening quarter in 24.17, but after that Fort Larned made a move at him, and the pace quickened rapidly. The second individual quarter went in 23.11, and the next in 22.96. Blistering for a route race, especially over the tiring track of Saratoga.
 
 
Around the far turn both Mucho Macho Man and Fort Larned launched their bids at their lightly raced rival, but they were not prepared by the fight that they were about to meet. Like a seasoned veteran, who has fought many battles Cross Traffic stood his ground and repelled his foes. At the wire it was only the late running Successful Dan who came close to Cross Traffic, but on this day he would not win. Whitney day belonged solely to Cross Traffic. After two heartbreaking losses, the silver streak of lighting took home a big one.
 
 
Now, the question is where do they go with Cross Traffic? If they want Horse of the Year they will have to go 10 furlongs at some point, but the question is when? There is no denying Cross Traffic’s heart, but he was getting tired at the end of the Whitney. As of now his connections have several options, including the Forego, Kelso, Woodward, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Breeders Cup Dirt Mile, and Breeders Cup Classic.
 
 
If this were my decision I’d make my 10 furlong assault in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. At one turn over the speed favoring Belmont surface Cross Traffic would have a very good shot at being able to stretch his speed over the Classic distance. Before that I would lean towards either the Forego or Woodward, with a little more favoritism to the latter. The Woodward being nine furlongs would give him a better foundation going into the longer Jockey Club Gold Cup. After that I’d take him and go to the Dirt Mile.
 
 
Should he succeed in all three, he will likely be the only horse to have a grade one win at three different distances, all in very prestigious races against the best horses at a mile and route distances. I believe this brilliant colt has the potential to pull this off come November. With his freakish speed he has the potential to put on quite a show come fall.

 

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Older Comments about Deciding the Best Route for Cross Traffic...

Mike I heard that he has some of his staff going to SA after the Saratoga meet ends, so it is very possibly we could see one of his horses over there. Cross Traffic could go that way, since the three year olds are pointing to the Gold Cup currently.
The Bloodhorse says Pletcher is pointing him to the Woodward, it will be a tough race. By the way why does Saratoga have two 1 1/8 mile Grade One races for older horses, the Woodward should be changed to 1 1/4 miles. I would love to see Pletcher ship one of his top horses out for the Awesome Again, it would only help to get a race over the track. He has a lot of horses and why not spread them out a bit before the Breeders Cup?
Clark.
He is definitely the hot horse, might as well ride it through the classic, ala Blame. PLetcher should have a pretty good idea if he can handle 10 furlongs
sorry for the double posts, no idea why my computer is acting up. Anywho, the Awesome Again would give him the shot to face the only top older male he hasn't had the oppertunity to face. Sould be good.
Laz the Awesome Again would be a very interesting race. Especially if they choose to send him there after the Woodward. I feel that track would play more to him, being as it not as tiring as Saratoga can be. He'll also go up against Game On Dude over his home track. The Gold Cup would give him the 10f test, but the Goodwood he
Laz the Awesome Again would be a very interesting race. Especially if they choose to send him there after the Woodward. I feel that track would play more to him, being as it not as tiring as Saratoga can be. He'll also go up against Game On Dude over his home track. The Gold Cup would give him the 10f test, but the Goodwood he
The dirt Mile is a useless race for Cross Traffic, the field is historically weak and will not improve his stud value. I think he will only race once more before the classic and that will be in the woodward and then Todd will give him the 2 months to the classic. He will have both Graydar and Verrazanno in the Jockey Club . If he somehow gets cooked in the Woodward( which I highly doubt) the best path after that would be the BC Sprint and then the Cigar Mile
Wherever this horse goes I wish him well. In a little over six months he has quickly gained a position in the upper echelon of our handicap horses. His only need now is to learn to relax and he seems to be improving in that regard. He certainly has the ability to persevere in distance races. However, I think with a large field in the BCC the water might be a little deep, and I stress the word might. So far he has amazed me with his abilities in two top G1 races in only his 4th and 5th lifetime starts and against top horses with a lot more experience than he has. It will be interesting to follow his development because I think he is Breeders Cup win worthy. The only question now is what Breeders Cup race. If I called the shots I would either go in the JCGC at 10F against a probable field of 7 or 8 starters or perhaps send him out to California to contest the G1 Awesome Again. A run over that surface would go along way in judging his potential for either the BC Mile or the BCC.
Well it looks like they're heading towards the Woodward and I'm betting they're thinking of the Classic if he wins or performs really well there. I love a strong front-runner so I'm rooting for him all the way. It would be fantastic to see him at Belmont in the JCGC.
Buds, even if it did cost him, SD had a very good pace set up. After this, not many are willingly going to send their best horses after CT. He just burned Fort Larned, who at the time, was thought to be suicidal to lock horns with early. Nobody is going to want to send their horse through splits of 23, 23, 23 for and opening six in a 9 or 10f race. So he very well could get 10f if they let him run straight 12's. Amino, Zenyatta won HOTY, and during that year she didn't win at 10f and before the Classic didn't even face the best in her division. If she can get it facing weaker competition for most of the year, then we can give it to a horse who has beaten all comers at their own game, at a distance most of them have proven to excell at.
Buds, even if it did cost him, SD had a very good pace set up. After this, not many are willingly going to send their best horses after CT. He just burned Fort Larned, who at the time, was thought to be suicidal to lock horns with early. Nobody is going to want to send their horse through splits of 23, 23, 23 for and opening six in a 9 or 10f race. So he very well could get 10f if they let him run straight 12's. Amino, Zenyatta won HOTY, and during that year she didn't win at 10f and before the Classic didn't even face the best in her division. If she can get it facing weaker competition for most of the year, then we can give it to a horse who has beaten all comers at their own game, at a distance most of them have proven to excell at.
It is too bad Cross Traffic couldn’t give 10 furlongs a shot first and then if he fails cut back the distance one race before the Breeders Cup and enter the Dirt Mile. I guess he could but I doubt he wants to ship to Del Mar to give it a try. He looks to me to be a to miler, he certainly can go 9 Furlongs, but did anyone notice that if Successful Dan wouldn’t of ran into Mucho Macho Man flying down the stretch, we would be talking about a different horse. SD lost a LOT of momentum in that brush with MMM. Id stick with the easier win in the Dirt Mile at this point, unless he kills it in the Jockey Gold Cup, then we will have 10 furlong horse with a whole bunch of speed.
No offense, but I think you’re putting more emphasis on winning HOY than many. BCDM was hardly a dynamite field last or any year, IMO, and things would have to break right for those 3 victories to be impressive enough. The majority of the voters are east of the Mississippi, though, so you could be right.
Amino, the Woodward could include CT, FL, Flat Out, Greek, Paynter, Mucho Macho Man, and Successful Dan. Those are the top horses in the division. The only one missing is Game on Dude. In the Whitney he beat the best field of grade one handicap horses assembled this year. The Woodward could be just as good if not better. It is not a case of Saratoga fever, those statements are facts. Should he beat those horses again, and any newcomers he will have a clear lead in the division, even over Game on Dude, simply for the fact that he has beaten better quality horses. Should he run back in the BCDM, he will face another dynamite field and have two very prestigious grade one wins in routes, and a big win at a mile. If we can give Wise Dan Horse of the Year for running solely in turf miles, we can give this horse the same for beating the best routers twice and the best milers in the nation.
DeadHeat >> Your reply to Chris indicates you may be suffering from *Saratoga Fever*
Chris if he were to win the Woodward I'd say there is not need to go to the Classic or Gold Cup. He would have won two prestigious grade ones beating just about every top horse in the handicap division. Sullivan, you are counting on this one winning the woodward and Verrazano not winning the Travers. Should V lose badly, then yes, that would make the choice easy, if not then there is no reason to believe the decisioin will be at all.
I say Woodward is probably the best spot.
You're counting on Verrazano winning the Travers.... neither horse is accomplished at 10f and that may be for a reason. I am predicting Verrazano will not win the Travers and for that reason they will back off 10f races and stick with a mile - 9f. That leaves us with: the Dirt Mile. Should Cross Traffic also lose the Whitney/JCGC perhaps he too will go to the Dirt Mile, but that is unlikely, rather it is far more likely that he goes to the BCC. Now who said that Verrazano's connections wanted him making babies? He's like Curlin and with his owner a syndicate, he'll keep on racing for a little I imagine.

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Meet Laura Pugh












 

For as long as i can remember I have always loved horses and writing. The first race I ever watched was War Emblem's Preakness Stakes, but I didn't really start to get into racing until the next year where watched and cheered Empire Maker through the Derby, and yes, the Belmont.

I didn't begin writing until a few years later, when I created my own blog Horsin' Around. It didn't take long for me to realize that my niche was stirring the pot and creating heated debates, especially during the time of Big Brown vs Curlin and Rachel Alexandra vs Zenyatta. I was a Curlin and Rachel fan.

Now I am here under the name of Dead Heat Debates, and hoping to live up to that name. Have fun and let the opinions fly!