|Commanding Curve—(Master Command - Mother, by Lion Hearted) is Golden Soul
part duex. Both were my long shot pick in the Kentucky Derby. Both flopped in
the Belmont Stakes and the Haskell.
Commanding Curve’s speed figures peaked in
Kentucky and have gone down in subsequent starts. Pass.
Commanding Curve—Has not replicated his
Kentucky Derby performance in his two starts since then. Additionally, he
seems not to appreciate the Saratoga main track. I supported him in the Jim
Dandy, but I'm passing here.
Bayern—(Offlee Wild - Alittlebitearly, by Thunder Gulch) is
California speed. He did the Baffert BBQ in his last two races, running them
all off of their feet. Bayern got his last 1/8 mile in the Haskell in a
respectable :12.33 and finished a time zone ahead of the rest of the field. Now
the negatives. I’m iffy about his
distance capabilities. None of Offlee Wild’s offspring have won or placed at
1 ¼ miles in a stakes race. Thunder Gulch is the damsire of two dirt stakes
winners at 1 ¼ miles, neither raced in this country. Even Baffert has no clue
how far this one wants to go, although drawing the rail didn’t hurt. The last Haskell winner to capture the
Travers? Point Given. Pass.
|Bayern—It is my personal belief
that the Haskell was a fluke. He got an easy lead on a speed favoring track,
and the rest, as they say, is history. Aside from the Haskell, he hasn't had
any luck routing around two turns. Regardless of whether or not he gets an easy
lead for the Travers, I see the extra furlong and the deeper surface taking
their toll on him in the stretch. Exotics use only.
|Charge Now—(Tiznow - Supercharger, by A.P. Indy) is a half brother to
Kentucky Derby winner and this year’s freshman sire sensation, Super Saver.
He’s been brought along very patiently by Bill Mott and the only mark on
Charge Now’s record is an off the board finish over a sloppy track. Charge Now went five wide on the turn in
the Curlin Stakes and finished second in a three horse photo. That was the first
time he’s had to fight, and he’ll be a more experienced horse for it. Charge Now’s speed figures have improved in
each of his last three starts and he worked a pre-race bullet. Yes, the
Curlin was a slow race, but at 15-1 on the morning line, he’s worth a hard look to
hit the board. Exotics contender.
Charge Now—Laurie makes
some good points in regards to this brother of Super Saver and Brethren. You
have to admire Mott’s patience with this one, and it’s obviously paying off
so far. Though I tend to believe Mott wouldn’t have Charge Now in such a deep
spot unless he was sure that the colt was ready, I’m still hesitant to say
that he’s ready for the step up in class. The odds are tempting, and he does
look better than the rest of the class jumpers. So why not toss him in the
V. E. Day—(English Channel - California Sunset, by Deputy Minister)
is a rare English Channel progeny who has won over dirt, against really slow horses. Compare his final time of 1:50.51 in the 1
1/8 mile Curlin Stakes against Wicked Strong’s 1:49 in the Jim Dandy. It’s generally accepted that each second is
roughly five lengths. Trainer Jimmy Jerken’s dad Alan has the moniker of
“Giant Killer” at Saratoga. Can Jimmy inherit the title? Maybe, but not with this horse.
|V. E. Day—Puts a 3 race win streak
on the line and takes a huge step up in class. The Travers field will be
heads and shoulders above what he and the rest of the contenders exiting the
Curlin faced, and as Laurie pointed out, his win time for the Curlin was
slow. That does not bode well here. Pass.
|Viva Majorca—(Tiago - Quick Town, by Cape Town) was third, beaten a
length in the Curlin after having to steady.
He jumped from a 6 ½ furlong optional claimer into a 1 1/8 mile
restricted stakes and didn’t do too badly. Is he in the same class as the
Belmont Stakes, Jim Dandy and Haskell winners? I don’t see it happening. Pass.
Viva Majorca—Like the previous two,
Viva Majorca exits the Curlin. He ran 4th that day but wasn't beaten by much.
Charge Now stands a chance, but he’s the only one I like from that particular
Tonalist—(Tapit - Settling Mist, by Pleasant Colony) regressed
slightly in the Jim Dandy after two huge wins. Yes, the trend for many years is that the
Jim Dandy is usually the Travers winner, however, not 100% of the time. Last year’s Travers hero Will Take Charge
was second in the Jim Dandy before capturing the Travers. In 2010 Afleet
Express was third in the Jim Dandy before upsetting the Travers. Count Tonalist out at your own risk. Contender.
|Tonalist—Has run three bang up
races in a row. Winner of the Peter Pan and Belmont, he was beaten by 2 1/4
lengths by rival Wicked Strong in the Jim Dandy. If the Belmont was any true
indication of his ability and preference (and I say that because the trend
for success after the Belmont for the winners hasn’t been good lately), then
he should appreciate the extra furlong. Contender.
|Wicked Strong—(Hard Spun - Moyne Abbey, by Charismatic) upset Tonalist
in the Jim Dandy. That makes Wicked
Strong the obvious winner of the Travers, right? Not so fast. Yes, he has a good shot, but quick – when
has he strung together back-to-back victories? Anyone?
Maybe he can do it in the Travers. Contender.
Wicked Strong—Winner of the Wood
Memorial and Jim Dandy, Wicked Strong ran 4th in both the Kentucky Derby and
the Belmont. He obviously likes the Saratoga surface and should handle the
stretch back out to 10 furlongs just fine. So he hasn’t strung together
back-to-back wins? No big deal. I think he breaks that trend this weekend.
Kid Cruz—(Lemon Drop Kid - Layreebelle, by Tale of the Cat) sounds
like the name of a heavyweight boxer. The Kid has hit the board in seven of
nine starts. His highest level victory is a Grade 3 and he was best of the
rest in the Jim Dandy, finishing six lengths behind Wicked Strong. Can he win
the Travers? Only if Bayern leads the
rest on a merry chase and everyone is staggering at the end. Exotics
|Kid Cruz—Wasn't good enough to top
Tonalist and Wicked Strong at 9 furlongs last out, so the additional distance
in the Travers won't do him any favors. He has class, though, and will likely
fill out the exotics.
|Ulanbator—(Offlee Wild - Ashapoo, by Petionville) is the troubled
child of the race. There’s always one, and you know the type, blocked,
stumbled, bumped, clipped heels. They live for drama and excitement and seem
to have an excuse in every race, yet they are still talented enough to hit
the board. Ulanbator for once had a decent trip in the Jim Dandy and had
absolutely no excuse. He just wasn’t good enough. I don’t expect that he’s improved since
Ulanbator—Finished behind my top
Travers selections in both the Dwyer and the Jim Dandy. He was my long shot
selection in the Jim Dandy, but I'm off that bandwagon for this race. Pass.
Mr Speaker—(Pulpit - Salute, by Unbridled) – Ok, let’s try an
experiment. Let’s take a horse that’s bred for the dirt, but prefers winning
Grade 1 races on the lawn and toss him into the Travers. This colt descends from racing
royalty. The names of My Flag, Storm
Flag Flying, Minor’s Mark, Our Emblem etc. are all found in Mr. Speaker’s
second generation. His second dam is
the champion and blue hen Personal Ensign.
Mr Speaker breezes well over the dirt. He was derailed from Triple
Crown contention in his only dirt start, the Holy Bull. Mr Speaker pressed the pace before tiring
badly. The pedigree geek in me loves
him, the handicapper isn’t so sure. Exotics contender.
|Mr Speaker—Tries conventional dirt
for just the second time in his career. As pedigree nerd Laurie emphasized, his
breeding suggests that he would like dirt, but he finished a well beaten 7th
in his only prior start on dirt. Like with Mott and Charge Now, I trust that
Shug knows what he's doing, but I'm just not convinced at this point. Use
underneath for exotics.