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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

The Travers - An Early Preview

The Travers 2011

Wide open! A year of surprise after surprise has brought racing's glamour division into virtual gridlock. If the championship race were a horse race, there would be seven horses within a half-length at the quarter pole. It is time for someone, anyone, to step up and take the lead in this division. And what better than the Midsummer Derby to do just that. Coil, Stay Thirsty, Shackleford, and Ruler On Ice are all primed to move to the head of the class with a win in the Travers. Which one will get the job done, or will it be yet another big upset in the biggest of three-year-old races of 2011? Here's how I stack up the field with only five days until they get it on.

  

1. Ruler On Ice (Roman Ruler-Champagne Glow, by Saratoga Six)   8-1  
He proved not only his class with a win in the Belmont, but also his ability to handle a classic distance. His Haskell performance was not dazzling, but the grinder effort should serve as a perfect way for the Kelly Breen runner to fire his best shot on August 27. Expect him to have attractive odds once again.
 
2. Stay Thirsty (Bernardini-Marozia, by Storm Bird)   3-1  
It appears to be a New York thing for this Repole-Pletcher charge. Excellent races in the Gotham, Belmont, and Jim Dandy are accompanied by dull efforts in Florida and Kentucky. If the Jim Dandy represents the real Stay Thirsty, he will be a major factor in the Travers.
 
3. Coil (Point Given-Eversmile, by Theatrical)   5-2  
Baffert's late bloomer seems to have all the tools. Bred to excel at a distance, his Haskell performance points out his coming around as he looks to complete a summer double last done by his daddy. Mixed messages on his Spa workout keep us guessing on his liking for the track.
 
4. Shackleford (Foresty-Oatsee, by Unbridled)   3-1   
How can you not admire the 2011 Preakness champ? He continues to outrun his pedigree with a heart as big as can be. It is still a question whether 10 furlongs is optimal, but I have learned to take him lightly at my own peril. He is the one that everyone will have to catch to win the Travers.
 
5. Rattlesnake Bridge  (Tapit-Prall Street, by Cherokee Run)  10-1 
Another late bloomer who may be able to make some noise on Saturday. After being Uncle Mo's whipping boy back in March, he has continued to progress for Kiaran McLaughlin. His last was his best yet and his first fast track in a while. Given plenty of time to be sharp and fresh on Travers day.

 
6. Raison d'Etat (A.P. Indy-Sightseek, by Distant View)  15-1 
Get a load of the breeding on this one. He's not bad to look at either. Each race is better than the last, he has a race over the track, and is conditioned by a master, in Bill Mott. Still I wonder if this too big a step up for him to take home the big prize.

 
7. J W Blue  (Sky Mesa-Kentucky Storm, by Dynaformer)  20-1
Interesting long shot from the Tony Dutrow barn continues to run good, but not winning races in stakes company. Out of the clouds style may be best suited for a minor award here, but if the favorites start to get leg weary at the eighth pole, this longshot could be ready to make some noise late.

8. Moonshine Mullin  (Albert The Great-Mullen Road, by Distant View)  20-1
On the good side, this Canadian shipper seems to be better than ever, and he did finish with good energy in the Jim Dandy. The bad news is that was his career best performance in the Jim Dandy and he still was absolutely no match for Stay Thirsty.

9. Bowman's Causeway  (Giant's Causeway-Victory Encounter, by Victory Speech)  20-1
After a fourth and a second in the first two legs of the Canadian triple crown, this one is thrown into a whole new realm of runner at Saratoga. The Canadian sophomores are simply not that good, so this one would be a major surprise even if he is trained by red hot Chad Brown.
 
 
 

[Who will move to the head of the sophomore class with a win in the Travers? See where things stand now on HRN's 3yo Power Rankings]

 

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Older Comments about The Travers - An Early Preview...

CauseForConcern, I just put Brilliant Speed in my virtual stable, and will be getting regular updates about him. I'm wondering if the connections shied away from the Travers because of the track bias against closers?
  • MichaelPavelick · Brilliant Speed just easily won a grade 3 at Saratoga on the grass. No serious works leading up to the race, which indicates the race was a work · 1109 days ago
J W Blue is a deep closer this track is killing these kind of horses. I would say not on the board I like Rattlesnake Bridge in the exotics. Coil is the key to the race as you said , can he get the distance if he does then it'd him and ST if not it's ST.Shackleford, and I'm going to put in a tri and super that way with 4 under. I make a lot of plays Mike because a race usuallydoesn't go the way you handicap it on paper but Baffert is not going to run his horse against the bias. For me Stay Thirsty keeps getting better so I'll stay with him, thow insome exotics.GL
icyhotboo, Coil & Shack, playing "catch me if you can"? Does this give J W Blue a shot?
Hope we win. I'm going with my grand children till after the race but I have my bet in. ST 2/1 conditional 1 minute to post. BTW Shackleford ran a very deceptively good race last time against Coil against the track bias. This time he gets to run wit it.
icy, I changed my picks , Stay Thirsty to win. Shackleford has a lot of heart but his legs get weary. He's still in my top 4 though.
This is a very tough race and I just had a terrifying though. B. Baffert plays to win, he knows closers aren't doing it at Saratoga. I think he's going to send Coil with Shackleford and play catc me if you can. Still my wager is in and ST has tactical speed and seems to be getting better each start so I'l stick with him. gl
Sticking with Ruler On Ice as my top selection ... good luck all!
Sorry Mike I haven't. I like Stay Thirsty, especially at this track.To strong and fast.At another track like Monmouth I'd go with Coil but not here where closers are only 25%. I might throw in some exotics but if I get 2/1 on Stay thirsty who I believe is the best by far I'll just go with him.BTW: I have a conditional wager at 2/1 on S T with 1 min to post.
icyboohot, Have you seen J W Blue?
Depending on the track condition I would say it's Coil's race to loose, then Stay Thirsty but if wet & sloppy I'm going with the Ruler. Another idea is that there has been a different winner in all of the major races, hmmm? Hello Moonshine Mullin
I'm only 2 1/2 hours from the spa. We head out early in the AM. get there by 4:AM. have coffee and watch. It helps I've been doing this for about the last 25 years so I know the grounds crew and they tell me who's out on the track. In the daylight I can usually get in the stable area where I'm recognized by someone so I get a nice look at the horses. Was there the other day and saw Raison D'etat, he is a giant with stride to match. Green but huge.August is my vacation month or it used to be and old habits are hard to break. I only wager at 4 NY thoroughbred tracks for any serious money because they are the one I know best. I bet other tracks but nothing to big outside of my "comfort zone". Have a nice day Mike
Icyboohot, I'm curious where you make your observations? Are you at Saratoga? Nice comment about the blooming Stay Thirsty. I think you will get better then 2-1 on ST.
Stay Thirsty doesn't seem to have a weakness. I don't decide on my bets or pass till 10 min to post but ST at 2-1 looks drinkable. He has so much muscle on him he looks like a big Seattle Slew.
This is Coil's 5th race in 16 weeks. he's never been passed 9 furlongs. His one longer work at Saratoga was a fairly lackluster 1:13b for six furlongs. His sharp works have been shorter, but dangerously impressive. Not enough evidence that he well be fresh enough, sharp enough, and have the conditioning to be explosive the last furlong. I support Coil as a saver wager probably in the win pool. The Travers this year, doesn't seem to present a significant wagering opportunity, but Ruler On Ice could be a value in the win pool. Post time odds dictate wagering.
I do a jockey study at this track of 17 jocks. In route races that they've been in, there has been a combined 30 wins. By post position: PP 1(4 wins); PP 2(2 wins); PP 3(6 wins); PP 4(4 wins); PP 5(7 wins); PP 6(1 win); PP 7(2 wins); PP 8(2 wins); & PP 9(2 wins). Although not all fields fill out to have the outside posts counted for, I tend to believe that there is a track bias that is slanted more to the inside. So, the 7 hole might be advantageous at some tracks, but, not too sure that it would fit the bill @ Saratoga.
I do a jockey study at this track of 17 jocks. In route races that they've been in, there has been a combined 30 wins. By post position: PP 1(4 wins); PP 2(2 wins); PP 3(6 wins); PP 4(4 wins); PP 5(7 wins); PP 6(1 win); PP 7(2 wins); PP 8(2 wins); & PP 9(2 wins). Although not all fields fill out to have the outside posts counted for, I tend to believe that there is a track bias that is slanted more to the inside. So, the 7 hole might be advantageous at some tracks, but, not too sure that it would fit the bill @ Saratoga.
I do a jockey study at this track of 17 jocks. In route races that they've been in, there has been a combined 30 wins. By post position: PP 1(4 wins); PP 2(2 wins); PP 3(6 wins); PP 4(4 wins); PP 5(7 wins); PP 6(1 win); PP 7(2 wins); PP 8(2 wins); & PP 9(2 wins). Although not all fields fill out to have the outside posts counted for, I tend to believe that there is a track bias that is slanted more to the inside. So, the 7 hole might be advantageous at some tracks, but, not too sure that it would fit the bill @ Saratoga.
I do a jockey study at this track of 17 jocks. In route races that they've been in, there has been a combined 30 wins. By post position: PP 1(4 wins); PP 2(2 wins); PP 3(6 wins); PP 4(4 wins); PP 5(7 wins); PP 6(1 win); PP 7(2 wins); PP 8(2 wins); & PP 9(2 wins). Although not all fields fill out to have the outside posts counted for, I tend to believe that there is a track bias that is slanted more to the inside. So, the 7 hole might be advantageous at some tracks, but, not too sure that it would fit the bill @ Saratoga.
The & post is a great draw for a horse with his tactical ability. Drawing the 1 four times in six is just pure bad luck.
I wonder why Baffert kept Coil from the track for 6 months, prior to unleashing his latest bid. And, a reason why I would play against him, is the fact that he's breaking from the 7 hole. In his first six races, he's drawn the rail four times, with one race from the 3 hole, and his furthest post out would be the 4 hole. Going this distance of a mile and a quarter, and breaking from the 7 hole, he might use up some of that incredible energy, to get to the front, and have little left turning for home. But, that's just IMO(always looking for a way to make a large buck!!!).

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing since birth. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 
  
As Managing Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Brian also serves on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
  
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives in Suburban Chicago with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra, where he is a professional golf instructor when he is not following the horses.