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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Triple Crown Trio on a Travers Collision Course

 

Championship honors in America’s glamour division are up for grabs. That’s what happens when each leg of the Triple Crown is won by a different horse. Orb, Oxbow, and Palace Malice all took turns looking good and beating each other throughout the spring. With no superiority established, the three-year-old male division is set for an exciting summer and fall which, one way or another, will decide the Eclipse Award. Front and center is Saratoga’s venerable Travers Stakes. Always an important test in the division, this year, the Mid-Summer Derby may not only be a playoff for the winners of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes, but it might just be the ultimate decider in the most watched of all our equine championship categories. As of today, Orb, Oxbow, and Palace Malice are on a collision course … destination Saratoga.


A few short months ago, Orb could not have been riding any higher. The Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby winner was the singular talk of the Churchill Downs backstretch as the racing world descended on Louisville en masse. Finally providing veteran trainer, Shug McGaugey that elusive Kentucky Derby victory, the son of Malibu Moon splashed down the sloppy stretch like a special kind of colt. Arriving at Baltimore as the horse, Orb had his bubble burst by a speedy little D. Wayne Lukas colt in the Preakness as an overwhelming favorite. His third place finish in the Belmont, again as the favorite, left his lead in the division tenuous at best.

 

 


Despite living in a ‘what have you done for me lately’ world, Orb still must be considered the leader of the division. His 4-for-6 record, three graded stakes wins, and blanket of roses, leaves the Janney and Phipps charge ahead of the rest, but just barely so. Freshened since his Triple Crown campaign, Orb is starting to gear up again at the friendly confines of Fair Hill Training Center. Hoping to have his batteries fully charged, the Derby winner looks to come into the Travers fresh and fit. We already know he can handle the Saratoga strip, and that the ten furlongs of the test is to his liking, so it would be no surprise to see him re-establish his place atop the division.


Oxbow, meanwhile, is not waiting for the Travers. Not with a million dollars at Monmouth on the line, and Lukas as his trainer. A bit of a hard luck story after a smashing win in the LeComte early in the year, Oxbow rebounded quite nicely from a sixth place finish at Churchill Downs. A strong front running victory in the Preakness, while expertly guided by his half-century old pilot, Gary Stevens, brought the son of Awesome Again back into the limelight. 

 

 


It may have been in a losing performance in the Belmont; however, that truly demonstrates what the Calumet runner has on the inside. The admirable and gutsy second place Belmont performance, after attacking a fast pace early, shows what kind of colt he is.The well traveled speedster has certainly proven his mettle in his last two efforts, but with a record of only two-for-seven this year it's hard to call him definitively the best of the crop. That is until we see what happens this summer, when Oxbow will not only look to win one million dollar race, but two. Back on the worktab at Churchill Downs, he will be the horse they all have to catch, whether you are talking about the Jersey Shore, or the all-important Travers Stakes.


Last but not least, there is Palace Malice. Long considered a horse with great promise and potential, the good looking son of Curlin passed the Test of Champions in convincing fashion. His impressive win in the Belmont Stakes may have been only the second victory in his career, but the performance was strong enough to consider the May foal a legitimate threat to become the best of his crop.

 

 


With a handful of excuses in tow, including a pace much too fast to handle after being equipped with blinkers in the Derby, Palace Malice arrived in New York full of questions. He impressed all in the mornings before the Belmont; however, and then finally lived up to his advanced press clippings, and then some, with a smart 3 ¼ length score to close the Triple Crown series. The Dogwood owned and Todd Pletcher trained colt is once again impressing morning railbirds of late, this time at Saratoga, and with a start in the upcoming Jim Dandy setting him up perfectly for the summit at the Travers, the late developer might just be the one to beat come August the 24th.

 

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Older Comments about Triple Crown Trio on a Travers Collision Course...

Just watched that 82 race the other night and the Canadian bred won again
Runaway Groom
I'm thrilled to have such a great group of 3 year olds still in one piece, major improvement from last year!
I think the Baffert duo will upset the 3 of them.
Any news on Hear the Ghost?
Oxbow ran a strong race considering those early fractions in the Belmont. I like all three of these horses, underneath Verrazano, but of the 3 mentioned, Oxbow ran the TC races the strongest IMO. His problem is he can't rate as far as I can determine and should set a perfect pace for V who can. I think Orb peaked early in the year and hasn't come close to the form he showed at GP as shown by his inability to close on fracions that were perfect for him had he been even close to his GP form. Whether the rest helps we won't know until after the race, as he always works good no matter how he runs the race. Palice Malice,?
long way to the Travers. They have to get by the Jim Dand and those brave soels that mar tyr the Whitmey as three year olds
Palace Malice; Jim Dandy/Travers double. I think he's the best in the crop, I've said that since February, I stick by it, and I think he'll win the Eclipse.
Though the Fountain of Youth & KY Derby set up perfectly for Orb, he's still at the top of my list too.
Power Broker may upset the apple cart.
I don't know if it would be "fun", but it's certainly a possibility. I'd like to see a clearly dominant win in the Travers--by one of the aforementioned three.
I have learned not to get too excited about which horses are going to run in a race until they actually enter the gate, but it would be great if these three ran in the Travers. And it would also be great if the 3 year old champion was decided in a classic distance race like the Travers.
And wouldn't it be fun if a fourth horse wins the Travers and who is that horse?
great article!

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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.