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Breeders' Cup 2017

2013 Travers Stakes Pedigree Profile

The 144th renewal of the Travers Stakes is shaping up as the race of the year. A strong field of nine colts will head to the post in the mid-summer derby. Three are already proven at 1 ¼ miles or beyond.

The Travers is more than just a showdown between Kentucky Derby champ Orb, Belmont Stakes/Jim Dandy Stakes victor Palace Malice and Haskell Stakes hero Verrazano. They will face Virginia Derby (G-2) winner War Dancer, the exacta duo from the Curlin Stakes plus the runner-ups from the Kentucky Derby and Jim Dandy.

Prep Races
Before we take a closer look at this year's Travers contenders, let's take a brief look at the history of the past twelve ...excuse me, thirteen (due to the unprecedented dead heat last year) winners and the races they exited before wearing the red and white carnation blanket in the Travers winner's circle. The fastest winning times in the last twelve years of :201.40 and 2:01.60 were recorded by Point Given and Bernardini, respectively. The rest galloped home in various shades of 2:02 – 2:03.

2000 Unshaded - 3rd in Jim Dandy
2001 Point Given - 1st Preakness/1st Belmont Stakes/1st Haskell
2002 Medaglia D'Oro - 2nd Belmont Stakes/1st Jim Dandy
2003 Ten Most Wanted - 2nd Belmont Stakes/ 2nd in Swaps Stakes
2004 Birdstone - 1st Belmont Stakes
2005 Flower Alley - 1st Jim Dandy
2006 Bernardini - 1st Preakness/1st - Jim Dandy
2007 Street Sense - 1st Kentucky Derby/1st Jim Dandy
2008 Colonel John - 1st Swaps
2009 Summer Bird - 1st Belmont Stakes/ 2nd in Haskell
2010 Afleet Express - 3rd Jim Dandy
2011 Stay Thirsty - 2nd Belmont Stakes /1st Jim Dandy
2012 Alpha - 1st Jim Dandy
2012 Golden Ticket Allowance/optional claimer

The Jim Dandy have proven to be the most form-full race going into the Travers. Eight of the last twelve winners won or placed in this prep race. Seven colts won or placed in the Belmont and three won or placed in both the Belmont Stakes and Jim Dandy. Only one horse, the Champion Street Sense, has captured both the Kentucky Derby and Travers since 2000. Runners from the Haskell Stakes haven't carried their form into the Travers. Six colts who were victorious in the Haskell used the race as a springboard to the mid-summer derby. Of those, Point Given pulled off the double while three (Peace Rules, Roman Ruler and Bluegrass Cat) finished in the money in the Travers.

Running Style
Over the last few years, the emphasis in route races at the Spa has been on the late pace/stalkers. But contrary to popular belief, that run-from-the-clouds style hasn't held up in the Travers. The majority of the winners pressed the early pace from second or third before taking over either around the far turn or in the stretch. Three colts either set the pace or vied for the lead before dominating their fields, while three others sat mid-pack (fourth – sixth) before making their move. Only two colts followed the popular one run scenario from the back of the pack.

Does the X Factor In?
An intriguing concept that I've used with success when handicapping the Kentucky Derby also seems to be at play in the Travers Stakes. More than half of the Kentucky Derby winners since 1973 are suspected of having the X-Factor (a/k/a large heart gene). I say suspected, because the only reliable measurement to determine if a horse has a large heart is to do an ECG of the dam/foal to see if they carry this mutation. There is one physical characteristic of the large heart gene – curly, leaf-like ears. Think Zenyatta. Remember those large, curly ears? Secretariat also had them.

The large heart gene is passed from sire to daughter, and from daughter to son, although while it can also pass from dam to daughter and sire to son, it is recessive in these cases. Much like the baldness gene in humans. Daughters receive it from their fathers and pass it to sons, but the gene is thankfully recessive in their daughters.

So how does this apply to the Travers Stakes? Five of the last 13 winners are descended from X-Factor female families, while six others are inconclusive, although their dam sires likely carried the gene. That's a pretty strong correlation. Unfortunately, most of this is speculation without the proof of sending them all through the EKG. Still, it's something to keep in mind.

The Pedigrees
Palace MalaceGiven what we know about the previous winners, it would seem that PALACE MALICE ticks all of the boxes. He has the right running style and may follow in the hoof prints of previous of Belmont Stakes/Jim Dandy victors. The son of Curlin is proving to be as good as his sire, who, incidentally, was third in the Haskell and skipped the Travers to rest up for the Breeders' Cup Classic. Oh, and Palace Malice may also carry the X-Factor Gene, as his damsire Royal Anthem likely did.

VERRAZANO is no slouch, either. He's won every start, except for the time when he and Palace Malice decided to play at being quarter horses in the Kentucky Derby and the more mature Orb came along and schooled them. Verrazano almost certainly carries the X-Factor – through his damsire Giant's Causeway and his second dam, Chic Shrine is noted as a carrier. Also, take a look at the tips of those ears!

Orb_Kentucky_DerbySpeaking of ORB, the Derby Champ has been in hiding since taking home the roses. Reports have him training well, but he'd have to be a serious monster to win the Travers off of a 77 day layoff. He probably could have done so in the last three years, however, this is a tough field. A descendant of the family of the great Ruffian, Orb most likely has the large heart gene, received from his distaff line and damsire, Unbridled.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the other runners. After all, an allowance/optional claimer managed to dead-heat with the Belmont Stakes runner-up last year. We're all still scratching our heads over that one. Three colts appear to have some upside and are maturing nicely.

Romansh and Transparent2006 Travers hero Bernardini has sired back-to-back winners of the Travers, 2011's Stay Thirsty and last year's Alpha. He's one of only three stallions in the race's history to pull this off. There have been other stallions who've sired multiple winners, but only three have done so in consecutive years. This year, he has two shots in the race. ROMANSH, out of the multiple stakes winning sprinter Cologny (by Go for Gin), has shown improvement in each start, culminating in a win (by DQ) in the Curlin Stakes. In that race, Romansh stumbled at the start and was given time to collect himself while racing wide. Set down around the far turn, he picked off horses and appeared to be a winner until Transparent breezed on by. Romansh was awarded the win after Transparent was taken down for coming out on Proud Strike, causing that one to clip heels. TRANSPARENT, also a son of Bernardini, is out of the multiple graded stakes placed miler Habiboo (by Unbridled's Song). Both colts are owned by Godolphin and are lightly raced with plenty of room for improvement. Both also have the pedigrees to handle 1 ¼ miles.

Will Take ChargeThe Jim Dandy Stakes may yet again prove to be a key prep. Evidently, the winner Palace Malice didn't scare anyone off, because runner-ups Will Take Charge, Moreno and off the board finisher Golden Soul have all joined the Travers fray. WILL TAKE CHARGE has danced every dance. After winning the Rebel Stakes by a head over his stablemate and eventual Preakness winner Oxbow, Will Take Charge wasn't in the same zip code as the top runners in the Triple Crown. The long-shot got up to finish second in the Jim Dandy, 2 ½ lengths in front of Moreno. Could Will Take Charge win the Travers? Sure it's a horse race, so anything's possible. It is likely? Only if things go very wrong on the front end and the big guys all fail to run their best race.

MorenoA son of Ghostzapper out of the A.P. Indy mare Dancinthesunlight, MORENO was bred to be a very good horse, albeit late maturing. His dam is a daughter of Canadian Champion filly Dacethruthedawn, a member of the same classy distaff line as Smart Strike. Moreno's sire and distaff line carry the large heart gene. Moreno took his sweet time winning his maiden, or maybe he just doesn't like California. After finally checking out the Belmont Park winner's circle in June, Moreno galloped to a seven length score in the Dwyer. After making all of the pace in the Jim Dandy, the colt was taken over by Palace Malice and Will Take Charge. Moreno's front running style will put him in direct opposition to Verrazano. If they hook up on the front end, it will set things up for Palace Malice, the late running Orb or one of the others.

Golden SoulThere are two long shots in the field. The first is GOLDEN SOUL, my long-shot selection in the Kentucky Derby, who finished a late closing second to Orb. He threw amazingly bad clunkers in the Belmont Stakes and Haskell Invitational. While I loved him in the Derby, I can't make a case for him here. His speed figures (Brisnet) have declined in each start and he could perhaps benefit from some time off, since he's been racing almost non-stop since last November.

War DancerIt seems that there's always one turf horse whose connections aren't content with what they have. In this case, it is WAR DANCER, a promising graded stakes turf router. The son of War Front was last seen in Virginia out gaming two courageous colts on either side of him in the Virginia Derby (G-2). War Dancer has finished in the money in all except one start. His sole foray onto the dirt resulted in a fourth place finish in a maiden race. True, War Dancer's full brother Into the Fray has a 9-1-3-2 record in dirt sprints – as a claiming horse. That one also has a 0-4 record over the turf. Trainer Kenny McPeek remarked that War Dancer works well over the dirt so he deserves another shot on the surface. Perhaps he does. It's easy to be an arm-chair trainer, but I'm not convinced.

So, now that we've examined the contenders, a very strong case can be made for Palace Malice. He has the right running style and in keeping with recent Travers history, has won the Belmont Stakes and Jim Dandy. His (Brisnet) speed figures are headed straight up and there don't appear to be any chinks in his armor. The same can't be said for Verrazano. He's a brilliant, free running horse whose dominated every start, except the Kentucky Derby. Verrazano doesn't necessarily need the lead, but if Moreno decides to quarter horse it on the front end, Verrazano will keep him company. If Verrazano gets lose on the lead, the party is very likely over for the rest of them. Orb has been training wonderfully at Fair Hill. He's had a long break since the Preakness and the Travers is a tough race to win off of a layoff. Orb has won off of a layoff, but he appears to be the type that will improve in subsequent starts.

The Picks
So, after all of this, who do I like? My personal favorites are Orb and Verrazano, but I'll put Palace Malice on top in a trifecta of the three. Fourth place could be one of three colts, the two Bernardini upstarts or Moreno. I may place a sucker bet on Will Take Charge....after all, Saratoga is the graveyard of favorites and Wayne Lukas loves to play the spoiler. Are you betting with or against me?


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Older Comments about 2013 Travers Stakes Pedigree Profile...

thetyro has spoken
too ealy for ANY animal to be considered horse of the year
Game On Dude You think he should be considered for HOTY? Posted by ADobTrack • 5 days a ago • • Mary Z. • YES • 5 days ago • travel_vic • maybe down in the second 10 • 4 days ago •
write your own script: YOU ALWAYS DO
*not even close* refers to Game On Dude's belonging in the Top 10 candidates for HOTY *as U said before*?
not even close as I said before and will say again
If Palace Malice had ended up @ 31-1, your computer would have been on *Fred Flintstone Tilt* spitting out A++++… Moreno @ 5/2 would have drawn something considerably inferior to an A. That means PM was the *figure* horse. >> TM___ The nature of Dr. Quest's crazy inexplicable science work takes him to the edges of civilization, deep into uncharted territory, and to all manner of hostile environments. Through it all, Race is ready and able to take on whatever challenges come up, to pilot anything that moves, to get it on with hot babes and to serve up a nice warm knuckle sandwich to anything that's capable of feeling pain {badassoftheweek.com} This^^ 4 day “interrogation” is way below his pay grade.
Only RACE BANNON can solve this mystery.Where is J. Quest when we need him.
If Palace Malice was an A @ 5/2 and Moreno was an A+ @ 31-1, is it safe to say you liked PM’s *chances of winning the race* more than Moreno’s, or any other horse’s for that matter?
I love it when you can't answer a simple question like who are the 10 or more horses you rate above GOD for HOTY
sotware has diffeernt modalities for differing aspects of the contest BUT for all the pace of race. pace of horse screen, the early/late balance for that track and distance based upon a database of recent contests, a pace composite to include statistacl evaluator called Reynold's Numbers, TURF requires deceleration evaluation 3rd fraction velocity divided by 2nd call velocity to establis a ratio for closing horses (101 to 109 is about normal) and some spedific to odd distances like 7.5 furlongs on the lawn.....One chooses from a variety of sources dependent upon the distance surface.
the wager is based upon two things at once and MORENO, by letter grade was the best bet. Can't get any higher than an A+ can you. I love it when someone who does not know a thing about MY evaluation system tells ME what it is all about...Typical nonesensical waste of words with you.
It’s ALL about the BET, I get it. But to reach the point of determining how those nearly final odds compare to each horse’s chances, you have YOUR OWN values with which to compare and assign the letter grade, no? Obviously, NOW, Palace Malice was your top figure horse. phew
Going back at the last jump the letter grades told of which were the best and worst bets: 8 Palace Malice A 3 Verrazano C- 2 Orb C+ 6 Moreno A+ 5 Will Take Charge B 7 War Dancer F 9 Transparent F 4 Golden Soul F 1 Romansh F
NOT EVERYONE on this planet looks at horse like the plain janes in the world. MY calucated probabily is tied through the odds via dollar nets that change RIGHT UP UNTIL Post.......THAT is when the deicision is made IF and how much to wager.
T_V, The scenarios each have a probability, check. Which one had the greatest probability? ps: please define reum.
One of my menotrs favorite sayings: STOP lookin for the winner of the race and instead look at the various ones that CAN win the race.
I NEVER look at ANY race as having A SINGLE WINNER, NEVER. I reum about 4 to 8 scenarios and the sub plots and then give each a probability (you know what odds are based upon?) right up to post and then compare them to what the CROWD gives me...It is the interaction of the CROWD'S estimaton of probabilty versus my own that suggestes whether there is even a bet to be made.
Before the crowd. stop. YOUR estimated most probable victor. Or Top 2, if you have any idea what they might have been.

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