Travers Stakes notes: A 'huge step,' but Scars Are Cool likes distance

NYRA Press Office
August 22, 2019 05:27pm
Travers Stakes notes: A 'huge step,' but Scars Are Cool likes distance
Photo: Coady Photography
Although he might be a David among Goliaths in Saturday's Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes, Scars Are Cool has given trainer Stanley Hough confidence that his impressive maiden winner has the capability of getting the mile-and-a-quarter distance.

Owned by Kevin Plank's Sagamore Farm, the Malibu Moon chestnut broke his maiden at third asking in July over the Saratoga Race Course main track in July going 1 1/8 miles to register a 92 Beyer Speed Figure.

"We kind of felt that he was the type that would go a distance and that race was a mile-and-an-eighth," Hough said. "He was building up from his first two races and he ran well. We decided to try the mile-and-a-quarter.

"He's coming into it well. Obviously, a huge step but they're all 3-year-olds so it's not like we're running against 5-year-olds. I don't think it's going to hurt him."

Scars Are Cool has breezed four times since his maiden victory, the most recent of which was a three-furlong bullet Thursday morning in 36.14 seconds.

"Other than the big jump I think he's sitting on a pretty good race," Hough said. "I don't think [post 10] matters too much, he'll come from a little bit off the pace. So we got a quarter of a mile to get position. I just hope he's not hung too wide. He's got medium speed so I think he'll get put in the middle and then he can get over and save some ground."

Bred in Florida by Hardacre Farm, Scars Are Cool was purchased for $170,000 from the Ocala Breeders Sales Company's October Yearling Sale in 2017. He is out of the two-time stakes-winning More Than Ready broodmare Ready Signal.

Mucho Gusto hopes to follow McKinzie's triumph

Mucho Gusto
 shipped into Saratoga from California on Tuesday evening in advance of his start in Saturday's Runhappy Travers.

Owned by Michael Lund Peterson and in the care of Hall of Fame conditioner Bob Baffert. Mucho Gusto will try to follow in the footsteps of multiple graded stakes winning stablemate McKinzie, who followed a similar pattern earlier this summer at the Spa, shipping in three days in advance of an impressive Whitney (G1) win.

"He's arrived in good shape and looks good," said Jimmy Barnes, assistant to Baffert. "He had his second gallop over the main track this morning, just a light mile, and he'll probably go a little further tomorrow. He goes over the track well."

The four-time Grade 3 winner, who captured the Bob Hope at Del Mar at 2 years old, as well as the Robert Lewis, Affirmed and Laz Barrera this year at Santa Anita Park, has never finished off the board in eight starts. The chestnut son of Mucho Macho Man will look to give Baffert his fourth Travers win and third in four runnings, with Arrogate taking the 2016 edition in a Travers record time for 1 ¼ miles, and West Coast in 2017.

Last out, Mucho Gusto finished second to Maximum Security in the Haskell Invitational (G1) on July 20 at Monmouth Park.

"He's been steadily on the improve," said Barnes. "He had to step up last time to run against the likes of Maximum Security, but he gave us a reason to jump up there. Hopefully, he does the same thing on Saturday.

"It's a large field, but we have a good post to work with and with the Haskell being a week earlier this year, I think that helped in his recovery. We're looking forward to Saturday."

Owendale a 'plain brown wrapper' who can run

Co-third choice at 6-1 for Saturday's 1 ¼-mile Travers, Rupp Racing's Owendale schooled in the paddock Thursday after a routine gallop for the Mid-Summer Derby.

The bay colt by Into Mischief was curious and alert, but well-behaved, as he was walked around the paddock and stood quietly in the saddling area as trainer Brad Cox and an assistant saddled him. After another brief turn, Owendale was hosed off and led back to his barn across Union Avenue.

"He got here Tuesday and he's settled in well," said Cox of Owendale, who last out won the Ohio Derby (G3) on June 22, a month after finishing third in the Preakness Stakes. "He rebounded well in the Ohio Derby, and he's coming into this race as well as he's come into any of them. We're confident he's going to run big."

Owendale's lone disappointing outing came in February, when he finished eighth in the Risen Star (G2), a performance Cox attributed to too many races in too short a time.

"He had run a huge race in January and he bounced," said Cox. "He didn't run from February until [he won] the Lexington [(G3)] in April, and we're going into this Travers the same way."

Overall, Owendale is 4-1-2 from 10 starts, with a pair of fourths, for earnings of $668,725. The unprepossessing bay colt has a small bright star on his forehead, which is obscured during races by blinkers and a shadow roll.

"He's pretty much a plain brown wrapper," said Cox, 'but he can run."


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