With blinkers on, Tacitus may create his Travers Stakes luck

August 14, 2019 11:18am

Whereas Tacitus “got enough luck” to win the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and Wood Memorial (G2) earlier this season, Garrett O’Rourke, general manager for Juddmonte Farms, hopes the colt can create his own fortunes with an equipment change in the Aug. 24 Travers Stakes (G1).

A son of Tapit, Tacitus added blinkers in his most-recent work toward the $1.25 million Mid-Summer Derby, that after he stumbled at the break before rallying for second in a local prep for it, the July 27 Jim Dandy (G2).

“When you’re trying to get a few extra lengths and a little more focus, you make moves like that,” O’Rourke said. “If they work, you continue with it. If they don’t, you don’t, but we’ll leave that to the trainer and jockey’s recommendation. They seem comfortable with it, so let’s try it.”

O’Rourke described Tacitus as a colt that “sometimes loses concentration.” That, combined with a large frame that takes time to get up to speed, has resulted in the Bill Mott trainee spotting his rivals too many lengths to make up in recent starts.

Tacitus was a rallying fourth across the wire in the Kentucky Derby; took an outside trip to be second in the Belmont Stakes; then wound up 3/4 of a length behind in the Jim Dandy after nearly losing jockey Jose Ortiz leaving the gate.

“Do I think he’s capable of sitting closer? Absolutely,” O’Rourke said. “He’s a horse that just needs to get that big, metronomical stride going.”

At the first call of his last three starts, Tacitus was 15th of 19 in the Derby, seventh of 10 in the Belmont and last of six in the Jim Dandy.

“I think you end up being in the spot you have to sit in, have patience, and then you’re at the mercy of who’s coming back into your path as they start to tire,” O’Rourke said. “That’s been his unfortunate issue.

“It definitely would be to our advantage if he had the room to go and get that stride going and be up with the pace. But with a full field as there will be in the Travers, and there was in the (Kentucky) Derby and there was in the Belmont, it’s not as easy as that.”

As of Wednesday, 10 horses can be termed probable for the 1 1/4-mile Travers with Maximum Security and Global Campaign — two pace factors, if they’re entered — possible. Spinoff, who added blinkers of his own and trounced elders last Friday in allowance optional claiming competition, was also nominated for the Travers.

Tacitus’ aforementioned breeze with the equipment on measured a half mile in 49.96 seconds (15/34) over Saratoga’s Oklahoma training track.

“If you get good luck and bad luck, I think we’ve had our bad luck run,” O’Rourke said. “Hopefully everything will go smoothly in the Travers.”

2019 Travers Stakes (G1)


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