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Travers Stakes Preview

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 8/21/2014 10:25:56 PM

About the Race and Track

The Travers Stakes was first run in 1864 and handicappers will be treated to another stellar renewal of the one and a quarter mile race on Saturday in the quaint village of Saratoga in upstate New York.

Carded at a mile and a quarter on the main track, the $1.25 million Grade 1 Travers has been dubbed the “Midsummer Derby” and the race will go a long way in determining the champion sophomore of the year.

The Triple Crown has been elusive, Affirmed was the last TC hero, but Whirlaway in 1941 was the only horse ever to win the Triple Crown and the Travers.

Some of the best in the sport have won this event over the decades like Man o’War, Jim Dandy, Gallant Man, Alydar, Point Given and 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense.

Last year Will Take Charge was coming out of a second-place finish in the Jim Dandy before he came from 5th to beat Moreno by a nose with a 107 Beyer Speed Figure.

A Longshot With Some Value: Mr Speaker

The talent is there; it’s just a case if Mr Speaker can perform on dirt. The pace should be right and if this runner can save ground and then kick, he could light it up.

The Pick: Wicked Strong

Commanding Curve will break from the rail and should be picking them up and laying them down in the lane. He has only won once in his career and just had the misfortune of chasing a couple of today’s rivals home in the Jim Dandy.

Bayern worked well enough to convince Bob Baffert to put him on a plane and fly him 3,000 miles to Saratoga.

That’s an endorsement in itself. This colt has one way to go, to the front and then try to extend his margin. He was impressive taking the Haskell at the shore with a 107 Beyer last month.

Charge Now is sharp right now but he has never beaten this caliber foe.

V.E. Day just beat Charge Now by a head in the restricted Curlin but they were all on the line together, sometimes a sign of just an ordinary race.

Viva Majorca handled any kind of going so keep one eye to the sky. He has been sprint only so far but was closing with every stride when 4th in the Curlin.

Tonalist won the Belmont Stakes but came back to earth in his last effort when inhaled by Wicked Strong. The distance is of no concern and he brings a solid stalk and pounce style to the party. He has also showed his talent with an improved work on August 16.

Wicked Strong was wickedly good taking the Jim Dandy and he has always had the confidence of his trainer James Jerkens. He added wraps and blinkers for his last win and that allowed him to maintain contact early.

Kid Cruz is a nice horse, but he split the cast in the Jim Dandy and that may be his ceiling once again.

Ulanbator overcame trouble when beating 5 rivals by a nose for his lone victory. Still eligible for non-winners of one race, this racer will be a huge number.

Mr Speaker is the wild card in this race. He has never won on dirt but is coming off a clever win and will be trying to add to his 4 for 9 record for Shug McGaughey, who proved he knows what to do with a good horse when his Orb won the Kentucky Derby.

No doubt, Bayern is the speed of the speed. If he gets a lonely lead, he’ll be a handful but Wicked Strong should get a pretty solid stalk and pounce trip and he can assert his authority in the final stages.



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