Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Travers Stakes/Midsummer Classic/Midsummer Derby

                                                                  Midsummer Classic

Summer at Saratoga is highlighted this weekend by the third oldest thoroughbred race in racing history. Dating all the way back to 1864, the Travers Stakes or "Midsummer Classic" as it is known, is a historic race for the three-year-olds going 1 1/4 mile. For many, this will be their last test before they step up to face the older competition. The only question this year is, are there any three-year-olds left to run?

I'll Have Another, Bodemeister, Union Rags, Paynter and Hansen all at one point in their short careers were considered at the top of this class. Now, all have either been retired or are currently injured. At the start of 2012, this class looked locked and loaded across the board with talent. Unfortunately, that talent has vanished as this year's Travers Stakes is reduced to Alpha, the 12th place finisher in the Derby, being the highlight of the field this coming Saturday. 

Life is unpredictable and you never know what it has in store. Yes, this year's race is lacking the luster it normally has but you never know when one of these young three-year-olds will take off. Remember, many of these guys are still maturing and have not yet finished growing. For all we know, this race might be featuring a future Breeders' Cup Classic winner. They don't call this race the "Midsummer Derby" for nothing which is why you should still be interested in the 143rd running of this historic race. 

On another note, Dullahan has decided to head out West and try his luck against the older competition. He will be running in the Pacific Classic (A "Win and You're In" race for the BC Classic) at Del Mar this Sunday, where he returns to the synthetic surface for the first time since upsetting Hansen at Keeneland in the Blue Grass Stakes. This horse is 2 for 2 on the poly and hopes to continue that trend after two disappointing finishes in a row on the dirt in the Belmont and Haskell. 

Travers Stakes(G1)
8/25 Saratoga 5:46 EST
Race #12

Alpha 5-2
Coming off a Grade 2 win in the Jim Dandy here at Saratoga last month. 2 for 2 at the Spa is impressive regardless of the competition. Could and should be in a class above the rest of these three-year-olds running this Saturday. 

Street Life 5-1
Son of the 2007 winner, Street Sense certainly doesn't hurt his chances here. Win at this track last month in the Curlin Stakes. Closer who will be coming on at the end should like the 1 1/4 mile distance especially if there is some pace to run at. 

Nonios 4-1
Coming off a second place finish to Paynter last month in the Haskell. Has hit the board in all six of his lifetime starts. Never run further than a 1 1/8 mile, so we will see if he can handle the extra furlong.

Liaison 8-1
Closer who could flirt with hitting the board going 1 1/4 mile. Has experience running against the best of this three-year-old class. 

Ex/Tri BX: 6,5,10,9

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