Friday, August 23, 2013

Midsummer Classic Preview

The historic 144th Travers Stakes is set up for quite a showdown this Saturday at Saratoga. The famed Midsummer Classic/Derby will feature the Kentucky Derby, Belmont and Haskell winners to determine which three-year-old will be atop this wide-open division heading into the Fall.

Orb looks to bounce back from sub-par performances in the Preakness and Belmont and add his name to the short list of horses that have taken down both the Derby and Travers. Palace Malice attempts to push his winning streak to three after winning the Belmont and Jim Dandy. One loss Verazanno tries to build off his two run-away wins in the Pegasus and Haskell after flopping in the Derby and skipping out on the other two Classics. Preakness winner Oxbow unfortunately will be absent, as he has been ruled out for the remainder of the year. The resumes from those horses alone should give an indication about how good a field this is that will load the gates Saturday. While last years dead-heat will be tough to top, the talent in this year's race could certainly bring another instant classic.

It's anyone's guess on how the two-year-olds will perform this time of year as there has yet to be a multiple-stakes winner of any magnitude. The Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga on September 2 will hopefully shed some light on who will be the early front runner in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile later in the year. There is also the Del Mar Fututity (G1) on September 4 to watch out for.

Travers Stakes (G1)
8/24 Saratoga @ 5:46 EST

8 Palace Malice 5-2
Took this guy some time but he has finally come around after winning back-to-back graded races. That Derby fiasco seems like a distant memory by now and this son of Curlin only has room to grow. Has already proven he can handle the classic distance, so look for him to continue his run on Saturday and emerge as the division leader. 

2 Orb 4-1
Derby winner is the only one in here that has won at the distance. Won five in a row before disappointing starts his last two times out and can't be forgotten about. With some time off after running third in the Belmont, he should be refreshed and ready to challenge the best of his class once again. 

3 Verrazano 2-1
Will be the one to beat after coming off impressive performances following his no-show in the Derby. Can be beat as his 9 3/4-length win in the Haskell might have been inflated just a bit by Oxbow's injury and the distance is a question mark. He is good, but is going to have to prove it on Saturday with a win against the top three-year-olds. 

5 Will Take Charge 10-1
Winner of the Rebel (G2) disappeared in the Triple Crown races and came back to finish runner-up in the Jim Dandy. Would have to take a huge leap here to pull off the upset but figures to be around at the end considering he doesn't run into too much traffic. 

$75 Travers Bankroll

$27 W: 8 = $27

$2 TRI BX: 8, 2, 3, 5 = $48

*Hit $61.10 from Palace Malice's win in the Dandy to cover the bank but came up empty in the Haskell when Oxbow was injured in midrace and couldn't complete the exacta with Verrazano.