War! What is it Good For?

Well, it’s good for a straight win bet, an exacta bet, or a trifecta bet. Those are all the ways you can possibly cash a big ticket in Saturday’s Travers Stakes if you play War Dancer, either by himself or with several of the leading contenders.

In a race where you have a legitimate shot with just about anyone, and are having a tough time separating Palace Malice, Verrazano, and Orb, or even Will Take Charge and Moreno, or the Kentucky Derby runner-up Golden Soul and the up-and-coming Darley pair of Transparent and Romansh, why not take a shot with one of the few horses in the field with an angle.

Yes, War Dancer has been a grass horse almost his entire career, but we all know about the grass to dirt angle. And we all know about betting a horse who has done something most of the others haven’t – win at the distance. And we all know how dangerous trainer Kenny McPeek can be, especially after his dead-heat score in last year’s Travers with 33-1 shot Golden Ticket.

And here’s another angle. Declaration of War, who like War Dancer is a son of War Front, won Wednesday’s Juddmonte International at York at 1 1/4 miles. And both Declaration of War and War Dancer are inbred 4x5 to Nijinsky, so their pedigrees are pretty similar.

Yes, War Dancer has only one start on dirt and finished fourth, beaten six lengths, but that was only his second career start. Watching him actually cut to the inside and split the top two finishers after the wire, gave some indication that he was handling the dirt and simply got into his best stride too late.

In his next start, with first-time Lasix and first time on grass, he stalked the pace and drew clear to win by two lengths.

Then in an allowance race at Keeneland, he turned in one of the most impressive and electrifying performances of the year. Breaking from the rail, he flung his head in the air just as the gates opened and he broke so awkwardly, he literally twisted his head and body in all directions. For a horse who had been running close to the pace, he found himself dead last in the 12-horse field, 16 lengths off the pace. Even around the far turn, he still trailed the field, and it looked as if Alan Garcia was just letting him run around the track without asking too much of him, considering what he had had already been through.

But after passing the three-eighths pole, he gave the colt a nudge and he took off, splitting horses. Still a long ways back, he kept building up speed, then swung five wide turning for home and came flying down the stretch under left-handed whipping. It looked as if he was going to finish a fast-closing third, which would have been a sensational finish. But his acceleration in the final 50 yards was breathtaking, as he got up to win by a half-length. Track announcer Kurt Becker described it perfectly: “War Dancer. Unbelievable!”

He threw his ears up as soon as he hit the wire, and was so pumped from that wild run, Garcia had a tough time pulling him up.

In his next start, the American Turf at Churchill Downs, he was a bit overanxious early and didn’t settle as well as he should have. He still had plenty of run in the stretch, but was trapped behind a wall of horses. First, Garcia came out several paths looking for room, found nothing, and steered him back from the seven-path to the inside, where he finally found an opening near the rail. Despite having run sideways most of the stretch run, he was still a strong horse and closed fast, but the winner, Noble Tune, was already gone. He just missed catching Admiral Kitten, who last week won the grade I Secretariat Stakes. With it all, he still finished third, beaten 2 1/4 lengths.

In the Centaur Stakes at Indiana Downs, he was dropping back to a mile and ran into a fast horse named Free World, who beat him by two lengths in a swift 1:34 1/5. In defeat, he came home his final quarter in :23 3/5.

Then came the grade II Virginia Derby, stretching out to 1 1/4 miles. Sent off at 7-1 in the strong field, he accelerated beautifully around the turn and outfinished Todd Pletcher’s classy duo of Charming Kitten and Jack Milton with a final quarter in :24 2/5 over a course listed as good.

McPeek could have run him back in the Secretariat, but decided to try to catch lightning once again and go for the Travers.

As for War Dancer’s ability to handle dirt, he has been training sharply over the Oklahoma training track.

His sire, War Front, was strictly a dirt horse and a top-class sprinter, winning the Alfred G. Vanderbilt and placing in the Vosburgh, Forego, and Tom Fool. War Front is by Danzig, out of a Rubiano mare, so there is plenty of dirt breeding there. Rubiano is a son of Fappiano, which brings us back to the John Nerud influence and the Dr. Fager line.

War Dancer’s dam, Deed I Do, placed in the Astoria and Bonnie Miss Stakes on dirt, and her sire, Alydeed, won the Queens Plate at 1 1/4 miles on the dirt, as well as the Carter, Derby Trial, Commonwealth Breeders’ Cup, and Plate Trial Stakes, and finished second in the Preakness and Prince of Wales and third in the Met Mile. So he was a pure dirt horse who excelled at all distances from seven furlongs to 1 1/4 miles.

Alydeed’s sire is Shadeed, winner of the 2,000 Guineas, but this is a strong dirt family, as Shadeed’s broodmare sire is Damascus, and Alydeed’s broodmare sire is Alydar.

On the tail-female side, War Dancer’s second dam is by Silver Hawk, who was second in the Irish Derby and third in the English Derby, and who sired English Derby winner Benny the Dip. Silver Hawk is the sire of Hawkster, who set a world record for 1 1/2 miles on the grass, and who is the broodmare sire of Preakness and Belmont winner Afleet Alex.

Silver Hawek’s sire, Roberto, has made an impact on the dirt through his sons Dynaformer, Red Ransom, and Darby Creek Road.

As is the case with Transparent, who we wrote about last week, War Dancer has the 1967 Woodward trio of Hall of Famers, Damascus, Dr. Fager, and Buckpasser, in his pedigree.

Now, does all this mean War Dancer is going to win the Travers? Not in a field this tough and deep. But it does indicate he has a legitimate shot at an upset or to hit the board. If he’s unable to handle this group it’s not going to be a shock by any means. But as we said, it’s at least an angle, and offers an intriguing alternative to the top colts we’ve been following all year.


Leave a Comment:

White Plains Eric

Steve, to answer your question in the title, "absolutely nothing"!Love the musical reference and the angles you laid out for War Dancer.  I'm thinking of taking a shot with Will Take Charge as I thought he still had gas in the tank at the end of the Jim Dandy and he'd be a price.  Now, will take a closer look at War Dancer.  Good luck.

21 Aug 2013 2:53 PM
steve from st louis

Like most fools, I'm going to toss Steve's "live" longshot War Dancer and back up the truck to play Orb in the Travers.

Bruce Jackson did everything a human could do to get a horse ready for a race and Orb should have no problem carrying both me and Joel Rosario across the finish line first. The real race, I believe, is for second.

21 Aug 2013 3:25 PM
steve from st louis

Besides you Steve, probably the only one old enough to answer your headline question is me and of course that answer is "absolutely nothing--say it again."

21 Aug 2013 3:46 PM


Great article on your upsetter, War Dancer but I have to remind you that lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place, therefore the Kenny McPeek/Golden Ticket angle has no-hope written all over it.  

Last year the Travers field was depleted by the injuries of stars, Belmont Stakes winner, Union Rags, Kentucky Derby victor, I'll Have Another, Wood Memorial top dog, Gemologist and Haskell champ, Paynter, thus allowing Alpha and Golden Ticket to share the spoils.  This year with all the big guns facing the starter, War Dancer has only two shots to fire : slim and none.  Sorry Steve, this is the kind of Travers where exceptional class wins the day and I believe that we're going to see Verrazano stamp his class on this 2013 crop.  

I like your title "War, what is it good for" ...famous line from a hit song of the early seventies, I believe.  Orb's trainer, Shug McGauhey must have been thinking like you when he was quoted as saying that he wanted to come to the Travers with a "loaded gun" which is why Orb was trained up to the race.  Those were fighting words indeed but I think that Verrazano is gonna pack too many guns for the competition when they turn for home.

From the #3 hole, with a clean break, Johnny V is going to save ground while being in full command of affairs on the front end ...and when those afterburners are switched on,rounding the far turn, it will be Kattie bar the door ...everyone else fighting for the minor placings. Happy hunting, Steve.  

21 Aug 2013 4:16 PM
Bill Two

Edwin Starr, I believe, sang that song a long time ago.  One of the best protest songs of that era.  Hopefully, the horse does as well as the song.

21 Aug 2013 4:25 PM
lunar spook

STEVE , u may have talked me into something , I went back and looked at some video and WAR DANCER may be sitting on a big race! WHITE PLAINS ERIC-good luck with WILL TAKE CHARGE , I HAVE BET ON HIM SINCE THE REBEL STAKES AND BEEN BURNED EVERYTIME , IM STARTIN TO BELIEVE HES A TAD OVERATED !!!

21 Aug 2013 4:50 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Palace Malice and Will Take Charge win bets, and exacta box the two. More dollars on the win bet with Palace. Transparent, Verrazano, and Orb in the 3rd and 4th spots on the tri and super wheels. Humdinger of a race.

21 Aug 2013 5:00 PM
Criminal Type

Nice piece of work, Steve. I am very fond of the Danzig sons, War Front included. No question War Front is an up and coming sire with a bright future, Look what he has done already. (Lines of Battle, Departing, Summer Soiree, The Factor, Data Link) War Front also got a huge win today in the Juddmont International with Declaration of War (out of the half sister to Union Rags).

As much as I like War Dancer I'm sticking with Orb in the Travers but will take a piece of War Dancer as well..Think he might be in a tad over his head with the likes of Palice Malice, Verrezano and Orb though.

Psst Steve from St Louis...I too remember the song as well as most of the lyric's.

21 Aug 2013 6:14 PM

Palace Malice has more speed than anyone in the race. Orb has been training for this race. I don't think those two will disappoint.

21 Aug 2013 6:30 PM

The King's Bisop with a 14 horse field is setting up to be quite a humdinger.  If the field were smaller my pick would be Forty Tales, hands down ...but with the likely traffic problems for out and out closers, I'll pick Majestic Hussar to win, with Overanalyze and Forty Tales closing with a rush for the place and show spots.

I have to warn however that this is the kind of race that could yield the big Saratoga upset at astronomical odds ...just close your eyes and pick a horse. Have fun folks.

21 Aug 2013 8:59 PM
Paula Higgins

I am going for Orb and then Palace Malice but nice article Steve. As for "War, what is it good for," I have a husband that sings that line periodically with all the emphasis of the original, as loudly as possible and in the shower. Oh, joy.

21 Aug 2013 9:56 PM

War, ugh, good God, y'all........

Love the title Steve and when Jackie Chan and the other actor do this in the movie Rush Hour.

I like a Pletcher exacta in the Travers.  Both Verrazano and Palace Malice are on a roll, have that continuous momentum going for them.  We still have no consistent 3 year old star and Oxbow is now out injured.  Dom't want to see yet another strange winner of the Travers.

Starting to get excited about Paynter coming to Saratoga.  Holy Cow.  I gotta find a way to go on Aug. 31 for his race.  The greatest comeback EVER.  And if all goes well Paynter could face the Travers winner in the BCC starting gate, I hope it goes that far.  POWERUPPAYNTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

21 Aug 2013 11:16 PM

So, Zenyatta is going to have a war baby come spring 2014.  Maybe in 2015 she'll have a kitten.  One can dream, right?

If I wasn't in such a backwards-thinking state such as Alaska as far as gambling of any sort is concerned, I'd place an online wager on War Dancer.  My heart lies with Orb, though.  He's sitting on another big race.  

22 Aug 2013 12:28 AM
Abigail Anderson


It was great to learn about War Dancer and his bloodlines. Of course, he'll have his work cut out for him in the Travers, but this is quite clearly a very good colt. I've been following the War Fronts overseas and Declaration of War's Juddmonte the other day was exciting to see, both because of the colt as well as Joseph's strategic ride. Both Lines of Battle and War Command have just been superb to watch and it's interesting just how many other 2 year-old War Fronts are in the stable of Ballydoyle: Guerre (ex. Golden Toast), Giovanni Boldini (ex.Dancing Trieste) and Albert the Bold (ex. Rule One). And then there's Zenyatta's foal-to-be. (Boy, Dottie Ingordo Shirreffs sure knocked it out of the park on that mating!) But I had overlooked War Dancer, so it was great to add him to my "war front."  

Steve from St. Louis & White Plains Eric: I, too, am old enough to appreciate the title!

22 Aug 2013 9:43 AM
Linda in Texas

Being a 'bambihugger' i am always for the underdog. The Little Engine That Could story flits across my mental screen ???  Hmmmm, wonder which one that will be?  But boy what a good race it will be. And Trackjack can tell us all about it after Steve tells his side!

ABF - Paynter looks great for the Woodward. Got to go with him. And your mention of Paynter reminded me of St. Nicholas Abbey's recovery from his 2 ops. Reported by Claire for Bloodhorse.com, he is doing very well under his 24/7 attentive caregivers. The best is sent his way from The U S A. And i loved watching him race with a determination that was in every muscle of his body. Not unlike Black Caviar. Two of my over the pond favorites.

Enjoy Saratoga Steve. You are truly in your element and it shows in your articles. Thank you.

22 Aug 2013 12:35 PM
Arts and Letters

And now I have that song stuck in my head.


22 Aug 2013 1:38 PM

Verrizano is either going to win easily or finish up the track. If he fires I can't see anyone beating him but that's if he fires. I'd be shocked to see him run a good race and lose.

22 Aug 2013 2:14 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

That is such great news that Royal Delta will again be running without lasix, Sunday at the Spa. I expect another monster performance that will have people seriously considering her as a top threat to win The Classic. Eventhough she has run well with lasix in the past it is my opinion that she wants nothing further to do with the drug and is a much more relaxed, happy and powerful runner without it.

22 Aug 2013 5:34 PM

I was at the rail at the VA Derby (as close as a spectator could get, as I always am) and I saw War Dancer get more than the "head bob" as the headlines read.

I stood there shocked to see "Hold All Tickets" on the lighted board. From my angle War Dancer had a solid advantage at the finish line. Not sure why the newspaper reported  a "War Dancer Gets the Head Bob."   It felt good that my money was on W.D. to win too.

Most casual Va. Derby attendees tend to place their bets on the odds-on-favorite which screws up the odds a bit. He looked great at the finish line.

22 Aug 2013 8:45 PM

In the last 20 renewals of the Travers, Mr. Todd Pletecher leads the list of winning trainers with two i.e., Stay Thirsty and Flower Alley. The following trainers with horses in the 2013 renewal have at least one victory. K McLaughlin, T. Abertrani, W. Lukas K. McPeek and C. McGaughey. Trainers D. Stewart and E. Guillot are new to the party.

Trainer C. McGaughey leads the list of trainers with three winners. Interestingly, his winners were all top class horses. Rhythm was a Breeder Cup Juvenile winner; Easy Goer’s winning time in the Belmont is second only to that of the great Secretariat. Coronado’s Quest won the Wood and Haskell. Now he is carrying to war a freshened Florida and Kentucky Derby winner. A ML of 4-1 is insane for a Derby winner conditioned by a trainer with such a record.

Trainer T. Pletcher is second with two winners. The ML on his two starters is listed at 5-2 & 2-1. Are they the same two from the quartet from the Derby that were comprehensively trashed by Orb?  Yes! It appears that while Verrazano and Palace Malice have improved Orb has declined. It should be noted Revolutionary was the one from the quartet that finished the closest to Orb and he is not in the field. Members of the Derby also ran are now expected to take down the Derby winner.

Go figure!

22 Aug 2013 10:45 PM

Golden Soul was beaten 29L in his last race. It was his worst performance in a race. His trainer said he was full of energy the morning after the race. So what went wrong in the Haskell? The trainer does not know.

He finished 12 1/2L ahead of Verrazano in the Derby. He subsequently finished 29 behind that colt in the Haskell. Verrazano therefore eliminated the 12L deficit and added 29L. So what went wrong in the Haskell? The trainer does not know. Has Golden Soul declined 41L? It’s inconceivable that the runner up in the Derby could have declined to such an extent.

Should his Haskell performance be disregarded? Is he due to rebound? The following colts were beaten by the following lengths and returned with improved performances:

Transparent, 83L

Orb, 22L

Will Take Charge, 17L

Moreno, 32L

Verrazano, 17L

Palace Malice, 13L

War Dancer’s worst loss was by 6L. This was recorded in his only start on dirt. If he transfers his form to dirt he will be very dangerous.

Golden Soul  is due to run an improved race and should be a must for the exotics.

23 Aug 2013 12:01 AM

There are many who doubt the ability of War Dancer to win the Travers. This is understandable as the field contains a number of multiple stakes winners. He is unproven on dirt and has not faced the cream of the crop of 3YO colts/geldings.

Apart from his encouraging performances and those of others sired by War Front, what other pertinet factors support the opinions of those in favor of him?

Well, a pertinent angle could be his grandsire Danzig. The Danzig sired War Front was essentially a sprinter. The achievements of his top progenies have already been detailed.

There was another stallion sired by Danzig that went by the Danehill. He was restricted to sprints after 3rd and 4th place finishes in the English and Irish 2000 Guineas. He bacame the world’s most successful sire with 349 stakes winners including 89 G1s. The likes of Rock Of Gibraltar, Daylan Thomas and Desert King are just few of the champions sire by Dane Hill.

The brilliant Soft Falling Rain who has a record of 7 wins from 8 starts was sired National Assembly a son of Danzig. National Assembly who was produce from a Buckpasser mare was unraced.

Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown was sires by Boundary a son of Danzig who was essentially a sprinter. Sea Hero another Derby winner was sired by Polish Navy a son of Danzig. Lawyer Ron who destroyed the 9F track record at Saratoga was sire by Langfuhr a sprinter/miler son of Danzig.

The sons of Danzig especially the sprinters have produce some very outstanding horses and by virtue of this, War Dancer should not be taken lightly. Of course turf could be his preferred surface but that question will be answered in the Travers..

23 Aug 2013 5:06 AM
Bloodline Bob

Can someone out here straighten my head out on my Travers bet? I'm doing a ($100)5 horse exacta + trifecta box THAT DOES NOT INCLUDE "orb or verrazano"! Please help me save my money. My 5 horses are WAR DANCER, GOLDEN SOUL, PALACE MALICE, WILL TAKE CHARGE + TRANSPARENT. I'm a sick man, lol.

23 Aug 2013 10:21 AM

The Test S. is come up very tough and very competative, this will be 2 weeks in the row that we see the real champion are running in the real and meaningful grade 1 filly

I wondering is there any g3, 6 1/2f

somewhere for DOJ for her to run and win, so the groupies will start the hype again.

What a joker!!!!

23 Aug 2013 10:57 AM
Pedigree Ann

Once upon a time I would give a pass to a grass horse that was beaten significantly on dirt in his first or second start; after all, he was just getting used to racing, it was a sprint and he is a 2-turn horse, etc..

Not any more; been burned too many times. War Dancer steadily retreated when the real running started in his dirt race, which leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Now if it is muddy, that's another kettle of fish - some turf horses do quite well on muddy main tracks.

23 Aug 2013 10:57 AM

Bloodline Bob,

It is not wise to exclude Orb. His trainer has too good a record in the race.

23 Aug 2013 1:15 PM

Pedigree Ann,

Transparent backed up 83L is his first start and 7L in his second.

Moreno backed up 32L in his 3rd start.

Will Take Charge backed up 32L in his first start on dirt.

Orb backed up 22L in his second start.

Your basis for disliking War Dancer cannot be justified based on the above cold facts.

He deserves another chance on the surface.

23 Aug 2013 1:24 PM
lunar spook

COLDFACTS- thanks for the info im leaning toward a palace malice,war dancer exacta and a palace malice, transparent exacta , I have had a hunch all week about war dancer and will stick to my guns !

23 Aug 2013 4:01 PM

Hi Steve,

I love the reference of the song "War" by Edwin Starr for this War Front colt.  Pretty good hook for an article.  Whenever I see a War Front horse from now on, I will think of this song.  Great song from the 70s!

As the long shot angle is concerned, I like it!  People pooh-poohed Golden Ticket last year too before the race, but were crying in their beer when that beauty wound up winning the race along with Alpha! - LOL.  In a stakes race like the Travers there are no "locks" and this horse looks like a live long shot to me - certainly to be included in some intriguing exotics at the very least.  Good luck with your Travers' picks, Steve.  It's going to be a mighty fine race!

23 Aug 2013 4:28 PM

Hi Steve,

I love the reference of the song "War" by Edwin Starr for this War Front colt.  Pretty good hook for an article.  Whenever I see a War Front horse from now on, I will think of this song.  Great song from the 70s!

As the long shot angle is concerned, I like it!  People pooh-poohed Golden Ticket last year too before the race, but were crying in their beer when that beauty wound up winning the race along with Alpha! - LOL.  In a stakes race like the Travers there are no "locks" and this horse looks like a live long shot to me - certainly to be included in some intriguing exotics at the very least.  Good luck with your Travers' picks, Steve.  It's going to be a mighty fine race!

23 Aug 2013 4:30 PM


Good to see you.  As we talked about, you can't bottle this Saratoga experience.  Thanks for all your information. Good Luck with your picks.


I will defer to the master about this Travers experience and comment after Steve does. Sounds like you've been here before?  I wish every racing fan could experience Saratoga.

I'm waiting in the clubhouse outdoor bar and live music waiting to put down a bet on my friend's 2yo filly in a MSW at Indiana Downs.  

I'm sticking with Palice Malice to win. Will box him with Transparent and War Dancer for an ex.  Don't think V will get the distance with this pressure.  I had Orb in the Derby but think he's got too much to do with this group.  Having said all this, this is a wide open race. Glad to be here.

Good Luck to everyone.

23 Aug 2013 7:15 PM
Bloodline Bob

The reason I like WAR DANCER in this Grade 1, $1,000,000 Travers Stakes is the sire WAR FRONT is Claiborne's star stallion at $80,000 a pop. The WAR FRONT horses have been getting the job done to justify the high stud fee. You know Claiborne doesn't want to drop that fee down for the 2014 season. So I expect her to show up in the trifecta somewhere.

23 Aug 2013 8:29 PM

lunar spook,

Palace Malice ran by Moreno in the Jim Dandy and defeated him by 3 1/2L

The Jim Dandy was Moreno's 6th race in 114 days. An average of one race every 18 days. He covered 51.25F in those 6 races. Place Malice covered 40F in his four races in approximately the same period Moreno's extensive campaign could have taken its toll going that far against high octane horses.

Moreno's sire and dam sire were both winners of the 10F Breeders Cup Classic. he appear to have inherited the speed from his sire and one can only hope that he has inherited some of A P Indy's stamina.

It has been 27 days since his last race and he has been working brilliantly. Place Malice may have his hands full this time around. If you like Palace malice you must consider Moreno.

23 Aug 2013 9:04 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Three of the top four lowest post time odds for The Classic are running this weekend. Royal Delta, Game On Dude, and Palace Malice.

23 Aug 2013 9:19 PM

Oh, Drat the Luck.  I cannot go to the Travers, but may go see Paynter there next week run.  Oh poo, I think I'll go have a hissy fit and throw some Alfalfa out the window here!!!!!!!!!

Good luck to all runners tomorrow.  May all come home safe.  

23 Aug 2013 11:49 PM
Pedigree Ann

Joy - there were no horses of the caliber of Orb, Verrazano, or Palace Malice in the 2012 race. Alpha hadn't even won a stakes race until he got to Saratoga last year, his best run being a hanging second against Gemologist, who was proven to be less than stellar himself. And once back in the real world, he hasn't done much since.

Coldfacts - those colts you cited were doing so in 1-turn races, which would not prove to be their forte, they were tossed into a stakes race after one start, broke through the gate beforehand, they pulled, or other circumstances one can understand compromising form.

Whereas War Dancer was backing up in a 2-turn race with no trouble line. And this was sandwiched between turf 2-turn races in which he gained ground through the stretch. Just my judgment call.

24 Aug 2013 5:56 AM
Fran Loszynski

Verrazano all the way because he simply wants it. Good luck to  I'm Mom's  favorite and Sweet LuLu in race 9 . My dear friends hope you win. I love Saratoga is that Seabiscuit running in the morning fog!  Yeehaaawwh It's The Travers

24 Aug 2013 8:34 AM

There is a very interesting bit of history that should make the supporters of Moreno even more encouraged.

Moreno's 1st stakes victory came in the Dwyer which was his 11th start. The last two Dwyer winners to win the Traverse were Coronado’s Quest and Holy Bull.

Coronado’s Quest headed into the Travers with 9 victories and Holy Bull with 10. Whereas Moreno’s two race win record does not remotely compare to the aforementioned  Dwyer winners, there are two important comparisons that do. And what are those?  Foundation and tactical Speed!

Coronado’s Quest made his 14th start in the Travers and Holly Bull his 13th. CQ was forwardly placed (3rd) and the Bull was 2nd  for the 1st half mile. When Moreno enters the starting gates he will be making his 13th start with only one being in 2012. He therefore has the most foundation of any in the field and appears to lead the tactical speed category.

Then why did he surrender his lead so easily in the Jim Dandy with his ton of foundation? Well, it was his second race in month of July. Add the 10 other races run in 2013 and there must have been some fatigue. It is important to note that he was only beaten 3 1/2L.

Can he be freshened for a major effort in 27 days? Simple answer, Gelding! He has exhibited that he is as tough as any we have seen in the current 3YO crop.

I was planning to use War Dancer, Orb and Romansh in my exotics but I would be irresponsible not to add a Moreno. If he can get away with easy fractions he might not be caught.

24 Aug 2013 8:58 AM
Bloodline Bob

Well, I just read that Rosario has a broken foot + may not be able to ride ORB and GAME ON DUDE. @ Coldfacts, do you still like ORB without Rosario?

24 Aug 2013 9:15 AM
Bloodline Bob

ORB has Jose Lezcano instead of Rosario. Does anyone out here think that will make a difference in the ORB's outcome in the TRAVERS? I don't think ORB will do better than 4th place.

24 Aug 2013 10:16 AM
Linda in Texas

Oh my word, Rosario was set to ride in 14 at Saratoga, this means no Rosario on either Orb or Game on Dude. First of all, Joel so sorry for your injury but better your foot than your head. Next this is unfortunate for Orb, so much was resting in the reassurance department that Rosario knows him. This is a total re think on the outcome. Maybe so, maybe not. Just maybe. Not being a handicapper, i like Bloodline Bob, wonder if this changes bets. Speedy recovery Joel.

24 Aug 2013 10:45 AM
Linda in Texas

Trackjack - you truly are on hallowed grounds and you sound very content which means you genuinely respect it.I hold it in total awe.

Enjoy every inch of the place and eat at Hattie's downtown for the best fried chicken. You will then have experienced a little of the deep south in the State of New York! And Racing, too. Pinch yourself, you really are there!

Thanks Steve, have a great day.

I am hoping HRTV will find you.

24 Aug 2013 11:39 AM
Fran Loszynski

It's funny  Steve I looked at  War  dancer's name. Now I know why he is related to  Afleet Alex's Mom Hawkster.and Orb and Palice malice are awesome too. This is going to be an awesome race folks and who knows the winner Will Take Charge.  Thank you for the info on War Dancer but as a horse racing fan Verrazano is my pick today

24 Aug 2013 1:56 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I know that Palace Malice got off to a bad start but I was disappointed that Smith didn't work harder sooner to get him into the race. Palace could have easily handled a longer sustained drive. I'm not too disappointed since I had a win bet on Will Take Charge but I say it's time for a jockey change ASAP on Palace since Smith will be riding Royal Delta in The Classic anyway. I do think that Palace will redeem himself in the Jockey Gold Cup and be ready for The Classic. Orb ran great after 77 days off, and is clearly a class horse. Moreno looks like he is developing into something special. I still put Palace at the top of the division. Will Take Charge showed who he really is. He just needed that little break to recover after running in all three legs of the Triple Crown. The Preakness and Belmont were tosses. He didn't have time to recover from The Derby, and it was a little lucky that he didn't run harder in the second two legs so that he could recover. I think Verrazano in reality could be a really good miler, but is not a ten furlong horse.

24 Aug 2013 6:49 PM

Whoaaaa...what the heck was that?  I posted this am on the other blog, picking Orb of course.

On a track that's been playing like a dragstrip for 2 days, the Travers seemed to be playing in slow motion.

I must say that I remember Orb being well-muscled and strong during his Triple Crown run.  After 77 days rest, and being 2/3's into the year, I expected to see a few extra pounds needing to be worked off. Instead, I saw a horse too lean, (trying to be a runway model?) who was sweating excessively. Where did all those muscles go?

At least Orb tried, finishing 3rd...on the rail no less.

But about the graveyard of favorites? Verrazano 7th? Lots of flash; no cash.

Irad Ortiz was tactically masterful. Great ride on Will Take Charge. Had to bleed a bit for Moreno, who set the pace but was beaten to the wire in a photo. Almost a rerun of the King's Bishop and Mentor Cane.

24 Aug 2013 7:42 PM
Age of Reason

It is as I suspected: Verrazano is this year's Uncle Mo...

24 Aug 2013 9:07 PM
Paula Higgins

Well, it's not called the graveyard of champions for nothing. Will Take Charge and Moreno in the Travers proved that old chestnut right. Orb did himself proud after the layoff though. A little surprised Palace Malice and Verazzano did not do better. Happy for D. Wayne Lukas and his young jockey. A big win for him. The big surprise for me was Mentor Cane in the Kings Bishop who almost pulled it off. I did not think he would do as well as he did. Happy for John Shirreffs who has not had the best Saratoga season so far.

24 Aug 2013 10:57 PM

Extract from previous post:

Dr Drunkinbum,

“I think Palace Malice is the king of the jungle”

He won the Jim Dandy from a fast finishing Will Take Charge. If records are correct Will Take Charge finished 8th in the KD, 7th in the Preakness and 10th in the Belmont. The last time WTC ran a competitive race prior to the Jim Dandy was his winning effort in the Rebel.

What caused his sudden return to form? I can identify two possibilities.  The surface at Saratoga could be one. He made his debut at that track and finished 5th in a 5.5F race. A 5th place finish is a winning effort for him at that distance. The removal of the blinkers could be #2 and the most significant. Mr. Lukas believes all horses require the head gear.  A return to form WTC should have the better of PM at 10F.

25 Aug 2013 12:34 AM


Coldfacts 19 Aug 2013 3:51 PM

“You said "History is against a Palace Malice victory in the Travers".  You could be right but history is really not a determining factor (only useful for the records after the actual race).”  

Well, history held firm after the race. You did specify that I could be right.

“This Travers is looking very exciting on paper but the result may turn out to be an anticlimax when Verrazano streaks off to a facile victory”

I have posted repeatedly that Verrazano has not broken 1:50 in his two attempts at 9F. How can a knowledgeable thoroughbred enthusiast entertain thoughts that this colt is something special? I have been on record that he is just another over hyped horse. He is a January foal. Name the last January foal that was 3YO champion. Mares do not foal in January in our cold climate if they are not placed under lights to manipulate their cycle.


“Verrazano drew post 3. If the track is dry, it should be a walk in the park.”

There was no water visible on the Saratoga dirt surface on Saturday. There has to be a park in close proximity to Saratoga. That obviously is where the super horse was taking a walk

You guys cannot be serious!

25 Aug 2013 12:55 AM
Pedigree Ann

May I please say "I told you so" on War Dancer? One of the few pleasures of being right without money on it.

Had to watch a replay of the race since I am with the hubby in Lithuania for a business trip. First thought - what the heck is the jock doing, keeping Orb on the rail? He doesn't like it, showed that in the Preakness. AH, Rosario hurt, another guy on. All is clear.

Second thought - why is Palace Malice at the back of the field when they are going so glacially slow up front?  Ah, stumbled start, it says on the chart. What a bummer for him.

Third thought - where was Verrazano? Sat behind a slow pace, ahead of Orb and Will Take Charge, should have had a sweet trip. Could it be that he doesn't stay 10f after all? Hmmm, maybe?

I do think Orb might have won with a prep before this race. Going into a distance race cold after a layoff has always been a tough proposition. Ask Nick Zito (Bellamy Road 2005) and Kenny McPeek (Repent 2002) - each horse ran a good second in the Travers without a race all summer. Prep races, win or lose, get or keep a horse fit. Even if you don't (gasp!) win every time.

25 Aug 2013 2:12 AM

This race was exactly why Wise Dan fans are dying for him to challenge the 3 year olds and company in the BC classic. Anyone still think that Horse of the Year is not up for grabs? If Danny boy continues to win and leaves Moonlit Cloud, should she show up, and the other Euro ponies in his dust at the Breeders Cup, I say he has a good shot at the honors for a second consecutive year. Either way, Wise Dan comes away looking pretty darn good this year. Ofcoarse he has his share of critics, that's to be expected, but after all is said and done, I think he's the best horse we have. Oh yes, I love you Paynter. Good luck!

25 Aug 2013 11:44 AM

Has anyone else noticed that this particular sophomore class, more than ever before, has no real leader.

A colt will run a spectacular G1 on the TC trail, and then, poof...he's wiped out for the next 3 months. They are simply not coming back to form as quickly as their sires and grandsires were so able to do.

To me, Shug is "old school", Pletcher is part of the "new school", but neither is proving to be the better way.

Can our breeding habits have finally caught up to our inattention to stamina, and our lust for short speed, and finally deprived us of a stalwart breed.

My god! The Arabian is the epitome of strength and endurance...and it ain't there no more!

What have we done???  to the horse??? to the sport???  Many were paying attention, and many were vocal in their doubts. But the breeders do not seem to have listened.

And where do we go from here?

25 Aug 2013 12:06 PM

GAME ON DUDE FOR HORSE OF THE YEAR!!!   Time for him to start getting some respect!

25 Aug 2013 10:14 PM

Both Royal Delta and Game On Dude dominated their fields at 10f. Wise Dan, while dominant, hasn't conquered a Classic distance. Love them all, but it looks as though the Dude and the Delta are both closing in on the HOY sooner than the Dan.

WOW! What a race day Sunday was!

26 Aug 2013 10:07 AM

Okay, it's not too late for that "shot of crazy in the arm of horse racing". A match race between the super geldings, Danny Boy and the Dude. Let's say we do a mile and an eighth. Sound fair? On dirt ofcoarse. Alright, what are we waiting for? Let's get this party started.

26 Aug 2013 2:08 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   I agree completely with every word of your last statement. Game On Dude is going to be very tough to beat in The Classic. If he gets the lead with easy fractions, it's all over with. The only chance to beat him is to get him off of his game plan, or for him to get in some trouble that throws him off mentally. He won every top Grade One S. Cal race this year, the Big Cap, Hollywood Gold Cup and Pacific Classic with the Pacific Classic being a monster thrashing of some really good horses. If he wins The Classic as the probable favorite and they deny him HOY then they need to throw the HOY award in the trash. It looks like Royal Delta is going for the three-peat in the Distaff so the two I see with the most potential to beat Game On in The Classic are Paynter and Palace Malice. Nice post dude.

26 Aug 2013 2:31 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I forgot to mention that Game On has won five graded races already this year, three Grade ones, and Two Grade Twos. The Grade Ones were all at 10f and he ran two of them in under 2:01. Monster.

26 Aug 2013 2:38 PM

Paula Higgins 24 Aug 2013 10:57 PM

Excellent post. Bravo.


I'll take my blows on the Travers result ...very disappointed that Verrazano did not fire ...after six furlongs he was done, in slow fractions, and so I'm not in any way convinced that it was a class/stamina issue ... the more reasonable explanation is that he "bounced" off his previous big effort in the Haskel. If he's okay I'll guarantee you that he'll be back for sweet redemption, and this time at a price that even you will GLADLY TAKE a-la-Capo Bastone in the Kings Bishop, with all the naysayers and wagonists off of him. Horses are flesh and blood.

Well well, Game on Dude rattled off another facile victory in California in the Pacific Classic.  He does look impressive as usual beating up on the competition out there but I say that the day of reckoning is still to come when he faces real pace on the front end.

Signal, my friend,

If you're out there reading this ...enjoy the moment. I tell you again, the only horse that can stay in his comfort zone and be crowned HOTY is the defending HOY. Peace.

26 Aug 2013 2:42 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

The winner of The Classic has run it in under two minutes, six times. Ravens Pass 2008, Ghostzapper 2004, Pleasantly Perfect 2003, Cat Thief 1999, Skip Away 1997, and Cigar in 1995. I think there is a pretty good chance that Game On Dude will win it in under two minutes or someone will have to run it in under two to beat him. Of course it depends on who enters and how much early speed there is, although Game On is capable even without too much pressure. He's at the top of his game. The question with him is- Is he likely to run slower with more pressure? His best races have been with him in control and setting reasonable fractions. If he has turned the corner mentally so that he can handle any scenario then we are definitly in for seeing a spectacular race.

26 Aug 2013 3:22 PM


I will have to carefully consider posting negative information about Todd Pletcher's program.

On Saturday I hit my biggest trifecta with Capo Bastone. He looked magnificent in the post parade and he had the back class. He finished 2L, 3rd in the Breeders Cup Juvenile. Under a suspect ride he lost by a NS to Forty Tales in the Derby Trials.

I was taking no chances as I keyed him with the entire field. The Tri paid $16,000. I had the exacta as well. ($749)

I was not even going to gamble on Saturday as on Thursday I had to be party to a decision to remove my mother from life support. She passed away peacefully.

A friend encouraged me to get out of the house and do what I normally do on Saturdays. He figured it would ease my state of depression. With the utmost of reluctance I agreed. It was a good day but I could not really celebrate.

Did you read my last post regarding Moreno? I ended it by stating I would be irresponsible to exclude him from my wagers. His price was too appealing to ignore so I had to take a shot.

A for Verrazano, you can stop making excuses for him. He is not as good as assumed. Both Verrazano and Flashback were regarded as freaks. What did they do attain this status? Enlighten us!

If you have not learnt anything from the hype associated with Uncle Mo and Union Rags, you will forever fall victim horses that flatter to deceive.

26 Aug 2013 7:34 PM

History is against a GOD victory in the BCC. No 6YO has ever won the race. No horse that has won or contested the Dubai WC has been a subsequent winner of the BCC.

In his 5 victories in 2013, Clubhouse Ride finished 2nd three time and Kettle Corn twice. Are any of those two horses considered serious contender for the BCC?  

The BCC has been dominated by 3YOs & 4YOs. It has also been dominated by The Mr. Prospector sire line. Focus should therefore be on the likely starters that fall into those two categories.

26 Aug 2013 7:49 PM
Paula Higgins

Some really interesting comments here. Thank you Ranagulzion! I like your idea that Verazzano bounced after the Haskell. I still think he is a better horse than that performance. Game on Dude was the bomb. Really happy for Bob Baffert and GOD. I would love to see him in the BCC. If he wins that, then I think he is HOTY. Would love to see Royal Delta in the BCC but don't think that is going to happen. Wise Dan is still the frontrunner.

26 Aug 2013 10:28 PM
Pedigree Ann

War! What is it good for?

Good enough for first place in the Up and Coming S (G3) for newly-turned 3yos at Warwick Farm in Sydney last Saturday. The son of More Than Ready out of a Zabeel mare who is a half-sister to the dam of More Joyous (More Than Ready's best Aussie runner) won by about a length in 1:16.66 for the 1300m race. Trainer Gai Waterhouse says "[War] is a very nice horse in the making."

27 Aug 2013 8:56 AM

Coldfacts 26 Aug 2013 7:34 PM

Sorry to hear of your mother's passing ...my condolences to you and your family.

I'm glad about your fortune with Todd Pletcher's Capo Bastone.  Perhaps very soon ...even in the Breeder Cup Classic Verrazano might reward you in similar fashion :)

I must remind you that both Uncle Mo and Union Rags were top class horses that were retired too soon, albeit because of health issues ...I wouldn't say they flattered to deceive. Your famously touted Footbridge flattered to deceive. Verrazano will be back with a vengeance. Peace.

27 Aug 2013 1:54 PM

Many thanks for your kind thoughts.

I posted favorably about Footbridge as part of my evaluation of the 3YO crop in early Spring.

I do not recall regarding him as a freak or a world beater. He went MIA after the Bluegrass and has present any opportunities for further evaluation..

It should not be forgotten he raced without Lasix and other race day medications. Those from the Pletcher camp are all high octane horses.

28 Aug 2013 2:06 PM


My sincere sympathy to you and your family on the loss of your mother.

29 Aug 2013 7:12 AM
Pedigree Ann


Watching the Australian review/preview show at the Australian Racing the in Americas site. Lead-in to the review of the Up and Coming, they did us THE SONG for the intro with slow-motion video of the end of the race. Great minds think alike?

01 Sep 2013 7:45 AM

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