An Early Look at the Travers Stakes

By J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman")

With less than a week remaining before the running of the historic Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga, I thought I would share my preliminary thoughts on some of the major contenders and try to get a feel for how the race might unfold.

So without further ado, here’s my analysis of six well-regarded Travers contenders, in alphabetical order:

Bayern: There can be no denying that his last two victories have been spectacular, but his romping victory in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I)—for which he earned an impressive 107 Beyer speed figure—was aided by a speed-favoring track and a moderate early pace. Under those circumstances, anything less than a runaway victory would have been a disappointment, and I think the combination of stretching out to ten furlongs over a (presumably) fairer racetrack this Saturday may bring him down to earth.

Commanding Curve: The Kentucky Derby (gr. I) runner-up proved to be a disappointment in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), finishing a distant ninth as the 8.90-1 fourth choice. At that point, his career seemed eerily similar to that of his stablemate Golden Soul, who finished second in the 2013 Kentucky Derby before losing form badly in the Belmont and failing to crack the superfecta in any stakes race since then. However, unlike Golden Soul, Commanding Curve returned to flash signs of life in the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II), making a menacing run on the far turn before flattening out and finishing fourth. He’ll need to improve on that effort to contend in the Travers, but don’t count him out of the mix. If the pace is quick, the race could set up very well for him.

Kid Cruz: After flashing more speed than expected in the Jim Dandy, sitting just two lengths behind the leaders after a quarter mile, he dropped back progressively through the next five furlongs and appeared to be on his way to a dismal defeat. But somewhat surprisingly, he found another gear in the homestretch, coming on mildly to finish third by six lengths. He has trained well since then, and seems like a colt that should relish ten furlongs, but his Jim Dandy effort—coupled with an eighth-place finish in the Preakness—suggests that a third- or fourth-place finish may be the best he can achieve in a race of this caliber.

Mr Speaker: I have been a fan of this colt ever since his victory in the Dania Beach Stakes last December, although he has a rather annoying tendency of winning whenever I have selected a different horse. :) His biggest victory thus far was in the Belmont Derby (gr. I) last time out going ten furlongs on the turf, in which he defeated Adelaide (subsequent winner of the grade I Secretariat Stakes), Gailo Chop (subsequent winner of the group II Prix Guillaume d’Ornano – Haras du Logis Saint-Germain in France), Sheldon (subsequently third in the Secretariat Stakes), and Bobby’s Kitten (subsequent runner-up in the grade II National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes), among others. So there’s no denying that Mr Speaker can contend against the best three-year-olds in this country on turf, but can he do it on dirt? His pedigree strongly suggests that he can, but his only run on the surface resulted in a seventh-place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream. But on that occasion, Mr Speaker found himself tracking fast fractions of :46.75 and 1:10.30—and, as we saw in the Belmont Derby, Mr Speaker is much better coming from well off-the-pace. Also, since the Belmont Derby, he has trained extremely well over the dirt at Saratoga, suggesting that he will be able to handle the track. If you’re looking for a talented colt that can handle the Travers distance and will likely be a solid price, this is your horse.

Tonalist: Prior to the running of the Jim Dandy Stakes, I wrote in the comments section of my preview blog post that "Tonalist probably isn't fully cranked for the Jim Dandy, the intention being to leave something in the tank for the Travers." This seemed to be confirmed by the results of the Jim Dandy, in which Tonalist—after breaking a bit slowly and putting in a good run from behind a slow pace—tired a bit in deep stretch as the heavy favorite and finished second. Since then, he has turned in a pair of solid five-furlong workouts, and should be much sharper for the Travers than he was for the Jim Dandy. We know he can handle the ten-furlong distance—after all, he won the Belmont Stakes!—and assuming he gets off to a better start on Saturday then he did in the Jim Dandy, I believe he is absolutely the colt to beat.

Wicked Strong: After finishing fourth in both the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, Wicked Strong added blinkers for the Jim Dandy, promptly flashed much more early speed than ever before, and won by 2 ¼ lengths over Tonalist. His talent and consistency must be admired, but he also took advantage of a moderate early pace in the Jim Dandy, and maintaining his edge over Tonalist on Saturday could be a challenge if the latter steps up like I believe he will.

So in essence, my early idea is to toss Bayern from consideration for the trifecta (and maybe even the superfecta), with Tonalist being my key horse for the top position. Mr. Speaker and Wicked Strong are others I will strongly consider, with respect to Commanding Curve to get a piece of the purse at a major price.

If you have any thoughts, I’d love to hear them!


Leave a Comment:

Pedigree Ann

Until we see the field, we won't know how much pace pressure Bayern will face. None of these other colts is a 'run-and-gun' sort who would give Bayern a test. More than one distance race has been won by a non-stayer who didn't have to work hard early, e. g. Olden Times in the San Juan Capistrano.

19 Aug 2014 9:09 AM
Seabiscrateriat O' War

Mr. Speaker/Kid Cruz. The Speaker will lecture. He and Kid Cruz are the two I think can get the distance aside from Tonalist, who I think will have no value and perhaps just likes Belmont. I don't think Wicked Strong wants 10f, his two graded wins have come at 9f and he's had two shots going longer and failed both times.

19 Aug 2014 9:40 AM

Posttime odds will govern my betting, but I see Bayern as the horse to beat, w Speaker,Wicked and Tonalist in that order as the other good possibilities. CC is likely to 6th, behind Kid Cruz. Bayern and Speaker have the most upside and may be exceptional horses. safe trip.

19 Aug 2014 9:54 AM
19 Aug 2014 10:19 AM
Ta Wee

Bayern is not going to face much pace pressure.  I think it comes down to how the track is playing. If a closer bias is present, that may be the only reason I bet against him. If there's  a fair track or speed bias, he just may be long gone. He seems a different horse than we saw in the Ark. Derby,Preakness and Derby Trial. Seems he's living up to his potential and Baffert has him healthy, happy, and primed, unlike Social Inclusion whom hopefully will one day realize his.

19 Aug 2014 10:50 AM

Major news! It has been reported that Wise Dan will return to the races in the Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. II) on August 30th at Saratoga!

19 Aug 2014 11:52 AM

Pedigree Ann & Ta Wee;

You've got a good point -- it doesn't look like Bayern is going to face much pace pressure. In addition to the six horses I mentioned above, the Travers field is expected to include C J's Awesome, Charge Now, Ulanbator, V. E. Day, and Viva Majorca, none of which appear quick enough to challenge Bayern for command. As a result, Bayern could very well find himself on a lonely lead, although Tonalist and Wicked Strong could potentially be right on his heels. It will be interesting to see how things unfold!

19 Aug 2014 11:59 AM
food fight

Although Bayerns last race was aided by a speed bias in the Haskell it should be noted he didn't turn a hair and could have probably run the next day and win another stakes race.I know there are some inconsistencies with this colt but his last 2 races are outstanding and the track at Saratoga should not be a problem for this colt that looks like he is putting it all together now.This colt could be a single.    

19 Aug 2014 12:14 PM
The Don

If, as is likely, Bayern runs 6F in 1:10 4/5 or slower the race is over.  This is a very high quality animal that Baffert has in peak form and the distance should be no problem.  Tonalist and the Speaker should fight it out for 2nd.

19 Aug 2014 12:26 PM
The Don

If, as is likely, Bayern runs 6F in 1:10 4/5 or slower the race is over.  Baffert has him in peak form and the distance should be no problem, the light has come on for this colt and sky is the limit.  Tonalist and The Speaker fight it out for 2nd.  No graveyard this time.

19 Aug 2014 12:29 PM

I am with you, Tonalist is my pick and is a single for me in the P3 P 4 and will use him over Commanding Curve(who mad me a bunch in the Derby) and Kid Cruz in 2nd and 3rd and Wicked Strong in the 3rd and fourth position. I will you use a backup ticket with Bayern in 3rd or fourth as a hedge.

Does anyone know how Haskell winners do underneath. I know Haskell  winners have not won the Travers in 11 years but I don not know how they do in 2nd 3rd and 4th.

I will finalize my picks late Friday or early Saturday.

19 Aug 2014 1:45 PM

The Travers has not been won by a longshot in a longtime. The 7-1 Afleet Express appears to be the longest shot winner in the last 20 renewals. The moderator has provided an analysis of the top six probables/possibles. I am of the opinion that an upset is long overdue in the Travers and it could be in play on Saturday.

Amongst the probables/possibles are five horses that will be at double digit odds i.e., Coltimus Prime, Viva Majorca, Ulanbator, Charge Now and V E Day.

V E Day, Charge Now and Viva Majorca enter the Travers off 1st, 2nd & 4th place finishes in the 9F Curlin contested the day before the Jim Dandy. Listed below are the fractions for the Curlin & Jim Dandy:

Curlin: 24.06, 47.96, 1:12.27, 1:37.91, 1:50.51

Jim D:  24.45, 47.73, 1:11.36, 1:36.21, 1:49.16

It is unlikely that the track conditions on the day preceding the Jim Dandy were significantly different from those the following day. Based on the fractions and final times above, it is reasonable to assume that none of the horses from the Curlin have any chance of winning the Travers.

Ulanbator finished 5th in the Jim Dandy and Coltimus Prime won the Prince Of Wales he 2nd leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.

19 Aug 2014 2:09 PM


In the years since Point Given completed the Haskell/Travers sweep in 2001, six Haskell winners have competed in the Travers, with three of them finishing in the top four. Here are the six horses, listed by year, with their finish position in the Travers included in parentheses:

2013: Verrazano (7th)

2011: Coil (10th)

2006: Bluegrass Cat (2nd)

2005: Roman Ruler (3rd)

2004: Lion Heart (7th)

2003: Peace Rules (2nd)

Good luck with your bets!

19 Aug 2014 2:10 PM

V E Day: He closed from about 10L last to win the Curlin. However, the fractions were moderate. His victory in the 9F Curlin was his 2nd over the distance in 4 attempts. He finished 2nd & 5th To the Pletcher pair of Edison and Picozza in his 1st two attempts at 9F. This colt is bred to run all day and has won on dirt and turf and with four 9F races under his girth he has the foundation for 10F despite his 5 starts.  

Is he fast enough on dirt to win the Travers? While his stamina is in no doubt I think he is not fast enough to win. However, if the big five struggle in the last furlong he will be there at the death.

Charge Now: He was in mid pack in the Curlin and advance to take the lead but relinquish same to V E Day after a sustained battle in deep stretch.

He is a well bred colt being by Tiznow and out the mare that produced Derby winner Super Saver. He showed a lot of fight in the Curlin as he was gaining on E V Day close home. With only five starts it is difficult to know just how good this colt is. What is known is that his trainer is overdue for a win in the Travers and his owners WinStar Farms are in the habit of winning big races with their homebreds. I am of the opinion the Curlin will move this colt forward significantly and that must make him a live longshot.

19 Aug 2014 2:23 PM

Viva Majorca:

This is the horse I like best from the Curlin despite the fact he finished behind both V E Day and Charge Now. A close examination of his record reflects that he never raced beyond 7F before his start in the 9F Curlin. He got trapped along the rails and had to check off several horses to make his final charge that saw him coming up about 1 1/2L short.

This colt was sired by SA Derby winner and BCC 3rd place finisher Tiago. Viva Majorca has been displaying significantly more speed than his sire. He broke his maiden over 7F at Gulfstream by 12L in 1:21.85 after being comprehensively beaten over 61/2F in his previous start. How impressive was VM’s maiden win? The ultra smart Constitution broke his maiden at GP impressively over 7F in 1:23.85. Bayern won on debut over 7F on a fast SA track in 1:22.24. Viva Majorca then shipped to Churchill Downs and finished 2nd in 6F completed in 1:09.52 before winning over 61/2F pulling a bus in 1:17.14.

This colt has a lot of speed as denoted by the final times of his two victories. Those victories were not achieved on the front end but rather by closing rapidly off the paces. That fact that in his 1st attempt beyond 7F against seasoned 8 1/2F & 9F runners, was beaten by 1 1/2L with a troubled trip, indicates he has inherited his sire’s stamina to complement his speed.

Both his victories came in his 2nd start at  both GP and CD following losses in his first. He lost his 1st race at Saratoga and if the trend continues he will win his second. He certainly has the speed number to do same

19 Aug 2014 2:28 PM

Thank you K J,

Which horse has the most to gain in the Traverse?

Tonalist! He is the only one who can get the Eclipse for 3 yr old and a very slight chance for H.O.Y

He has won the Belmont and beat California Chrome, Winning the Travers at a 1 1/4 would set him up for the B C Classic and if he outfinishes California Crome he could get 3 yr old honours. If he wins the B C he could get H O Y. With Palace Malice's clunker, G O D failing to win the B C CC or Tonalist could get the Prize.

I asked Steve A. and Todd P. what was the most important thing when handicapping a race?. Both told me Owner's and Trainer's objectives and how to get there. Some may say Tapits cannot get 10 F but Tonalist has already proven he can and Careless Jewel, Headache and Testa Mata have won @ 10F

19 Aug 2014 2:41 PM

Coltimus Prime:

I was very high on this colt heading into the Tampa Bay Derby despite his only starts being on Woodbine’s synthetic track. He ran like crap finishing 9th beating only one horse. He returned to synthetic to contest the Bluegrass and recorded an improve performance with a 5th place finish. I that concluded that then he was a synthetic type horse.

He was returned to Canada and contested 3 additional races on synthetic. He finished 2nd in an 8.5F and won a 9F before finishing off the board in the Queens Place over 10F. With another off the board finish in a major stakes race he appeared to be a cut below the top 3YOS on both sides of the boarder.

He had his 2nd start on dirt in the Prince of Wales the 2nd leg of the Canadian TC. He led from gate to wire pulling away powerfully in deep stretch. How impressive was that victory? He easily defeated Amie’s Holiday the 2nd place finisher in the Queen’s Plate who returned to win the 12F Breeders Stake the 3rd leg of the Canadian TC. The final time of 1:54.58 for the 1 3/16F Prince Of Wales represented the 3rd best time in the 25 renewals of the stakes at its present distance. California Chrome recorded a final time of 1:54.84 for the 1 3/16F Preakness.

Coltimus Prime is a May foal sired by champion stayer Milwaukee Brew a son of Wild Again. He was produced from a Distorted Humor mare. Distorted Humor is also the dam sire of Constitution. His powerful victory in the Prince of Wales signaled he is ready to take on the best of his peers. He has good tactical speed and could come away with the lead in the Travers despite the presence of Bayern a colt sired by another son of Wild Again.

This colt is very tenacious on the lead as he displayed in the Display Stakes where he battled the eventually winner for 4F without diving an inch despite the runner-up effort. This is a dangerous longshot despite him being a Canadian based horse.

19 Aug 2014 2:45 PM
NY bred

Bayern will try to wire the Traver's field, but that will be a tall task.  Tonalist will be better off the Jim Dandy prep and two workouts and will easily get the distance.  I've got a bit of a price horse for you in the King's Bishop: The Big Beast.  Tony Dutrow thinks highly enough of him to throw him in deep here, but the understated Dutrow is giddy about his chances.  BTW, thank you Secretariat for the tip on Bold Conquest in the 6th race at Saratoga last Saturday.  And you said he had Pletcher and Lukas to beat.  Some first time Godolphin starter took a lot of money, so the price was fair on Bold conquest, and darn if Pletcher and Lukas didn't come in 2nd and 3rd.

19 Aug 2014 4:37 PM

NY bred,

You're welcome,

Steve is trying to find an allowance race at Churchill for his next race. He is afraid that the race may not fill after his win Saturday. Mr Z who finished 3rd is being pointed for the Iroquois Stakes and that is a possibility if the allowance does not fill. I will post on this sight when I find out what's next.

19 Aug 2014 6:43 PM

Another big race this weekend is Shared Belief vs Game on Dude. Mike Smith opted for Shared Belief who is unbeaten. What a B C this may be CC Shared Belief Tonalist Wicked Strong Palace Malace G O D and others!!!!

19 Aug 2014 6:50 PM

The post positions for the Travers Stakes have been drawn! Here they are:

1 Commanding Curve

2 Bayern

3 Charge Now

4 V.E. Day

5 Viva Majorca

6 Tonalist

7 Wicked Strong

8 Kid Cruz

9 Ulanbator

10 Mr Speaker

19 Aug 2014 7:02 PM

saratoga(my home track)-per sample of 26 races at travers distance(1+qtr. miles)on a fast track-35%win by wiring,53% win stalking and 12% win closing. if track comes up sloppy speed rules at this distance-63% win by wiring field. muddy 50% win stalking, good-50%win by wiring the field. good luck to all! also major bias to the 10 post in races on muddy or sloppy track going a mile and an eighth at saratoga(25%)wins, 75% in the money.

19 Aug 2014 10:00 PM

travers box trifecta-tonalist,mr.speaker,bayern,and my derby hero commanding curve. c.c needs to stay closer to the pace if possible to contend. i'm expecting slow early pace by bayern. this race starts at the far turn.deep closers and pretenders won't do well.

19 Aug 2014 10:19 PM

Saratoga has always been the graveyard of favorites, so I'm not keen at playing Tonalist here.  I didn't think Bayern will like the 10F distance so I'm tossing him out as well.   I'm going to do a wait and see on KC to see if he's a top caliber horse, I have a feeling he won't be competitive in this race much like the other races where he faced top competition.   This is a much much tougher field than the JD.   That leaves me with a bunch of longshots, but I've settled on Commanding Curve as the horse that I think has the best shot at winning the Travers.  I think his JD races sets him up for the Travers very well and with what looks like a lone speed, I see this race unfolding much like the Kentucky Derby and I think Bayern will take his lead to the top of the stretch and extend it but unlike Chrome, he will not be able to hold off Commanding Curve closing on him.   I'm hoping that Ulanbator gets a jockey switch but I'll still use him in my exotics.   I'll single CCurve with Tonalist, Bayern, Ulanbator and Wicked Strong to beat the rest of the field.

20 Aug 2014 12:26 AM
Pedigree Ann

Interesting list, Keelerman. The two Haskell winners who finished second had both previously finished on the board in the Kentucky Derby - Bluegrass Cat was several lengths behind Barbaro, while Peace Rules was still contending with Funny Cide and Empire Maker, the trio a fair way clear of the 4th. In other words, already tested at 10f and did okay.

Lion Heart is the exception - he finished second in the Derby to Smarty Jones on the track that had been pummeled by a monsoon just an hour earlier (some friends of mine were there, camped out on the first turn, and their tent collapsed on them from the rain) - very speed friendly situation.

20 Aug 2014 4:22 AM


Tonalist was my pick for The Belmont but I would suggest that you do not go head over heels for him in the Travers. He is a product of an overbred stallion and the Belmont might have damage him.

I am no handicapping expert but I look for significant portion of a horses PP that are being ignored by most.

Of the 10 horse entered in the Travers only one contested its 1st 9F race with its previous start being at 61/2F and its longest distance attempted being 7F. To many this bit of information might be insignificant but I consider it very pertinent. A horse that makes the jump from either 61/2F  or 7T to 9F and finishes willing with a less than ideal trip give a signal that its speed is complemented by stamina.

Of the 10 horse entered in the Travers two have recorded fast times for 7F i.e., 1:20.75 & 1:21.85 while winning by wide margins. Wide margin victories recorded in impressive times suggest the horses recording them could have gone faster if challenged.  What’s the significance of 7F races as opposed to 8F? It is easier to win an 8F race than a 7F race. Very few 7F races are carded.  I am aware that track configurations and conditions play a significant role in final times. However, the big question is why only one horse was capable of capitalizing on said conditions? Social Inclusion would have completed the Woody Stephens in 1:22 and a bit based on his margin of defeat.

The average seconds per furlong for the above times are 11.53 & 11.69 respectively. The likely fractions for the 1st 7F of the Travers will be closer to 12.25 seconds. Horses that can average 11.60 second per furlong will be under less stress for the 1st 7F and will be much faster than closers when asked for their final effort. The two horses that recorded the fast time above have shown they can sustain their speed over 9F. Will the extra furlong make a difference? With classy horses the answer is no.

Let’s use Moreno as an example. He was caught in the Jim Dandy over 9F. The JD was his 10th race of the year and he entered off short rest. The same colt going a furlong longer lost the 10F Travers by inches.

The Travers field is comprised of mostly routers with reasonable tactical speed. However, there are two contenders with speed and the ability to extend when asked. The Saratoga surface suits their strengths. I do not believe the Belmont & Jim Dandy winners are fast enough to beat both as they have shown vulnerability in the past.

20 Aug 2014 8:00 AM

I am one of those who believe that history has nothing to do with horse racing. The only horses that matter in a race are the ones in the starting gate. Only their past performances matter.

When Wicked Strong won last time out, he ran the final furlong in 12.95 seconds.

He increased his lead in the stretch from half a length to 2.25 lengths at the finish.

He travelled wide and was much the best.

If the track is dry, I take him to win the Travers.

Bayern is a threat because he finished the last furlong in the Haskell in a fast time.  

Incidentally, only two bloggers have ever referred to this race as the "Traverse". Is it just a coincidence? Just wondering in view of another recent post.

20 Aug 2014 9:20 AM

Yo, Coldfacts, Coltimus Prime is NOT, repeat NOT, NOT, NOT running in the Travers. strange.

20 Aug 2014 9:24 AM
Rusty Weisner


This is a tough one.  I have to go against Bayern for the same reasons, but don't have a horse I really like otherwise.  I agree with Ta Wee about the pace.  One thing about Tonalist: if you like him you get fair odds, just by virtue of the fact that he was beaten. Beats me until I look closer, though I am keeping an eye on Kid Cruz - I also noted his early abortive move in the Jim Dandy, which was to his detriment there. Kid Cruz, Tonalist box?

20 Aug 2014 9:25 AM

Don't forget! In half an hour, the top-notch three-year-old Australia is scheduled to take on an exceptional field in the group I Juddmonte International at York. Among his primary rivals are Mukhadram, Telescope, and The Grey Gatsby. It should be a great race!

20 Aug 2014 10:13 AM


Those uncomfortable with the 'E' at the end of the word nan regard it as silent. Oh ne Nit Picker!

I happen to use the word 'Cheque' in reference to a popular promissory note in stead of the word 'check'.

20 Aug 2014 10:37 AM


Those uncomfortable with the 'E' at the end of the word nan regard it as silent. Nitpicking unnecessary!

I happen to use the word 'Cheque' in reference to a popular promissory note instead of the word 'check'

Definitions of History:

The study of past events.

The whole series of past events connected with someone or something.

“Only their past performances matter"

Past Performances reflect a series historic data. If one accepts the historic nature of past performances then one is reliant on history. It is really not something to believe in, it is merely to be used as a guide.

Whereas past performances have more historic significance in handicapping a particular race, there are other historic factors associated with a particular that can be examined for various reasons.

The Travers is a stakes that is historically not won by outsiders. If the 2013 Travers was won by Moreno at 31-1 what’s the likelihood of the 2014 renewal being won by an outsider given the history of the past winners? I contend remote at best!

The Travers has not been won by a big longshot in its last 20 renewals. History suggests a major upset is pending. Moreno at 31-1 got caught close home in 2013. Is it unreasonable to speculate that a major upset is overdue?

Do any of the unfancied horses possess the credentials to break the trend. I contend there are about 4 that do.

20 Aug 2014 10:45 AM


He was listed amongst the probables/possibles.

20 Aug 2014 12:14 PM

Jersey Boy,

Sorry my typos.

I have a new computer and it's faster than my fingers.


20 Aug 2014 12:45 PM

1-Some people proofread what they write.

What is this?


“Those uncomfortable with the 'E' at the end of the word nan regard it as silent”

It then becomes Traves. The correct name is Travers.

Travers is a proper name. The race is named after William R. Travers. His name cannot be altered. He is dead.

2-There is nothing “historic” in the past performances of horses. They are records of routine events.

3-But this is a distraction from the real issue, namely, whether it just a coincidence that only two people on the blog have used the same incorrect spelling of this proper name.

Notice I named no one.

20 Aug 2014 1:13 PM
Little Bill

Coldfacts, your forgetting 2012 dead heat winner Golden Ticket @ 33.5-1.

20 Aug 2014 2:07 PM

random races.....sar race #5   #7 conzig

20 Aug 2014 2:35 PM

We have ,in Europe, an exceptional bunch of 3yos, led by Australia, Taghrooda and Sea The Moon.

They top the ante-post betting for the ARC.

Then there is Kingman, the top miler around.

Australia looked like an overweight horse today. Yet he won comfortably, beating some of the top older horses. Another 3yo was second.

Unfortunately, Australia might not race at 12 furlongs again. He is being showcased as a stallion by Coolmore who once again own the sires of the top two finishers.

Why is it that after I watch racing in Europe, US racing seems like an anticlimax?

20 Aug 2014 2:54 PM

conzig wins easy.....100w = +245.....sar. race 6 #2 signature seven......50wp

20 Aug 2014 3:12 PM

yes....another day, another win......signature seven wins!+207 total after 2 races, +452

20 Aug 2014 3:22 PM

del race 5 50wp #1 heavenly cry

20 Aug 2014 3:24 PM

sar race 7 100wb #8 kezatargent

20 Aug 2014 3:45 PM

loss....then another winner.....3 wins 1 +477........del race 6 50wp doc cebu

20 Aug 2014 3:56 PM

loss at del....3/5 60%+377....sar race 8...#10 saratoga dreamer 50wp

20 Aug 2014 4:16 PM

saratoga dreamer wins...4 wins out of 6 races.....+562

20 Aug 2014 4:27 PM

correction +662

20 Aug 2014 4:28 PM

sar race 9 50wp #6 storming inti

20 Aug 2014 4:40 PM

loss...4/7 wins......dmr race 1 50wp#2 rhodium

20 Aug 2014 5:01 PM

loss dmr....4 for 8 +462.....sar race 10 50wp #7 le deluge

20 Aug 2014 5:16 PM

Coldfacts :  I think you’ll agree that the Belmont field was a much much tougher field than the Travers and yet, I see you saying not to go head over heels over Tonalist in this race.   I remember your posts about how good this horse is and that he's just getting better.   What happened ?   He was a product of an overbred stallion when he raced at Belmont, doubt that change since then so I’m not sure why you mentioned that…you thought he would win the Jim Dandy easily, he ran well and there’s no indication that he may have been damaged...he's a lightly raced horse…what happened between the Belmont and now that made you jump ship ?

Do you actually keep track of what you post ?   It just seems like you contradict yourself and I noticed that you do this to go against the majority.   Because in this blog, a lot of people like Tonalist to win, and therefore you had to go against the masses and go against him ?   I think KY Vet is right about you, you're a contrarian...

I’m not a fan of Tonalist, not because you like him but because I thought the Belmont was a fluke win and the distance favored him and I’m not sure if he’ll win again but as I’ve mentioned, this is a weak field, specially for a 10F race and he’s the only winner past 9Fs in the race so whether he’s a favorite or not, I have to play him somewhere.   I do think that pace will be a big factor with Bayern in the race and that’s why I picked Commanding Curve.  I may throw in a ticket with Tonalist on top, he may actually be as good as Chrome or Shared Belief...but my feeling is that he's really a G2 KC.  I hope I'm wrong though, it would be nice to see a lot of G1 3 yr olds in the Classic going against the top older horses.

20 Aug 2014 11:59 PM

After seeing Shared Belief run in the LA Derby, I'm more excited about the Pacific Classic than the Travers.  It'd be interesting to see how close he can track GoD, who will probably get his type of race with this field.  I don't think Imperative can go with him on synthetic.  I'll probably play a Shared Belief, Majestic Harbor and Clubhouse Ride exacta and trifecta box.  It'd be awesome if Jerry can win this race with Shared Belief.

Speaking of Jerry, anyone know what happened to Exit Stage Left ?   I really like this horse, haven't seen anything about him since he got injured.

21 Aug 2014 12:45 AM

What a blog people where CARTOONS are left unbridled only with imaginary wagers on races that have already passed.Bloggers would you heed the advice of Huckleberry Hound, Tennessee Tuxedo or Wiley Coyote?

The government dosent like its check recipients throwing money at the ponies while the wind whips around that empty cavern of a cranium with half a brain that is minus its prescribed meds.

21 Aug 2014 4:25 AM

Huckleberry Vet Tio Sam wants you

21 Aug 2014 4:28 AM

people might consider these coded submissions in leau of a license to draw cartoons from walt disney.

21 Aug 2014 4:31 AM
Pedigree Ann

Jersey Boy, I am already making plans to head down to Leopardstown for the Irish Champion in September to get a glimpse of Australia in the flesh. With Taghrooda winning the KGVIQE over the (male) elders and now Australia and The Grey Gatsby running away from them as well, not to mention Kingman in the Sussex, I think we can say this is darn good group of 3yos this year in GB/Ire.

I am disappointed that Australia will not be pointed to the Arc - with his Derby wins behind him, he has shown that 12f holds no fears for him - but the consumers of stallion services are leery of the middle distance horse (11f-13f) these days, deeming them unlikely to get those fast 2yos that the owners want. And Coolmore is all about creating stallion prospects.

Did you see the interview with Luca Cumani after Postponed won the Great Voltigeur, the premier St. Leger trial? He spoke about the necessity of being able to push a horse physically without pushing him too far mentally. Some horses are more fragile mentally than others and require a slower introduction to each level of racing, e.g. Postponed who is a robust physical specimen but a bit tender mentally and  had to work through the levels to get used to this racing thing. This is something I think that the 'factory method' trainers like Pletcher, Asmussen, and Baffert sometimes miss with some individual horses, who would do better in a smaller stable with a more hands-on trainer.

21 Aug 2014 5:08 AM

Pedigree Ann:

Good to see you can go to see Australia in Ireland. He is the real deal. But as you said the stallion fees are the main deal with Coolmore. And they are good at it.

The ARC should be a fine race anyway.

I believe that the only way to make US racing as attractive as European racing is to use Belmont Park as the racing headquarters in America. The track is big enough to avoid the bullring style racing. All races run at Saratoga and Aqueduct should be switched to Belmont Park. A retractable cover should be built for the track to prevent the track getting soaked when it rains. Why this does not exist has always been a mystery to me.

If they provided the cover, grass races could be kept on grass. This would attract more European horses and provide larger fields. If we can put retractable roofs on stadiums, we can put simple rugged retractable covers over flat surfaces like racecourses. The cover might pay for itself through billboard style advertising.

It seems that grass racing is also kinder to horses.

I saw the race with postponed. He was impressive, but I did not see the interview.

p.s As I write this, I have just discovered that the height of my chair causes dizziness. Thank you. I have been dealing with problem for 18 months. It is now solved. The doctors could not figure it out.

21 Aug 2014 8:10 AM
Pedigree Ann

Jersey Boy - the basic English system of stabling and training the horses is so different from the US system that it makes no sense to compare them. In Britain & Ireland, no horses are stabled and trained at a racetrack; their homes are near country areas that have long, straight gallops on which to exercise. They then are vanned to the various tracks on the morning of the race, unless it is more than a few hours away (like near Edinburgh for a Pulborough-trained horse) when they go up the evening before. No course is used for more than a few days at a time - the Royal Ascot meeting being the longest, with 5 consecutive days. This preserves the grass, by letting it grow between meetings. Newmarket has two separate courses, one used in the spring and fall, one during the summer. Graham Motion's New Jersey facility is the closest thing to a Euro-style training center in the US, and it is located in a track-rich area with an appropriate climate. Sending lower-level horses to Chicago to race because a race in the book suits them isn't an option, since travel costs would eat up any earnings.

Did you see what happened to the Santa Anita turf course this year, the first time it ran during the old Hollywood Park meet? The course was dried out and hard from the facts of its location in an inland valley and the end of the Rainy Season (Hollypark got ocean fogs, early and late in the day). The current drought meant that they couldn't water much, either.

Using the same track from early spring to late fall has so far worked only at Woodbine, with its Polytrack main track and WIDE outside turf course, which allows for temporary rails at several locations. The climate on Lake Ontario is pleasant for the horses most of the time during the racing season as well. Belmont has been traditionally closed in the summer because it just gets too hot - it used to only run until mid-June, when Aqueduct, which is closer to the shore breezes, had a meet until upstate (and higher in altitude), cooler Saratoga took over. People may be able to watch under shade or in AC-ed areas, but the horses don't have those options.  

21 Aug 2014 10:06 AM


Thank you for your advice, I respect you opinion.

Our connections just retired Valid Expectations.


He is the all time leading stallion by progeny earnings.

From 13 crops he has sired 43 Stakes winners and 41 stakes placed horses  in 13 seasons. I visited the horse several times at the breeding shed here in Texas and at his peak he was bred 100 times a year.

With that in mind I am not worried about Tonalist. The reason I like him best is because of Pleasant Colony on the dam side and I think he will stalk Bayern and overtake him to win. I will stick to singling him in the P3 and use him in a Tri 2-6-7 w 1-2-6-7 w 1-2-7-10

Good Luck.

21 Aug 2014 10:35 AM


Tonalist best races have been at Belmont Park. It appears he favors the surface. His most impressive race has been over a sloppy track.

If you revisit his efforts at Gulfstream Park, they are not dissimilar to his effort in the Jim Dandy. He appeared to be laboring in the stretch of the JD. He is a far striding colt that is a bit of grinder. In fact Kid Cruz was finishing with more interest than Tonalist after dropping far back after being close to the leaders. He was returning from short rest.

I content a well rested Kid Cruz will turn the tables on Tonalist.

I am of the opinion he is a dangerous single but I wish you all the best.

21 Aug 2014 12:06 PM
Rusty Weisner

Secreteriat, Coldfacts --

No need for me to split the baby.  Unless I come up with something better I'll play a Kid Cruz/Tonalist box, for no more than $20.  I'm considering singling DayattheSpa in a 50-cent p4.

21 Aug 2014 12:37 PM
Monarchos Matt


I'm also looking at singling Dayatthespa, she looks like lone speed and probably needed her last, and 5-2 would be good enough for me...she's 4-3-1-0 at SAR.

The Woody Stephens looks interesting, with a lot of speed signed on, but I think Wildcat Red can withstand it on the cutback based on his class. Myotisis Dan looks interesting at a price if the pace collapses.

Still working on the Ballerina...

21 Aug 2014 12:52 PM

I was not impressed with the Jim Dandy as it went contrary to all expectation. Not necessarily the result but certainly the race itself. Dead closer Kid Cruz came away with a brief lead from the gates only to relinquish same to MSW winner Legend who was joint leader with Wicked Strong for 6F before eventually finished last. Kid Cruz was close to the leaders and then dropped back to last while under the whip before rallying into 3rd. Both Wicked Strong and Tonalist appeared to be struggling down the stretch with Tonalist laboring on the spot.

After watching the Jim Dandy several times I am of the opinion that neither Tonalist nor Kid Cruz like the Saratoga surface. Wicked Strong appeared more comfortable on it but was not extending the way he did in the Wood and Belmont. I think Wicked Strong will record the best finish of the top three from the Jim Dandy in the travers.

Mr. Speaker is embarking on another turf to dirt experiment. None of the winners of the last 20 renewals of the Travers contested their previous race on turf. He is a multiple graded stakes winner similar to the top 4 and qualifies in the class department. His fast 5/8 work suggests he will be up with the leaders and that will compromise his usual closing kick. He has not been blowing away the competition of turf as most of his victories have been by short margins. I am not one of those who believes he is cable of carving out even a narrow victory transitioning from his preferred surface. I do not trust this experiment and I am prepared for him to doom all my tickets.

Of the three colts from the Curlin only Charge Now has contested a graded race. He finished 7th on sloppy track in the Iowa Derby. However, all have shown they can route. The Curlin was completed in 1.25 second slower than the Jim Dandy contested the following day. Can any of the three improve 5-7L in 4 weeks? I am of the opinion any upset winner will emerge from this group.

I consider Viva Majorca an interesting colt. He was produced from a small book of 60 mares bred by sire Tiago. Interestingly his dam sire Cape Town is also the dam sire of promising Todd Pletcher 2YO Competitive Edge.

Charge Now sired by Tiznow will is definitely be in my wagers. Colonel John sire by Tinzon won the 2008 renewal of the Travers.

I am just waiting to evaluate the PPs before I specify the horse I like best in the Travers(e).

21 Aug 2014 1:15 PM

No lobe for Mystery Train! His last 3 starts have been over 10F and they have been all victories. How good is he?

He was over raced as a 3YO with 13 starts.  He was sire by a grandson of Caro of Winning Color fame. Caro finished 4th in the Arc and it is possible Mystery Train could handle the synthetic.

He was produced from a Quite  American mare. Saint Laim and Bernardini were produced from Quite American mares. He could be a good play at 20-1

21 Aug 2014 2:15 PM

Coldfacts : It's amazing how you labeled Tonalist being the best, much better than Chrome but now that he's lost the Jim Dandy, you're starting to find the chips in his armor.  Everything you said about the horse when you were glorifying him, all that good stuff, you're saying you didn't take into account the track.   Here's a quote :

"  The desperation for the 12th TC winner has given rise to blindness. "

Sound familiar ?   The desperation to find a better horse than Chrome has given rise to blindness...

21 Aug 2014 9:35 PM

Overbred stallions? Really?

More a case of overbred fiction.

Who is the leading sire in the world?

It is widely believed to be Galileo.

So how many foals does he have in 2014?

According to the Sportingpost, citing Equineline as their source, the number is 197.

This number, of course, excludes mares serviced by him that did not get into foal.

Maybe this ends the nonsense about  “overbred” stallions for all time, but I doubt it will.

22 Aug 2014 12:35 PM
Pedigree Ann

"He was produced from a Quite  American mare. Saint Laim and Bernardini were produced from Quite American mares. He could be a good play at 20-1"

The horse was named Quiet American, not Quite. I'm a big fan of Quiet American mares, since I happen to own one - the lady who ones the farm where I board has two of her own. A paddock full of daughters of QA, and all quite different in looks, although all bays. Hope my 2014 foal (freebie when I bought her) takes after mum, and not his sire, Notional.

23 Aug 2014 5:40 AM
Pedigree Ann

Interesting horse, Mystery Train. He started out at the least of the 3 tracks in Argentina that run group races, La Plata, winning the local Polla de Potrillos (2000 Guineas-type race), placed in the local Derby but couldn't make any impact on the local 3&up G1. A little more time in 'Jersey' (so to speak), a G2 10f versus elders, and he stepped up to the big leagues in the fall (March-May), winning the historic Gran Premio de Honor and the GP Republica Argentina, the G1 race created for the dirt horses after the Pellegrini went to the turf. A nice finish to his 3yo season for this progressive colt. This will be his first start as a 4yo (Argies turn a year older on 1July) and first since the end of May. Might be a bit too soon - changing seasons (South to North and vice verso) can be a lot harder on horses than changing time zones (East to West, and vice verso). Some trainers won't race South Americans for 6 months or more after they come to the States for that reason. But each horse is an individual...,

23 Aug 2014 6:11 AM

Thought I would take a later look at this "early look at the Travers". I enjoy reading all the comments (except the cruel hate-talk when it appears). I learn a great, great deal from all of you.

I'm still thinking Wicked Strong catches up to Bayern, but passes him ?, I wonder. I love it when people say "it all depends on how things play out, who goes to the front and who goes with him (or her), how fast they go together, and which closer "has the kick".

I was a hot-walker at Hialeah Park when just a kid. Back around racing again now, and I am enjoying all I am learning.

I'd get a thrill if the Floridabred Wildcat Red won this upcoming King's Bishop race against the favorites, and also against "M-Dan" the 7 furlong specialist".

Wildcat Red has heart and grit and I love to see him duel in the stretch. He goes for it.  

23 Aug 2014 10:32 AM

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