Travers Stakes 2021 Entries: Essential Quality leads field of seven
Essential Quality is clearly the first name that jumps out at you following the Post Position draw for the Grade I Travers.
Seven have been put forward for the race and Neil Monnery has an overview ahead of J.N. Campbell's handicapping on Friday...
- Post Position
- Morning Line Odds
- Midnight Bourbon
- Essential Quality
- Dynamic One
- Miles D
- King Fury
Morning Line Odds
When the Post Position draw happened at Saratoga for the Grade I Travers this Saturday, where horses started in the stalls was never going to cause much fuss to the betting. The question was all about what price Essential Quality would be on the Morning Line.
The Brad Cox trained Tapit colt has been the star of his division throughout the season and only has that one reversal to his name - although that one defeat was in the biggest race of the year - the Kentucky Derby. Since then though he’s bounced back with a strong win in the Belmont before a tough run in the Jim Dandy. That day he was forced wide the whole way but came through to beat Keepmeinmind by a nose to continue his fine season. Brad Cox is happy with Post Position 2 so he won't be hung out wide from the off. When handicapping the race myself this morning I had penciled him in as the 6-5 favorite. The M/L has him at odds on at 4-5.
That second-place in the Jim Dandy was by far the best result for the Robertino Diodoro trained three-year-old. On another day he could have easily edged out EQ down the stretch. Is this a sign of things to come for this Laoban colt or just a good run on a day against a horse who was out wide the whole way? I’d inclined to lean towards the latter but that performance has surely influenced the 6-1 starting price.
If a horse is to stop the all conquering Essential Quality then most eyes will be on Midnight Bourbon. He came out of the Haskell with a clean bill of health despite being involved in the incident that caused Hot Rod Charlie to be disqualified. It is a bit of a surprise that this Tiznow colt only has two wins to his name from ten starts but apart from the Haskell where he was impeded, this horse has only failed to hit the board once - in the Kentucky Derby. I’m not as big a fan of this horse as some others but I certainly see him as a win contender and the M/L have him as the second choice at 9-2.
King Fury is one of two Kenny McPeek horses involved on the big Saratoga card on Saturday. Swiss Skydiver certainly has the better chance of winning but KF will have some support in the markets. Beaten by half a length in the Ohio Derby last time out on dirt - he was strangely sent out for the Saratoga Derby on turf earlier this month when a quarantine issue forced him to bypass the Jim Dandy. Speaking at the Travers draw, McPeek confirmed that he wishes he'd have scratched him that day but commented correctly that you can't un ring the bell. Earlier this week I wrote that I would prefer to roll the dice with Masqueparade who won that Grade III Ohio Derby and with the odds set at 15-1 for KF and 8-1 for the victor that day - I’m not changing my stance. King Fury though being the rank outsider on the M/L is a bit of a surprise.
The wildcard may well be Dynamic One who is a well bred lightly raced three-year-old trained by Todd Pletcher. He should’ve won the Wood Memorial but moved too early and his trip in the Kentucky Derby was about as bad as you can get. A nice return to form with victory in the Curlin Stakes last time out has him back in the Winner’s Circle. Seems like a longshot but if his odds stat around the 6-1 that have been set on the Morning Line then I'd pass but if he drifts in the pools, he might be worth a punt.
Chad Brown sends out Miles D to round out the field of seven. This Curlin colt is a great example of how rapidly three-year-olds can improve as that second place behind Dynamic One in the Curlin Stakes was a pretty good run. He may well be the outsider at 12-1 but this one is certainly not a no hoper.
J.N. Campbell will be busy later this week handicapping this huge Saratoga card. Check back late afternoon/early evening on Friday when his analysis of the action will be published...
Travers Stakes 2021 Race Card
Age: 3 /
Jockey: Luis Saez /
Trainer: Brad Box /
Odds-on favorite. Only defeat in the Kentucky Derby where he got a bad trip. Not as dominant as his record suggests. If he stays at 4-5 then tough to bet.
Age: 3 /
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr. /
Trainer: Steve Asmussen /
Five race losing skid. Not won since G III Lecomte in January. Surprising second favorite.
Age: 3 /
Jockey: Joel Rosario /
Trainer: Robertino Diodoro /
Often there or thereabouts but doesn't win. 0 for 6 in 2021 but did run EQ close at the Jim Dandy a month ago.
Age: 3 /
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. /
Trainer: Todd Pletcher /
Second in the Wood Memorial which got him into the Derby whereupon he went on to finish 18th. Won last time out at the Curlin Stakes. Seems at best to look at a Place.
Age: 3 /
Jockey: Miguel Mena /
Trainer: Al Stall Jr. /
Won an Allowance Race on the Derby undercard by more than ten lengths. Won the Ohio Derby. Third in the Jim Dandy. Expect him to bring the early speed. Our editor has him as his longshot play of the day.
Age: 3 /
Jockey: Flavien Prat /
Trainer: Chad Brown /
Longshot who broke his Maiden in June and was runner-up to Dynamic One last time out.
Age: 3 /
Jockey: Jose Ortiz /
Trainer: Kenny McPeek /
There was a lot to like about King Fury a few months ago but a temperature ruled him out of the Derby and hasn't really hit his stride since. Should not be the rank outsider but tough to see him in the mix.