Saturday is a huge day of racing up at Saratoga with no fewer than six Grade I races on the card. The star attraction though is in the former of the $1.25million Travers Stakes where nine have been nominated but how many will avoid the dominant Essential Quality…?
The elephant in the room when it comes to pointing your star three-year-old towards the Travers is quite obviously the potential superstar that is Essential Quality. His defeat in the Kentucky Derby surprised many but upon watching the race again, it could easily be argued that he was the best horse in the field but just had a very poor trip, being forced extremely wide on both turns. He returned to winning ways at the Belmont and has since followed that with victory in the Jim Dandy earlier at the Saratoga meet. He’s undoubtedly the betting favorite should he be entered into the race as expected but who are the other horses nominated?
If you just looked at his most recent result, the Steve Asmussen trained Midnight Bourbon would have a line through his name as a contender. Yet he was the recipient of the blocking that caused the disqualification of Hot Rod Charlie back in July at the Grade I Haskell at Monmouth Park. He was a runner-up to Rombauer at the Preakness. Logic would dictate he’s the biggest rival for the Travers crown.
I know Kenny McPeek has been talking up the chances of King Fury but that ill-timed fever that forced his withdrawal from the Kentucky Derby really does seem to have curtailed his progress. This Curlin colt was surprisingly sent out on turf last time out and finished 10th in the Saratoga Derby. His last dirt start came back at the Ohio Derby where he was part of a close four-way finish but lost out to Masqueparade, who is also nominated here. If they both make the starting gate then I much prefer the latter of the two to be in the mix.
Keepmeinmind keeps going out and putting up a game effort in these big purse stakes races but he just never seems to win. Yet he brings home money for his connections and last time out was a bit of a step forward as he finished second to EQ at the Jim Dandy. Always an exotics option should he race.
Trainer Todd Pletcher sees two of his prize three-year-olds nominated but is expected to only send out one of them once entries are official. Wood Memorial runner-up Dynamic One came back from his 18th place finish at the Kentucky Derby with victory in the Curlin Stakes here at Saratoga. Bourbonic won that Wood Memorial back in April but the likelihood of him racing in this race is still up in the air despite being nominated.
Jimmy Jerkens has nominated Weyburn, who won the Grade III Gotham back in March but who has disappointed since. He was under consideration for the Grade I Queen’s Plate up at Woodbine but he bypassed that race and is listed as a possible for the Travers.
Lastly Miles D for Chad Brown is the three-year-old expected to sneak in under the radar. He broke his Maiden back in June at Belmont and ran a good second behind Dynamic One at the Curlin a month ago at the Curlin at the Spa. Will be the long shot but who doesn’t like an outsider?
Entries and the Post Position draw will come out on Wednesday where upon I’ll return with news of that and a closer look at the finial field as we get ramped up for Travers week here on HorseRacing.net/us...