A Biased, But Dynamic, Analysis of the Travers

Who is going to win Saturday’s Travers? That’s easy, Essential Quality, right? Well, perhaps it’s not quite that cut and dry. Yes, he looks like the logical choice, but sometimes you just let your heart dictate your pick and run with it for better or worse. ~ Steve Haskin

A Biased, But Dynamic, Analysis of the Travers

By Steve Haskin


If you want an objective analysis of the Travers Stakes, there are plenty of professional handicappers out there that will dissect the race using speed figures and trip notes and any other tools on which they rely. And after all the intensive study, 90 percent of them are going to come up with Essential Quality.

And rightly so, as he is by far the fastest and most accomplished horse in the race with a near unbeaten record, six graded stakes victories, a championship, and a classic victory to his credit. And he is as close to a winning machine as any 3-year-old seen in years and is so versatile he can be placed anywhere on the track. Oh, and he’s also ridden by Saratoga’s leading jockey and trained by last year’s Eclipse Award winning trainer.

I have visited Essential Quality on several occasions at Saratoga and was so impressed with everything I saw. He trains, he eats, he relaxes, then sprawls out and takes a morning nap. No fuss, no muss, no problem…the perfect racehorse.

So why would anyone pick against him going a mile and a quarter and with a win over the track?

Because I don’t want to pick a horse who is going to be even-money or less, and I have a history with another horse, finding him mired in a fourth-place finish in a maiden race back in January and clinging to him like a barnacle to a ship all the way to the Derby. And I must admit I had him ranked him much higher than anyone else and certainly higher than his record would indicate. In short, I have an emotional attachment to him, and, oh, one other little thing…I really believe he can win the Travers. And that last line is not based on emotion, but pure handicapping.

I am now going to subject you to a brief journey on this year’s Derby trail and a few comments that even I, in all my modesty, have to consider somewhat prophetic, even though he did finish 18th in the Derby. But more later on that race and why it is a complete throw out.

On the January 25 Derby Rankings, I wrote following a 1 1/16-mile maiden race at Gulfstream: “As alluded to earlier, ANOTHER DUKE, coming off a third to Greatest Honour, broke his maiden at Gulfstream Saturday in fine fashion, but it was DYNAMIC ONE, second to Greatest Honour, who was much the best, going six-wide into the first turn from the disastrous 11-post and then making an eye-catching wide move on the far turn to battle for the lead four wide. He couldn’t sustain it for good reason and had to settle for fourth, beaten two lengths. If you’re looking for a real early sleeper for the Derby, this is my hidden gem of the year so far.”

I later found out he lost a shoe in the race and had mucus in his lungs when he was scoped. That made me even more convinced this was a very good horse. I later wrote in Knocking on the Door: “A few weeks ago I mentioned DYNAMIC ONE as my megabomb sleeper. Todd Pletcher still has time to get another race in him in early March and have him ready for a huge leap to one of the big 100-point preps. He had a number of excuses in his last start, which I believe he would have won by several lengths.”

He did break his maiden convincingly in his next start, but did it in slow time. Following the race I wrote: “Granted, he didn’t beat much and they ran very slow over a deep and tiring track, but he trudged his way through it to defeat a highly touted Chad Brown colt by 5 1/4 lengths… he already demonstrated his explosive turn of foot in his last race and this should springboard him to bigger and better things.”

So, it was on to the Wood Memorial and his first meeting with top-class Derby horses. He desperately needed points to qualify for the race. As I wrote: “Now he steps into the big-time in the Wood Memorial. He certainly doesn’t have to win this race, just run well enough to get into the Derby. He has a pedigree to die for and has as strong a female family as you will ever see. Although he needs a fairly big jump forward off his “5” Thoro-Graph number it is doable. I’m just taking a wild shot that there is a top-class colt lurking in there just waiting to bust out. But I admit that more likely will come later on.”

When he finished second, even if it was to his 72-1 stablemate Bourbonic, who nailed him in the final strides, I loved his effort, especially considering how wide he was the entire race.

I moved him up from No. 12 to No. 9 and wrote: “According to Trakus, he ran 43 feet farther than the winner, indicating that with a ground-saving trip he would have won by many lengths. He still showed a good turn of foot sweeping by horses on the far turn to reach contention. He kept on determinedly, but all that ground loss eventually took its toll. He has a tremendous pedigree, but it’s just a question of whether he is fast enough now to win the Derby. He surely has the bottom under him and is dead fit. He may be more of a Belmont or even Travers horse, but I still feel with a good trip he can make his presence felt in the Derby.”

I then took a shot and moved him all the way to No. 4, in good part to his Thoro-Graph pattern. As my comments stated, “We haven’t seen anything close to his best yet… I’m not saying he’s going to win the Derby, but don’t be too quick to dismiss him, especially in the exotics.”

Then came the Derby, and, boy, was I shocked by his 18th-place finish. What in the world happened? There were no excuses coming out of the Pletcher camp.

The weekend after the Derby, my wife and our close friends Avi and Rhoda Freedberg drove to Fair Hill to see their horse, Grade 3 Westchester winner, Nicodemus, who was recovering from an injury at Bruce and Amy Jackson’s Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center. We walked into one of the barns and the first horse I saw stopped me dead in my tracks. There was Dynamic One peering out of his stall. It was almost surreal, having seen him the week before in the Kentucky Derby and now at a clinic in Fair Hill. In deference to his owners I won’t reveal the reason for his being shipped to a therapy center, as it was avoided completely by Pletcher, who simply said they were going to regroup. Nothing was released by the owners, so they obviously did not want to make it public. However, I can say it was not an injury, but two maladies that had to severely affect his performance, both of which were treatable with proper therapy.

The question was, can he be ready for the Travers? Two and a half months later he was entered in the 1 1/8-mile Curlin Stakes at Saratoga and he unleashed a powerful late run to win going away by almost two lengths in 1:49 1/5. So, can a rejuvenated, late-blooming colt with as classic a pedigree as you could want going a mile and a quarter in late August defeat the likes of Essential Quality and several other top-class horses in the Midsummer Derby?

His “2” Thoro-Graph figure following that dreadful Derby figure of “14 ½” equaled his Wood Memorial career high. But he still has improving to do to get close to Essential Quality’s four negative figures and a “zero” in his last five starts. He even has to improve slightly to match Keepmeinmind’s back-to-back “1 ¾” figures in the Jim Dandy and Ohio Derby.

So, from a speed figures standpoint, Essential Quality towers over the field if he can just maintain the numbers he’s been running.

But I am going to stick with my early discovery and hope he can turn in a career-best performance, while Essential Quality regresses just a little. He never does, but if you’re looking to upset a horse of his caliber you need both to happen. I have become an Essential Quality fan and would be happy to see him and Dynamic One run-two. But my heart belongs to the latter.

Now that I have bored everyone with my self-indulgence, let’s take a more logical look at the Travers.

I have been saying all along that when Midnight Bourbon has his break-out performance it will be on the front end when he is the only horse who wants the lead. And he will be hard to pass in the stretch once the Tiznow, and maturity, comes out in him. Now he shows up coming off that near-disastrous incident in the Haskell, and I don’t see anyone trying to outrun him early, especially from post 1, with Essential Quality and Masqueparade stalking, but giving him enough breathing room. Essential Quality normally would have been better served drawing farther out, but from post 2 he will be able to break next to Midnight Bourbon and get a good position right off him.

Dynamic One would need one of these two to go after him early enough to at least give the closers a shot. And Dynamic One, Keepmeinmind, and Miles D can all close.

Now we come to the most intriguing horse in the race and my longshot pick. King Fury was going into the Kentucky Derby the potential wise guy horse after his impressive victory in the Lexington Stakes, but he was forced to miss the race, coming down with a fever the day before. He returned in the Ohio Derby and was flying at the end to barely miss catching Masqueparade by a half-length and finishing ahead of Keepmeinmind. He was all set for big effort in the Jim Dandy Stakes, but NYRA would not allow him to run because his barn’s quarantine ended one day after the race. Trainer Kenny McPeek decided to use the Saratoga Derby as his Travers prep rather than go into the race off a two-month layoff, even though he had never run on grass. When he drew post 11 in the 11-horse field it put him at even a bigger disadvantage, and McPeek was reluctant to run him. He raced wide the entire race, put in a brief bid, then tired, with Jose Ortiz not persevering with him in the final furlong. He will appreciate a return to the dirt and will relish the mile and a quarter. He looks live, especially in the exotics, and to me is the huge upset possibility. I’ll take the generous 15-1 morning line odds right now.

So, it is a Dynamic One, Essential Quality, King Fury exacta and trifecta box, with my main win bet going on Dynamic One and a smaller wager on King Fury. Although Miles D, Keepmeinmind, and Masqueparade are all eligible to run big races, the main danger would be Midnight Bourbon stealing the race. After what he went through at Monmouth, it would be a great story.

But on a personal level, I am looking for Dynamic One to fulfill the promise I saw in him way back in January when he was still a maiden. Now, how’s that for an objective analysis?

Time to Anoint Gamine the Queen?

Gamine hasn’t gotten much attention lately, but she is back in the big-time, taking on some classy filly sprinters in the grade 1 seven-furlong Ballerina Stakes. If she wins this race with the same brilliance she has won most of her one-turn races then perhaps it is time to consider her, pound for pound, the best horse in the country.

It is the belief of most veteran racegoers that the immortal Dr. Fager is the fastest horse ever produced in this country. The Doc’s two most iconic records were his world-record mile in 1:32 1/5 under 134 pounds, which has not been broken on dirt in 53 years, and his career finale, the Vosburgh Handicap, in which he lugged 139 pounds and broke Aqueduct’s seven-furlong track record, blazing the distance in 1:20 1/5. Well, Gamine equaled Dr. Fager’s time of 1:20 1/5, winning by 6 ¼ lengths, and ran a mile in 1:32 2/5, just a fifth of second slower than The Doc’s world record, while winning by almost 19 lengths. And we’re talking about a 3-year-old filly. When she won the Test Stakes by seven lengths, she ran the seven furlongs in 1:20 4/5, which was the co-fastest time in the 99-year history of the race.

Even with her winning the Derby City Distaff at Churchill Downs by only 1 ½ lengths when trainer Bob Baffert had her a bit short over a track she didn’t care for, her average margin of victory in one-turn races is still eight lengths.

Never Dismiss Swiss

Here is a statistic you will never see again. Last year, Swiss Skydiver, who runs in the grade 1 Personal Ensign Stakes, won the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks at Gulfstream with Paco Lopez aboard, the Grade 3 Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park with Brian Hernandez aboard, the grade 2 Santa Anita Oaks at Santa Anita with Mike Smith aboard, the grade 1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga with Tyler Gaffalione aboard, and the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico with Robby Albarado aboard. That is five graded stakes wins at five different tracks in five different states, ridden by five different jockeys. She won in the South (Florida and Arkansas), the West (California), and the East (New York and Maryland).

She also finished second in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs, second in the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, and third in the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds. So in all, she won or placed in eight graded stakes at eight different tracks in seven different states…in just one year. Not bad for a $35,000 yearling purchase. No matter what she does the rest of the year, her legacy is secured.

Will Life be Good for Jackie’s Warrior?

Is there a more intriguing matchup on Saturday than Jackie’s Warrior vs. Life is Good in Saturday’s Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at seven furlongs? Jackie, arguably the fastest colt in the country, will take on the undefeated Life is Good, who was forced off the Derby trail with an injury after crushing eventual Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit in the San Felipe Stakes. Initially trained by Bob Baffert, he has since been turned over to Todd Pletcher.

I doubt there is anyone who can outrun Jackie’s Warrior early, but you can bet Pletcher will have Life is Good cranked up coming off a layoff. No one, with the possible exception of Baffert, gets horses to break more sharply than Pletcher. And let’s not forget that Drain the Clock also has plenty of early lick, with three major sprint victories to his credit, and is the only horse to defeat Jackie’s Warrior sprinting, although he was trounced by him last time out.

This should be the proverbial barn burner.


Photos courtesy of Steve Haskin


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41 Responses to “A Biased, But Dynamic, Analysis of the Travers”

  1. Davids says:

    Essential Quality, once again, showed why he is a champion racehorse by winning the Travers Stakes. Marvelous to see Midnight Bourbon return with, arguably, his best performance. Sad to see Whitmore depart racing by being vanned off, what a competitor?

    Flightline should be close to another race going by his workouts at Del Mar. Any news on Triple Tap?

  2. EddieF says:

    Steve, you were right (well…nearly) about Midnight B having a good shot at winning if he got a clear lead. Great race. Great card. EQ is as tough as they come!

  3. Mike B. says:

    Hi Steve, I wasn’t with you on Dynamic in the derby (my pick actually did worse). But I’m with you here.

    While I don’t feel Dynamic’s last race was anything special, I do think it was the perfect prep. He wasn’t asked until late in the stretch, and responded, coming home very comfortably in 12.4, with a lot left in the tank as he crossed the wire (imo).

    If I had any trust in Midnight Bourbon’s ability to stay, I would be very afraid of him here. He is clearly the lone speed (expecting Essential to sit about a length off him). And he ran very impressive for a long time last out, battling through fast early fractions. Let’s also keep in mind (no pun intended), that he was caught by 2 insanely talented closers, who had the luxury of sitting off the hot early pace. So I expect Midnight to give people a scare for much longer in this race. Jeez, did I just talk myself into Midnight? lol

    As for Essential, I think if he is going to get beat, this is the race. I feel like that last race took a little something out of him. So that leaves us with the next horse up imo, the one with a chance to take another nice step up – one Dynamic One.

    • Coldfacts says:

      “As for Essential, I think if he is going to get beat, this is the race.”

      The Belmont, Jim Dandy & Travers triple is rare feat. The most notable to attempt the feat was Affirmed. He won the Belmont, Jim Dandy and came up short in the Travers. Conquistador Cielo also won the Belmont, Jim Dandy but likewise came us short in the Travers. But he contested the Dwyer between the JD and Travers.

      Interestingly there are several that have completed the Jim Dandy/Travers double. A few are listed below:

      Alpha – He didn’t contest the Belmont
      Stay Thirsty – He was 2ndin the Belmont
      Street Sense- He didn’t contest the Belmont
      Bernardini – He didn’t contest the Belmont

      From a historic perspective, the triple Essential Quality is attempting is seldom achieved. The Jim Dandy/Travers double has been achieved with regularity. So this task should be well within EQ’s scope. He appears to be a tough and tenacious sort. It wouldn’t a stretch to conclude he thrives on racing.

      If he is beaten, it will be by better opponent on the day and not from the adverse effects of his wide trip In the Jim Dandy. Stay Thirsty came close to completing the triple and he didn’t possess EQ’s talent.

    • EddieF says:

      You could be right that EQ’s Jim Dandy run might have taken something out of him. The only other time he had a hard-fought stretch drive and then returned just 4 weeks later was from the Blue Grass to the Ky Derby. But he lost by only a length in the Derby, which is the only 10f race in any of these runners’ PPs. Midnight Bourbon and Keepmeinmind had dreadful starts in the Derby, and Dynamic One was rank early. The other three have never raced further than 9f on the dirt. If EQ was able to come up just a length short against 18 rivals (all of the best 3yos in training), the Travers should be a cakewalk.

  4. Steve Haskin says:

    If they let Midnight Bourbon get an easy lead watch out. Dynamic One will need some help up front.

    • EddieF says:

      It’s possible, but he’s gotten an easy lead only once in his 10-race career.

      • Steve Haskin says:

        And he won. Having the rail and with a good break he has the speed to go to the front, and I dont think anyone in here wants to be in front and EQ should be quite content to sit just behind him. Saez wont want to move too soon for fear of the closers and Midnight Bourbon not giving up the lead too easily. One of these days the Tiznow is going to come out.

        • EddieF says:

          Indeed he did. And Mandaloun was in that race. But a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. MB will likely be around 4-1. He may even be lower as the public’s most logical upset choice. Does he have a 4-1 or better chance of winning with the hope that he gets a clear easy lead? If he doesn’t get that lead, he’s more like a 10-1 shot.

  5. Coldfacts says:

    The last 14 Travers winners that finished amongst the also ran in the Kentucky Derby:

    Keen Ice – 7th By 8 3/4L
    Will Take Charge – 8th by 12 1/4L
    Alpha – 12th by 19 1/2L
    Stay Thirsty – 12th by 11 1/4L
    Summer Bird – 6th by 13L
    Colonel John – 6th by 14 1/4
    Flower Alley – 9th by 7 1/2L
    Birdstone – 8h by 15 1/4L
    Ten Most Wanted – 9th by 7 1/2L
    Medaglia D’ Oro – 4th by 8L
    Point Given – 5th by 11 1/2L
    Lemon Drop Kid – 9th by 5 1/2L
    Holy Bull – 12th by 18 1/4
    Corporate Report – 9th by 8 3/4.

    The also rans from the 2021 KD:

    Dynamic One – 18th by 32 1/4L
    Keepmeinmind – 7th 8 1/2L
    Midnight Bourbon – 6th by 8 1/4L

    Of the 3 also rans above. Which is the least likely to emerge an upset winner off the Travers? That appears to be Dynamic One. Not only will the Union Rags colt has to erase the 24L deficit associated with Midnight Bourbon and Keepmeinmind, but will also have to erase a 31 1/4L deficit with ML favorite Essential Quality. I have heard of killing 2 birds with one stone but never 3.

    Further, of the 14 KD also rans that emerged winners from the last 30 renewals of the Travers. None were beaten as badly as 31 1/4L. On any given Saturday strange results can emerge. But it appears Dynamic One will need a miracle to have the colors of his owners painted on the floating object sitting in that body water at Saratoga.

  6. Nelson Maan says:

    Thanks Steve for the inside information about Dynamic One. I am glad the son of Union Rags is finally responding to your early recognition of his raw talent. The Curlin Stakes was his fastest race ever and surely justifies targeting the Travers … a final 1/8 furlong in 12 2/5 seconds suggests he will cherish the 1 ¼ mile of the Midsummer Derby.

    At any rate, I just hope that Pletcher takes him through the same successful path he did with one of your top ranked Derby horses. Vino Rosso validated your early views with a 4-year-old championship title.

    Talking about biased outlooks I could say I am partial to Essential Quality since his remarkable debut on Derby Day last September.

    So far, Essential Quality is portraying the proverbial Alpha male who could only be defeated by very bad racing luck or by injury and illness. These are like ticking bombs menacing the life of any Athlete.

    Longevity is a rare trait in these modern Racing Times; but Essential Quality is among a handful of 2-year-old Champion reaching this far. Street Sense, Lookin at Lucky, American Pharoah and Good Magic were the other 2-year-old Champions able to run in the last 29 editions of the Travers.

    One can be optimistic when everything is going as per plan especially with the Travers being a primary target plotted for the son of Tapit.

    Coming back to the picks of the heart, I love the pedigree of Miles D. Being a son of Curlin out of a dam by Bernardini warrants aptness to the Classic distance. Mile D’s second dam is the Champion My Flag who is by the one and only Easy Goer out of Private Ensign; one of the greatest mares of all time. It is also kind of a reassuring that Bernardini and Easy Goer won the Travers…

    Miles D’s debut last October at Belmont was a promising one as he finished a close 4th behind more experienced horses in Speaker’s Corner (1st), Caddo River (2nd) and Greatest Honour (3rd). Bourbonic also debuted in that key race.
    No one can deny that those are high caliber horses … Speaker’s Corner reappeared 12 days ago after a 9-month hiatus. The son of Street Sense confirmed his talent by winning easily that 7-furlong Allowance cloaking a superb 82 1/5 seconds.

    If we think that Dynamic One is good enough to rattle the Champ it is then not far fetched to believe that Miles D will be also in the mix. Finishing less than 2 lengths behind Dynamic One just coming off a maiden win hints that Miles D got an important upside in his third race after an 8-month layoff.

    The two sons of Curlin (Miles D and King Fury) appear to be the longest shots in the Travers but both got excellent genetic credentials for the distance.

    As Handicappers we are always looking for viable long shots and it helps that Saratoga has been called “the graveyard of Champions” after all…!

    • EddieF says:

      Hey, Nelson. So Miles D’s second dam is My Flag….and Dynamic One’s third dam is My Flag. Love the Phipps connection.

      • Steve Haskin says:

        Great analysis Nelson. Thank you. If Dynamic One and Miles D run 1-2 again there is a good possibility for a post-race column.

      • Nelson Maan says:

        Good point Eddie… and with Smart Strike being Dynamic One’s Broodmare Sire there is another commonality with Miles D who is a paternal grandson of Smart Strike as well.

        As Steve said below, if they are able to go 1 – 2 in the Travers there will be a nice story around My Flag and the enduring legacy of the Phipps system.

        BTW… what is your view on the thrilling matches between Jackie’s Warrior vs. Life is Good in the East and Medina Spirit vs. Rock Your World in the West…?

        Will Life is Good prove he was a legitimate early Derby favorite by defeating the brilliant Jackie’s Warrior at 7 furlongs? Will that win reset him as a Championship contender?

        Is Rock Your World able to rebound from two demoralizing races following a very impressive Santa Anita Derby? Will Umberto Rispoli reunited with Rock Your World beat Medina Spirit again and retain the mount till Breeder’s Cup day?

        The 3-year-old horses got two important Stakes after this weekend: the Pennsylvania Derby on September 25th and the Oklahoma Derby on September 26th. I would like to see the best horses from the Travers going for the Woodward as a preamble to the Breeder’s Cup showdowns.

        From there, just before the Breeder’s Cup Festival, they will have to face older horses in the Woodward (9f), Ack Ack (8f), Lukas Classic (9f) and the Awesome Again (9f) Stakes on October 2nd.

        I feel like the top 3-year-old horses this year are very capable of excelling against the older horses… great times ahead for the Horse Racing fans !

        • EddieF says:

          Nelson, I read that Daisy Phipps Pulito, the daughter of the late O.M. Phipps who manages Phipps Stable, selected the mating between Union Rags and Beat the Drums. So Dynamic One was bred by the Phipps family and sold for $725k. But the Phipps family has retained a piece of him.

          The LIG and JW matchup is highly anticipated. Is a stakes record in the offing? I’m thinking that Drain the Clock in the Amsterdam wasn’t in peak form off the layoff and may also have been compromised by the slop. The only horse that’s beaten him this year on a fast track is Greatest Honour in the 8.5f FOY, and he did have the lead through midstretch. ML 6-1.

          I don’t have much confidence in RYW, what with two straight disappointing efforts and the indecisiveness by the connections on where to run him next. Medina Spirit should win, but I’m a selective bettor and prefer bigger odds: the improving miler Willy the Cobbler at 20-1?

          The remainder of the year will have no shortage of equine drama!

          • Nelson Maan says:

            Yes Eddie… Drain the Clock has been very successful on fast surfaces. I however still believe that he beat Jackie’s Warrior in the G1 Woody Stephens just because the Champagne Victor missed the break that day.

            I see that you are playing long shots riding the rail in both Stakes.

            Team Merchants is my major longshot in the Shared Belief… the son of Nyquist showed a lot of promise last year in Saratoga and looked to be regaining good form now…!

            Good Luck in all your bets this weekend!

  7. Matthew W says:

    Essential Quality always shows up! In my opinion, the only horse with much of an upset shot, and not much of one—is Keepmeinmind, who was closing on the inside in the Jim Dandy, and was barely beaten. I like Swiss Skydiver at the price, she made a strong move vs top horses in her comeback….it could be chalky but it’s Saratoga! Keepthatinmind…..

  8. Deacon says:

    This should be a great weekend of racing at Saratoga. I just love the pageantry there.
    It has been said that Saratoga is the graveyard of champions or favorites. If Essential Quality loses then he as well can be added to that list. In my mind I am pretty confident he will win the Travers. He is just a malchine that keeps on winning.
    It is hard for me to bet on inconsistent horses who run a great race every now and then.
    Whatever happened to Greatest Honor? Is he done, he was Derby horse all through the Derby Dozen.
    Yes Gamine is very fast, no disagreement there and she could be considered another Ta Wee or Landaluce. The Doc carried imaginable weight, horses today will never see 130 lbs or more.
    I love the Travers , it is one of my favorite races. The 1962 & 1967 Travers rank in my top ten of great races.

    Excellent assessments Steve, I always enjoy reading your insights, they make perfect sense. Maybe Dynamic One
    will win for you. It would surprise me if he did.

    Great blog as always, I could read your stuff all day, everyday.

    Good luck to you…..

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Thanks as always, Deacon. I was hoping to get an update about Greatest Honour from Shug if we go to Saratoga next week. Hopefully he’ll be back later in the year as reported.

  9. Ms Blacktype says:

    Steve, you mentioned Greatest Honor as part of the lead up to this point in the season. Do you know what is up with him? I was disappointed to see that another Trail favorite, Known Agenda, has just been retired.
    As for betting the heavy favorite, I did exactly that at the Alabama and hit the exacta, too. I think I won all of $25, but I jumped up and down and yelled like I’d won a million bucks. Sweet ending to a lovely day at the track.

    • Davids says:

      “ Trainer Shug McGaughey said he expects to have his multiple graded stakes-winning 3-year-old Greatest Honour back in training by Sept. 1 to work toward a winter campaign.” The Blood-Horse” website July 26, 2021

      Main target being the the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes. Hopefully, this exciting colt returns even better than before.

  10. Sheila says:

    Sometimes your gut feeling is better than all the handicapping in the world. I tend to go with that most every time and am usually not disappointed.

  11. EddieF says:

    Excellent analysis, Steve. I’ve poured over the PPs and I’ve determined that there’s nobody pointing a gun to my head and commanding me to make a bet. Thank god! I think that EQ will be a heavy odds-on favorite (i.e., 1-2 or lower). I’m guessing that neither you or any of your readers remember the defeat of Gallant Fox in 1930, so I’ll just say that an upset of such a heavy fave is an extremely rare event in the history of the Travers. In addition to the defeat of Conquistador Cielo in 1982, there was that 2015 running that’s still fresh in our minds. That said, who is this year’s Runaway Groom or Keen Ice?

    Runaway Groom had never been worse than 2nd in eight previous races in 1982, but had not raced in a graded stakes. Keen Ice, on the other hand, had raced in 6 consecutive graded stakes in 2015 without a win. His best race was his last one, a second to American Pharoah in the Haskell.

    So do those bits of trivia point to Miles D (this year, 1st in a MSW and 2nd in a listed stakes) or Keepmeinmind (6 consecutive graded stakes losses this year)? The latter’s best race was his last, a second to EQ in the Jim Dandy. In that one, the deep closer was out-closed by the stalker EQ. Miles D has raced just three times. Even the great Arrogate had four races before the Travers. And he didn’t lose the last one.

    Dynamic One? He hasn’t beaten any horse of note this year. He was nipped by Bourbonic in that most bizarre of all Wood Memorials in recent memory. Has any horse from that race done anything of note since then? I don’t think so. Perhaps a couple of the horses behind him the Curlin Stakes will become something, but not yet. King Fury? He beat a lackluster Lexington field in the slop. What can you take from the Ohio Derby, where he nipped the winless in ’21 Keepmeinmind and lost to an allowance winner that followed up with a fade in the Jim Dandy?

    I’m left with the distant second choice, Midnight Bourbon. Since the Lecomte in January, he’s had several chances to gain a clear early lead. But he hasn’t. Masqueparade seems to have a similar running style and should keep MB busy in the early going.

    Bottom line: You have the guts to take a shot against the big favorite. I’ve come up with nothing. Everything points EQ’s way. So I’ll wish you luck with your bets, but I’ll be a spectator.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      All good points. As I said in the headline, this was a biased analysis. Just picking the horse I latched on to back when he was a maiden. If I do bet it will be minimal. King Fury still intrigues me a lot as the longest price in the field. If youre going to try to beat EQ you can make a case for any of the others. It’s wide open for second.

  12. Coldfacts says:

    A very interesting historic trail regarding Dynamic One. I am of the opinion that the performance of 2nd place finisher in the Curlin, suggests he is a better prospect to win the Travers at a much better price. This of course requires that runner up to make a big move forwards. But given his pedigree and the ability displayed to date. I consider this well within his scope.

    Miles D finished 4th on debut in a MSW that contained the following opponents:

    Speaker’s Corner (1st) Recently returned from a long period between starts to destroy a strong allowance field.
    Caddo River (2nd) – Run away winner of the Smarty Jones.
    Greatest Honor (3rd) – Holy Bull & FOY winner; 3rd FL Derby
    Bourbonic (6th ) – Wood winner; 13th KD & 5th Belmont.

    It wouldn’t be a stretch to conclude that the above referenced MSW was supper live. Miles D disappeared for 8 months after his debut effort and returned to break his maiden in a MSW over 8F.

    A little over 6 weeks later he contested the Curlin against more seasoned opponents and finished 2nd. The Curlin winner Dynamic One was runner up in the Wood and badly Beaten 18th in the KD. It should be noted that Wood winner Bourbonic finished 6th by 14 3/4L in the MSW in which Miles D finished a close 4th by 1 3/4L. He therefore has 13L to spare on Bourbonic. Dynamic One (18th) finished behind Bourbonic (13th) in the KD.

    Dynamic One made 6 starts ahead of the Curlin, compared to Miles D’s 2. He was assigned an Equibase figure of 102 for his Curlin win. Whereas Miles D was assigned 100 for his 2nd place finish. The two were only separated by 2 points.

    From the above Equibase figures, it is reasonable to conclude that Miles D with significantly less experience and less miles travelled, would be the greater beneficiary from the 9F Curlin. It was his 2nd start in 8 months and first time at the distance. He was only beaten by 1 3/4L by a more seasoned graded placed opponent.

    From a pedigree perspective, Miles D should be more effective over 10F than Dynamic One. This is despite the fact that Dynamic One was the stronger of the two at the finish of the Curlin. His dam sire Bernardini and 2nd dam sire Easy Goer represent a tower of stamina. Should same be transferred to the colt’s dam and granddam. The prospect of Miles D being a serious router is greatly enhanced.

    Dynamic On finished 9th on debut as the even money favorite. It took him another 3 start to break his maiden. He finished 2nd to HB & FOY winner Greatest Honor by i 1/2L . It took a photo to separate Miles D and Greatest Honor for 3rd in their meeting. From a talent perspective Miles D appears to have the edge over Dynamic one despite his defeat by the Union Rags colt.

    Would Chad Brown throw this lightly raced colt into the deep end if he were not convinced he had the credentials to win? A trainer of his repute isn’t known to provider race fillers.