The Traver’s Stakes is often referred to as the midsummer Derby although in reality, we are near summer’s last stand. College football begins this weekend, Friday night lights begins in high schools across the country the week after, the NFL kicks off the leaves begin to turn colors and suddenly we are reading PPs for the Breeder’s Cup. The fact is, there isn’t much summer left and for the eight URC horses entered in Saturday’s residency Travers, there isn’t much of their 3yo season left. They were bred with high aspirations, mostly they fell a bit short and while hope abounds for next year, this may their last chance to pull out a significant victory this season.
Our field is tightly packed with one 7/2 favorite then six entries clustered around 4/1-8/1 odds with four of those being installed at 5/1. Only one longshot is entered. Race favorite is Giant King son of Giant’s Causeway and last seen trying the turf the last three starts stretching back to May. Elevated his SP to a career-high 111 SP last race at 8.5-furlongs which makes this entry a bit perplexing. Giant King has been beaten by a combined 26 lengths over two races at 9.5-furlongs on the dirt. He seems to have built up a decent foundation on the turf and I’m not sure either the 10-furlongs or the switch back to dirt will be beneficial for Giant King. While there was likely some frustration in losing a 3L with a 111, I believe Giant’s Kings best surface is on the grass and will be hard-pressed to find the winner’s circle here despite his high quality. He is a scratch-bred with Kingmambo x Gone West. Speed biased Gone West in the DDS position also raises questions about the colts affinity for sprints, which thus far he has not attempted. I’m looking elsewhere.
Second favorite is the vexing colt Deckon Thar a son of Arrogate who won the URC Preakness. He was freshened up after that win and had 2 1/2 months off before his entry into the G2 Shiny Gem where he ran a brutal, career questioning race where he finished 12th. So which colt is Deckon Thar, the one who triumphed in Maryland or the one who fell apart at Belmont? We will answer that question in Saratoga Saturday. One piece of trivia which may interest the bettor, Deckon Thar has run in two previous residency stakes, both of which were run on an off track. Saturday’s event will also be run under some showers so that seems to benefit the large grey colt. One to strongly consider, if he returns to his Preakness form he is dangerous.
As alluded to, four runners drew 5/1 odds which is basically the track saying, “we don’t know what’s going to happen with them, pick whichever name you like the best”. Well, alright then, let’s look at their names; To The Shire We Go, Pirate Masters, Callixtus, and Kymarc Berkelium. From my perspective, it’s To the Shire we Go and Pirate Masters. I mean, come on, To the Shire we Go is a great name. Aside from his sire and hobbit inspired (bonus points for the duel reference put into the naming) name, the Flintshire son won at 10-furlongs on the dirt last time out by 2 1/2 with a 103 SP in a 2L. Shire crosses the Atlantic after that race in Germany and attempts to replicate that effort in his first attempt at stakes company. With A.P. Indy in the highly influential DDS position, we can discern where both his distance and dirt affinity came from. We know he can get the distance and he should run well. A serious threat. Pirate Masters also comes into the Travers off a 2L win posting a 105 SP at 9.5. Although the time is higher than Shire’s, Pirate Masters has run 15 times already. 2/15 doesn’t inspire tremendous confidence in her ability to score a black-type win. Her pedigree is a mixed bag being pedestrian on her father’s side being by Mastery and regal on her dam’s side A.P. Indy x Sadler’s Wells. Digging further we see she broke her maiden at 9.5 on the dirt winning by 3. Clearly, she likes the distance and surface. Can we get past her 13 losses and pick her as the winner? Further mud in the water is the fact that she is a filly and it’s asking an awful lot out of her.
Both of our other 5/1 choices have excellent records with Kymarc 4/7 and Callixtus 5/9. Kymarc is by Squirrel Squirt from a MdO x A.P. Indy mare. Indy, by the way, is dominating this race appearing in all the mentioned pedigrees thus far except Giant King (Deckon Thar is from a Mineshaft mare). Kymarc had run four straight times at a mile, winning three in a row before finishing 2nd in the Universal Acorn last race. Running the Acorn means she is our second filly in the field and I’m always hesitant to pick against the colts unless they exhibit a significant class advantage. Is Kymarc an excellent female miler? Without question. I’d go so far as to say she is likely a future stakes winner but I am less confident to say that will happen against the colts at 10. She does have a lot of speed and will control the pace of this race however I expect her to fade in the stretch. We just saw Callixtus last month in the URC Haskell where he ran a 104 good enough for 4th, a defeat which snapped his four-race winning streak. He’s 2/2 on an off track and after trying stakes for the first time last race, I would expect him to move forward Saturday in his second attempt. A lot to like from the son of Super Saver who has a well put together backend of Unbridled x Carson City. I really like that combination of classic dirt stamina with brilliant dirt speed. One you simply can’t leave out of your trifecta box.
Run Gharby Run is at 8/1 and for that, you get a son of Gharby (son of Street Cry) who has two stakes placings (in turf sprints). Personally, I’d have him at higher odds considering he has never tried dirt before and he is only 1/13 in his career. He was beaten by 30 lengths at 12-furlongs two races back and before that he lost by 15 at 10. Unless the surface switch creates some cataclysmic event I feel this distance isn’t suited to him. Last entry is the longest shot in the field West Chrome who was given an elite scratch breeding that sees Gone West x Sadler’s Wells paired with the California Chrome. I support the stamina x speed combination that was tried here, unfortunately, Chrome will require some deft maneuvering to get a black-type horse. Two races back he ran a 97 fading in the stretch at 9-furlongs. That was a career high so it made sense to try 9 again which is what was done but West Chrome but he regressed slightly falling to a 95 and losing by 6. Does this mean Gone West is the dominant influence and West Chrome wants shorter? He hasn’t tried turf yet and weirdly, strangely, almost bizarrely, with Sadler’s Wells could he be a turf sprinter? I don’t see him getting his 2nd win Saturday, but I find this horse fascinating and would love to take a crack at managing his career. There is potential talent here.
My trifecta box is Deckon Thar, Callixtus and To The Shire We Go. All three are closers and it may come down to a jockey battle in who gets first run at Kymarc Berkelium.