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Welcome to Travers Week
Real Writing on Racing 💯
🎪 Warm but overcast on Sunday and while the expected Monday morning rain never materialized, early Tuesday saw a good downpour followed by some afternoon rain. It’s possible that the 3rd race today (and/or the last) might be in danger of coming off the grass.
🎪 Race 1 - Pleasant Passage and Letter of Gold were both making their debut in the opener Sunday, a MSW for two year old fillies going 8.5 furlongs on the inner turf. Both were overlooked on the board, they were the two longest shots in the field of eight. The public settled on a different first timer to make the favorite, Hay Stack, a War Front filly for Brant and Brown with another first timer, Positive Message a Kingman filly for Motion, a close second choice. However the lightly regarded duo wound up battling to the wire with Pleasant Passage getting a the jump on Letter of Gold and just holding her off for the win by the narrowest of margins. Shug trained, Tyler Gafflione off the plane rode, Emory Hamilton owned and bred. Tough beat for George Weaver and Bill Parcells who owns Letter of Gold.
💵 Pedigree guru Sid Fernando pointed out Sunday afternoon that More than Ready has had three two year old maiden winners on the turf this meet. Everyone was overlooked on the board as Our Dream Rye’d paid $45.60 when winning July 30 for Ian Wilkes, Gilcrease paid $54.00 for Al Stall on August 7 and Pleasant Passage paid 33.20 in Sundays opener for Shug McGaughey. Interestingly enough all three were ridden by Kentucky jockeys, Julian Leparoux on board for two and Tyler Gafflione the other.
🎪 A racing oddity occurred just prior to the running of the second on Sunday, a NW2x allowance for NYB’s going 5.5 furlongs on the Mellon turf. Trainer Christophe Clement had two of the top choices breaking from the outside two posts, 6 and 7, Yarrow and Phantom Smoke, which isn’t all that unusual. However as Phantom Smoke was loaded, both he and Yarrow broke through the stall doors and briefly looked like they would get free from their handlers/jockeys. However both were wrangled before going too far and re-loaded which in the vast majority of cases is bad news, as premature breakers rarely run up to par. However Phantom Smoke had different plans as he went directly to the front when the rest of the field joined the Clement runners leaving the gate. Under Irad Ortiz, he set a soft pace (22.85) while keeping rival Deep Cover bottled up, kicking away while swapping leads in the stretch and then holding that one safe. Yarrow rallied mildly to be third. The winner, co-owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, was announced as their 1000th winner.
🎪 Arthurian, perhaps benefitting from a race over the track a few weeks back, broke on top and wired a field of 16000 nw2 horses in race 4 for Caio Caramori and jockey Kendrick Carmouche. Caramori’s father Eduardo, completed the Caramori double (similar to the Malachi Crunch) when his Bayou Wind, won the last race Sunday, a maiden $40000 claimer going 1 1/16 on the grass.
🎪 Another day, another impressive winner for Gun Runner. Grand Love, a two year old filly by that white-hot stallion, rocketed to the lead in the 6th and was never headed, scoring a 4 3/4 length win in the 2yo filly MSW going 6.5 furlongs, for owner/breeder Three Chimneys Farm, Steve Asmussen and Ricardo Santana. She was let go at 9/2 with a lot of misguided MyRacehorse money coming in on their firster, the Pletcher trained Rosie’s Alibi, who didn’t run a step. Grand Love took down the girls version of this race that had been won the previous day by stablemate and fellow Gun Runner progeny, Echo Again.
🏆 We had warned that the favorite in the Bolton Landing, which is a listed stakes for two year old fillies going 5.5 furlongs on the inner turf, Love Reigns (Ire) had broken slow in both her races. Well she once again had some gate trouble as she broke in and a step slow when the starter let the field go. However it didn’t matter much as Irad Ortiz was able to get her to quickly recover, stalk the pace of Monmouth invader Sweet Harmony, open a clear lead coming into the stretch and cruise to an easy win for Wesley Ward and owner Stonestreet Stables. Not sure where she will land next but the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf sprint against the boys is a likely goal.
🧮 Interesting stats about the 2022 Travers from the DRF’s Dave Grening. The combined Travers record of the trainers and jockeys in this years running is 1 for 63 with only Brad Cox having won the race.
🤔 Churchill Downs wins both the dark day ‘worst kept secret’ and ‘irrational hope’ awards for announcing that no turf racing will be conducted during their September meet and they plan to resume on the grass in the Fall meet.
💫 Graham Motion unveiled a promising two year old filly on Tuesday at Colonial Downs named G Laurie for Sol Kumin’s Madaket Stables (he doesn’t have to buy into this one). Interesting fact: the Oscar Performance filly was the lowest priced horse to sell via the ring (2 post-ring private sales were cheaper) at last summers August Fasig-Tipton sale, the hammer dropping at $80,000. The average price for the yearlings at that sale was $408,000.
🎙 Check out the latest edition of the Going in Circles Big Monday Show Here. This week we talk about Nest, the potential Travers undercard and a possibility of a chalk-fest, plus ask why supposedly pro-racing people are so quick to post on social media about equine fatalities?
The field for the 2022 Travers Stakes (Gr I) to be run Saturday. The remainder of the card will be drawn this afternoon.
Day 30 (10 racing days left to go)
John’s Call (Listed) ®️$135,000 1 5/8 Turf 4 & up
Girl Dad - supplemented to this as Maker may have felt the need to enter him to make this race go. Was claimed out of last, a $35000 NW3 race where he encountered some early traffic, got shuffled back to last and failed to make much of an impact. Potentially could sit third here in this short field with a few confirmed closers. Three Spa starts, hasn’t hit board. Not much to like here.
Bluegrass Parkway - comes out of the Colonial Cup where he sat closer than usual behind a soft pace. Didn’t do a whole lot of running in there and honestly hasn’t run all that great in either start this season. A six year old with three lifetime wins, this isn’t the usual strong hand that Maker usually has in these type of turf marathon events.
Tide of the Sea - returns to the grass after a decent try in one of the few off the turf races at this meet. That was his first race off the claim for Morley who tagged him for $62500 in early June at Belmont and gelded him soon thereafter. He was awful that day, showing none of his usual speed and basically being eased so the dirt start was a bit of an improved effort from awful status to mediocre status. Kept good company last winter/spring though wasn’t a real factor in any of those races outside of setting the pace, which he figures to do here. He is a graded stakes winner at 12 furlongs though his form at that time was far better than his current cycle. Taking him at anything close to his morning line of 2/1 doesn’t feel like a good idea.
Oceans Map - ships north from Monmouth for Greg Sacco. Ran well in his last, a NW3x allowance race at the shore, getting beat less than a length when rallying to be second. Got the patented Mike Smith mystery tour in his previous start in the Monmouth Stakes (Gr III) but ran decent before that in the Cliff Hanger. Won a 12 furlong stakes last Fall at Delaware in the Cape Henlopen so the 13 furlongs should be within his grasp. Picks up savvy vet Jose Lezcano for this and perhaps he can workout a trip in this really weak version of the John’s Call.
Sa’ad - was purchased overseas and imported to the US to be a jumper for the top steeplechase outfit of trainer Keri Brion but didn’t show much over hurdles so back to the flat he goes. He does have a win this year, albeit in at a jump meet flat race where he carried 147 pounds to win what’s called Flat Stakes over 12 furlongs of soft turf, barely breaking three minutes (2:59.60). His 2021 form in France isn’t bad, he kept good company and was competitive in a handful of graded stakes. Irad is named to ride and perhaps he will be aggressively placed as the pace figures to be dawdling. Another mystery to try to figure out.
Hieroglyphics - it’s not often that a Naipaul Chatterpaul runner coming out of an $18000 claimer is entered in a Saratoga stakes but here we are. The old war horse is actually a stakes winner over the Spa turf (Better Talk Now stakes) though it was 5 years ago when he was still trained by Todd Pletcher. He does sport a 7-3-0-0 record on the Saratoga grass though he showed little earlier in the meet when up the track in a $25000 claimer.
John’s Call winning the 2000 Turf Classic at Belmont Park for Hall of Fame trainer Tom Voss who probably could have ridden him to beat the field assembled in this years version of the stakes named for him.