Saturday, August 27, 2016

Handicapper's Corner: Travers Stakes (G1)

ThoroFan Members vs. the 2016 Travers Stakes

The collective minds of the ThoroFan handicappers take a shot at pinpointing the winner of the 2016 Travers Stakes.

Below, the ThoroFan handicappers offer their selections for first through third place, plus their best longshot bomb. When it comes to which horse will wear the red and white Carnation floral blanket, the handicappers all have differing opinions. Handicapping a race is like viewing a painting. Everyone sees it differently. That’s part of the excitement and fun of our sport.  Some ThoroFan Handicappers added their individual thoughts about the Travers below the chart.  Good Luck to everyone and Happy Midsummer Derby Day!

American Freedom
American Freedom
Governor Malibu
Governor Malibu
Gun Runner
My Man Sam
John Caro
American Freedom
Gun Runner

ThoroFan Handicappers add their individual thoughts:

ThoroFan Chairman Michael Amo
This year’s Travers Stakes (GI) has the largest field since 1977. The field size mirrors the Kentucky Derby (GI). Experience in races with very large fields may be an advantage. All except four –Arrogate (1), Anaximandros (6), Gift Box (9) and Connect (10) – have had that experience in previous races.
The race will have serious early fractions with four liking to run out front ---Arrogate (1), American Freedom (2), Connect (10), Laoban (13) and Gun Runner (14). The convergence from inside and outside into the first turn may cause some difficulty for horses sandwiched in between.
The solid early pace should set the race up for horses charging down the lane to the finish line. The question is will it be a deep closer or a one with tactical speed that will take the Travers?  Creator seems like the likely deep closer with Destin the tactical speed horse.  Exaggerator, the favorite is an obvious concern. However, he may be forced too far back out of the gate to make an effective late run. Certainly, the weather won’t help him as it did in the Haskell. My prediction:
·         Creator (12)

·         Destin (8)

·         Majesto (11)

·         American Freedom (2)

Lady and the Track’s Reinier Macatangay:
The Travers might be more straightforward than people think. American Freedom will not wear blinkers, so Bob Baffert probably intends for a stalking trip this time, hopefully not too far from Arrogate and Laoban.

Exaggerator will come, but perhaps the fast track will slow him down a touch.

S. Florida ThoroFan Chapter Member John Caro:
Destin - tough guy
Exaggerator - a champion at the distance
American Freedom - might Win it here

Loban will set the pace and has a top jockey &
Creator and another top jockey on a stalwart fella

Bet - 2 w 7,8 w 7,8,12,13

Exaggerator’s confidence is at an all-time high. His comeback race in the Haskell shows that he’s back on top of his game. The son of Curlin is the most consistent three-year-old colt in training. He’s matured into a horse who can sit anywhere in a race, and with so many speedy pace setter/pressers, the Travers could set up for Exaggerator’s strong late kick.

Laoban should be nicknamed “Here comes trouble” he’s found all sort of it throughout his career. Was his maiden breaking Jim Dandy a fluke?  Were the other horses in the race just not fit enough?  Laoban just floated along on the lead doing his thing while the rest of the field were gasping and struggling to keep up. Granted, there is other speed in the race, but I have to think that this colt’s confidence is high and he’s starting to mature.

I liked Gun Runner to hit the board in the KY Derby and wasn’t disappointed. He completed a chalky trifecta.  Asmussen wisely skipped the rest of the Triple Crown and pointed towards the Travers, using the Haskell as a prep race. Unfortunately for Gun Runner, the Monmouth mud favored Exaggerator in the Haskell. Toss that race. Other than two out of the money finishes on muddy tracks, this constant colt always brings home a paycheck. On an unrelated pedigree geek side note, I’d love to see what he could do on the turf, since he has the breeding for it.

Connect hasn’t done anything wrong while beating lesser company. He’s a winner at Saratoga. He normally contests the pace, but doesn’t need the lead. Speed figures are very steady.

Bob Baffert is 1-6 in the Travers. He's only victory was with Point Given. Neither of his charges look up to the task this year. 

In his last two breezes, Destin was out-worked by Anchor Down, a G3 winner. According to Bruno de Julio, Destin struggled to get hold of the track.  

ThoFan Handicapper’s Corner News:

Until we meet again
Chicago Now’s Paul Mazur will be taking a hiatus from Handicapper’s Corner as he pursues his Master’s degree. All the best to Paul, who is one of the best handicappers in Chicago!   The classy and responsible Paul didn’t leave us high and dry, he suggested that Nicolle Neulist take over his position.   

Welcome Nicolle
Nicolle lives in Chicago, and spends just about every weekend at Hawthorne or Arlington.  A regular racetrack attendee since caching the racing bug at the 2013 Arlington Million, Nicolle has been writing about horse racing since the beginning of 2014.  Nicolle is always around on Twitter (@rogueclown) to chat racing, and writes about horse racing and Curlin's progeny in longer form at

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