Archive for the ‘Travers 2012’ Category

Beyond the Crown – Alpha shares Travers trophy

Last Saturday at Saratoga Race Course, it appeared as though Golden Ticket was going to shock the world at 33-1 in the Travers but post time favorite Alpha wanted to be part of the party as well and surged late to share in the spoils.

Alpha and Golden Ticket

Alpha & Golden Ticket put on a show in Travers- photo courtesy of NYRA

Golden Ticket saved all of the ground under David Cohen and needed every advantage to tie with my top ranked sophomore Alpha, who sat an outer stalking trip under Ramon Dominguez. Golden Ticket will have to prove that he is more than a one-hit wonder before he joins my top ten.

I began my Derby Top 10 list right after Del Mar/Saratoga in September in 2010 and 2011 and will do the same this year. In an interesting side note, my initial number one in 201o was Stay Thirsty and Alpha was the early juvenile boss this time around. Both Bernardini colts went on to capture the Jim Dandy and Travers during their sophomore campaigns. Maybe I should rename my future road to the Derby blogs for the Travers trail!

Dullahan traveled west and toppled salty older foes Game On Dude and Richard’s Kid in the G1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug 26. He sure adores synthetic, specifically Polytrack, and is probably the best in the business on that footing. He crashes back to earth on conventional dirt so if he ends up in the Breeders’ Cup it will likely be on turf.

Since my last report, Paynter resumed training at the Spa but got sick again and is fighting colitis at a clinic in New York. Bodemeister, Hansen, and Street Life have all been retired. It has been a tough year for the sophomore class with numerous injuries and premature retirements.

Checking in with former top ten members, B Shanny won a sprint at the Spa on 8-12. Consortium recently returned to the worktab for Kiaran McLaughlin, and Fire On Ice and O’Prado Again are getting close to a race.

Jarrod Horak’s Top Ten Active 3-Year-olds

1. Alpha (Bernardini) – Controlled the pace in Jim Dandy and stalked/pounced his way to a share of the Travers (100 BSF) title on Aug 25. The Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on 9-22 could be next.

2. Paynter (Awesome Again) – Gave Union Rags a run for his money in the Test of Champions and looked great capturing his first graded stakes in the Haskell. He is currently battling colitis at a clinic in NY…get well soon.


What’s next for synthetic specialist Dullahan? – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

3. Dullahan (Even The Score) – Ran his Polytrack record to a perfect 3-for-3 in the Pacific Classic (111 BSF). Let’s see if Romans and company can avoid the temptation to try dirt again.

4. Gemologist (Tiznow) – He came out of the Derby with a foot bruise and spit the bit in his disappointing Haskell return. He breezed 4f in :48.15 (6/54) at Saratoga on 8-26 and could meet up with Alpha in the PA Derby.

5. Fed Biz (Giant’s Causeway) – Baffert’s highly regarded colt returned in the pink at Del Mar (El Cajon Stakes) on Aug 31. He could be a major player in the Strub Series this winter at Santa Anita.

6. Nonios (Pleasantly Perfect) – Haskell place finisher ended up 5th in the Travers. He handles dirt but might be better on synthetic.

7. Neck ‘n Neck (Flower Alley) – Late bloomer gamely chased Alpha home in the Jim Dandy and finished 6th in the Travers. He does his best work at Churchill Downs.

8. Jimmy Creed (Distorted Humor) – Gave Fed Biz everything he could handle in El Cajon. Mandella’s $900k purchase appears tailor-made for Santa Anita’s G1 Malibu on Dec 26.

9. Summer Front (War Front) – Lost for first time on turf in G1 Secretariat but was hardly disgraced in show finish. Look for him to cut back in distance next time as ten panels is a bit beyond his range at this point.

10. Unbridled’s Note (Unbridled’s Song) – Unlucky G1 King’s Bishop show finisher probably would have won that heat with clear sailing. Asmussen trainee looks like and up and coming sprinter.

Beyond the Crown – Paynter on the move

It has been a strange journey this year for Paynter. After earning his diploma in his 5.5 furlong debut at the Great Race Place on Feb 18, he was thrown to the wolves in the G1 Santa Anita Derby but was hardly disgraced in a 4th place finish. He returned three weeks later to land the place in the G3 Derby Trial and easily captured an allowance event at Pimilco 21-days after his Churchill excursion.


Will Paynter make the Travers? – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Staying on a three week pattern, Bob Baffert’s late bloomer made all the running in the Belmont Stakes but could not hold off Union Rags. After a much needed rest, he garnered his first stakes victory in the Haskell and got sick shortly after that. He was missing in action for over a week but is now safely tucked away at Belmont Park. The Travers is sneaking up fast and it remains to be seen if he actually makes the gate for the Mid-Summer Derby.

I have only had two horses occupy the top spot in my Triple Crown trail and beyond rankings since I started my list September 2011. Alpha was number one until last year’s BC Juvenile and Union Rags took over until his retirement. Alpha retook the top spot after Union Rags was whisked away to the breeding shed and remains there with a little more than two weeks to go before the Travers.

Jarrod Horak’s Top Ten Active 3-Year-olds

Alpha horse

Alpha remains on course for Mid-Summer Derby – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

1. Alpha (Bernardini) – Controlled the pace in smart Jim Dandy triumph over wet ground. He figured to get better with age and is peaking just in time for the Aug 25 Travers. He breezed 4f in :48.33 (7/39) at Saratoga on 8-9.

2. Paynter (Awesome Again) – Gave Union Rags a run for his money in the Test of Champions and looked great capturing his first graded stakes in the Haskell. He spiked a temp after the Haskell and could end up missing the Travers…stay tuned!

3. Neck ‘n Neck (Flower Alley) – Late bloomer made the grade in the Matt Winn under the Twin Spires on June 16 and gamely chased Alpha home in the Jim Dandy. He will try to turn the tables on the top dog in the upcoming Travers. Breezed 4f in :48.53 (17/48) at Saratoga on 8-8.

4. Nonios (Pleasantly Perfect) – His Haskell place finish proved that he was more than a SoCal synthetic wonder. He worked 4f in :47 (2/35) at Del Mar on 8-6 and Johnny V will ride him in the Travers.

5. Summer Front (War Front) – Ran his turf record to 5-for-5 in sharp Duluth win at the Spa on July 22. He is expected to challenge fellow turf win machine Silver Max in the G1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park on 8-18. Breezed 5f in :58.55 (2/43) at Saratoga (turf training) on 8-8.

6. Bodemeister (Empire Maker) – The Derby-Preakness bridesmaid spiked a temperature and missed the Haskell. The BC Classic is reportedly his ultimate goal if his heath cooperates. No published works since 7-8.

7. Gemologist (Tiznow) – His perfect record went down the tubes in the Derby but he came out of that with a foot bruise. He set the pace before faltering in his needed Haskell return and could show up next in the PA Derby at Parx on 9-22.

8. Hansen (Tapit) – Juvenile champion got back on the beam in facile G3 Iowa Derby victory but Hero of Order got after him in the West Va. Derby and the Mike Maker trainee surprisingly offered little resistance in a disappointing 4th place effort. The Travers is still on the table but his stock is dropping rapidly.

9. Dullahan (Even The Score) – The Kentucky Derby show finisher flopped in the Belmont and Haskell. He loves Keeneland’s Polytrack and is a competent turf performer as well so hopefully Romans and company will avoid dirt at all costs. He is reportedly pointing to the Pacific Classic at Del Mar on 8-26.

10. Street Life (Street Sense) – He is 0-for-3 in graded ranks (4th Belmont, 3rd Peter Pan) but looked good winning listed Curlin last time and Broad Brush earlier this season. The Travers is next for the Chad Brown trainee and he breezed an easy 4f in :50.93 (40/42) at Saratoga on 8-9.