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Travers Stakes preview

A big night at Saratoga with Graded races galore and a very rare occurrence - all three of the US Triple Crown race winners turning up to run in the Travers, which means it's probably quite open with some late-maturing types in the field as well. Stepping up with the preview is regular US racing contributor, Jon da Silva - @creamontop.

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The Travers Stakes
Grade 1 for 3yo, 10 Furlongs, US$1.25m
Dirt at Saratoga
1744 local, 2244 BST, 0744 AEST


The grim set of 3 year olds with possible exception of Enable and duller older brigade may not make for much speculation but it's worth reflecting that we are getting good races even if the rating boys are not unleashing the high praise. Also it may have seemed much that way last year in the USA as Nyquist and others were shown to have feet of clay and California Chrome looked like he could run like Might Bite in the RSA Novice Chase and win on the bridle. Then came the Travers... In under 2 minutes Arrogate introduced me to a new word that's very handy to use with bullshitters....

arrogate
verb
take or claim (something) without justification.

And went on to hand the Chrome a big loss before gobbling up the Pegasus and Dubai World Cups. In many ways this looks a better race going in but hey if something runs 1m 59 change and wins by 13L you have a bet for the Breeder's Cup Classic if you're quick.

Racecard Order

Cloud Computing
If ever a name said I have no clue about naming horses.... Lightly raced with a classic on his Palmares from the Preakness where he ran down a Classic Empire who had turned the Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming into a pumpkin up front. Beaten in the Jim Dandy and can't help feeling even with the extra distance a horse who got in the right spot once.

Guiseppe the Great
Second in the Jim Dandy just ahead of Always Dreaming (gave 6 lb) but well beaten by a 1st time dirter Good Samaritan (giving 2). Only ever won a maiden and lost in four starts at Grade 1 and 2 level.

West Coast
Won four of six and has travelled & won in the East and West. Baffert and current favourite as people no doubt put those two facts together and touch nose wisely Arrogate 2. A closer who has not won above grade 2.

Tapwrit
Three races hinted at superior talent going into the Kentucky Derby: the Fountain of Youth by Gunnevera, The Florida Derby by winner Always Dreaming and Tapwrit's Tampa Bay Derby. An awful start behind Irap in the Bluegrass and a checked run on dreadful ground in the Derby was followed by a dour staying effort in the Belmont as he ultimately wore down Irish War Cry. Hard to weigh up but probably the distance and field size here set up better than the Bluegrass. I'll cover how I see the Derby at the end.

Good Samaritan
Took classic form and drubbed it in first start on dirt after being pasted by useful Oscar Performance (My BC Turf bet at present odds). He won so well in the Jim Dandy that has to be a contender here. He was receiving 4 pounds off Always Dreaming but beat him like a Govt Mule [(c) Jim Ross].

Girvin
A day after the Jim Dandy this fella won the Haskell narrowly from one time Derby fav McCraken. Nosed out by Irap in the Ohio Derby. Well beaten in the Derby. Contender

Always Dreaming
Won the Derby before breaking under pressure in the Preakness. Came back in the Jim Dandy off a break and was well beaten. Looks set to get an easy lead here. Can't be dismissed and is a price.

Lookin at Lee
Second in Derby with dream trip well beaten before and since inc by Cloud Computing, Always Dreaming and Tapwrit. Suspicion Derby fell his way and on a losing run of 10.

McCraken
Injured before Bluegrass and Derby back to form last time narrowly beaten by Girvin. Prior to injury had a decision over Tapwrit and was Derby favourite.

Irap
Won Bluegrass over McCraken and a dreadful Tapwrit. Has a decision over Girvin as well. Three Beyers in three figures. On the numbers and form bar The Derby looks a contender. Two runs in Grade 1s have resulted in thrashings.

Gunnevera
Had probably the strongest run for me of all the Derby contenders but failed to close into slug-like fractions there and only fifth in the Preakness. Three weeks ago beat some trees well enough in a slow time. Shapes well for the distance but some to be taken on trust.

Fayeq
Probably the horse to stalk Always Dreaming on the Brisnet pace definition. Others will hope he does that. Only had four races and three of them maidens. Beat Derby third Battle of Midway last time but on the book nothing that says back me but clearly progressive and has progressed with distance.


The Derby My Read
So many of these ran in the Derby and by and large I would write it off as form. Nonetheless for many it's the only race that some of these have done a 10th furlong in. It is partly why I think Girvin and Irap are small track nine-furlong horses. It's also I think a notably slow race with hard luck aplenty and the time and final sections suggest it was either deep ground or Always Dreaming had a dream run up front as did Lookin at Lee behind. The Preakness and Jim Dandy suggest he's not that good. As some wag noted of Churchill that day I would not let my dog run on that and whilst we get some indication I don't think we can say more than Always Dreaming was the best of the pace that day.

Conclusion
West Coast is too short for me. Gunnevera just not sure one can make a case even though I think I backed him for this weeks and weeks ago. You can say a lot have the same/similar form over 9 furlongs in McCraken, Girvin & Cloud Computing and Irap who maybe the best. You have to worry the lack of speed signed on here and maybe Irap or Always get the distance well as a result. Hard to throw out more than Giuseppe for me and he beat 2 classic winners last time!

I am left with Belmont winner Tapwrit and Good Samaritan. In many ways the latter's performance first time on dirt looks the best recent run albeit one is left to question what the form is worth and has a low RPR. The appearance of Giuseppe the Great in second maybe tempers as does my negative view of Always Dreaming and Cloud Computing. Tapwrit clearly would look better with more pace signed on here but I think had the most convincing Classic run of all however he has shortened and run bad races...

Tapwrit would be a tentative selection at the current prices. Gunnevera at a big price somewhere on my tickets as the septics would say.

I'll be hoping for some pace and a GS, Tapwrit, Gunnevera Tri!

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