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Jeff's 2021 Travers Stakes Preview (Grade 1)

By: Jeff Hochman
Date: Aug 26, 2021
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Grade 1 Travers Stakes Preview

Venue: Saratoga Race Track, Saratoga Springs, NY

Date: Saturday, August 28, 2021

Time: 6:12 PM ET

#1 Midnight Bourbon (9/2), trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr.

This 3-year old colt by Tiznow has hit the board in 8 of 10 (2-3-3) career starts with earnings of $673,920. He did not finish in the Haskell, clipping heals and losing than rider Paco Lopez. He's up against it in terms of class and speed figures in this group. Midnight Bourbon's career high Equibase speed figure is 99 which will not get it done. He's never raced at Saratoga, but does have some nice works leading up to this race. Will be on or near the lead with a clean break. Needs to improve quite a bit. Toss.

#2 Essential Quality (4/5), trained by Brad H. Cox and ridden by Luis Saez

Has done nothing wrong winning 7 of 8 career starts with an impressive $3,545,144 in earnings. He will likely be 1/2 or worse come post time. His one loss was a 4th place finish in the Kentucky Derby. My one concern would be declining speed figures, but that's nitpicking at this point. He won the Jim Dandy (G2) with a 107 speed figure after posting three straight 109 speed figures. There is a 60% chance of rain and EQ is 1-for-1 on a wet track. Brad Cox winning 27% in all stakes races and 31% off horse win. The 3-year old son by Tapit looks to be the class of the field. The One to Beat.

#3 Keepmeinmind (6/1), trained by Robertino Diodoro and ridden by Joel Rosario

Was a solid second (1/2 length) at 9/1 odds behind Essential Quality in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga. He earned a career-high 106 Equibase speed figure. Has hit the board in 6 of 10 (1-3-2) career starts with earnings of $654,987. Hasn't crossed the wire first since winning the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last November. The two horses he beat were Smiley Sobotka and Arabian Prince. Those two horses are not "lighting it up" to say the least. Has been working like a monster and has improving speed figures in three straight races. Contender.

#4 Dynamic One (6/1), trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.

Won his last race (Curlin Stakes) by 1 1/4 lengths over Miles D. Has been first or second in 4 of 7 (2-2-0) career starts with earnings of $260,120. Not sure if he has the class to win this type of race. Has the fastest late pace figure according to Equibase, but also the slowest early pace, and second slowest middle pace. This horse needs very fast fractions to run at. Possible, but not likely. The connections are rock solid and should be a square price. Todd Pletcher wins 52% in the second race off a 2-6 month layoff. Would need to step up in a major way. I think a bounce is more likely off his last race. Toss.

#5 Miles D (12/1), trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Flavien Prat

Interesting horse who could be on the improve. The 3-year old colt by Curlin is lightly raced earning a win, a second, and 4th place finish at first asking. His Equibase speed figures have improved in each of his first three career starts. From an 84 to 100. That 100 was a second place finish in the Curlin Stakes at Saratoga (off track) going 3-wide behind the winner Dynamic One. From a value standpoint, there is no better horse to bet across-the-board than Miles D. Flavien Prat is arguably the best jockey in the nation. Chad Brown/Flavien Prat combo winning 46% and 83% in the money over the past 24 weeks. Big overlay. Longshot.

#6 Masqueparade (8/1), trained by Albert Stall Jr. and ridden by Miguel Mena

Has hit the board in 5 of 7 (3-0-2) career starts with earnings of $494,208. He likes to press the pace so expect the 3-year old colt by Upstart to be on or near the lead with a clean break. Finished third in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy before winning the Grade 3 Ohio Derby. A major concern would be three straight declining speed figures after winning an Allowance optional claiming event at Churchill Downs. Upstart's progeny are 16-for-85 (19%) in dirt routes over the past five years. Contender.

#7 King Fury (15/1), trained by Kenneth McPeek and ridden by Jose Ortiz

Has finished first or second in four of eight (3-1-0) career starts with earnings of $362,739. Tried the turf course in the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby Invitational finishing 10th out of 11 horses. You can draw a line through that race. The 3-year old colt by Curlin did not like the turf course. Two races ago, King Fury finished second (1/2 length) to Masqueparade in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby, earning a career-best 105 Equibase speed figure. He won the Grade 3 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes in upset fashion at 18/1 odds back in April. He knows how to make people money. Never run on the Saratoga dirt course which is a concern. Only 1/2 length separated the #6 horse and King Fury. Fury should be more like 10/1. Longshot.

Jeff's Grade 1 Travers Stakes Pick

I'm looking for value in this race so playing Essential Quality is not my cup of tea. He's the most likely winner, but lets take a shot with a better price. Don't forget, the ML favorite has won this race just once in the past eight tries.

Play #5 Miles D (12/1) for Win, Place, and Show

Place: #7 King Fury (15/1)

Show #3 Keepmeinmind (6/1)

Good Luck,

Jeff Hochman of JH-Sportsline

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