The Brock Talk

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Travers Illustrates Difference Between Glamour And Quality

You may think that without Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird, the $1 Million Shadwell Travers Stakes has lost it's luster. Not so fast. It may have lost some glamour, but the Mid-Summer Derby at Saratoga Saturday has plenty to offer in terms of quality and storylines.

First, there is the 8-5 morningline favorite Quality Road. There was a time not so long ago - just before the Kentucky Derby - when the racing world was going ga-ga over Quality Road while Mine That Bird had little more noteritety than any of the thousands of other horses being pulled along in a trailer on America's highways in late April. A well documented foot problem kept Quality Road out of the Derby, but months later a track record performance in the Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga and a daunting presence during his morning works since, now have him as a popular topic around talk of the Spa.

Then there is Kensei - the "Rodney Dangerfield" of trainer Steve Asmussen's barn, (which also houses Rachel Alexandra), and given little respect in the three-year-old ranks because of his absence in the Triple Crown. He comes into the Travers with victories in the grade 2 Dwyer at Belmont Park and the $500,000 Jim Dandy (gr. 2) over Travers foes Warrior's Reward in second, and favorite Charitable Man in third.

Charitable Man earned that favoritism off of his victory in the grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park. He too has lit up the track in the morning at Saratoga after his bullet four-furlong work Aug. 21 in 47.45. He is also a son of Lemon Drop Kid, who won the Belmont Stakes and Travers in 1999 which may make him genetically dangerous Saturday.

And don't forget about Summer Bird for cryin' out loud. He is only the winner of the Belmont Stakes. Although a distant second to Rachel Alexandra in the grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monomouth Park in his last race, trainer Tim Ice has said the colt's energy level and training have improved leading up to the Travers. His 100.91 work over a muddy track Aug. 22 may have been a bit slow, but the wet conditions may have dictated caution by jockey Kent Desormeaux that morning. although Summer Bird had other ideas according to Ice who said after the work that it appeared Summer Bird wanted to go faster and further that morning.

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