The best three year old race since the Belmont takes place this weekend at the best track in the world when the Travers goes at Saratoga on Saturday. Big Brown isn’t in this race, and stars have been slow to emerge into the public consciousness from this class, but this is a truly fascinating race. Here’s a look in order of morning line odds:
Pyro (7/2) – I have loved watching this horse at times, and I believed in him going into the Derby, but I can’t help but feel that this is a sucker’s bet at this price. He just hasn’t done anything to justify this support. He was brutal in the Blue Grass, worse in the Derby, he won the Northern Dancer but he wasn’t against anyone, and he couldn’t beat Macho Again in the Jim Dandy. He could win here, but there is much more value in my mind in betting against it. After all, whenever possible I’d much rather not have the favorite in my exotics.
Harlem Rocker (4/1) – Pyro might be questionable at his price, but this horse is a joke at his. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have talent. Heading into the Preakness, Rick Dutrow, Big Brown’s trainer, said that this was the only horse he feared. Harlem Rocker ducked that race, though, and has done nothing but underwhelm since. He failed badly on synthetic in Canada, and then won a meaningless Canadian race against no horses of note, and wasn’t particularly fast in the process (a Beyer of just 90). I’ll be leaving him out, too.
Mambo in Seattle (5/1) – There are lots of questions here, too, but this is the first horse I’m not going to rule out. This horse is lightly raced and untested, but he is brilliantly bred and should be fine with the distance, his trainer, Neil Howard, has a track record for patience with three year olds, his career best 104 is the best in the field, and he just looks like a winner. I won’t put all of my marbles in this basket because he hasn’t done anything, but he’ll be a part of all that I do.
Macho Again (6/1) – I love this horse. Love, love, love him. He was clearly second best in the Preakness, and he won the Jim Dandy over Pyro a month ago. There’s a good omen here, too – the winner of the Jim Dandy has won the Travers the last three years. I think that it is a bit odd that this horse has the best form of any horse in this field at a high level since the end of May, yet he s only the fourth choice. I see value in him, and will include him in my exotics.
Colonel John (8/1) – This horse was the second choice in the Derby, and he didn’t show up, so he has burned a lot of money for bettors. He hasn’t done much since the Derby disappointment, just running once in California and getting upset by Tres Borrachos in the Swaps. This is his second try on dirt, and I am not convinced he likes it. Too many questions for me – I’ll leave him out.
Da’Tara (8/1) – The breaker of hearts and stealer of dreams is back after his Belmont upset win. Actually, he was back already in the Jim Dandy, and he finished last. It’s probably not giving a Classic winner enough respect, but I think thatthis horse is a one trick pony, and I will ignore him until he shows me I should do otherwise.
Court Vision (12/1) – Nope. I don’t get this price. He disappointed amidst high hopes on the Derby trail, he has never run better than 90 on dirt, his last two races were on grass – what there says that he should be any better than 20/1?
Tres Borrachos (15/1) – Here’s some interesting value to throw into the exotics. He’s coming off a big win against a horse in this field, he is versatile when it comes to pace, he has run on dirt and is decent at it, and the price is good. He’ll go in my exotics, but not on top.
Cool Coal Man (15/1) – He tackled Big Brown in the Haskell. It didn’t go well. He was third, but not a threat. I don’t expect his day to be any better here.
Tale of Ekati (20/1) – Given how much talk this horse had in the spring, I can’t believe that he is at this price now. I really can’t believe that there isn’t any value in him at this price, either. Ouch. Pass.
Tizbig (30/1) and Amped (30/1) – Nope.
So, it looks like it comes down to, at least as a start, and exacta of Mambo in Seattle and Macho Again over those two plus Tres Borrachos. I’m sure there will be more by post time, and I am confident that this should be a gem.