Two weeks removed from the Haskell and there is still no clear leader of the 3-year old division. With the Travers in only a few weeks, who will win this lead this division going into the final stretch before the Breeders Cup. Lets go over the big contenders.
Shackleford: With Coil’s win in the Haskell, he jumps up late to become the front runner, just barely ahead of Shackleford. But does that mean that Shackleford needs a big win. No, he is still, in the eyes of many, the big favorite for the Classic. The only problem is the distance. Shackleford tires after a mile and an eighth, meaning that the Classic, at a mile and a quarter, might just be two long. Unless he shows that can handle the distance in the Travers, he will lose a lot of favoritism going into the Breeders Cup Classic.
Coil: A late jump in the Haskell allowed him to take momentum into the Travers. Although Coil might have trouble with the distance and the non synthetic dirt at Saratoga, if he gets the stamina down, he may be able to conquer the Travers at a mile and a quarter. A win for him would push him right to the top.
Nehro: Although he has yet to race since the Belmont, he must be right up at the top of the charts for many. Nehro has the strength and stamina to win, the only problem is that he does not want to win. He is a stubborn race horse that has the ability, just no the will.
Stay Thirsty: With a win in the Jim Dandy, and a second at the Belmont, Stay Thirsty is making a run for the prize. The only problem, what will happen once Uncle Mo is back to full health. Will Repole and Pletcher go back to helping there favorite, or stay with the better horse Stay Thirsty.
Uncle Mo: Speaking of Uncle Mo, he is coming back on Travers day in the King’s Bishop, a sprint race, to try to capitalize on all the energy wasted for the past many months in rest. He needs to do a lot of work in a short amount of time, but may be able to with a win in a few weeks.
Fire and Ice: Ruler on Ice and Pants on Fire, the pair of Breen horses that have held a grasp of the 3-year old division until the Haskell. Fire was the favorite of the two until the Belmont, when Ice did a predictable race, at least I predicted it, to turn a few heads. Still, both horses have some trouble finishing at the medium length distances and the Travers will be no exception.
The Rest of the Pack: There are still a few months left in the season and with a few big races left, anything can happen. Who knows what will happen in the Travers. Maybe Rattlesnake Bridge or Turbo Compressor will shine and put another wrench in the mess that is the 3-year old division. The only thing that is certain, if Coil, Shacklford, Ruler on Ice, or Pants on Fire win at the Travers, they will have the momentum for the Breeders Cup Classic in November.