American Pharoah makes his next start today at Saratoga in the Travers Stakes. Unlike in the Haskell, there is no pace in this race to challenge American Pharoah early. While usually I would make that situation a winning one, there have been far too many lone speed leaders go down at the wire at Saratoga, not to mention as a favorite. American Pharoah enters the Graveyard of Champions hoping to do what many of his predecessors couldn’t do before him, win at Saratoga. Neither Secretariat nor Man O’War could come away with a win. But American Pharoah is 17 Man O’War’s (at least Man O’War appears 17 times in American Pharoah’s extended pedigree). Only Whirlaway has done the Triple Crown-Travers double. Could it be done today? Well let’s see.\
American Pharoah has a lot more class than his field and has beaten most of them handily before. He has a lone pace scenario and many of the horses in this field are deep closers. However, American Pharoah does not have a run at the track, something that isn’t a favorable situation. So, instead of handicapping all the ways American Pharoah wins (we could be here all day), let’s handicap all the chances he has to possible lose.
Let us start with Keen Ice, a horse that has stayed close to American Pharoah in his last two starts. Keen Ice is a closer for Dale Romans who finished a strong 2nd in the Haskell. Dale Romans continued to say that this horse just wants to go longer. Expect him to relish this distance. If he has the late closing speed he had in the Haskell, there is a good possibility that he catches American Pharoah at the wire. While I normally don’t like going with a closer to win going longer, this could be his favorite distance.
Texas Red is already a champion, winner of the Breeders Cup Juvenile. He missed out on the Road to the Kentucky Derby due to injury. He already faced American Pharoah, albeit as a two year old, and lost. However, he has a win at Saratoga in his last start, the Jim Dandy. Big plus. There, he chased down the lone leader Japan and then pressed on to beat Frosted down the stretch. Something like that could easily happen in the Travers. Texas Red has a powerful cruising speed and is a dangerous threat here. But if he can keep his speed throughout, watch out. However, if Texas Red decides to go upfront early, he won’t be anywhere late.
Frosted was the big name threat in the Belmont Stakes. He was able to finish second, although not the most impressive second (Keen Ice has a lot more impressive finishing third). I have yet to see anything from Frosted that I like. Gulfstream Park form has just not translated from the Spring meet. I just can’t see him liking this spot.
Upstart is just about the same as Frosted, a horse with Gulfstream Park Spring meet form that won’t translate. Can’t see him being anywhere close today.
Tale of Verve is the throw in. I didn’t think he belonged in the Preakness and then he loved the slop. He failed to factor in the Belmont and then just showed nothing in the West Virginia Derby. If you are looking at him to be your Onion, go elsewhere.
Mid Ocean is coming out of maiden special weights. Probably too big of a step up in this race.
Frammento is the only horse in this field that I can’t make a case for or against this horse. An interesting fit here. I could see him surprise a lot of people and finish in the money. And Nick Zito would love to be the one to get the upset here.
King of New York is coming out of the Curlin in an unimpressive 3rd. Just don’t see it being his day to where the crown.
Smart Transition is coming out of a win in the Curlin Stakes and a 4th in the Dwyer Stakes. This is his second try in Graded Stakes company. Taking this step up in class won’t be easy for him but his Curlin was a very nice race, closing from mid-pack. While it was a pretty slow pace he closed in, that is what he will get if American Pharoah gets the lone lead. If I am looking for my Onion, I think I found him, Smart Transition.
- W: American Pharoah
- P: Keen Ice
- S: Smart Transition
While American Pharoah has many challengers to turn down, he has shown that he can win on the lone lead and why couldn’t he do that again today. This could be a romp in the Travers for the Triple Crown winner. Keen Ice continues to improve and chip away at American Pharoah. He will relish the added distance here and will actually be in the camera shot as American Pharoah hits the wire. Probably about a length and a half back. Coming in third is my midpack closer Smart Transition. He will relish this slower pace and just race very even early. However, his late cruising speed will burst him towards American Pharoah, but still a good five lengths behind the winner.
Full Card Selections:
- Race 1: Grey Wizard
- Race 2: Midnight Surfer
- Race 3: Coming Attraction
- Race 4: Eternal Bird
- Race 5: America’s Kitten
- Race 6: Untapable
- Race 7: Unbridled Forever
- Race 8: March
- Race 9: Wildcat Red
- Race 10: Flintshire
- Race 11: American Pharoah
- Race 12: Tepin
- Race 13: Oklahoma Den
Every time American Pharoah runs, excitement radiates from the track. Today will be no different. Gear up for an exciting day of racing, topped off my a Triple Crown winner trying to accomplish the nearly impossible.