Five Plays on the Travers Undercard

August 29th, 2015

Saratoga carded 12 races, including six graded stakes, around the 146th running of the $1.6 million Travers Stakes featuring American Pharoah.

Here are some of my thoughts on the undercard:

Race 2: Steve Asmussen is typically much better the second -time out, winning at a 25% clip compared to an overall 16% strike rate, and #2 (HUNDRED YEARS) looks well-meant early in the program. The Misremembered colt was far behind before offering a solid rally in his debut, finishing only two lengths back on the wire, and should have more to offer today.

Race 6: Tough not to spread in multi-race wagers given the lack of separation between top contenders and I’m not sold on the low-priced #2 (Sheer Drama), #4 (Stopchargingmaria) & #6 (Untapable). Will take a flier on #3 (TIZ WINDY), a juicy 15-1 on the morning line. A Grade 2 winner last fall in her second stakes attempt, the 4yo filly stepped up to face better company this year with a pair of fifths at Gulfstream (Royal Delta) and Churchill (La Troienne). She’s made steady improvement in her last three outings, registering a pair of triple-digit BRIS Speed ratings, and exits a solid third over track in the August 2 Shuvee H.  Trainer Carl Nafzger has worked her three times since in a 12-day period and Tiz Windy possesses the tactical to settle close before offering her rally. She could be finding her best form at an opportune time.

Race 8: A strong opinion with #2 (GRAND BILI). City Zip colt gained valuable seasoning but lost all chance at the break when shipping outside Gulfstream for the first time in the May 16 Chick Lang at Pimlico, and he’s really come on since then for trainer Gustavo Delgado, registering a 103 BRIS Speed rating for a close second in the Big Cypress before posting a field-best 108 Speed rating for a comfortable win in the July 5 Carry Back, both efforts at today’s 7f distance. He shows a pair of works over the track and Grand Bili will be forwardly-placed from the start with Javier Castellano.

Race 9: Must respect the #7 (Private Zone) given his recent form and high speed, but I’ll tab #6 (TAMAKRUZ) for a minor upset in his second start stateside.  The 5yo son of Speightstown improved significantly when switching to dirt in Dubai, reeling off four consecutive wins, and he was a little too keyed up at the start of the Met Mile (G1), chasing a wicked early pace before winding up fourth. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin elected to fresh his charge 84 days in preparation, gearing up for a fall assault, and don’t expect to see Irad Ortiz Jr. make the same tactical error this time. Tamarkuz could finish up well.

Race 10: Expecting #2 (Flintshire) the get overbet and the in-form #8 (WAR DANCER) looms a threat to steal it as lone speed. He won’t face the same speed-laden field from the August 1 Bowling Green, where the 5yo got shuffled back rounding the first turn and was tossing his head in frustration, but he came with a big run five wide leaving the far turn to challenge for the lead before winding up a clear second.  Easy to respect the progress he’s made this season for Bill Mott and War Dancer figures to flash to the front from his outside post and may not come back to them with an easy lead.