Kentucky Derby contender profile: Ny Traffic

August 14th, 2020

From a modest juvenile to a four-time graded stakes-placed Kentucky Derby (G1) contender, Ny Traffic has made steady and impressive progress since his debut nearly a year ago.

Bred in New York by Brian Culnan, Ny Traffic was offered for sale as a 2-year-old in training, but the son of late-maturing Whitney (G1) winner Cross Traffic fell short of his reserve with a final bid of $27,000. At this juncture, owner John Fanelli arranged to privately purchase Ny Traffic in a partnership for $22,000, which has turned out to be an absolute bargain.

Fanelli has been the one constant among Ny Traffic’s human connections. Over the course of nine starts, dating back to September, ownership of the gray colt has shifted repeatedly, with multiple new partners coming on board. Jockeys have come and gone, and Ny Traffic even switched trainers during the winter.

But Ny Traffic has stayed focus on mastering his job. Initially he was slow to understand the nuances of being a racehorse. He lost three of his four starts sprinting as a juvenile for trainer Harold Wyner and ended the 2019 season with a fifth-place effort against New York-breds in Aqueduct’s Notebook S.

However, Ny Traffic has thrived since he was transferred to the barn of Saffie Joseph and was stretched out in distance.

He kicked off 2020 with a gate-to-wire victory in a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Gulfstream Park, where he powered clear down the homestretch to score by 6 3/4 lengths.

That prompted an immediate foray on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, and Ny Traffic acquitted himself well in a division of the 1 1/8-mile Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds, where he set the pace and battled on gamely to finish third.

This triggered a string of encouraging yet frustrating efforts in major Kentucky Derby prep races. Between March 21 and July 18, Ny Traffic finished second three times, in the 1 3/16-mile Louisiana Derby (G2), the 1 1/16-mile Matt Winn (G3), and the 1 1/8-mile Haskell (G1). The latter was simultaneously Ny Traffic’s best effort and his most heartbreaking defeat. A determined surge in the final furlong saw him finish a nose behind the winner and he earned a career-best 107 Brisnet Speed rating.

Produced by the Graeme Hall mare Mamie Reilly, Ny Traffic is an April foal bred to improve with maturity, which he has backed up with the progress he has made over the spring and summer.

With 110 Kentucky Derby qualification points under his belt, Ny Traffic has locked up a spot in the Churchill Downs starting gate. Now he just needs to develop the winning instinct necessary to reach the winner’s circle against top-class competition.