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Handicapping - Pedigree - History - Dosage

Early Look at the Travers Stakes

The only horse in history to win the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, the Belmont Stakes and the Travers Stakes was back in 1941. The great Whirlaway, trained by Ben Jones and ridden by Eddie Arcaro.

With the way that the Kentucky Derby shook out this year with the pace, it compelled me to take a look back prior to that day and refer to the April Derby Top 7 article in an attempt at vindication. I recall penning that article with so much confidence in those top 7 horses, both for the 10f distance and their determination to win on the track. In all the years that I have posted analyses and top picks for the Kentucky Derby, I was never as confident as I was in 2022. The entire season of work was shattered in less than 22 seconds but that does not nullify the findings. The Travers Stakes allows it to come full circle.

Six months prior to the Travers Stakes and one month prior to the 2022 Kentucky Derby, on April 3, the top 7 best of the best colts for the 10f distance were posted in that article. Three of those horses will appear at Saratoga for this much anticipated race – Epicenter, Charge It and Cyberknife. Nothing has changed since that article was posted. They are still the best of the best from that day to this and we certainly have our work cut out for us come the end of the month.

Barring another crazy pace scenario, those three horses will be just as competitive and advantaged as there were stepping into the gate at Churchill back in May. They have since proven themselves to compete with top notch class and built with raw talent to succeed.

What will separate these three walking into the Saratoga gate will be highly influenced by their exhibited speed to date. The reason is because all three are stamina driven. All three have the 10f distance and all three have proven their prowess with speed. As in any race, speed wins - and with the way all three of the colts are built it will all boil down to their prior exhibited speed.

The bias at Saratoga will also play a major factor although Epicenter, Charge It and Cyberknife have all proven their ability to tackle various biases, which in turn, does us no favor. Rain may intercede, but even then, all three should still be able to perform in their same manner. This race will not only be a test for the best three year old of the year, it will certainly be a major test for the handicapper. A case could be made for any of the three to win by open lengths in this race.

Representing these three superstars are Gun Runner, Tapit, and Not This Time. That statement does not make things any easier either. In looking at any influence from these three first generation sires, they fit each of their offspring like a glove. The additional speed and style of Gun Runner compliments Cyberknife for the Saratoga test. The additional stamina influence of Tapit afforded to the speed of Charge It gives him an upper-hand, and the obvious killer speed influence of Not This Time is what made the over-bearing stamina of Epicenter so successful. The additions of the sires endorse their talent and the way they are built in such a way to dominate this 10f competition. One does not hold any advantage over the other. This would have been on full display in the Kentucky Derby as well had Summer is Tomorrow just stayed home. I daresay that Epicenter, Charge It and Cyberknife are the best of the crop going into the Travers Stakes and one does not hold any advantage over the other. I may not have said that prior to the Kentucky Derby when it came to Epicenter, but I will say it now. Charge It and Cyberknife have both exhibited the qualities of potential Champions at the Classic distance and their qualifications stand in perfect sync with Epicenter. All three are holding the perfect formula for success at the 10f race: Major Speed + Major Stamina = Winner.


DP = 4-9-10-1-0 (24) DI = 3.00 CD = 0.67

Mare Profile = 13-3-2-5-6 Speed = 16 Stamina = 11 Index = 1.63 Triads = 18-10-13

Obvious inbred major speed from the mares bloodlines coupled with a 3.00 speed index. Add in the stamina of a first generation Tapit son and these are the qualifications that excel at the 10f distance. From his performance in the Florida Derby against Simplification and White Abarrio to his astounding victory in the Dwyer by 23 lengths traveling only 8f, this is a horse who can display wicked speed with the ability to carry it the 10f distance regardless of what happened in the Derby. He will thrive at Saratoga just like Essential Quality did with his win in the Travers last year. They are built very similarly but what stands out here is that the bias, whether it caters to speed that day or to stamina, the Tapit boys have both sides covered. The top gravitates to the stamina end, the bottom to the speed end. With the decisive win in the Dwyer, the confidence level kicks high and his early vacation stay at Saratoga will have him completely acclimated to the track. Charge It is a serious contender for the Travers Stakes because of his exhibited speed ability and the inbred stamina to sustain it with ease going the full distance.


DP = 0-2-6-0-0 (8) DI = 1.67 CD = 0.25

Mare Profile = 3-2-5-12-6 Speed = 5 Stamina = 18 Index = 0.45 Triads = 10-19-23

One look at those triads and the 13 point spread leaning to stamina makes his record breaking Monmouth track record all the more glorious. Astonishing speed that took 37 years to break. This horse can sustain all the speed he wants for as long as that track wants to go. The mares gave him so much stamina that his style of running and his speed ability defies logic. This horse is a serious competitor who can come from anywhere on that track. Take away that pace in the Derby and he flies with Epicenter with a very strong probability of beating him in the end. He has his chance in the Travers to keep his winning streak afloat and he has everything in his back pocket to make it happen. Cyberknife has exhibited speed that seemingly comes from nowhere when it comes to Candy Ride descendants and can be put in the same limousine as Gun Runner and Shared Belief. Speed that goes against the balance of the mare's scale and allows the horse to sustain it as long as he needs to go. Based on everything, he appears unbeatable at Saratoga traveling 10f and if his performance somehow strikes against Charge It and Epicenter, this colt may be the only one to compete against Flightline in the Breeders Cup Classic.


DP = 0-0-9-1-2 (12) DI = 0.60 CD = -0.42

Mare Profile = 1-10-5-8-5 Speed = 11 Stamina = 13 Index = 0.74 Triads = 16-23-18

Just like Cyberknife, his exhibited speed seems to come from nowhere. Strong speed influence from the immediate sire crashes that scale. His numbers depict turf player, but he glides on that dirt track. This horse is bred like no other from this crop, the very best seen in years, but there are two items that make him vulnerable at Saratoga. He was untouchable out on the lead, but they are bringing him from way off the pace in recent competitions which hands him a slight disadvantage otherwise. This change destroyed him in the Preakness on that speed favoring track. He came from off the pace in a short field in the Jim Dandy which gave him the easy win, but one has to wonder if his margin of victory was swallowed up not being out front. The second item is that Epicenter is unlucky. Something turned after the Lecomte Stakes even though he had posted wins and performed well after that race. He appeared stagnant and off of his usual dominance. His speed flattened but his determination to get his nose out front still remained. This is why Cyberknife and Charge It have a tangible shot of beating him down that stretch. When he is unlucky, his speed suffers and does not match the other two. It is Epicenter's will and determination that will have to be relied on in order to get him into that Winner's Circle in the Travers. He has it, he needs to be ridden correctly and that is not a guarantee. With the speed and the ability to sustain it found in both Charge It and Cyberknife, Epicenter is very vulnerable even with being the best bred on the field. He has taken a win at Saratoga already which gives him a certain degree of advantage. Asmussen declared the day after the Jim Dandy win that “He’s very alert, very happy with himself,” which is exactly want you want to hear a trainer say about his champion horse. There is no denying that Epicenter will always be a deserving favorite in every race he is entered into and it is almost a travesty to even think about betting against him but with Charge It and Cyberknife in an August showdown, those thoughts are inevitable.

The Travers Stakes at Saratoga is the epitome of tradition and holds such a deep and rich history within the sport of horse racing. First run 158 years ago at 14f, a horse named Kentucky took the inaugural trophy. Since that time, the greatest names of the sport have left their mark at Saratoga in this very race.

The fearless winner takes home a replica of the trophy, The Man O'War Cup in dedication to the outstanding champion Man O'War who crossed the finish line first back in 1920. Names like Jim Dandy, War Hero, Whirlaway, Native Dancer, Sword Dancer, Jaipur, Buckpasser, Damascus, Arts and Letters, Bold Reason, Key to the Mint, Alydar, Easy Goer, Thunder Rumble, Holy Bull, Thunder Gulch, Point Given, Medaglia d'Oro, Bernardini, and Street Sense left their mark in the Travers Winners Circle. These names represent some of the greatest horses in history and the Travers Stakes will continue to produce that long lasting mystique that surrounds this magnificent sport. One cannot simply watch this two-minute race without thinking about these past champions, their trainers, the jockeys and the owners who stood on those grounds. Year after year, history is made and hopefully it continues yet another century and a half.

Our recent winners are just as heroic as those from that bygone era, with each one adding to the richness of this sport. The Travers Stakes is an American fixture and will always produce iconic winners.

Out of the last 10 editions, less than half of the winners were favorites. The current track record was won by the 8th betting choice out of a field of 12, Arrogate, who went off at 12-1. There was a dead heat in 2012 between the favorite, Alpha, and the ninth betting choice, Golden Ticket, who went off at 34-1. Based on the last 10 years, the favorites are very vulnerable.

Also, based on history, the Travers is a PACE RACE, just like the Haskell and the Kentucky Derby was this year. Assumptions cannot be made with one lead in mind, nor can you assume how he will react once he gains that lead. At 10f, speed and stamina dominate, however, in the Kentucky Derby, speed (high chef indexes with mare stamina) has taken complete command over the last 10 years. In the 10f Travers, that is not the case. Speed and Stamina are basically even, and it all revolves around that pace. Since Bernardini in 2006, only two others were able to go gate to wire. They just happened to be two of Baffert's speedy clones, Arrogate and West Coast. Wiring the Travers is not an easy feat and opening pace figures are everything when it comes to the speed entrants. Unless there is a wicked stamina guy out on that lead, chances are very strong the lead will not go wire to wire. How fast he expends that speedy energy will dictate the race results.


2021 Essential Quality (the favorite out of 7)

DP = 5-12-14-1-0 (32) DI = 3.00 CD = 0.66

Mare Profile = 12-3-2-2-12 Speed = 15 Stamina = 14 Index = 1.04 Triads = 17-7-16

Tapit Stamina - 32 Chef Points - Low Chef CD - Mare Speed

2020 Tiz the Law (the favorite out of 7)

DP = 1-4-3-0-0 (8) DI = 4.33 CD = 0.75

Mare Profile = 7-6-3-7-4 Speed = 13 Stamina = 11 Index = 1.28 Triads = 16-16-14 (Tapit)

Second generation Tapit with Killer Chef Speed.

2019 Code of Honor (third betting choice out of 12)

DP = 3-1-11-7-0 (22) DI = 0.76 CD = 0.00

Mare Profile = 2-10-2-13-5 Speed = 12 Stamina = 18 Index = 0.64 Triads = 14-25-20

Major stamina top and bottom with displayed speed.

2018 Catholic Boy (third betting choice out of 11)

DP = 6-2-11-1-0 (20) DI = 2.08 CD = 0.65

Mare Profile = 7-5-5-5-10 Speed = 12 Stamina = 15 Index = 0.80 Triads = 17-15-20

Great Triads - 2.10 and Under

2017 West Coast (fourth betting choice out of 12)

DP = 10-5-11-0-0 (26) DI = 3.73 CD = 0.96

Mare Profile = 8-4-1-6-9 Speed = 12 Stamina = 15 Index = 0.84 Triads = 13-11-16

Baffert clone with subpar triads, half decent Mare index.

2016 Arrogate (Track Record - 1:59.36) (eighth betting choice out of 12)

DP = 6-25-7-0-2 (40) DI = 6.27 CD = 0.83

Mare Profile = 4-6-4-7-9 Speed = 10 Stamina = 16 Index = 0.62 Triads = 14-17-20

40 Total chef points, major chef speed, great triads, fantastic numbers regardless of Baffert.

2015 Keen Ice (fifth betting choice out of 10)

DP = 5-8-15-0-0 (28) DI = 2.73 CD = 0.64

Mare Profile = 3-3-4-10-7 Speed = 6 Stamina = 17 Index = 0.46 Triads = 10-17-21

Major Mare stamina.

2014 V.E. Day (sixth betting choice out of 10)

DP = 2-0-12-10-0 (24) DI = 0.50 CD = -0.25

Mare Profile = 2-7-6-8-8 Speed = 9 Stamina = 16 Index = 0.57 Triads = 15-21-22

Killer stamina top and bottom

2013 Will Take Charge (fourth betting choice out of 9)

DP = 6-26-8-0-2 (42) DI = 6.00 CD = 0.81

Mare Profile = 5-5-4-3-9 Speed = 10 Stamina = 12 Index = 0.76 Triads = 14-12-16

42 total points with killer speed.

2012 Alpha (Dead heat) (the favorite out of 11)

DP = 7-6-19-4-0 (36) DI = 1.67 CD = 0.44

Mare Profile = 3-6-1-8-7 Speed = 9 Stamina = 15 Index = 0.57 Triads = 10-15-16

36 total points with major stamina top and bottom

2012 Golden Ticket (Dead Heat) (ninth betting choice out of 11)

DP = 7-5-10-0-0 (22) DI = 3.40 CD = 0.86

Mare Profile = 7-7-2-6-5 Speed = 14 Stamina = 11 Index = 1.28 Triads = 16-15-13

Horrible mare numbers - outlier


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