Travers Stakes – Race 12 at Saratoga – Post Time 6:12 PM Eastern
Masqueparade could have an edge in this seven horse field as a lone front runner due to the fact none of the others have truly shown a desire to lead early in a race. Starting with his runner-up effort at a mile and one-sixteenth in March, a race he might have won if not bumped by the original winner before being place first when that one was disqualified, Masqueparade has been in front or very close the lead from shortly after the start in four straight races. When winning one of those races on May 1, Masqueparade earned a stellar 108 Equibase Speed Figure which just one point shy of the 109 figures Essential Quality has earned in three of his last four races. Considering Essential Quality will go to post as the prohibitive betting favorite, Masqueparade offers much better value for any bets we make involving this race because he has as much of a chance to win as Essential Quality if both repeat their best recent efforts. Although Masqueparade was no match for Essential Quality last month in the Jim Dandy Stakes when third, there was a different early pace scenario that day as another horse led and Masqueparade stalked that pacesetter before making the lead with a quarter mile to go before being passed by Essential Quality and Keepmeinmind. In this situation it could be Masqueparade who dictates the early tempo and as such he has a shot to relax on the lead and get very brave to post the upset win.
Essential Quality has now won seven of eight career starts for a bankroll of $3.5 million. His only poor effort came at the distance of the Travers when he finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby, but jockey Luis Saez hasn’t made the same mistake of getting Essential Quality hung wide throughout the race, resulting in two strong wins in a row. The first of the two came in the Belmont Stakes with a 109 figure, followed by a similarly strong effort in the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga one month ago in which the colt earned a 107 figure. As such, if Masqueparade can’t lead from start to finish the horse most likely to pass late to win the Travers is Essential Quality.
King Fury and Keepmeinmind both have slight chances to win and big chances to finish second or third to complete any exacta or trifecta tickets played. King Fury came up slightly ill right before the Derby and had to skip the race, then closed very well from last of nine to get second behind Masqueparade in the Ohio Derby, earning a career-best 105 figure in the process. Not finding a race to run in after that in order to prep for the Travers, King Fury was entered in the Saratoga Derby Invitational three weeks ago on turf, a surface he had never run over previously. Finishing 10th of 11 in that race, the only thing that proved was he is much more well suited to dirt and so on the return to dirt and based on his effort in the Ohio Derby, King Fury could be a factor in the Travers. Similarly, Keepmeinmind missed by a half-length to Masqueparade in the Ohio Derby in June then by a similar margin to Essential Quality in the Jim Dandy, earning 105 then 106 figure not far enough afield from the likely favorite to discount Keepmeinmind’s chances completely. Particularly the Travers being his second start of the Saratoga meeting, Keepmeinmind running as well or better as he did one month ago shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Win bets: Masqueparade to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.
Essential Quality is very likely to be the prohibitive betting choice so cannot be bet to win.
Masqueparade and Essential Quality over Masqueparade, Essential Quality, King Fury and Keepmeinmind
Trifectas: Masqueparade and Essential Quality over Masqueparade, Essential Quality, King Fury and Keepmeinmind over Masqueparade, Essential Quality, King Fury and Keepmeinmind