Hanson: Several in Travers Day Grade 1 stakes pique interest

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

August 26th, 2016

A blockbuster Travers Day program at Saratoga on Saturday includes a difficult all-Grade 1 Pick 6, difficult that is except for the Sword Dancer Invitational (G1), where I presume most will rightly single FLINTSHIRE (#6, 1-5). While I probably won't partake in that particular wager, there are horses in the other five legs that pique my interest.

Personal Ensign (G1): FOREVER UNBRIDLED (#3, 7-2) has really blossomed into one of the better older fillies in the country this season. Although second best to one-turn beast Cavorting in the Ogden Phipps (G1), she can turn the tables on that one at a two-turn mile and an eighth. Not as good as I'm a Chatterbox or Curalina at three, but think the gap between she and them has closed.

Ballerina (G1): Her last two tries suggest she might be losing a step at age six, but I'm still drawn to SHEER DRAMA's (#4, 5-1) solid victory over two Breeders' Cup winners, Stopchargingmaria and Wavell Avenue, in the seven-furlong Madison (G1) at Keeneland in April. She shortens up to that distance here and loves this track.

King's Bishop (G1): Drawn widest in post 13, I still think DEFRONG (#13, 4-1) has a lot going for him. Unless he comes out of the gate like a rocket, it appears he might be asked to rate from this part of the track. That shouldn't hurt him, and with Gio Ponti and Ghostzapper in his immediate family he's sure to have inherited plenty of stamina to go farther than he has to date.

Forego (G1): Perhaps the toughest race to get a handle on all day, but I'll take another outside horse in MARKING (#12, 3-1). Rested since a second to A. P. Indian in the Belmont Sprint Championship (G3), he catches that one coming off a peak effort in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1) and picks up Joel Rosario, who wins at a very high rate aboard Kiaran McLaughlin trainees. Showing much class when sandwiched between the brilliant Runhappy and Lord Nelson, currently California's top sprinter, in the Malibu (G1) last December, Marking's overdue for a career-best.

Travers (G1): Like many folks, I wasn't too enthralled with the outcome, or the horses that participated in, the Jim Dandy (G2). However, CREATOR (#12, 15-1) ran well-below par that day and I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, especially if his price is anywhere close to the morning line. Having foolishly got off him between the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Belmont S. (G1), I'm not going to make that same mistake with a colt that should get an adequate pace and will be more formidable than most at 1 1/4 miles.

(Coady Photography)