Mucciolo: Destin-ed to win the Travers

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

August 27th, 2016

It is hard for me to go against Exaggerator in Saturday’s $1.25 million Travers S. (G1) at Saratoga after his fine win in the Haskell Invitational (G1) where I thought he might be a race short but still pulled clear late, but it is also hard to swallow a short price in such a big field, and I will focus on a pair of others with more value that could pull off an upset.

DESTIN had a solid prep when a good third in the Jim Dandy S. (G2) in an oddly run race with an early crawl and big finish late, and that tightener could be exactly what the consistently good colt by Giant’s Causeway might have needed in advance of this test. A dual graded winner, the gray sophomore just missed recording a fine second in the Belmont S. (G1) two prior and his versatile running style could come in handy, as being stuck behind a wall of horses is rarely a good idea with a 13-horse contingent going postward.

From the perennial top barn of Todd Pletcher, Destin runs for an outfit that won this race in 2005 with Flower Alley and in 2011 with Stay Thirsty, both of whom prepped for the Travers in the Jim Dandy. A solid drill on the famed main oval at Saratoga aids the cause, as does the fact Javier Castellano gets off a quality rival to stick with the Kentucky-bred sophomore.

Another I give a solid chance to is the talented GIFT BOX, who was a big second in the Curlin S. on this surface most recently and has as much room for improvement as any being lightly raced. A gray son of Twirling Candy, the three-year-old Chad Brown pupil has never run a bad one and looks like a colt sitting on another forward move in just the third start since November, for a conditioner who always has them ready to roll at ‘The Spa.’ And while Castellano leaves to pilot the aforementioned, he apparently had reservations about abandoning Gift Box, splitting with his agent days earlier.

Junior Alvarado inherits the mount atop the improving Gift Box, who has proven to be successful being close to the pace or rallying from off of it. Expect the Kentucky-bred to be rating near the middle of the pack to the top of the lane in a race with some pace, and I expect the early ones to back up late and set it up for a horse with a turn of foot.

As for the wagering, I will play trifectas and superfectas with Gift Box and Destin on top, with Exaggerator in second and the field in the third and/or fourth slot. And I will also use Exaggerator on top, with Gift Box and Destin in second, and the field in third and/or fourth.

In addition, it looks like we have a free space with Flintshire in Race 10 in leg three of the $1 million guaranteed All-Stakes Pick 4 starting in the 8th, so I will punch this ticket starting in Race 8:

All with 1,3,8,9,11,12 with 6 with 7,8,9.

Happy Travers Day!!!