Predicteform Travers Stakes Analysis & Podcast

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Ed DeRosa

August 22nd, 2014

In-depth analysis of the Travers Stakes including Pace Figures and Form Cycle Patterns of each starter. Please refer to the Legend or Pattern Guide for back-up definitions and patterns.

The $1.25 million Grade I Travers Stakes, racing's mid-summer classic, is run at 10 furlongs for just three year-olds. TV Coverage starts at 5pm with the Ballerina Stakes and the feature, the Travers goes to post at 5:45pm ET.

Get the Pace Figures and Past Performances for the Travers Stakes.

Additionally, listen to TwinSpires official podcast featuring Dan Zucker analyzing the Travers Stakes.

Commanding Curve (15/1)

One of two runners that have only won one race in the field, Commanding Curve has earned over $500k lifetime. He finished second in the Kentucky Derby (earning $400k) and outside of that race he has shown limited ability to compete at the Grade I level.

His Final Pace Figures have regressed since running a 78.4 in the Derby, most recently a 71.7 in the Grade II Jim Dandy, where he was beaten soundly by three others in the Travers field.

The Play: Regressor – Can't see him able to compete at this Grade I level. Owned by a popular syndicate group, his post time odds will likely be shorter than expected, which is also good if you take a stand against him.

Bayern (2/1)

After putting in a disappointing effort in the Preakness Stakes, Bayern has ripped off two monster victories against Grade I and II company, both by seven lengths. His most recent win in the Grade I Haskell was very impressive as he broke sharply and went wire to wire (meaning led start to finish). He went off at odds of 5:1 in the Haskell which means the betting public refused to believe he was that good, even though Bob Baffert has dominated the Haskell like no other. Bayern is one of three runners in the race to have earned over $1 million and is 6 for 7 in the money in his career.

Turning to his Pace Figures, after running a series of mid 70 final figures he put in an 81.2 DTOP (Double Top Form Cycle Pattern means he ran the fastest lifetime final and 4f figure in the same race) on 6/7 in the 7f Grade II Woody Stephens.

To come back and run an 81.8/70.8 in the Haskell while winning by seven lengths was impressive and shows a horse that is doing a better job of managing his energy while still running very high final figures. His dirt spread was also highest in his career at 11 points (final figure minus 4f figure) and note that Baffert sent Bayern back to Del Mar following the Haskell and has put three fast works in him with tight spacing (8/7, 8/14 and 8/19) before shipping back to Saratoga.

The 81.8 and 81.2 final figures in his two most recent races are considered “paired up tops (PUT)”, meaning he ran two lifetime tops back to back which is not necessarily a point from which a horse can move forward.

The Play: Fringe Contender – Expected to be the race favorite and the fastest out of the gate, the competition in here is tougher than the Haskell and with paired up tops the value needed is not going to be there as in his previous two wins.

Charge Now (15/1)

He has shown some promise as a late developing three year-old and if you discount his one race on 6/28 (as the track was very sloppy), Charge Now has been no worse than second in his career.

His final figures are consistent (73-75), but against non-graded stakes competition. He would need an improvement of four points and a lifetime best to even hit the board.

The Play: Too Slow – Improving horse that has never competed against stakes competition, let alone Grade I horses.

V.E. Day (15/1)

He exits the same race (The Curlin Stakes) as Charge Now, but visually speaking his effort was more impressive. He broke a couple lengths slow and trailed the field until the far turn, came the widest in the field and won while never really changing leads in the stretch until at the wire (horse should race on the left lead on turns and switch to the right lead on straight-aways). While not changing leads can be seen as a negative and something wrong with a horse, the sweeping wide move and his momentum looked to be so strong that a lead change would have been near impossible.

From a Pace Figure perspective he is on a strong Form Cycle Pattern. Notice the 72.2 REV on 5/10 (Reversal Pattern is the first time a dirt runner has a higher final figure than 4f figure, indicating a maturing horse who has figured out how to manage his energy), followed by a 74.9/59.5 (lifetime top) and most recently a 73.0/60.7 NPT. The New Pace Top indicates a runner who ran his fastest 4f figure while keeping his final figure within a few points of his lifetime top. One of the better indicators of future success, VE Day's series of his last three races looks like he could be sitting on a lifetime top.

The Play: Longshot – At 15:1 morning line, lengthening of the race to 10 f plus the addition of Saratoga's leading jockey, Javier Castellano makes him worth a look for underneath in the exotics.

Viva Majorca (20/1)

The third runner to exit the Curlin Stakes, Viva Majorca finished fourth behind both Charge Now and VE Day. The Curlin was his first attempt in stakes company and in a race around two turns. Digging a little deeper (into Breeding to make sure we don't miss anything), his dam had only one other runner who won only his maiden start.

His Pace Figures are on a steady decline – 77.7, 74.7, 73.7 to 72.2 last out.

The Play: Too Slow – combined with tailing off form in Grade I company make him a complete toss out.

Tonalist (3/1)

The Belmont Stakes winner, Tonalist has earned just over $1 million in his six race career. And while the three horses prior (Charge Now, VE Day and Viva Majorca) have yet to make the step from allowance to stakes, Tonalist has stamped his name as one of the top three year-olds in the country with three strong efforts in Grade I and II competitions.

Read about what we had to say on Tonalist going into the Belmont Stakes. Tonalist is one of those rare horses who until his last start had a Form Cycle Pattern each race of his life. The Jim Dandy was a short field of six with really two other competitors in Wicked Strong and Kid Cruz.

He raced well enough posting a 75.8/68.9, though it was regression of 1.5 points as compared to his two previous efforts. Visually speaking, he lacked that superb kick he showed previously and comes into this race off two average works with even spacing.

The Play: Regressor – One of three runners who has won at the Grade I level, he will take a fair amount of action on the tote board. That being said, the most recent tail-off and lack of kick seems to indicate a runner who could be on a slight form cycle regression and at short odds, the value is not there.

Wicked Strong (7/2)

The winner of the Jim Dandy, Wicked Strong beat both Tonalist and Kid Cruz less than a month ago. He is the only horse in the field with two Grade I Stakes wins and has amassed $1.25 million, the highest purse earnings as well. He looked like a different horse in the Jim Dandy as trainer Jimmy Jerkens put blinkers (blinders that go on the outside of each eye preventing the horse from looking around) on for the first time. The blinkers gave Wicked Strong an ability to be closer to the lead, something that he was lacking in his prior eight races. Another on a two breeze workout pattern, both of his works were solid, and going 6 furlongs (instead of 4 or 5f like the rest of the field) is an indication that there continues to be depth (distance) to the horse.

Turning to his Pace Figures, his last four Final Figures have been 80.3, 76.7, 76.6 and 76.8 most recently. The 80.3 which won the Wood Memorial (big Derby prep) was a huge lifetime top, so regression to 76.7 was not unexpected. What is unexpected are his last two efforts and the continuation of final figures around 77.

This consistency combined with his 71 four furlong should keep him close enough to front end in this 10 furlong route.

The Play: Contender – Forward progress is more expected than regression which put him as the top value at 3:1 odds or better.

Kid Cruz (12/1)

A distant third to Wicked Strong and Tonalist in the Grade II Jim Dandy, Kid Cruz was mis-ridden as he was rushed to the lead, asked to settle, dropped to last and came on in the stretch. And while he has not yet been competitive in Grade I and II races, his New Pace Top (NPT) on 7/5/14 would have thought to been a good set up in the race.

He has shown moments of brilliance (which is when a dirt horse can separate from its competition) but has yet to step up against the top three year-olds, which continues to be disappointing. Yet another with two spaced works after his most recent race, both works have been average.

Taking a deeper dive into his Pace Figures, he looks like he regressed to a 73.2 following a set of “paired up tops” (PUT). He should like the added distance as he tries 10f for the first time in his career, but would need a lifetime top here to truly compete.

The Play: Fringe Contender – still waiting for his breakout race, his odds by itself give him value.

Ulbanator (30/1)

He finished 5th by 10 lengths in the Jim Dandy and was previously beaten by Kid Cruz handily.

His Final Pace Figures are not only too slow but tailing off as seen by the 76, 74.3 to the most recent 71.3.

The Play: Too Slow – another that is too slow and tailing off, a complete toss.

Mr. Speaker (10/1)

By the looks of it, Mr. Speaker is a grass specialist. He's won two Graded stakes on turf and a Grade III on the synthetic surface at Keeneland. He had the perfect spot to ship to Arlington to compete in the Secretariat but owner Phipps Stables, who exclusively uses Shug McGaughey, choose to stay at home and try the dirt for a payday worth over double. It's interesting to note that he beat Adelaide in the Belmont Derby and Adelaide easily won the Secretariat.

He tired in his only race on dirt though his Dam, Salute, was a decent dirt runner who did try (with decent luck) graded stakes competition.

His Final Pace Figures are a bit erratic and though he did falter in his only race on dirt at Gulfstream on 1/25/14, his 4 furlong figure of 76.7 would put him close to the lead, especially as he draws outside and is the likely way he will go down the road.

The Play: Too Slow – a tough horse to figure, the outside post and potential forward placed running style, could insure a bit quicker pace than expected, though he is not likely to be around at the wire.