The Travers Stakes 'Conspiracy'

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Derek Simon

August 23rd, 2013

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Both horses like to be on or near the pace and, while I was not overly impressed with Verrazano’s latest score in the Haskell (I thought the -6 late speed ration was a little weak), I do think that his success — or lack thereof — hinges on what his stablemate elects to do.

Simply put, Palace Malice is incredibly versatile. He won the Belmont after recording a ridiculously fast -11 early speed ration and, then, rated beautifully in the Jim Dandy while earning a 0 ESR.

When one considers that both Verrazano and Moreno prefer a slow and steady pace — Guillot has publicly admitted this (I told you earlier the guy likes to talk) — I think “Palace” should press the early issue. In effect, do to Moreno and Verrazano what Hedevar did to Dr. Fager nearly 40 years ago — run them off their feet.

The question is: Will he? Will Pletcher allow one of his entries to compromise the chances of the other? Or will he play it safe and send neither horse to the lead.

Guillot paints a picture of what could happen should the latter transpire.

"I would imagine Todd wouldn't be pressing his own horse with Palace Malice and Verrazano together; that wouldn't make much sense," he told The Bloodhorse. "So, somebody's going to push me, and, hopefully, they push me so far up front, or push me to the point where the other one can't catch up. That would be the best-case scenario."

This is why the coupling rules were initially put in place… and why I’m concerned about the Travers Stakes.

Biggie vs. Tupac

On this week’s “Simon Says” podcast for, I had an interesting discussion with Ed DeRosa about the so-called East Coast Bias.

Knowing that my colleague was born in Ohio — he recently went back and his city was gone (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) — I naturally assumed that Ed would vehemently disagree with my assertion that the East Coast Bias in racing is alive and well.

Much to my surprise, Ed agreed with me.

“There’s an East Coast Bias,” he stated, adding, “By and large, I sorta agree with your point that the onus to ship east is completely unfair when many of these horses — champions — don’t ship west either.”

I think the following table, which lists the last 10 Horse of the Year winners illustrates the point quite nicely:

(Click on image to enlarge)

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