by Jeremy Plonk
August 25, 2021
Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality tops the marquee for Saturday’s $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga, headlining a field of 7 that was drawn this morning. The once-beaten colt, who won the 2-year-old championship in 2020 and leads the 3-year-old chase to this point in 2021, was lined at 4-5 odds from post 2. Essential Quality could join Tiz the Law as back-to-back winners of both the Belmont and Travers.
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The Travers offers a 1-2-3 re-match from the July 31 Jim Dandy at the Spa. Essential Quality earned a half-length score over Keepmeinmind that day, with Masqueparade some 4 lengths behind the winner in third. Keepmeinmind (post 3) showed a bit more tactical ability in the Jim Dandy, while still last of five early. Masqueparade (post 6) is expected to be part of the Travers early pace, as he was last out.
Midnight Bourbon (post 1) looks to recover from a harrowing stretch incident when he was cut off, stumbled and fell in the Haskell. The Preakness runner-up figures to be on or near the lead Saturday, and could give all-time North American training wins leader Steve Asmussen his first Travers title. The early pace looks pretty defined with Masqueparade, Midnight Bourbon and Essential Quality in the mix throughout, trailed by four closers. With Midnight Bourbon and Essential Quality in the inside two posts, it’s likely they’ll just go early and make the race from there.
Deep-closing Dynamic One (post 4) steps back up in class off a victory in the Curlin on July 30 and will be reunited with jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. His trainer Todd Pletcher secured the Travers trophy in 2005 (Flower Alley) and 2011 (Stay Thirsty). Dynamic One re-matches with Curlin runner-up and fellow late-runner Miles D (post 5), who will be making only his fourth lifetime start on Saturday. Trainer Chad Brown has yet to win a Travers.
The field is rounded out by King Fury (post 7), who moves turf-to-dirt after a poor effort in the Belmont Invitational Derby. The Lexington winner at Keeneland is another deep closer.
Sararoga // Race 12 // Grade 1 Travers Stakes // 1-1/4 miles
1. Midnight Bourbon (Ricardo Santana Jr.) 9-2
2. Essential Quality (Luis Saez) 4-5
3. Keepmeinmind (Joel Rosario) 6-1
4. Dynamic One (Irad Ortiz Jr.) 6-1
5. Miles D (Flavien Prat) 12-1
6. Masqueparade (Miguel Mena) 8-1
7. King Fury (Jose Ortiz) 15-1