August 30, 2009

Travers Day … Here is What I Saw

A sea of slop and a soft turf course were the stage yesterday for some of the best horses in America. Travers Day is an important one, not only for the 3-year-olds, but also for many other divisions as well. I had my thumb at the ready to dish out some approval or some disappointment to the performers. Here is what I saw.

Thumbs up to Summer Bird. He is now the master of his domain (3-year-old colts) with his second impressive win in a classic race. Summer Bird was much the best yesterday and proved his Belmont Stakes win was far from a fluke. In my eyes, he is now the clear leader in the division, and only a win by one of the other 3-year-olds in the Breeder’s Cup Classic would deny him an eclipse award. Congratulations to his young conditioner Tim Ice, who is barely one year into being on his own as a trainer.

Thumbs up to Music Note. She was inches from being the 3-year-old filly champion last year, but her one race so far this year left much doubt as to her 4-year-old campaign. That doubt was erased with an overpowering performance in the Ballerina. Music Note is back, and I move her all the way up to the second position on my list of top older mares behind only Zenyatta.

Thumbs up to Vineyard Haven. I knew he was a top 2-year-old last year, but to think he would run this well against such a great field yesterday caught me by surprise. His talent is undeniable as it almost overcame just one race in twelve months and that being during an unproductive Winter in Dubai. If he improves at all off of the King’s Bishop, he will be a force to be reckoned with this Fall.

Thumbs up to Sara Louise. Another one who I thought might not be ready for her best yet, but she just outclassed her rivals in the Victory Ride. It will be very interesting to see where she goes from here, but she may be a very good one.

Thumbs up to Salve Germania. I bet on her, so that is enough for me. The European certainly relished the boggy turf course and ran the race of her life. She might never beat this kind again, but hey, once is pretty good.

Thumbs up to Rachel Alexandra. The empress of American racing was once again flattered by her former competition. Notably Summer Bird and Sara Louise. Every time her former rivals come back and win big races impressively, it makes me think that she is even better than the extremely high opinion I already had.

Thumbs down to the Jim Dandy horses. Kensei sixth, Warrior’s Reward fifth, and Charitable Man fourth, all had little to say when the real running of the Travers went down. For a bunch that looked like they all had a shot going in, it was a dismal finish, proving that this year’s Jim Dandy was inferior in quality to its normal high standard.

Thumbs down to Indian Blessing. Indian Blessing was a star at 2. Indian Blessing was a star at 3. Indian Blessing is not a star at 4. I don’t know if she is not the same since her Dubai sojourn, or if she has just lost a step, but she is not the same horse this year.

Thumbs down to Big Drama and Munnings. I expected a lot more of these two highly regarded 3-year-old colts. Full of class and dropping down in distance. Both bred to enjoy slop, they simply did not have it yesterday and were no match for Vineyard Haven and Capt. Candyman Can. They will need to step up their games if they want to be factors in either the BC Sprint or Dirt Mile.


LDP said...

I agree with just about everything you said. I still am not gonna give up on Indian Blessing though, she has too much class. All the of Darley's horses were prepped and ready to peak, and MN, when at her best is extremely talented. Indian Blessing was also coming off a layoff, after her fourth place in her first back from Dubai. She came out of that i thought an infection or something, and was coming into this off a pretty decent layoff. If she improves next out, which i think she will, she'll be a factor.

Brian Zipse said...

Maybe so, LDP, but she is not the horse she has been the last few years.

LDP said...

True, but i'll give her one more race. You have to consider all the traveling she has done. Including this year and last she has gone from CA, to LA, to NY, back to CA, then went to Dubai, ran against the boys, came back to CA, then went NY again. That would make me dizzy. She has been to one end of the country to the other like three times, and also went to another country. She may just be having a lot of jet lag, you never know.

jpinkertoncook said...

I've liked Summer Bird since watching his spectacular (fast closing third) finish in the Arkansas Derby. It was clear from that race that he was improving and going places. Throw out the Kentucky Derby. When I saw him prancing before the Belmont, I knew it was his race. LOVE seeing him win. (Though he was no match for Rachel!) He's another one I hope to see racing a couple more years.