A trio of preps were offered and the Travers (G1) picture came into sharper focus last weekend. The “Mid-Summer Derby” will be offered on August 25.
Good Magic confirmed himself as the Travers favorite with a superb three-length win in Sunday’s $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1), dominating from the top of the Monmouth Park stretch to the wire. This was the Good Magic we expected to see earlier in the year following a scintillating victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
His main projected Travers rivals include:
Hofburg, who earned his second career win crushing overmatched restricted foes in Friday’s Curlin Stakes. The Bill Mott-trained colt registered a 105 BRIS Speed rating over the sloppy Saratoga track and Hofburg is still lightly-raced with plenty of potential upside.
Tenfold, who recorded his first stakes victory in Saturday’s Jim Dandy (G2) despite suddenly veering out late in the Saratoga stretch. Trainer Steve Asmussen attributed the erratic behavior to the colt’s inexperience and Tenfold did make a belated career debut in February before competing in the Preakness (3rd) and Belmont Stakes (5th). He could continue to step forward during the second half of his sophomore season.
Triple Crown veteran and Preakness runner-up Bravazo was never a threat to Good Magic but reduced the final margin while clearly second-best in the Haskell, six lengths clear of third. Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas said his charge lost a shoe in the race and labeled it as an ideal steppingstone for the Travers.
Vino Rosso, who raced far back most of the way in the Jim Dandy but closed with a flourish in the stretch to miss by only a length in third. Conditioned by two-time Travers winner Todd Pletcher, Vino Rosso may benefit from the stretch out to 1 ¼ miles and having a race over the track.
Gronkowski, who looked like a star-in-the-making when launching a visually-impressive move to be a clear second in his U.S. and dirt debut, the Belmont Stakes. He’s training up to the Travers for Chad Brown.
Catholic Boy, a Grade 2-winning juvenile on the main track who will go turf-to-dirt off a pair of excellent wins over Analyze It in the Pennine Ridge (G3) and Belmont Derby (G1).
And the filly Wonder Gadot, confirmed in recent days by trainer Mark Casse, will bring an intriguing presence to the Travers line-up. The surging daughter of Medaglia d’Oro exits a pair of commanding scores over Canadian-bred males in the Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales.
Good Magic earned a 105 BRIS Speed rating breaking his maiden in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile but failed to reach the triple-digit plateau in his first four starts this year. I thought he looked much-improved in the Haskell, garnering a 103 Speed rating while winning with ease, and Good Magic may continue to carry his form forward in the Travers.
Hofburg looms as a serious challenger. A son of Tapit, the chestnut garnered a 104 BRIS Speed for a Florida Derby (G1) runner-up in his second career outing and a 106 for a Belmont Stakes third a couple of starts later. His numbers are already formidable and Hofburg appears to be still developing for a Hall of Fame conditioner; he’s eligible to keep showing more on Travers Day.