July 16, 2024

Fever knocks Hofburg out of Travers

Hofburg got a confidence booster in the Curlin but will now have to await another target (NYRA/Coglianese Photography)

Well-regarded sophomore Hofburg, expected to be one of the prime players in Saturday’s Travers (G1), has come down with a fever that rules him out of the $1.25 million “Midsummer Derby.”

“Hofburg will not run in the Travers,” Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott revealed Sunday. “He’s been off the training list the last two days and we’re not going to force ourselves into the Travers.”

The Juddmonte Farms homebred burst onto the scene at Gulfstream Park this winter, breaking his maiden and finishing a strong second to Audible in the Florida Derby (G1). After a troubled seventh in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Hofburg rallied for third in the Belmont S. (G1).

Mott considered prepping for the Travers in the Jim Dandy (G2), but preferred to give Hofburg an easier task in the July 27 Curlin. The Tapit colt responded by outclassing the field in what promised to be a confidence-booster ahead of his next Grade 1 challenge.

In Hofburg’s absence, the Travers remains a hotly anticipated showdown that will clarify the three-year-old picture in the wake of Triple Crown winner Justify’s retirement. Leading the dozen probables are the runners-up in all three jewels. Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) champion and Kentucky Derby runner-up, Good Magic, asserted his claims in the Haskell Invitational (G1), while Chad Brown stablemate Gronkowski exits a second in the Belmont. Bravazo was second in both the Preakness Stakes (G1) and Haskell for D. Wayne Lukas.

Adding further intrigue are dual Canadian classic-winning filly Wonder Gadot; Aidan O’Brien’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and UAE Derby (G2) conqueror Mendelssohn joined by sidekick Seahenge; Catholic Boy, who goes turf-to-dirt after capturing the lucrative Belmont Derby Invitational (G1); and the Jim Dandy first and third, Tenfold and Vino Rosso. Others in the mix are Trigger Warning and King Zachary, the near-misser and fourth in the Indiana Derby (G3) to Axelrod (previously listed as possible), and Churchill Downs maiden winner Meistermind, a Bodemeister half to Mine That Bird and Dullahan.