Don’t Dismiss This Travers Bomb


It would not shock me if any of the 12 entrants in this year’s Travers Stakes hit the wire first. If you’re playing the multi-race bets, using the ALL button probably isn’t insane. No, I don’t give Everfast much of a shot (watch him win), but since he did manage to run 2nd in the Preakness, again, he can’t be TOTALLY discounted I suppose. This race is wide open.

In a gun-to-my-head situation, my three-horse trifecta box would probably include Tacitus, Tax, and Mucho Gusto. Very possibly the same three that you would use. But there is a huge long shot in here who intrigues me a great deal, and that’s partially because he reminds me of a number of horses who ran very well in another 10 furlong race for 3-year olds- The Kentucky Derby.

For starters, lets me say that I recognize that the Derby and the Travers are very different races in spite of the fact that they are restricted to sophomores at 1 1/4 miles. It has always felt to me that because the Derby and its associated prep races come so early in the careers of the horses that aim for the Derby Trail, it’s perhaps more prone to crazy results. In other words, maybe it’s easier for strange things to happen in the Derby than the Travers.

That said, it’s still at a distance that most of the entrants don’t really want to run. So if you find one or two horses who perhaps look like they might embrace the distance, I think you have to move up their chances. And in this field, Chess Chief reminds me of Kentucky Derby runner-ups Golden Soul, Commanding Curve (not because they were both trained by Chess Chief’s trainer Dallas Stewart) as well as 2019 Kentucky Derby “winner” Country House.

Yes, the Beyer Speed Figures on Chess Chief’s PPs are a little on the light side. That is true. But they are definitely moving in the right direction, as he has progressively gotten faster through each start (basically) this year. He has also passed horses late in every single race since turning three. By just about every measure, he’s getting better.

Now, I don’t have the career PPs for Golden Soul, Commanding Curve, or Country House in front of me as a type this. But it wouldn’t matter if I did because I am not trying to make an identical comparison. However, I remember enough about those three horses pre-Kentucky Derby to say that Chess Chief kinda runs the same way. Not flashy. Not brilliant. And not exceptionally fast. But all three of them seemed to always finish in the top third or fourth of the field, and all three kept running on Derby Day when others had stopped.

If I were you, I would not leave Chess Chief out of my Travers plays. I’ll be betting him to win and place. And if I play in any contests on Saturday, he’ll be my pick. You always have to watch out for Dallas Stewart. Perhaps Chess Chief is not among the most likely winners. But there is something about him. And in a field this wide open, why not?


  1. Agameofskill on August 23, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    I’ve seen worse picks … from you

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