2008 Travers Stakes Results, Recap and Payoffs
by Kenneth Strong, Chief Horse Racing Handicapper, Predictem.com
Colonel John wins 2008 Travers Stakes slugfest by inch over Mambo in Seattle
August 23, 2008 The 2008 Travers Stakes at Saratoga was a mile-and-a-quarter slam-bang slugfest that was settled by only an inch when Colonel John won the head-bob over Mambo in Seattle. If it was a fight they never would have stopped it. The top two were 5 -lengths ahead of third-place finisher Pyro, who finished a neck in front of early-stretch troublemaker Harlem Rocker. Pacesetter DaTara held on gamely for fifth after being pressured throughout.
The race started off ordinarily enough with Belmont Stakes winner DaTara taking the early lead under pressure from Tres Borrachos. The latter was soon replaced by Tizbig as the pace presser and DaTara had a comfortable one length lead after a quarter in 23.91. As the race developed Tizbig increased the pressure on DaTara through fractions of 48.06 and 1:12.12. And more favored rivals had settled into spots that would guarantee them eventful trips when the running started. Pyro was stuck back and inside in tenth, fourth choice Harlem Rocker was widest and Macho Again was between horses in what would turn out to be a very bad spot at crunch time.
By the time the field had entered the turn for home, Tale of Ekati had slipped up inside Colonel John to be in perfect striking position just back of the leaders. Harlem Rocker was flying with a strong seven-wide move that made Mambo in Seattle look like he was tied to a post, and Pyro was stuck behind a wall of horses inside trying to figure out where he was going to go.
When the field reached late turn after a mile in 1:37.17 DaTara had shaken Tizbig and opened a short but clear lead into the stretch. Tale of Ekati was steadying directly behind DaTara waiting for the rail to open up and Colonel John was steadying in the two-path trying to gain clear running room for his shot at DaTara.
In the meantime, Harlem Rocker had rolled up six-wide outside the second flight into the stretch and promptly lugged into Cool Coal Man, forcing that one to steady into Tizbig, who in turn checked between horses right into the path of Macho Again, who was desperately looking for room between horses. While Macho Again was clipping heels and checking behind the pack, Tale of Ekati was in tight along the rail unable to get untracked and Pyro was looking for a seam to rally through from the inside, Mambo in Seattle was in high gear on the outside.
Colonel John got the jump on Mambo in Seattle into the stretch, catching DaTara passing the eighth pole and wearing that one down by mid stretch, but just as DaTara was giving way for good, Mambo in Seattle came rolling up to Colonel John as if he was going to go right on by. But The Colonel wasnt done.
Giving us the race we were expecting in the Kentucky Derby, Colonel John responded to the challenge of Mambo in Seattle and dug deep to hold that one on even terms. In deep stretch it looked like Mambo in Seattle had a tiny edge. At the wire it looked the same way. Robbie Albarado, the rider aboard Mambo in Seattle, gave the victory wave.
Colonel John won the head bob by a thumb width.
It was a gutsy effort from Colonel John, who was making only his second start since his 14 -length drubbing in the Kentucky Derby. This was the real Colonel John.
Ridden by Garret Gomez for trainer Eoin Harty and owner WinStar Farm, Colonel John paid $10.40 to win as the second choice and got the mile and a quarter in 2:03.20. The bay colt by Tiznow-Sweet Damsel by Turkoman improved his lifetime record to 5-2-1 from nine starts and increased his earnings to $1,468,830.
What did we learn from the 2008 Travers Stakes?
Colonel John is legitimately a good horse. Mambo in Seattle is just as good or better. Tale of Ekati and Pyro both had some trouble but werent good enough. Harlem Rocker came up short in his first start against real horses as a 3-year-old and could improve to be on par with the top two. Macho Again had no chance to show his best stuff and could be a trip horse to play in his next start, but were not sure he can beat the top two. Tres Barrachos is an average horse that cant play with these boys, as are the remainder of the field.
And going 1 - miles, were not sure Big Brown in his current state wants any part of the top two finishers in the 2008 Travers Stakes either.
Bring it on Brownie.
Travers Stakes Results and Payoffs
Saratoga, Race 11, August 23, 2008
2 Colonel John $10.40 $5.40 $4.30
9 Mambo in Seattle $6.30 $5.10
11 Pyro $3.70
8 Harlem Rocker
$2 Exacta 2-9 paid $86.50
$2 Trifecta 2-9-11 paid $351.00
$2 Superfecta 2-9-11-8 paid $1,785.00
$2 Pick 3 6-5-2 (3/3 required) paid $917.00
$2 Pick 4 6-6-5-2 (4/4 required) paid $13,626.00
$2 Daily Double 5-2 paid $111.00