Equibase Analysis: Masqueparade Poised To Upset Travers - Horse Racing News

The Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers Stakes brings together a seven horse group of 3-year-olds vying for top honors in one of the most prestigious races of the summer. Oddly enough, three of the seven didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby three months ago and the other four managed finish positions of fourth, sixth, seventh and 18th. Still, the combined earnings of the seven runners is over $6 million, led by Essential Quality, winner of the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes and the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes in his last two races.

Jim Dandy runner-up Keepmeinmind is winless in six races since taking the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last fall. Masqueparade finished third in the Jim Dandy after winning the Grade 3 Ohio Derby and may be the lone front runner in the field. Midnight Bourbon won the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes in January to get on the radar among top 3-year-olds but is winless in five races since then although it must be noted he was in position to win the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational Stakes last month before clipping another horse’s heels and losing his jockey.

The recent one-two finishers of the non-graded Curlin Stakes – Dynamic One and Miles D, respectively, hope to improve and be competitive at this level, while King Fury hopes to rebound to the form shown when rallying from last of nine to get second behind Masqueparade in the Ohio Derby before a non-threating 10th place effort on turf in the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby Invitational Stakes earlier this month.

Masqueparade could have an edge in this seven horse field as a lone front runner due to the fact none of the others have truly shown a desire to lead early in a race. Starting with his runner-up effort at a mile and one-sixteenth in March, a race he might have won if not bumped by the original winner before being place first when that one was disqualified, Masqueparade has been in front or very close the lead from shortly after the start in four straight races. When winning one of those races on May 1, Masqueparade earned a stellar 108 ™ Equibase® Speed Figure which just one point shy of the 109 figures Essential Quality has earned in three of his last four races.

Considering Essential Quality will go to post as the prohibitive betting favorite, Masqueparade offers much better value for any bets we make involving this race because he has as much of a chance to win as Essential Quality if both repeat their best recent efforts. Although Masqueparade was no match for Essential Quality last month in the Jim Dandy Stakes when third, there was a different early pace scenario that day as another horse led and Masqueparade stalked that pacesetter before making the lead with a quarter mile to go before being passed by Essential Quality and Keepmeinmind. In this situation it could be Masqueparade who dictates the early tempo and as such he has a shot to relax on the lead and get very brave to post the upset win.

Essential Quality has now won seven of eight career starts for a bankroll of $3.5 million. His only poor effort came at the distance of the Travers when he finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby, but jockey Luis Saez hasn’t made the same mistake of getting Essential Quality hung wide throughout the race, resulting in two strong wins in a row. The first of the two came in the Belmont Stakes with a 109 ™ figure, followed by a similarly strong effort in the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga one month ago in which the colt earned a 107 figure. As such, if Masqueparade can’t lead from start to finish the horse most likely to pass late to win the Travers is Essential Quality.

King Fury and Keepmeinmind both have slight chances to win and big chances to finish second or third to complete any exacta or trifecta tickets played. King Fury came up slightly ill right before the Derby and had to skip the race, then closed very well from last of nine to get second behind Masqueparade in the Ohio Derby, earning a career-best 105 figure in the process. Not finding a race to run in after that in order to prep for the Travers, King Fury was entered in the Saratoga Derby Invitational three weeks ago on turf, a surface he had never run over previously. Finishing 10th of 11 in that race, the only thing that proved was he is much more well suited to dirt and so on the return to dirt and based on his effort in the Ohio Derby, King Fury could be a factor in the Travers.

Similarly, Keepmeinmind missed by a half-length to Masqueparade in the Ohio Derby in June then by a similar margin to Essential Quality in the Jim Dandy, earning 105 then 106 figure not far enough afield from the likely favorite to discount Keepmeinmind’s chances completely. Particularly the Travers being his second start of the Saratoga meeting, Keepmeinmind running as well or better as he did one month ago shouldn’t surprise anyone.

The rest of the field, with their best ™ Equibase® Speed Figures, is Dynamic One (103), Midnight Bourbon (99) and Miles D (100).

Win Contenders:
Essential Quality

Runhappy Travers Stakes – Grade 1
Race 12 at Saratoga
Saturday, August 28 – Post Time 6:12 PM E.T.
One Mile and One Quarter
Three Year Olds
Purse: $1.25 Million

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