08/26/2011 11:19AM

Travers Stakes chat highlights with The Wizard

Barbara D. Livingston
Can the inexperienced Raison d'Etat put it all together and win the Travers?

The Wizard joined DRF.com users for a live chat on Thursday night to preview the Travers Stakes race card. Below are the highlights:

On Shackleford's pedigree and his chances in the Travers:
Shackleford is the lone speed in Travers. He's the type that relishes a battle. Shackleford will face pressure turning for home and that's when he will have to answer the distance question. Who behind Shack will enjoy the added distance? That's the big question. Forestry, Shackleford's sire, was at his best from seven lengths to a mile. Shackleford gets his speed from Forestry and stamina from his dam. His dam's father was Unbridled, who relished a distance of ground. So Shack has a nice balance of speed and stamina.

On Raison d'Etat in the Travers:
In Raison d'Etat's last race, there was no pace and he had to overcome a speed-favoring track and a more experienced horse. Raison has one of the greatest pedigrees you will ever see and I don't think he will have a problem going 1 1/4 mile. The only obstacle for Raison is his inexperience, but when the light bulb goes off in his head, and that could be Saturday, then you might be seeing in the near future the best of the 3-year-olds. Raison's mother, Sightseek, was one of my favorite fillies of all time and expertly trained by Bobby Frankel, and Sightseek could prove to be owner Juddmonte Farm's greatest broodmare.

I always thought this was the most average bunch of 3-year-olds I've ever seen. And I have been proven right by the amount of longshots that have popped up out of nowhere to win all these races I cannot recall more than two favorites, if that, who have won any of these 3-year-old derby preps and beyond. That tells you that the possibility exists that a new shooter has every chance to be the best 3-year-old at end of year. We may not have seen the eventual champion emerge yet.


On Coil's workouts and his Travers hopes:
I have known Bob Baffert for a long time, and I have had a lot of success picking Derby winners, many stakes winners trained by him and I have to believe in my heart that the fact that Coil is running, Baffert feels that he has some live ammo. He would never run Coil in this race if he had any suspicion that Coil would not fire a good shot. It is true that Coil did not work very well prior to this latest work, but the track was at times deep and tiring, and that was Baffert's main concern. He didn't want to run Coil on a tiring, deep surface. I haven't seen that type of track in recent days, so when Coil worked the other day he caught a surface he handled very well, and the possibility arises he will get that type of track on Saturday. If  he does, Coil should make a good showing.

On the pace scenario be in the Travers:
To me it's odds-on that Shack will get uncontested lead out of the gate. There is no way I can envision Garcia aboard Coil to get into a kamikaze mission with Shackleford, which would result in both of them running last and next to last. The field will just let Shackleford go, take a striking position, which might be two lengths or more off the pace, and then attack on the far turn. I expect the pace to be no quicker than honest and possibly, fairly comfortable. That pace will force the hand of several riders to time their move just perfectly.

On Belmont champ Ruler On Ice in the Travers:
Ruler On Ice will be one of the horses close to the pace like he was in the Belmont. But remember, in the Belmont, the track was sloppy, they were going 1 1/2 miles, and pace was ordinary. The scenario is quite different on Saturday for him.

On Bowman's Causeway in the Travers:
Anything that Chad Brown puts on the track must be respected. He is in my opinion a potential future hall of famer. The problem with Bowman's Causeway is that this is a class rise for him. What he's been facing in Canada have been just a very average crop of 3-year-olds run over synthetic surfaces in the Plate Trial and Queens Plate. But Bowman's has shown the ability to handle the dirt at Gulfstream and his nose-defeat in Prince of Wales at Fort Erie in his last start. The problem is, Bowman's has never shown that he can defeat this type of competition.

On Moonshine Mullin in the Travers:
Moonshine ran a much better race than I expected in the Jim Dandy. He was not wound up tight. His trainer Reade Baker is a superb horseman who knows how to bring up a horse in peak form for an ultimate goal and obviously that's the Travers. The problem is that both Moonshine's wins have been in Canada -- one on poly and one on grass. The fact that he lost by 1 length to Stay Thirsty in the Dandy does not bode that well for him to move forward much going an extra 1/8 of a mile. Moonshine was creamed by Stay Thirsty that day so it's hard for me to believe with added distance he will turn the tables on Thirsty.

On Rattlesnake Bridge in the Travers:
I find that the lines maker who lists him at 8-1 has a lot more confidence in him than I do. If I had to put a price on Rattlesnake it would have been closer to 20-1. I have a lot of respect for his trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin, but he would have to have this horse improve several lengths and then hope that he can get to 1 1/4 miles, which he really shows no indication that at this point in his career he would be suited by that distance.

On Flashpoint's chances in the King's Bishop:
Flashpoint has brilliant speed. I like that he's training in obscurity at Aqueduct. The main issue for Flashpoint is that he draws a tough rail post at Saratoga going 7 furlongs. If he breaks slow and has to rush it could take its toll on him late. Flashpoint's best chance is to clear, relax, and then he'll be dangerous, and certainly if the track is playing kind to speed, it also helps his chances. But that rail post bothers me a little.

On Uncle Mo in the King's Bishop:
Uncle Mo has a lot of questions to answer. Having been observed by his connections and the clockers working out toward the King's Bishop, all signs point that Mo is healthy and ready to regain his 2-year-old form. But working brilliantly over the track at Saratoga does not equate to success in a very difficult race like the King's Bishop, where horses have to run hard from start to finish. I'm concerned about Mo's conditioning.

On Dominus going back to a sprint in the King's Bishop:
The experiment of Dominus going two turns in the Jim Dandy proved to his connections that sprinting and middle distances is his best game. I like the turnback to 7 furlongs, where he is 1-for-1. His success will be based on the pace scenario and if the pace is fast, will it take him out of his game, which is on or near the lead. He may find himself further off the pace Saturday, then we'll see if Dominus has a new dimension, and that's rating and finishing. Dominus is a tricky read because of that.

On Jealous Girl's chances in the ninth race, The Victory Ride (Grade 3):
Jealous Girl has reeled off four  very impressive wins, all on the front end. The competition she faced in those races are weaker horses than what she meets Saturday and she also faces more pressure on the front end. But obviously she's fast. She's very talented. She's on the improve and she's trained by Anthony Dutrow, who I feel is one of the best horsemen in the country.