2021 Travers Stakes Contenders & Odds

Horse Betting Online

Edited NYRA Press Release | OTB Writer
Updated: August 25, 2021

The 152nd running of the $1,250,000 Travers Stakes will be held on Saturday, August 28 at Saratoga Race Course.

The Travers Stakes, also known as the Midsummer Derby, is one of the most historic races in the country and has been an annual feature at Saratoga for nearly as long as the track has been running.

2021 Travers Stakes Race Info

Purse: $1,250,000
Grade: 1
Distance: 1 1/4 Miles
Age: 3
Last Year’s Winner: Tiz the Law
Track and Stakes Record: Arrogate (2016) 1:59.36

Essential Quality Headlines Travers Stakes Field

Reigning Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox has already secured a memorable meet at historic Saratoga Race Course and will be looking to accomplish a feat that has not been achieved in 79 years when he sends out ultra-consistent Godolphin homebred Essential Quality in the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday, August 28.

The 152nd running of the Runhappy Travers - for 3-year-olds contesting the classic distance of 1 1/4 miles, is slated as Race 12 on the packed 13-race card that features seven graded stakes among six Grade 1 contests. First post is set for 11:35 a.m.

Cox, who has saddled Essential Quality to seven wins in eight starts, including three Grade 1 scores, won one of the most prestigious races for older horses at the Saratoga meet when Knicks Go posted a gate-to-wire triumph in the Grade 1 Whitney on August 7. The Kentucky-born conditioner can now become just the third trainer all-time and first since John M. Gaver, Sr. in 1942 to win the Travers and Whitney in the same year with different horses.

2021 Travers Stakes Field & Odds

Race 12 at Saratoga on Saturday, August 28 - Post 6:12 PM

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Midnight Bourbon 9-2 Ricardo Santana, Jr.
126 Lbs
Steven Asmussen
2 Essential Quality 4-5 Luis Saez
126 Lbs
Brad Cox
3 Keepmeinmind 6-1 Joel Rosario
126 Lbs
Robertino Diodoro
4 Dynamic One 6-1 Irad Ortiz, Jr.
126 Lbs
Todd Pletcher
5 Miles D 12-1 Flavien Prat
126 Lbs
Chad Brown
6 Masqueparade 8-1 Miguel Mena
126 Lbs
Albert Stall, Jr.
7 King Fury 15-1 Jose Ortiz
126 Lbs
Kenneth McPeek

Essential Quality offers his trainer a good opportunity to join that list, as the Champion 2-Year-Old drew post 2 with regular rider Luis Saez aboard in being installed as the 4-5 morning-line favorite.

"I feel like he's as good as he's ever been," Cox said. "If we run our race, we'll be tough. There's six other good colts in there and we still have to play our game. If we do, I think we'll be a big factor."

The gray Tapit colt was undefeated in three 2020 starts, racking up wins in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity in October at Keeneland before returning a month later to the same track to win the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

After posting back-to-back wins to start his sophomore campaign on the Kentucky Derby trail - capturing the Grade 3 Southwest at 1 1/16 miles in February at Oaklawn Park and the 1 1/8-mile Grade 2 Blue Grass in April at Keeneland, Essential Quality ran his only non-winning race with a competitive fourth in the "Run for the Roses" on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs.

Undeterred, Essential Quality overcame Hot Rod Charlie's blistering fractions to run down his rival in the 1 1/2-mile Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on June 5 - giving Cox his first win in a Classic - and followed that effort, which netted a personal-best 109 Beyer Speed Figure, with a half-length win over Travers-rival Keepmeinmind in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy going 1 1/8 miles at Saratoga on July 31 in the local Travers prep.

"He's sharp, mentally. He's sharper this race than going into the Jim Dandy," Cox said. "My plan all along was to have him peak in this spot. Our goal since the Kentucky Derby was to have him at his best Travers Day and from a mental and physical standpoint, I feel he's right where we want him.

"I think he's a classic-distance horse," Cox added. "He's proven that already. I like the post. Hopefully, with a good trip, we'll get the job done on Saturday."

Essential Quality has already amassed a field-high $3.5 million in earnings and will team with a familiar face, as Saez - the meet's leading rider - has been aboard for all eight of his previous starts.

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"He fits him real well," Cox said. "Luis is riding him with a lot of confidence. He thinks the world of him. He's been able to breeze him his last two works up here and he's super excited about the opportunity on Saturday. I don't give Luis many instructions with this horse. It's just `do your thing' and it tends to work out."

Cox's chase for history includes trying to join Gaver, Sr., who won the 1942 Travers with Shut Out and the Whitney with Swing and Sway, and James G. Rowe, Jr., who won the Travers with Twenty Grand and Whitney with St. Brideaux in 1931.

Keepmeinmind will attempt to thwart that bid for history, earning another opportunity to oppose Essential Quality. Owned by Cypress Creek Equine, Arnold Bennewith and Spendthrift Farm, the son of Laoban ran a hard-charging second to the Runhappy Travers morning-line favorite in the Breeders' Futurity and ran third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. The duo met up twice more in the spring, when Keepmeinmind finished fifth in the Blue Grass and seventh in the Kentucky Derby.

The Robertino Diodoro trainee competed in the Triple Crown's second leg, running fourth in the Preakness in May at Pimlico, before earning additional black type with a third-place Grade 3 Ohio Derby performance in June at Thistledown. Keepmeinmind matched his career-best 97 Beyer for closing on Essential Quality in the Jim Dandy last month, finishing second, 2 1/4 lengths ahead of fellow Travers foe Masqueparade.

Listed at 6-1, Keepmeinmind will have the services of Joel Rosario, who rode him for the first time in the Jim Dandy, from post 3.

"He's getting better and better," Diodoro said. "The horse is overdue and he deserves a win. We definitely think the extra distance will help him big time and it's a huge plus having Rosario on the horse for the second time."

Midnight Bourbon (Winchell Thoroughbreds), the runner-up to Rombauer in the Preakness, has not raced since clipping heels with Hot Rod Charlie and unseating rider Paco Lopez in the Grade 1 Haskell in July at Monmouth Park.

The son of Tiznow, who started his sophomore campaign with a win in the Grade 3 Lecomte in January at Fair Grounds, will look for a better trip in his first Saratoga appearance. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who set the all-time wins record for a North American thoroughbred conditioner earlier this month with a big Whitney Day at Saratoga, will look to add another milestone at the famous track in seeking his first Travers score.

Ricardo Santana, Jr. will be in the irons for Midnight Bourbon [9-2] from the inside post.

"He's a big horse and time should benefit him a bunch as he gets bigger and stronger and more mature," said David Fiske, bloodstock advisor to Winchell Thoroughbreds. "He'll have to break well but I should expect to see him on or near the lead."

FTGGG Racing's Masqueparade bested King Fury by a half length in the Ohio Derby, extending his winning streak to three, before finishing third in a Jim Dandy contest that will see the trifecta rematch in the Travers.

The Upstart colt's top three speed figures in his seven-race career have come in his last three starts, starting with an optional claiming victory in May at Churchill before graduating to stakes company. After showing an affinity for Saratoga last out, Masqueparade will stretch out to 10 furlongs for the first time for trainer Al Stall, Jr.

Stall, Jr. said Masqueparade, who drew post 6 with Miguel Mena aboard, will be looking for a better trip after leaving from post 2 in the five-horse Jim Dandy, with Dr Jack [to his inside] and Weyburn [outside] possibly putting undue pressure on his charge.

"I love the draw. It's completely different than the Jim Dandy draw," Stall, Jr. said. "We're very happy with that. Being on the outside, we can chase some speed. If there's no speed, we can lay very close. He can be more comfortable. In the Jim Dandy, he was trapped inside between speed horses, so we couldn't get anything done because they were shuffling us back and we were last on the backside. Now he can float away from there and see how things go. He's got good natural speed, so I really like where we are. I think he deserves a chance."

Stall, Jr. will be saddling his first Travers starter and is looking for the personal Whitney-Travers double, with Blame having won the 2010 Whitney.

Mena, who has been riding predominantly at Ellis Park and Indiana Grand Race Course, has been aboard for all of Masqueparade's starts and will travel to the Spa on Saturday. Masqueparade is listed at 8-1.

King Fury (Three Chimneys Farms), runner-up in the Ohio Derby, trained at Saratoga through an imposed quarantine due to a positive case of Equine Herpesvirus-1 in their barn, causing him to miss the Grade 2 Jim Dandy and instead return in the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby Invitational on August 7, where he finished 10th after a wide trip in his turf debut.

"He came out of it fine. He just got hung wide on the second turn," trainer Kenny McPeek said. "I really feel like he needed a run. It was going to be a couple of months between races otherwise. Unfortunately, he didn't get a chance to run in the Jim Dandy, but he will be prepared for this."

King Fury, a son of Hall of Famer Curlin, started his juvenile year with high expectations as a $950,000 purchase at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton New York Select Yearling Sale across the street from the Spa. After notching a win in the Street Sense in October at Churchill, King Fury made the grade with his 2 3/4-length score in the Grade 3 Lexington going 1 1/16 miles over a sloppy and sealed Keeneland track in April.

His previous start on dirt saw him rally from last-of-9 to get second in the Ohio Derby, and McPeek said a better trip on the fast track could have made the difference.

"I think he should have won. He got shuffled back at one point during the race and I think if that hadn't happened, he wins handily," McPeek said. "He's a very good horse and he's going to relish a mile and a quarter."

Jose Ortiz, aboard for the Saratoga Derby Invitational, will return to ride King Fury [15-1 odds] from post 7.

Dynamic One (Repole Stable, Phipps Stable and St. Elias Stables) - second in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino in April at Aqueduct - showed his affinity for the Saratoga track last out, rallying from last-of-seven to close strong, besting Miles D by 1 3/4 lengths in the Curlin on July 30 at Saratoga for his first stakes victory.

Dynamic One, trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, rebounded from an 18th-place finish in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby to garner a personal-best 97 Beyer in the Curlin. The Union Rags colt did not break his maiden until fourth asking in March at the Big A but enters with momentum as Pletcher seeks his third Travers score.

"He obviously didn't fire in the Kentucky Derby, but his maiden races were pretty fast," Pletcher said. "He showed he belonged in the Wood. We were happy with the way he was training going into the Curlin, that appears to be his most professional race so far so hopefully he's going into his best."

Irad Ortiz, Jr. will ride Dynamic One [post 4, 6-1].

The Travers is one of the few stakes to elude four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown, who will send out his 12th all-time starter in this race with Peter Brant and Robert LaPenta's Miles D, who handled the jump to stakes company with a runner-up effort in the Curlin.

The son of Hall of Famer Curlin has improved his Beyer Speed Figures in each of his three starts, including a 95 last out when running 1 3/4 lengths back to Dynamic One in his Saratoga bow.

Miles D [post 5, 12-1 odds] will pick up jockey Flavien Prat's services, with the rider looking to extend his success in the division aboard multiple horses. Prat guided Rombauer to victory in the Grade 1 Preakness and piloted Hot Rod Charlie to a close second behind fellow Travers-contender Essential Quality in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, earning a placing in all three legs of the Triple Crown, as he was aboard for Hot Rod Charlie's third-place Grade 1 Kentucky Derby finish.

"He's obviously a bit of a longshot in the race, so he's going to have to step up," Brown said. "I'm thankful to have a horse in the race and hopefully he runs the race of his life and will be right there."

Pre-Draw News

Contenders Put In Final Preps for Travers Day

AUG 21 - A number of prominent graded stakes contenders for the upcoming Travers Stakes card breezed this morning (Aug 21) at Saratoga Race Course, including Grade 1 Belmont Stakes-winner Essential Quality, the likely favorite for the 152nd Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers.

Godolphin homebred Essential Quality, the reigning 2-year-old Champion and last-out Grade 2 Jim Dandy winner, breezed at 8:45 a.m. after the break, going five furlongs in 1:01.58 on the main track in company with Juddmonte homebred Bonny South, who is targeting the Personal Ensign.

Essential Quality, with Luis Saez up, worked outside of Bonny South and was caught by NYRA clockers working five-eighths from the half-mile pole through splits of 11.40, 23.22, 47.81, and out in 1:15 flat.

"He seems to be a little more forward leading up to this race than he was in the Jim Dandy," said trainer Brad Cox. "We've tried to sharpen him up the last few weeks and I feel like we have mentally. He's ready to go. Luis was super excited with how he worked. His last two works were better than his first two leading up to the Jim Dandy, so I feel like we have a horse who is every bit as good as we were leading into the Jim Dandy; maybe even better."

Cox said the work was a good follow-up to the bullet five-eighths in 59.40 last weekend that was also over the main track.

"Last week we were looking to do a little more, we weren't going quite as quick this week," Cox said. "Overall, he was doing everything the right way."

FTGGG Racing's Masqueparade, winner of the Grade 3 Ohio Derby in June at Thistledown, worked four furlongs in 48.11 seconds in company with Sum Kinda Pretty on the main track after the break.

"I got him in 47 and four and out in a minute and change. He was traveling like a winner, hopefully. Visually, with what I saw, I'm happy," Stall, Jr. said.

Stall, Jr. said the Upstart bay, who was a prominent third last out in the Jim Dandy, should improve second time out over the Spa main track.

"With the shipping, I only worked him twice from the Ohio Derby to the Jim Dandy," Stall, Jr. said. "When we got up here we noticed the track was a little deeper than it was in the past or at least it seemed that way. I think he got a little bit out of that race and it should help him for this race."

Cypress Creek Equine, Arnold Bennewith and Spendthrift Farm's Keepmeinmind, runner-up in the Jim Dandy last out, worked a solo half-mile in 47.55 under exercise rider Dennis Means on the main track after the break.

"He went very good," said trainer Robertino Diodoro. "He was doing it nice and easy all on his own and with a strong gallop out once again. Touch wood, everything is on schedule. This was easy as could be and I thought Dennis did a good job because he's not an easy horse to slow down."

A number of the morning works, including those for Essential Quality and Masqueparade, were moved back due to a wet track from overnight rain.

"I thought the maintenance crew did a great job. The track, after the break here, looked good," Diodoro said.

Keepmeinmind, who graduated in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill in November, competed in two-thirds of the Triple Crown finishing seventh in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Grade 1 Preakness.

Diodoro said the Laoban bay will need to bring his best to topple Essential Quality.

"He needs to have his game face on for game day and be ready to run the race of his life," Diodoro said.

Three Chimneys Farm and Fern Circle Stables' King Fury went to the Oklahoma dirt training track at 9:30 a.m. under Jose Ortiz and covered five furlongs in 1:01.13 solo in preparation for the Travers.

"It was a solid breeze. We caught him in a minute," McPeek said. "It was a nice solid maintenance breeze. The horse can run all day. He's coming into the race great. I think a mile and a quarter will be right up his alley."

The Curlin chestnut captured the Grade 3 Lexington in April in his seasonal debut and followed with a rallying second in the Ohio Derby, finishing a half-length back to Masqueparade.

Last out, King Fury finished tenth in the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby Invitational after a wide trip in his turf debut.

"He's a horse that won't have any trouble with the distance. He fits fine," McPeek said. "The horses that ran in the Jim Dandy, he'd actually beaten the horse that ran second [Keepmeinmind] in the Ohio Derby and he had a troubled trip when he did that. If he jumps to another level, I think we're good. The turf race was probably a bad idea in hindsight."

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher worked a number of his stakes contenders on the Oklahoma dirt training track Saturday, including Repole Stable, Phipps Stable and St. Elias Stables' Dynamic One, the last-out winner of the nine-furlong Curlin on July 30 at the Spa.

With Irad Ortiz, Jr. up, Dynamic One worked in company with graded-stakes winning filly Spice Is Nice through a half-mile in 50.67.

"I caught them in 50 and 1. I thought it was a good steady work with a solid gallop out over a track that's not very fast," Pletcher said. "He's had two solid works back now and two good gallop outs."

Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stable's Mind Control, last out winner of the Grade 2 John A. Nerud in July at Belmont, breezed a half-mile in 49.52.

The 5-year-old Stay Thirsty bay captured the 2018 Grade 1 Hopeful at the Spa as a juvenile and followed up a year later with a score in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens.

"It was a very straightforward work. He's a good workhorse," Pletcher said. "He's easy to train and likes to do his job. He was very professional as usual."

CHC Inc. and WinStar Farm's Life Is Good, undefeated in three starts, worked five-eighths in 1:00.61 under exercise rider Amelia Green.

The Into Mischief bay captured the Grade 3 Sham in January and Grade 2 San Felipe in March, both at Santa Anita for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert before being transferred to Pletcher.

Pletcher said he was impressed by the colt's fifth breeze at Saratoga in preparation for the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens.

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"Another very impressive breeze with a tremendous gallop out," Pletcher said. "He seems to do things effortlessly. He's impressive to watch and it should have him ready to go in what is a demanding task going seven-eighths in a Grade 1 off a layoff. He seems to be training extremely well.

"I would argue that today was his best work of all, particularly the gallop out," Pletcher continued. "I had him out the mile in 1:39 and one under a motionless rider. He has a good foundation of fitness."

Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will travel to Saratoga to retain the mount.

"I would expect some pretty fast fractions, so we'll just have to play it by ear off the break and see how it unfolds," Pletcher said.

Trainer Chad Brown, in pursuit of his first Grade 1 Runhappy Travers triumph, worked Peter Brant and Robert V. LaPenta's stakes-placed Miles D five furlongs over the Oklahoma training track in 1:01.16 in company with maiden-winner Southern District.

"He looked fine," Brown said. "His last piece of work was on the training track because the main track was still wet and such, but he went well."

Miles D, a son of Curlin, was a last out second to fellow Runhappy Travers aspirant Dynamic One in his sire's namesake sake on July 30 at Saratoga. He broke his maiden off an eight-month hiatus going a one-turn mile on June 12 at Belmont Park.

Essential Quality Ready for G1 Travers

Essential Quality, the reigning Champion 2-Year-Old and Grade 1 Belmont Stakes winner, was a determined victor of the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga Race Course and will now target the meet's signature event, the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers on August 28.

The Godolphin-owned son of Tapit, trained by Brad Cox, overcame a five-wide trip on both turns, rating at the rear of the compact field down the backstretch and fended off an inside rally from Keepmeinmind to finish off the nine furlongs in 1:49.92 over the fast main track.

"The more I looked at it, the more I wondered how much pace was in the race and then I thought we'd be forwardly placed just because he was fresh," Cox said. "The horse to the inside of us [Keepmeinmind] was also fresh. I think it played out kind of the way we expected, obviously I didn't think we would be caught quite as wide, but I thought it would be a well-grouped bunch of horses going into the first turn. He's able to dig in and fight and continue on."

The Jim Dandy marked a sixth graded stakes victory from the gray sophomore colt, who earned championship honors last season with victories in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity and Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, both at Keeneland Race Course.

After a triumphant 3-year-old debut over a sloppy track in the Grade 3 Southwest at Oaklawn Park, he returned to the Lexington oval in the Grade 2 Blue Grass where he bested Highly Motivated to secure victory by a neck.

Essential Quality suffered his only defeat as the favorite in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby when fourth beaten a length after a wide trip in upper stretch, but returned to action with a determined victory in the Belmont Stakes when outdueling Hot Rod Charlie down the lane to win by 1 ¼ lengths.

"We always thought he was a good horse, but you just always hope all of them show that talent to reach a Grade 1 level," Cox said. "Obviously, he was able to do that in only his second start, so he answered a lot of our questions early on as to how good he was."

Cox expressed appreciation in being able to train horses for a world-class racing and breeding operation like Godolphin.

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"Obviously this is a dream come true, but it's a lot of hard work, good horses great staff and great clientele that has given us the opportunity and put us in the position to succeed," Cox said.

Essential Quality would look to become the first horse since Alpha to capture the Jim Dandy-Runhappy Travers double.

Jimmy Bell, president of Godolphin's North American operations, expressed satisfaction in running Essential Quality before the Travers and said both he and Cox were on the same page in terms of running in the Jim Dandy.

"Things are looking well, we have some nice things to look forward to," Bell said following the Jim Dandy. "He got a lot out of this race. I would not take this for granted and Brad said very quickly he was glad he ran him. I think this will move him forward to his training for the Travers. We're obviously very pleased with the effort, the outcome and he keeps on showing up."

Essential Quality is out of the multiple stakes-placed Elusive Quality mare Delightful Quality, who has a 2-year-old filly by Uncle Mo named Famed in training at Keeneland.

Miles D & Flavien Prat target G1 Travers

AUG 15 - Trainer Chad Brown said Peter Brant's Miles D will race in the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers on August 28 at Saratoga Race Course, where he will be ridden by jockey Flavien Prat.

Second to Dynamic One in the Curlin last out on July 30, a race named after his multiple champion-producing sire, Miles D broke his maiden by 2 ¼ lengths off seven month's rest going a one-turn mile on June 12 at Belmont Park.

In his debut on October 11 at Belmont Park, Miles D was a close fourth behind subsequent stakes winner Caddo River and multiple graded stakes winner Greatest Honour. The winner of that event, Speaker's Corner, defeated winners on Saturday.

Miles D breezed a half-mile Saturday in 50.04 over the Saratoga main track.

"He's going to have to take a big step forward in the Travers, but he's training well," Brown said.

Keepmeinmind on point for 2021 Travers Stakes

AUG 12 - Trainer Robertino Diodoro, who sports a ledger of 19-5-4-1 at the half-way point of the Saratoga summer meet, said he is hoping he can cap off an already successful venture with a flourish by saddling Keepmeinmind in the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes on August 28.

Cypress Creek Equine, Arnold Bennewith and Spendthrift Farm's Keepmeinmind, a sophomore son of Laoban, has shown improvement in his last two starts matching up career-best 97 Beyers.

In the nine-furlong Grade 3 Ohio Derby on June 26 at Thistledown, Keepmeinmind closed from last-of-9 to finish third, a half-length back of the victorious Masqueparade.

Last out, in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy, Keepmeinmind raced from last-of-5 but just 2 1/2-lengths off the pace, before closing gamely down the lane to finish second, a half-length back of Grade 1 Belmont Stakes-winner Essential Quality.

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"I thought he ran a big race. I really thought as he matured some more in the second half of his 3-year-old year, I was hoping he would come around," Diodoro said. "His last two races have been his better races. I think there's still a couple more lengths for him to improve and hopefully that's enough for him to get the job done."

The talented bay was multiple Grade 1-placed at Keeneland as a 2-year-old, finishing second in the Breeders' Futurity in October and third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in November, before graduating at fourth asking with a last-to-first rush in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club on November 28 at Churchill Downs.

Diodoro said Keepmeinmind, who competed in two-thirds of the Triple Crown finishing seventh in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Grade 1 Preakness, will now target the Runhappy Travers, a 10-furlong test for sophomores and a return engagement with the reigning 2-year-old Champion Essential Quality.

"I think the extra distance definitely helps him. He'll run all day and that will be to his benefit," Diodoro said. "We'll breeze him this weekend, but we're pointing towards the Travers."

Last out, Keepmeinmind was piloted by Joel Rosario for the first time. The colt responded by not dropping too far out of it in a compact field of five.

"He was a lot closer last time and we were real happy about that," Diodoro said. "That was his first time on him and he mentioned there's a couple quirky things about him that he knows now. I think he's excited to ride him back."

The Probable Field for the 2021 Travers includes Dynamic One [Pletcher], Essential Quality [Brad Cox], King Fury [Kenny McPeek], Masqueparade [Al Stall, Jr.], Midnight Bourbon [Steve Asmussen], and Miles D [Chad Brown].

G3 winner Masqueparade possible for G1 Travers

AUG 5 - FTGGG Racing's Grade 3 winner Masqueparade, third by less than three lengths to champion Essential Quality in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy July 31, remains under consideration for the 152nd running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers August 28 at Saratoga Race Course.

Trainer Al Stall, Jr. said the sophomore son of Upstart continues to do well following his effort in the Jim Dandy, which snapped a three-race win streak that included the Grade 3 Ohio Derby June 26 at Thistledown.

"[The Travers] is a possibility, yes. Most importantly I'm happy with the horse, post-race, and I've picked him over pretty closely to make sure nothing was biting him," Stall said. "We're here and we're happy with the way the horse came out of the race. That's the most important thing. We won't do anything different with him. We'll just play around for a couple weeks to his next breeze and just decide what we want to do. But everything's on the table."

Sent off as the second choice in a field of five, Masqueparade pressed the pace of long shot Dr Jack for a half-mile through sharp fractions of 23.81 and 47.41 seconds before forging a short lead after running six furlongs in 1:11.13. The bay colt was third by a half-length at the top of the stretch behind Essential Quality and Keepmeinmind, who battled through the lane.

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"He got a little tired in that race. I worked him twice, just due to shipping. He went up and back to Ohio and then he came up here," Stall said. "He got a hair short the other day, but I thought he ran well, dueling with [Dr Jack. He] backed up pretty readily and I thought we fought on. The race was good and maybe he needed it a hair because of the surface and what he did in between. He's rock hard fit now, and I'm anxious to see how he trains."

Sold for $180,000 as a yearling at Keeneland in September 2018, Masqueparade took four tries to break his maiden and then rattled off two more wins capped by the Ohio Derby, the second of three consecutive races at 1 1/8 miles. The Travers is contested at the classic distance of 1 ¼ miles.

The prospective Travers field could include Essential Quality, Keepmeinmind and the top two finishers from the Curlin, also for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles July 30 at Saratoga, Dynamic One and Miles D, respectively. King Fury, winner of the Grade 3 Lexington April 23 at Keeneland and second to Masqueparade in the Ohio Derby, is also possible.

Stall, a winner of more than 1,700 career races including Blame's upset of eventual Hall of Fame mare Zenyatta in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic in 2010, has never had a Travers starter.

"We'll take a long look at it. We haven't had a chance to really assess the competition. I assume the first two from the Curlin, the first two from the Jim Dandy. We were third in the Jim Dandy. King Fury is there. I think everything from out west is on R and R," Stall said. "We'll just kind of watch all those things. It's fun though. It's fun to check things out like that. When you read the paper, it means something as opposed to just killing time."

AUG 1 - McPeek breezed graded stakes winner King Fury over the Oklahoma training turf Sunday in preparation for Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Saratoga Derby Invitational going 1 3/16 miles over the Mellon turf course.

The son of Curlin, out of Grade 1-winner Taris, worked with Jose Ortiz aboard in company with Fighting Seabee, winner of the 2019 Grade 3 With Anticipation, and finished off his five furlong move in 1:01.25.

Owned by Fern Circle Stables and Three Chimneys Farm, King Fury scored in the Grade 3 Lexington on April 10 over a sloppy and sealed track at Keeneland two starts back. He arrives at his turf debut off a close second to Masqueparade in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby on June 26 at Thistledown.

McPeek said he would like to run King Fury in the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers.

"Jose seemed to think that he can handle the turf," McPeek said. "We'll learn a little something about him and it's a big purse. That's been our goal all summer is to get him to the Travers. The turf race is looking deep but it shouldn't hurt him.

"It's a very good group of 3-year-olds and Essential Quality had another workmanlike win yesterday, but it's hard to separate the 3-year-olds until the Breeders' Cup," McPeek continued. "That's the race that really separates everybody."

About the Travers Stakes

The Travers Stakes is the oldest major stakes race in the U.S. having first been conducted in 1864.

The Travers was named for William R. Travers, president of the old Saratoga Racing Association. The initial running of the race was won by his horse Kentucky. From 1864 to 1889, the race was run at 1 3/4 miles, and the current distance was adopted for the 1904 running.

In 1941 Triple Crown champion Whirlaway became the first and only horse to win the Travers after sweeping the Triple Crown. In the 1982 Travers, Canadian champion Runaway Groom became the first horse to defeat the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont winners in a single race. No other horse has accomplished this feat since. In 2012 Alpha and Golden Ticket won the race the first and only Travers dead heat.

Other top horses to win the Travers include Bernardini, Medaglia d'Oro, Holy Bull, Easy Goer, Forty Niner, Alydar, Arts and Letters, Damascus, Sword Dancer, Native Dancer and Man o' War.