The Travers Stakes 'Conspiracy'
Despite the recent CIA admission that Area 51 does, indeed, exist, I don’t believe that little green guys from a distant planet are playing an extraterrestrial version of “Punk’d” on the citizens — all 57 of ‘em — of Rachel, Nev.
Of course not.
For the most part, these relaxed rules have not posed a problem… but Saturday’s Travers Stakes is different.
In the Travers, two of the main contenders, both trained by Todd Pletcher, have similar running styles and what they decide to do, tactically, could literally spell the difference between victory and defeat — for one or both of them.
Of course, I’m talking about Verrazano, the 2-1 morning line favorite in the Travers, and Palace Malice, the 5-2 second choice.
When one considers that both Verrazano and Moreno prefer a slow and steady pace — Guillot has publicly admitted this (I told you earlier the guy likes to talk) — I think “Palace” should press the early issue. In effect, do to Moreno and Verrazano what Hedevar did to Dr. Fager nearly 40 years ago — run them off their feet.
The question is: Will he? Will Pletcher allow one of his entries to compromise the chances of the other? Or will he play it safe and send neither horse to the lead.
Guillot paints a picture of what could happen should the latter transpire.
"I would imagine Todd wouldn't be pressing his own horse with Palace Malice and Verrazano together; that wouldn't make much sense," he told The Bloodhorse. "So, somebody's going to push me, and, hopefully, they push me so far up front, or push me to the point where the other one can't catch up. That would be the best-case scenario."
This is why the coupling rules were initially put in place… and why I’m concerned about the Travers Stakes.
Knowing that my colleague was born in Ohio — he recently went back and his city was gone (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) — I naturally assumed that Ed would vehemently disagree with my assertion that the East Coast Bias in racing is alive and well.