The first half of Travers Prep Weekend starts now, more accurately Friday’s Curlin Stakes for three-year-olds “that have not won a graded stakes over a mile in 2019.”
Indeed one of the runners, Cairo Cat, did win a graded stakes over a mile, but that was the G3 Iroquois at 1-1/16 miles–as a juvenile of 2018. But the Curlin is not an easy spot for season’s debut.
If any of these horses are to run back at a mile and a quarter a month from now, they will have to show they belong today. Intrepid Heart (7-2) is getting class relief, but needs to justify the hype and his connection’s expectations.
There are three others here with lofty expectations, two from leading trainer Chad Brown–undefeated Looking At Bikinis (5-2) and near undefeated Highest Honors (5-1)–and Kiaran McLauglin’s Endorsed (6-1).
Looking at the potential race shape, Intrepid Heart is eligible for a pocket trip. Having drawn the rail and with some tactical gas, Johnny probably will attempt to break sharply, establish position, then sit.
Not sure what Javier will do with Looking At Bikinis, a winner going wire to wire in slop sprinting 6-1/2 furlongs then came off the pace stretching out to a mile in his first start at 3 last month.
Same can be said for Endorsed, who appears to have the most natural brilliance but has off-the-pace style, so who knows? And Highest Honors, who appears capable of a mid-race move with Jose O that can blow this thing open.
If we’re going to guess, it can’t be with the early line favorite who likely will improve but also likely will be overbet. Intrepid Heart needs to show something today; we’re inclined to wait and see. Endorsed has shown a big kick sprinting but this is a different ballgame; brilliant or not.
We like the confident Ortiz showed in Highest Honors in his maiden win. Runnerup Meet Me in LA, who was 10 lengths in front of the show finisher, came back to break maiden next out.
Pedigree, turn of foot, class and connections, he looks like the package. He’s worked purposefully since the maiden win; six trials designed to bring out his best. Taking Highest Honors, win and place, 3-1 at minimum.
YESTERDAY: Rain, rain did not go away. Thinking the John A Morrissey likely will be rescheduled.