If the three year old season was a horse race then this years class would be hitting the quarter pole right now. The race would be wide open and there would be three horses looking live on the turn for home. Over the grueling course of the horse racing season, literally hundreds of colts come and go, with a brief moment of brilliance, followed by unlimited potential, and then unfortunately for a large majority of them, the best they can hope for is a steady career at overnight stakes and or allowance races.
For the few three-year-old's whose talent and ability stand out over the long haul, their paths congregate at Saratoga Racetrack on a late summer afternoon, to battle it out in the Travers Stakes. The winner gains the upper-hand going into the final stretch the elite three-year-old Eclipse award. This year's 144th running of the 'Mid Summer Derby' may have more emphasis directed toward three-year-old colt of the year than in previous years. Simply because this years Travers Stakes will feature the Kentucky Derby winner Orb, Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice, and Verrazano, who has arguably been the best horse since the Triple Crown, and probably was the best horse going into the Triple Crown. The only unfortunate aspect of this race is the absence of the Preakness winner Oxbow, who suffered an injury in the Jim Dandy, and will be out for the rest of 2013.
There is little question that Verrazano is probably the most talented horse on the track, if this were a basketball team he would be a flashy two guard. However, the big question with this colt is he can get the ten furlong classic distance to propel him into champion status. It's no secret that the big colt out of the sire More Than Ready has distance limitations. Going into the Kentucky Derby, Verrazano was undefeated, his previous race was an all out performance in the G1 Wood Memorial. But despite his undefeated record, the astute handicapping public sensed his distance limitations in the Derby, and were proven correct as he was sent off at odds of nearly 9-1, and finished a distant 14th.
Kentucky Derby winner Orb comes off a long layoff by design of old school trainer and all around likable person Claude 'Shug' McGaughey. The trainer for the Phipps Stable is clearly pointing the big Malibu Moon colt for a late season run. The unknown factor here is how cranked does Shug have the Derby winner for this one. The last race Orb ran in was over two months ago; The Belmont Stakes; a race perfectly suited for Orb, yet he ran a very flat third place that day. Since then he had been resting up for a possible; Travers, Jockey Gold Cup, Breeders Cup second half campaign. Backers of Orb should take note of the series of strong workouts that 'Shug' has put together for him.
The other horse entered in this race that may have some say in the outcome is from the wily barn of veteran trainer, D Wayne Lukus. If none of the big three horses in here can get the job done and Will Take Charge pulls it off, he may very well throw his hat into the battle for the prized Eclispe Award. Anyone who keyed Palace Malice on top in the Jim Dandy knows very well that Will Take Charge was coming fast at the end of that race to get up for second. In that race, the winer of the G2 Rebel, nearly pulled of a big upset at odds of 17-1. Saturday, Will Take Charge will start the betting at 10-1, and if he gets overlooked by the public he can offer generous value to his backers.