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Essential Quality to Bury Opposition in Travers

Seven runners contest the $1.25 million race

Saratoga is known as the “Graveyard of Champions” but Essential Quality is looking to prove it wrong on Saturday.

The Grade I Travers Stakes has seen its fair share of upset results, but it has been a good race for odds-on favorites over the last 20 years. Essential Quality will run at short odds, and the 3-year-old can add his name to the list of champions.

Essential Quality with Luis Saez up
Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

Looking to cause an upset are the likes of Midnight Bourbon, Keepmeinmind, and Dynamic One, who have all attracted interest in online betting markets. It’s the same Thoroughbreds we have watched all season, but it should be an exciting contest.

Everything on Track for Favorite

Essential Quality is the 4-5 favorite to win the Travers Stakes, and by all accounts, he’s in terrific order.

The Jim Dandy Stakes-winning son of Tapit showed his class when winning at Saratoga in his last start, which backed up his Grade I win in the Belmont Stakes.

Trainer Brad Cox is confident about his chances, and believes Essential Quality is in better shape than in the Jim Dandy.

“I feel like he’s as good as he’s ever been,” Cox told The Paulick Report. “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.

“He’s sharp, mentally. He’s sharper this race than going into the Jim Dandy. 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.

The 1¼-mile distance would be the only concern, but Cox isn’t too worried.

“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.”

His only 1¼ mile race came in the Kentucky Derby when finishing fourth behind Medina Spirit. However, he didn’t get all the favors in the run. Had he found a spot in the run, Essential Quality could be unbeaten from eight starts.

Horse racing betting markets paint the picture and we wouldn’t turn down the current odds, no matter how short.

Keepmeinmind Can Turn the Tables

Running second behind Essential Quality in the Jim Dandy is a good form guide, and Keepmeinmind is talented enough to turn the tables.

The son of Laoban hasn’t won since taking out the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in November, but he has posted close-up finishes in the Preakness Stakes, Ohio Derby, and Jim Dandy.

Trainer Robertino Diodoro is happy with his work leading up to the Travers Stakes.

“His last couple of works, he worked in 47,” Diodoro said. “He was literally under a stranglehold, never really turned loose until the wire. Very strong gallop outs.

“He ran probably one of his best races,” in the Jim Dandy. He had to step it up to run the race, and I think he did. His last two races have been among his better races. Hopefully, things are falling into place.”

Value bettors have identified Keepmeinmind as a chance to upset the favorite. He’s on the third line of betting alongside Dynamic One.

Confidence Up with Dynamic One

Winning races boost the confidence of thoroughbreds and they’re fully aware when they’ve done the job. Dynamic One won the Curlin Stakes last start at Saratoga and that could be the confidence he needs to kick on with it.

The Todd Pletcher stable had a terrific day last weekend and the success could continue on Saturday. Dynamic One hasn’t been enigmatic throughout his career, including taking four starts to break maiden grades.

He then finished second in the Wood Memorial behind Bourbonic before finishing up the track in the Kentucky Derby. He was a 20-1 chance in Kentucky Derby betting markets, but things didn’t pan out well.

He has an ability to sit off the pace and come with a late burst, which should suit nicely in the Travers. There appears to be plenty of speed up front, so look for Dynamic One to close late.

“He’s a horse that always trained exceptionally well,” Pletcher said after the Curlin Stakes. “We always felt like there was a lot of talent there. It’s taken him a little while to mentally put it all together, but today was his most professional race.”

We wouldn’t be leaving him out of calculations and the early betting moves are a good sign.