Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Personal Ensign, Travers and Kings Bishop

Posted by Brian Appleton on August 27, 2010

On Sunday Rachel Alexandra will attempt to run her winning streak to three consecutive races with her first start of the year in a Grade 1 race when she goes to post for the Personal Ensign Stakes (Gr.1) at Saratoga. After finishing second in her first two starts of 2010, the reigning Horse of the Year has since put together two easy victories in the Fluer de Lis Handicap (gr2) and the ungraded Lady’s Secret Stakes at Monmouth Park. She has been working lights out since her last win and looks primed to produce a huge effort.

Also entered in the Personal Ensign is the red-hot Grade 1 winner Life At Ten. The 5-year-old mare enters the Personal Ensign riding a six race winning streak and looks to give Rachel Alexandra a very stern test. She has won both of her last starts including the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap in gate to wire fashion and always seems to have something left in the tank to power home in the stretch.

Both athletes like to be on or near the lead which figures to make for a very interesting race as both the favorites will most likely lead the field from the start. Life At Ten has won at the 1 ¼ mile distance before whereas Rachel Alexandra has not which gives Life At Ten a distinct advantage. Rachel Alexandra has raced successfully at the 1 3/16 mile distance when taking the 2009 Preakness Stakes (gr.1) and in my opinion should have no problem with the added distance if she is allowed to relax off the pace and run her race.

Taking a look at the 2010 Travers Stakes from a handicapping angle the race appears to have come up much like last weekend’s Sword Dancer, with no clear-cut favorite that stands out above the rest. Although filled with many strong contenders and often proved runners, the absence of leading 3-year-old male Lookin At Lucky in the field has left the doors wide open for another contender to come charging through.

A little Warm, winner of the Jim Dandy Stakes (Gr.2) last month at Saratoga returns to try and complete a rare Jim Dandy-Travers double as the slight favorite. Trappe Shot takes on the Travers field after proving to his connections and fans across the nation that he does indeed belong with the best of this year’s crop when turning in a determined performance behind Lookin At Lucky in the Haskell Invitational Stakes in finishing second. First Dude returns for the fifth consecutive time to try his luck in grade 1 company after finishing second in the Preakness Stakes, third in the Belmont Stakes (gr.1) and third in the Haskell Invitational. Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver comes into the Travers with a seriously tarnished image after failing miserably in the Preakness Stakes when finishing 8th and then returning to run a lack-luster 4th in the Haskell. Ice Box enters with an even worse tarnish, after garnering praise for his incredible late-surge in the Kentucky Derby that earned him runner-up honors, the chestnut colt has since finished 8th in the Belmont and 6th in the Haskell. Fly Down turned in a surprisingly poor effort in the Jim Dandy last out after having finished a fast-closing second in the Belmont. Miners Reserve turned in a game losing effort in the Jim Dandy last out when setting all the fractions up front and then tiring to finish second behind A Little Warm.

I think First Dude is the most consistent horse in the field and certainly deserves a win after so many determined efforts this year. Ice Box is a puzzling one to figure out, after his impressive Florida Derby victory and Kentucky Derby runner-up finish he seems to have lost that devastating late drive that had earned him so much respect. The fact that trainer Nick Zito continues to enter him in such high class races tells me that there must be something left in the colt so I’m going to give him a shot for second. Trappe Shot is one of the many who could go either way, he could win it all, show up big and get second or third or finish close-up behind a strong top three. I think this guy is the real deal and will at least finish in the top three.

It’s hard to leave A Little Warm or Fly Down out of the top three but you can’t have them all.

The Kings Bishop (gr.1) at Saratoga is shaping up to be one of the best sprinting show downs of the season with leading

three-year-old sprinters D’Funnybone and Discreetly Mine set to face off for the third time.

Due to time constraints I wasn’t able to write as comprehensive a handicapping of this race as I would have liked so I’ll keep it short and sweet. D’Funnybone should bounce back here after his shocking second place finish last out in the Carry Back (Gr.2).  He has easily defeated Discreetly Mine both time the two have met, but this time it appears he will be facing a much improved Discreetly Mine.

In his most recent start Discreetly Mine won the Amsterdam (gr.2) by more than 8 lengths.

D’Funnybone is undefeated in 4 starts at the Kings Bishop distance of 7 furlongs and I believe that he is the best horse in the field although he will be facing a very talented foe in Discreetly Mine.

Classy seven-year-old gelding Awesome Gem returns Saturday in the Pacific Classic (gr.1) for what will be his 4th attempt to win the 1 ¼ mile event. Suffice it to say I will be rooting for the old chap to win amongst a field of strong contenders. Enjoy the fabulous weekend of racing!


2 Responses to “Personal Ensign, Travers and Kings Bishop”

  1. LDP said

    Rachel will get the distance and win the PE by 3-5 IMO. The race actually sets up for her to be able to run one of her best types of races. She seems to run best when allowed to rate just off the lead of the pacesetter, and pressure them into honest fractions. I see that setting up here with LAT clearing RA for the lead then RA switching outside to rate slightly off of her in fractions of around 24, a high 47, and high 1.11 for the first six. When rounding the turn, Calvin should turn up the pressure then turn her completely loose in the stretch.

    The Travers is a tough race. A horse that really interests me is Admiral Alex. The confidence his connections have must be immense if they entered him in off only a maiden win. In the Kings Bishop, I’m hoping that Discreetly Mine finally beat Funny.

  2. In the King’s Bishop – Discreetly Mine will either become a sprint monster or bounce, I’m going with bounce. D’Funnybone may not be the same sprinter, but I’ll toss him in my Pice 4. Don’t forget Bulldogger – Baffert didn’t bring him all this way for nothing and Bank Merger may emerge – both have lots of potential upside.

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