2022 Travers Stakes Cheatsheet
By TwinSpires Editorial Team, Sponsored Content
By Vance Hanson (TwinSpires.com)
1. CYBERKINIFE (7-2) – Has put the drubbing in the Kentucky Derby (G1) behind him by reeling off two straight, including a track record-performance in the Haskell (G1) against a strong rival in Taiba; trainer Brad Cox often said earlier in the year that the colt would be a more refined product once he figured out the mental aspects of the game, and it seems that is coming to fruition, and at just the right time for this race; tactical running style should definitely suit here; big player.
2. RICH STRIKE (10-1) – Kentucky Derby winner will try again to prove that classic victory was no fluke, but on the evidence he’d probably need a pace scenario similar to what he had that day, plus save ground in the early going; the latter unlikely to be a problem as a change of tactics to keep him in the clear seemingly backfired in the Belmont S. (G1), but the former might be a bit of a stretch as there is only one confirmed speed, Early Voting, in the lineup; still winless outside Churchill Downs, too.
3. AIN’T LIFE GRAND (20-1) – Has won five of eight, but outside his win in the Iowa Derby, which is no longer graded and thus didn’t attract a stellar group, there’s little to recommend him from a class perspective; takes a big leap up from the Iowa-bred/sired ranks here, and didn’t show much in his lone previous attempt outside Prairie Meadows; seems to have taken well to this track in recent workouts, but guessing that won’t be enough.
4. GILDED AGE (30-1) – Sire and broodmare sire both won this race earlier in the century, so added distance is sure to be agreeable; the obvious downside is that he simply doesn’t seem to be fast enough at this point in his career to contend, especially after dropping the restricted Curlin S. by nearly five lengths; will need the race to completely fall apart, and that seems unlikely.
5. ARTORIUS (9-2) – Son of record-setting 2016 Travers winner Arrogate is innately talented having won two of three, but concedes depth of experience compared to the main contenders; thrived over a drying-out surface to win the Curlin comfortably, though that prep is restricted and hasn’t been an overly strong springboard to success in this race since its inception (V.E. Day in 2014 the only to repeat); has plenty of upside, though, and can pick up one of the larger shares if one or more of the bigger boys fails to show.
6. EPICENTER (7-5) – Unlucky to not have won either of the first two classics, but rebounded in a big way in the Jim Dandy by rallying from the back of a short field against a lone speed; pro tem leader of this division now chasing a belated first G1 score here, and all signs point to another strong effort from this reliable performer if, that is, he can avoid unforeseeable issues in running; versatile colt can win from anywhere, and in a race without a lot of other pace besides Early Voting, that’s a big asset; formidable at a short price.
7. EARLY VOTING (8-1) – Whether it was a deeper surface or something else, it was a bit surprising to see him fold in the Jim Dandy despite having things his own way on the front end; if he’s now the type that needs a target, like he had in the Preakness (G1), he might be up against it here as there’s very little other speed on paper; on the other hand, if he gets the quicker ground that’s often existent on Travers Day, there might be little to stop him from shaking loose from these; rebound at a nice price would not be a surprise.
8. ZANDON (5-1) – Likely nowhere close to peak fitness for his comeback run in the Jim Dandy, and it was good effort considering it was his first run since the Derby and he might have been a bit fresh when racing closer to the pace than accustomed; the main drawback is that he’s been out-finished in all three attempts facing Epicenter this season, and simply might be a cut below that rival; otherwise, a logical threat and his price will be more than fair.