The 152nd Travers Stakes, the Mid-Summer Derby, is Saturday, Aug. 28, at Saratoga Race Course. The top race of the summer for 3-year-olds is contested at 1¼ miles with a purse of $1.25 million. In the days leading up to the race, usracing.com will publish profiles of the contenders. Profiles will be updated with post position, odds, and jockey following the draw scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 25.
2021 Travers Stakes Profile: Dynamic One
By Ed McNamara
Todd Pletcher is masterful at training horses to excel off extended layoffs, which is what Dynamic One did July 30 in Saratoga’s 1 1/8-mile Curlin Stakes.
When Irad Ortiz Jr. turned into the stretch he was loaded, and Dynamic One coasted to a 1 3/4-length win that made him a Travers contender. He hadn’t raced since finishing 32 1/4 lengths behind Medina Spirit on May 1 in the Kentucky Derby.
“Todd sent him to Fair Hill to clear his head a little after he was 18th in the Derby,” co-owner Mike Repole told usracing.com. “Todd said he’d always trained like a 1-percenter but wasn’t showing it. After the Curlin, Irad asked why we didn’t run him in the Jim Dandy.”
The next day, Essential Quality overcame massive ground loss to win the Jim Dandy, and Dynamic One will get his chance against the leading 3-year-old in the Travers. Trainer Brad Cox said he thinks Essential Quality prefers 1 1/4 miles to 1 1/8, so Dynamic One will have to improve upon his Curlin performance to compete with the heavy favorite. Racing analyst Andy Serling gives him an outside chance for the upset.
“No question that Dynamic One didn’t face any horse like Essential Quality in the Curlin,” Serling said, “but I wouldn’t discount him off that effort for a trainer who knows how to win big races.”
It was only the second win for Dynamic One in seven career starts, although he was unlucky to lose the Wood Memorial by a head to stablemate Bourbonic.
“He’s growing up mentally,” Ortiz said. “He went by and he kept going. Before he’d look around and play around.”
Dynamic One went from last to first in the Curlin after stalking in his three best races prior to that. That versatility will give Ortiz options against the 7-for-8 Essential Quality, who has won on the lead, from just off the pace and from far back.
“We always felt like there was a lot of talent there,” Pletcher said. “It’s taken (Dynamic One) a little while to mentally put it all together, but the Curlin was his most professional race.”
Betting advice: If Dynamic One can repeat it and Essential Quality regresses after hard-fought wins in the Belmont Stakes and Jim Dandy, Pletcher might get his third Travers trophy. I won’t be risking a lot while opposing Essential Quality, but a moderate win bet on Dynamic One and an exacta box with the favorite feels like a reasonable strategy. I’d also use both in any pick 3, pick 4 or pick 5 you play.
2021 Travers Stakes Entries: Essential Quality
Post position: TBD
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Owner: Repole Stable, Phipps Stable and St. Elias Stable
Career record: 7-2-2-0
Career earnings: $260,120
Best Equibase speed rating: 103
Pedigree: Union Rags-Beat the Drums, by Smart Strike
Running style: Closer/stalker
Notes: Staying 10 furlongs should be no problem for Dynamic One, a son of Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags. Dynamic One also is a grandson of Smart Strike, the sire of champions English Channel and Curlin. English Channel won the 1 1/2-mile Breeders’ Cup Turf, and two-time Horse of the Year Curlin took the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Dubai World Cup, both at 1 1/4 miles … Pletcher, a recent inductee to the Hall of Fame, won the Travers with Flower Alley (2005) and Repole’s Stay Thirsty (2011) … Ortiz was reunited with Dynamic One in the Curlin after riding him in his first three starts. Kendrick Carmouche was aboard when the colt broke his maiden by 5 1/4 lengths next time out, and Irad’s brother, Jose, rode him in the Wood Memorial and the Derby.