TrackNotes: Season's Greetings, Suckers

It's like when Roryn MacJustinbeau is on the tee at the 810-yard, par-11 fifth hole and the Jethro in the gallery, which kind of resembles a public hanging mob anyway, screams, at the top of the backswing, "GET IN THE HOLE!!"

Yell all you want for your DVR, but it ain't happening. Same with the weather wonks around here who, and it gets earlier every damn year, say that summer is now over. Can't they think of the children, like me, who were taught astrological - or is it as astronomical - summer ends September 21? My Webers have plenty of LP. And what's with the that's-not-news plugs by all the Cheryl Burtons for McDunkBucks now serving the long-awaited pumpkin spiced-sugar 10W-20 sludge treat?

Miss Landers ALWAYS knew Fall does not start on Labor Day + 1. Does autumn begin when the Bears open? Or does Summer end when the Cubs are eliminated? Which was June 21 - the start of summer - back in the Pete LaCock days?

I refuse to be confused by the retail-driven drivel, because it's Travers Stakes weekend at Saratoga and they don't call it The Midsummer Derby for nothing!

In racing analytics, it's SSS. Still summer, STUPID!

We've got the 149th running in the race's 155th year. It's for three-year-olds who by now will have shed much of their adolescence, will still tussle for some sort of big-man-on-campus superiority, all the while trying not to look past this to the big Breeders' Cup jamboree, where The Older Horses loom.

Please remember that the Travers (Grade I, three-year-olds,10 furlongs, 1-1/4 miles, $1,250,000) is a supremely worthy race all it's own to win, not ridiculous as that braggin' Kentucky Derby can be, and OH so much more sublime!

Who can forget such highlight reels as 2015, when Frosted audaciously challenged American Pharoah and Keen Ice picked up the pieces and took a cruise in a canoe? Or 2004 when little Birdstone, fresh off the thwart job of Smarty Jones for the Triple Crown, again gutted out the win, notwithstanding the black and thunder and lightning rolling into The Spa right behind him.

Man o' War won it, Secretariat didn't run the Travers. 1941's Whirlaway is the only horse to win the Triple Crown and the Travers. Just three years ago, Arrogate broke the record with a sensational 1:59.36.

Bill Mott, who adds blinkers to his exasperating Tacitus in a hand-wringing effort to get him off the schneid, was recently heard muttering the say-uncle Derby kudo while actually confessing he maybe might just rather win the Travers, which means he would. He's going for the big double, after winning the Derby with Country House. Tacitus is the 5-2 favorite, based solely upon perceived talent, only adding to the pressure.

Like the Ringling Bros. coming to town, Saratoga features six Grade Is and a Grade II Saturday. Derby Day ran four Grade Is, two Grade IIs and a Grade III, A few clowns short and only one lion. It's no wonder I look up the date of the Travers the minute the Belmont is over. We start before 1 p.m. Saturday and it's an action-packed afternoon.

I assume Tacitus is named after Publius Cornelius "Corny" Tacitus, a famous Roman historian doing business in the Silver Age of literature. It makes sense. Our steed, the son of Tapit, is silverish gray. Let's do talk history, not even Jimmy the Hat could ask for a better angle.

Get these running lines, going back to April and his last win, the Wood Memorial: Bmp st, clip 1st; Unsettled; 3w1st,5w2nd,bump upr; Stmble bad,ins trns. What that means is he doesn't get out of the gate well, he makes his own worst trips, gets in traffic and has too much to do to finish first. In the Belmont, he and Jose Ortiz were right there halfway through the race but he pinballed at the top of the stretch and lost by one. In the Jim Dandy, after a bad start, he got caught behind horses and was forced(?) to go down to the dreaded dead rail. Valiant, but short.

That's what they're basing his favoritism on. Heart. But when will he be him? The Scarecrow needs a brain. Or blinkers. I can't wait to see what the tote says. You can't toss him, so it becomes a matter of what you're willing to pay for irritation. 4-1 minimum would be nice. I believe 6-1 for the win, run him underneath and love some of the others.

Like Code of Honor, second fave at 4-1. He comes in off an impressive Dwyer, where John Velazquez lost a whip he didn't need. But that's his only race since the Derby and it was back on July 6. A torso win in the Fountain of Youth, his last victory, tells me he may not be for this company.

Joe Talamo rides Bob Baffert's Mucho Gusto (6-1 ML). Baffert almost went stand-by on Horsey Air to get him to Saratoga Springs all the way from Del Mar. But a five-furlong work in :59 causes that. I'll go with him, but we have to keep an eye out. Mucho Gusto finished second to Maximum Security in the 99-heat index Haskell Invitational.

Tax (6-1) and Irad Ortiz are perfectly capable here, and you'd think Mongo punched him all the way to the 12-hole, the way his connections have been complaining. But he comes in off the best race of his life in beating Tacitus in the Jim Dandy. Let's hope the bettors forget about him.

I'm also looking at Scars Are Cool (30-1), a Malibu Moon colt stepping way up here. But look at that 12-point Beyer Speed Figure improvement last out here over nine furlongs. Owendale (6-1) burned me in the Preakness, but let's see.

And all these other races.

* Promises Fulfilled and Mitole, who regressed last time in the Vanderbilt when Imperial Hint smashed the track record, go at it in the Forego Stakes (Grade I, three and up, seven furlongs, $600,000).

* Separationofpowers and Mia Mischief square off in the Ballerina, (Grade I, fillies and mare three and up, seven furlongs, $500,000).

* A highlight of the day will be Midnight Bisou and Elate in the Personal Ensign (Grade I, fillies and mares three and up, nine furlongs, 1-1/8 miles, $700,000). Elate might be a shade lesser, but she's looking for her third straight.

Your TV is FoxSports 2 from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and main Fox 4-5 p.m. It's a good crew.

And there's no doubt, it's Hi Hi Hi Hi There . . .

Hot fun in the summertime.

Maximum Danger?

Notice the "still is not 100%" in this report on Maximum Security. You remember. He's the one who was DQ'd in the Derby and then ran like hell in the inferno of Monmouth Park in the Haskell Invitational. On probably the hottest day of the year. Visually impressive, but you wonder what the heat did to him on a clusterfart of a day by the greedy Monmouthians. I wouldn't be surprised if he never runs again, let alone wins.

Jason Servis and owners Gary and Mary West have mismanaged this horse all along, unless there's something wrong with him, featuring and including the snit fit after the Derby DQ.


Tom Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.

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