No Catching Traffic Chief in Albany?
Updated: Wednesday, August 20, 2003 4:38 PM
(from track release)
Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2003 9:12 PM
Over the past decade, Barry K. Schwartz, the New York Racing Association chairman and chief executive officer, and trainer Michael Hushion have teamed up to produce a number of stakes winners in New York.
Among them are Turnofthecentury, who won the 2000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Handicap and Empire Classic; David, who took the 1999 New York Derby; and Boom Towner, who was a multiple graded stakes sprinter from 1993-95.
Their latest is Traffic Chief, who leads a field of six in Wednesday's $150,000-added Albany for 3-year-old New York-breds running at a mile-and-an-eighth at Saratoga Race Course.
Traffic Chief has done little wrong in his five career races, including his most recent, the New York Derby at Finger Lakes nearly a month ago, when he led from the start and drew away in the stretch to win by three lengths.
"His last race simply gave me more confidence in the horse," Hushion said. "He went over to Finger Lakes and really took charge of that race. Still, we've always liked him and he has come around real nice."
The son of the 1993 Belmont winner Colonial Affair has won going short and long, as well as over fast and off tracks. Hushion even considered running Traffic Chief on the grass in the Hill Prince Stakes (gr. IIIT) before the race was switched to the main track.
"We are eventually going to have him run on the grass," Hushion said. "But we wanted to treat him like a distance horse since the beginning."
Hardwicke Stable's Spite the Devil will have another chance to run down Traffic Chief for Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens. Spite the Devil trailed through most of the race before making a belated bid to finish second in the New York Derby.
"I didn't think he ran that bad of a race," Jerkens said. "He has been training well since then. All we can do is hope for the best."
Spite the Devil is one of two graded stakes winners in the field. While Funny Cide became the first New York-bred to win the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday of May, Spite the Devil won his first graded stakes in the Withers (gr. III) at Aqueduct.
To emphasize his class, Spite the Devil finished second twice to Funny Cide in the Bertram F. Bongard and the Sleepy Hollow Division of the New York Stallion Stakes as a 2-year-old.
"He definitely has some class," Jerkens said. "That is not my concern. If anything, my concern is getting the mile-and-an-eighth. He had no problems in winning at a mile. He has yet to win at a mile-and-and-an-eighth."
In two attempts at 1 1/8 miles, Spite the Devil has finished off the board. However, one of those races was the Wood Memorial (gr. I), where he raced against Funny Cide and Empire Maker.
Also coming out of the New York Derby is Herbert and Carol Schwartz' Go Rockin' Robin, who finished fourth. Trainer Scott Schwartz believed that his horse had no choice other than to go after Traffic Chief in that race.
"The pace was so slow that Aaron (Gryder) had no choice but to send the horse to the lead," Schwartz said. "That's not the horse's running style. He's a one-run horse. I am hoping there is going to be more speed in the Albany."
Schwartz is going to make a change Wednesday adding a tongue tie to Go Rockin' Robin's equipment.
"While watching his race at Finger Lakes, I noticed he was playing around with his tongue," Schwartz said. "Because he has been such a consistent horse, I was surprised when I saw that. He has been training well when he tied his tongue in the morning. Perhaps this will do it."
Go Rockin' Robin is the other graded stakes winner in the field. He won the Peter Pan (gr. II) at Belmont in May. The son of Distorted Humor wasn't as successful in his next two graded races – the Leonard Richards Stakes (gr. III) at Delaware Park and the Dwyer (gr. II) at Belmont.
"He was stuck on the inside and hit the rail a couple of times in the race at Delaware," Schwartz said. "He wasn't injured or bruised. Then in the Dwyer, he just dropped back and never ran."
John Velazquez, who is currently the leading rider at Saratoga with 41 wins going into Sunday's card, is expected to ride Go Rockin' Robbin, who will start from the rail.$150,000 Albany stakes, 3-year-old New York breds, 1 1/8 mile
PP. Horse, Jockey, Wgt.
1. Go Rockin' Robin (NY), John R. Velazquez, 121
2. Bo Bo's Vice (NY), Edgar S. Prado, 121
3. Spite the Devil (NY), Jorge F. Chavez, 121
4. To Go (NY), Javier Castellano, 117
5. Acceptable Venture (NY), Jerry D. Bailey, 119
6 Traffic Chief (NY), Jose A. Santos, 121
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