Laurel Park: Inaugural Spectacular Bid On Jan. 16 May Attract Unbeaten Jaxon Traveler

One of the newest stakes on the Maryland Jockey Club calendar may land a star attraction for its inaugural running next month.

West Point Thoroughbreds and Marvin Delfiner’s 2-year-old stakes winner Jaxon Traveler, undefeated through three starts, could make his sophomore debut in the $100,000 Spectacular Bid Jan. 16 at Laurel Park.

“That could be an option,” West Point founder and president Terry Finley said of the seven-furlong Spectacular Bid for 3-year-olds sprinting seven furlongs, named for the Hall of Fame winner of the 1979 Kentucky Derby and Preakness (G1) and 1978 Laurel Futurity (G1).

“Statistically, even with really, really good horses, it’s very tough to win three races in a row. We know that,” Finley said. “[It’s] a small percentage of horses, especially at a good level or above. We knew he had talent and you just love the fact that he was able to put three very consistent, very solid if not better than very solid efforts together. It sets us up very well for 2021.”

In all, a total of six stakes worth $550,000 in purses will be offered on the Jan. 16 program including the return of the $100,000 Xtra Heat, last run in 2007 at Pimlico Race Course. Laurel’s 2021 winter meet begins Jan. 1.

Finley said Jaxon Traveler, currently part of Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen’s New York-based string, is expected to bypass Laurel’s remaining 2020 juvenile stakes – the $100,000 Heft at seven furlongs and $100,000 Howard County going about 1 1/16 miles Dec. 26 – and spend the winter at Oaklawn Park.

Jaxon Traveler became a stakes winner with his workmanlike three-quarter-length triumph in the $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Futurity Dec. 5 at Laurel. He captured his Sept. 25 unveiling at Pimlico by 10 lengths and followed up with a four-length optional claiming allowance win Oct. 23 at Laurel.

“He was dead tired for three or four days and then he kind of sprang right back. That was a very taxing effort,” Finley said. “Toby Sheets, who runs Steve Asmussen’s barn in New York, has been very happy with him all along. There’s no doubt that he came with it that day and he had to dig deep. We’re not in a rush to get back.”

Finley said the immediate plan is to keep Jaxon Traveler, a son of multiple graded-stakes winning sprinter Munnings and grandson Grade 1 turf winner After Market, at shorter distances.

“He’s definitely told us he’s not a horse that we need to try to push on to the Derby trail. We realize that at this point in his career we need to stay at sprint distances,” Finley said. “We’re trying to map out a winter campaign but I’d like to think that after being at this for so many years, we realize that the worst thing we can do is try to fit a square peg into a round hole. That’s what we’re not going to do with this dude. He’ll stay at sprint distances for now.”The $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) for 3-year-olds sprinting six furlongs at Pimlico, traditionally run on Preakness weekend, could be another target for Jaxon Traveler. Asmussen won the Chick Lang in 2015 with Holy Boss and 2018 with Mitole, the champion male sprinter of 2019.

“Obviously when you have a horse like this, a sprinter that you think can be at the top echelon, you’re thinking about getting him to the Chick Lang over a racetrack that he’s already run. You’re thinking about the Woody Stephens and you’re thinking about the [Allen] Jerkens,” Finley said. “Ironically, Steve has had pretty good success with that path over the last couple years with some horses that are now standing in Kentucky. So, we’re hoping that we’re in that zone and if we get lucky we can follow that same path.”

West Point’s Desbordes ($11.60), a 3-year-old daughter of Central Banker trained by George Weaver, held off a late run for Ortinola to capture Sunday’s eighth-race finale, a one-mile claiming event for fillies and mares 3 and up. The winning time was 1:39.56.

The post Laurel Park: Inaugural Spectacular Bid On Jan. 16 May Attract Unbeaten Jaxon Traveler appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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