Jaxon Traveler Returns Home for $200,000 Chick Lang (G3)

May 11th, 2021

G2-Placed Hozier Gets Class Relief in $100,000 Sir Barton

BALTIMORE, MD | May 11, 2021 – West Point Thoroughbreds and Marvin Delfiner’s speedy sophomore Jaxon Traveler, a head shy of being undefeated through five starts that include a pair of stakes victories, returns to Maryland seeking his first graded score in Saturday’s $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) at Pimlico Race Course.

The 46th running of the six-furlong Chick Lang and 23rd renewal of the 1 1/16-mile Sir Barton, both for 3-year-olds, are among 10 stakes, six graded, worth $2.25 million in purses on a spectacular 14-race program headlined by the 146th renewal of the Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

Other graded-stakes on the card are the $250,000 Dinner Party (G2) for 3-year-olds and up and $150,000 Gallorette for fillies and mares 3 and older, each at 1 1/16 miles on the grass; $150,000 Maryland Sprint (G3), a six-furlong dash for 3-year-olds and up; and $100,000 UAE President Cup (G1) for Arabian horses.

First race post time is 10:30 a.m.

Jaxon Traveler is no stranger to Pimlico, having romped to a 10-length debut victory last September. Bred in Maryland by Dr. and Mrs. A. Leonard Pineau, the son of multiple graded-stakes winning sprinter Munnings then beat winners at first asking in October and became a stakes winner with a three-quarter-length triumph in the seven-furlong Maryland Juvenile Futurity Dec. 5. All three wins came in front-running fashion.

“He’s going to be hard to beat,” Scott Blasi, top assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, said.

Asmussen has taken horses down this road before, winning the Chick Lang with Lantana Mob (2008), Holy Boss (2015), Mitole (2018) and Yaupon, who tied a stakes record (1:09.10) with his victory last fall. Mitole would go on to be named the champion male sprinter of 2019.

“We’ll never question anything that Steve does. He has the Midas touch, especially with these types of horses,” West Point COO Tom Bellhouse said. “Steve just has this innate sense. A lot of people get these kinds of horses and the first thing they say is, ‘When are we going to stretch them out?’

“We ran seven furlongs in the stake down there and we won, but he got a little tired and Steve just said, ‘Listen, this horse is really, really special; it might just be up to seven [furlongs]. He might not be a horse that wants to go up to a mile,’” he added. “He just focuses his program on it. He did it with Mitole. He did it with Yaupon, just in recent times. He’s just so good at that.”

Jaxon Traveler was being pointed to make his 3-year-old debut in the seven-furlong Spectacular Bid Jan. 16 at Laurel but was sidelined with a minor foot injury and wound up with Asmussen’s winter string at Oaklawn Park. There, he found himself uncharacteristically off the pace in the six-furlong Gazebo March 10 but closed to be second to Sir Wellington before returning with a 2 ¾-length gate-to-wire triumph in the April 24 Bachelor, also at six furlongs.

“He had a little frog issue and he started to come around actually quicker than we anticipated,” Bellhouse said. “It’s kind of a heartbreaker that he’s not undefeated because of that race. He had a tough trip but he came running late and showed a different dynamic. Last time he just threw it down and threw in the kind of race that you love to see in that kind of sprint. He broke on top and never looked back.”

Irad Ortiz Jr. has the call on Jaxon Traveler from Post 4 in a field of six as the 124-pound co-topweight.

“He’s just a really, really, really cool horse,” Bellhouse said. “He’s an exciting horse to watch. When the gate opens, he goes and he never looks like he’s going to get beat. There’s never one step of the race where you’re like, ‘Oh no, he’s in trouble.’ He just went, especially in that last race against some really nice horses at Oaklawn. When he turned for home I was like, ‘They’re not catching him.’”

Jaxon Traveler will face another stakes winner in Lea Farms’ Willy Boi, who defeated Ultimate Badger and next-out winner Lauda Speed in the six-furlong Hutcheson March 6 at Gulfstream Park. The Uncaptured gelding has won three of his four starts sprinting, running eighth when stretched out to 1 1/16 miles in Gulfstream’s Jan. 30 Holy Bull (G3).

Narrow Leaf Farm’s Hemp will make his stakes debut in the Chick Lang. The Maryland-bred Super Ninety Nine gelding cruised by 5 ¼ lengths in a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance over a muddy track April 10 at Laurel Park for trainer Anthony Farrior.

Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt’s homebred Mighty Mischief takes a two-race win streak into the Chick Lang, his stakes debut. The bay son of Into Mischief went gate-to-wire to break his maiden March 19 and then beat winners at first asking April 10, both sprinting six furlongs at Oaklawn, by a combined 7 ¾ lengths.

“He’s a very fast horse,” Scott Blasi, top assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, said. “This is a big step up, but he works like a racehorse.”

ZWP Stable and Non-Stop Stable’s Shackled Love cuts back for the Chick Lang off back-to-back tries around two turns including a half-length win in the 1 1/16-mile Private Terms. Gokmen Kaya’s Palatial Times completes the field.

G2-Placed Hozier Gets Class Relief in $100,000 Sir Barton

SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Stonestreet Stables, Golconda Stable, Siena Farm and Robert Masterson’s Hozier, runner up to Preakness (G1) contender Concert Tour in the Rebel (G2), will get some class relief when he lines up against five rivals in Saturday’s $100,000 Sir Barton at Pimlico Race Course.

A bay son of multiple Grade 1 winner Pioneerof the Nile, runner-up in the 2009 Kentucky Derby (G1), Hozier went unraced at 2 before running fourth in his debut Jan. 15 at Santa Anita. Stretched out to 1 1/16 miles for his next start four weeks later, he pulled clear to a 1 ¾-length triumph and earned a shot in the Rebel.

Beaten 4 ¼ lengths in Hot Springs following an inside trip, Hozier found himself in a similar spot in the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby (G1) April 10 and was never in contention, finishing last of six with Concert Tour third. Hozier had a five-furlong breeze in 1:00.60 May 6 at Churchill Downs, sixth-fastest of 22 horses.

“He put in a bad race in Arkansas. Actually, him and Concert Tour,” Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said. “He worked well, so he deserves another shot.”

Cash is King and LC Racing’s Dream Big Dreams, a $115,000 2-year-old in training purchase last May, graduated at third asking March 14 at Laurel in his most recent start, a come-from-behind three-quarter-length maiden special weight triumph in 1:38.32 for one mile.

“It was a good race,” trainer Brittany Russell said. “He’s just kind of a big, immature horse that hopefully keeps figuring things out. He seems like he’s getting more professional working in the morning. If that’s any testament to how he came out of that race, we like it.”

Double O Racing’s Market Cap is entered to make his 3-year-old debut having gone unraced since running fourth as the favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Howard County Dec. 26 at Laurel in his juvenile finale. He was a seven-length maiden special weight winner going a mile last October at Laurel in a race originally carded for the turf.

Stuart Janney III homebred Romp will be stepping up to stakes company for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey off back-to-back wins. The son of McGaughey-trained Florida Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Orb romped by nine lengths in a one-mile maiden claimer Feb. 12 at Aqueduct, then was a popular three-quarter-length winner of a seven-furlong starter optional claimer April 10 at Aqueduct.

Minnesota-bred Golden Gulley and The King Cheek, a starter optional claiming winner last out May 3 at Parx, are also entered.