Charitable Man notch below best 3-year-olds?

The Charitable Man camp was ultra high on their 3-year-old colt following his 3 3/4-length victory in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park on May 9, but he’s since run mediocre races in both the Belmont and Jim Dandy and the enthusiasm has been tempered heading into today’s $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

“The Peter Pan was very impressive, but the Belmont was not and the Jim Dandy, he had a few little excuses and finished third, but he just might not be up to the top 10 (3-year-olds) in America,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “We were pretty high on him after the Peter Pan, but we’ve toned it down a little bit. He’s trained well, developed well, but he’s probably in tough Saturday.”

The Travers drew a field of seven, including 8-5 favorite Quality Road, Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird and Kensei, who was impressive while winning the Jim Dandy Stakes.

McLaughlin said even though he believes Charitable Man may be overmatched by some of today’s runners, it’s tough to pass up a chance to start a horse in the Mid-Summer Derby.

“There’s only one Travers, and it’s one of the most important races for 3-year-olds, so we decided to stay home and give it a try,” he said.

I’m interested to see how Quality Road runs today, to see if he can duplicate his marvelous form that carried him to a dominating victory in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park before he was taken off the Derby trail because of injury.

I think he’s going to be tough to beat, particularly if he can lay second or third behind the pacesetter(s) and then make his move around the far turn. Summer Bird needs a quick pace to get up, and Kensei might not have the class some of these other 3-year-old have shown.

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