Jaxon Traveler (right) gave trainer Steve Asmussen his third Maryland Sprint win in four years
West Point Thoroughbreds and Marvin Delfiner’s Jaxon Traveler, second to his stablemate over the same course last year, turned away all comers Saturday to register his first graded stakes victory in the $150,000 Maryland Sprint (G3) at historic Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md.
The 35th running of the six-furlong Sprint for 3-year-olds and up, led off a blockbuster 14-race program featuring 10 stakes, six graded, worth $2.75 million in purses, headlined by the 147th Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
Bred in Maryland by Dr. and Mrs. A. Leonard Pineau, Jaxon Traveler ($4.40) ran second to Mighty Mischief in the Chick Lang (G3) on Pimlico’s main track and third in the Quick Call (G3) over the Saratoga turf in 2021. Two of his previous three stakes wins also came in his home state – the 2020 Maryland Juvenile Futurity at Laurel Park and 2021 Star de Naskra at Pimlico.
Jaxon Traveler broke sharply from the outside post under Joel Rosario and quickly established command, pressed to his inside by 17-1 long shot and Feb. 19 General George (G3) runner-up War Tocsin. War Tocsin began to drop back after they went a quarter-mile in :22.95, when multiple stakes winner Threes Over Deuces picked up the chase.
The half went in :45.55 as Threes Over Deuces ranged up on Jaxon Traveler’s outside for the run down the stretch, but Jaxon Traveler found another gear under jockey Joel Rosario and crossed the wire 1 ¾ lengths in front. The winning time was 1:09.70 over a fast main track.
It was three lengths back to War Tocsin in third, followed by Sir Alfred James, Full Authority and April 16 Frank Y. Whiteley winner Disco Pharoah.
Rosario previously won the Maryland Sprint with Sandbar in 2015.
“He was going along pretty easy, and I was just going along for the ride,” Rosario said of Jaxon Traveler. “He showed speed from the start, so I let him go. He broke good, so I put him on the lead. I was in front off the inside on the turn. When he came to me off the turn, my horse really responded. He did great today.”
It was the third Maryland Sprint win in four years for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, following Switzerland in 2018 and New York Central in 2019. The race was not run in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think Jaxon Traveler has run extremely well here at Pimlico,” said Asmussen. “That’s his third stakes win here [in Maryland]. So, we’ve been looking forward to this race for quite some time. When he breaks well, he runs well. He hit the ground running and proved best. That’s who he’s always been. This was a major target for him, a very good victory for him, his first graded-stakes win, so we’ll sit down and discuss it with West Point to see where we’ll run him next.”