There is no pedigree connection, merely a whimsical theme in their names, but Lady Traveler and Jaxon Traveler will have big assignments in Baltimore in common this weekend at Pimlico Race Course.
Lady Traveler goes first in Friday’s main event, tackling the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) for 3-year-old fillies. The bay filly is Grade 3-placed as a sprinter and will look to give Dale Romans his third win in the Black-Eyed Susan since 2015.
Romans’ partner, Tammy Fox, is Lady Traveler’s regular rider in the mornings. Javier Castellano, who prevailed for Romans on Keen Pauline in the 2015 Black-Eyed Susan, will get a leg up on Friday afternoon.
Purchased as a yearling, the daughter of Quality Road is a half brother to Grade 1 winner Heart to Heart as well as a 2-year-old Arrogate colt that West Point recently acquired at the OBS April sale along with Michael Talla.
“So we’re hoping she adds to his pedigree,” West Point’s executive vice president Jeff Lifson said. “Every time Tammy gets off this filly, she’s like, ‘How does she ever get beat? She never gets out of gallop and she’s cruising.’ In the afternoon, she’s graded stakes-placed, so it’s not like she’s an underachiever. But we think there’s more there. We hope there’s more there, just because she trains so beautifully and comes from a really nice family.”
Jaxon Traveler takes his turn in the spotlight before noon on Saturday, installed as the heavy favorite for the $200,000 Chick Lang Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old sprinters.
The Chick Lang is a homecoming for Jaxon Traveler, who was bred in Maryland and acquired at the OBS March sale in 2020. He ran the table in Maryland last fall, capturing all three of his races, and was crowned as Maryland-bred champion 2-year-old male. As a 3-year-old, Jaxon Traveler finished a gritty second by a head in the Gazebo Stakes and fired back to dominate the Bachelor Stakes there on April 24.
Jaxon Traveler is 4-to-5 on the morning line in a field of six for the Chick Lang, a race that trainer Steve Assmusen has won four times since 2008.
“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.”