West Point is double-barreled for sprint stakes this weekend as Maryland-bred champ Jaxon Traveler returns to his roots for the Star de Naskra on Saturday at Pimlico and Turned Aside tackles racing’s highest level in Sunday’s Grade 1 Highlander at Woodbine.
Jaxon Traveler was Maryland’s leading 2-year-old in 2020 when he launched his career with three straight wins between Pimlico and Laurel. This year, he captured the Bachelor Stakes at Oaklawn Park and finished second on the Preakness undercard in the Grade 3 Chick Lang Stakes, before venturing to the all-weather track at Woodbine for a second-place finish in the Woodstock Stakes and to the turf at Saratoga for a third-place finish behind Golden Pal in the Grade 3 Quick Call.
Back on dirt and installed as the 6-to-5 favorite for the Star de Naskra, Jaxon Traveler and jockey Sheldon Russell will face five fellow Maryland-breds with $75,000 on the line.
Turned Aside captured the Quick Call himself last August along with the Grade 3 Aqueduct Sprint Championship in November. He has been out of action since a rough trip in the Grade 2 Shakertown in April where he got bumped and grabbed a quarter a few jumps out of the gate.
Emma-Jayne Wilson takes the reins on Turned Aside for newly inducted Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse in the $300,000 Highlander. He is the 3-to-1 second choice in a field of eight.