Saturday, August 3, 2013

Cross Traffic Shines at Saratoga

Cross Traffic earns his Grade I credentials in the Whitney
Credit: Courtney Heeney, Courtesy NYRA/Coglianese
A week after the untimely death of super sire Unbridled's Song, his son, Cross Traffic, emerged as a shining star today, capturing the prestigious Whitney Handicap-G1 at Saratoga over a stellar field of older handicap horses.  It was the first stakes victory for the four-year-old steely gray colt, and in addition to his trophy and purse monies, Cross Traffic earned an automatic berth in November's Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita.

Cross Traffic grabbed the lead from multimillionaire Mucho Macho Man soon after the start, and seemed to just cruise along in first position until the far turn of the mile-and-an-eighth contest, when he was challenged in earnest by both Mucho Macho Man and last year's Whitney and Breeders' Cup Classic winner, Fort Larned.  Though Fort Larned couldn't sustain his bid, both Successful Dan and Mucho Macho Man appeared to be getting to Cross Traffic in the stretch.  Jockey Johnny Velasquez roused him, and he quickened, then swerved slightly, but it didn't matter.  There was no catching Cross Traffic today.

It wasn't that way in the colt's last two races, when he was narrowly bested after setting the pace in the one mile Westchester-G3 and Metropolitan-G1 at Belmont, grudgingly settling for second both times.  In spite of stretching out today, Cross Traffic didn't appear to be spent at the wire, galloping out with strength and confidence and the admiration of race fans hungry for a new hero.

Unraced at two and three, Cross Traffic broke his maiden in his initial outing at Gulfstream last January, then captured an allowance race at the same track before graduating to stakes company in New York.  Cross Traffic has now won or placed in all of his five starts, while amassing earnings of $681,300.

He was born to be great.  Cross Traffic is at least the 101st stakes winner and 16th grade I stakes winner by sire standout Unbridled's Song, a son of Brilliant-Intermediate Chef-de-Race Unbridled. His dam, the consistent and classy Cure the Blues mare, Stop Traffic, notched Grade I stakes on both coasts, including Saratoga's seven-furlong Ballerina, which she captured by seven widening lengths over Alabama victress Runup the Colors (by A. P. Indy), dam of this year's Louisiana Derby winner Revolutionary (by War Pass).

The sixth foal out of Stop Traffic, Cross Traffic was purchased for $300,000 by his current connections, GoldMark Farm, at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale.  He is a full brother to the stakes-placed filly, Bianco Tartufo, and a half-brother to three other winners, including stakes-placed Into My Soul (by Pleasantly Perfect).  Cross Traffic's victory in the Whitney is sure to fuel interest in his yearling half-brother by Medaglia D'Oro, who is slated to be sold as Hip #134 on Tuesday night at Fasig-Tipton's Humphrey S. Finney Pavilion, across the street from the storied racetrack.