Sprint veteran Jaxon Traveler rekindled his best form on Tuesday, Nov. 28, when he won the Zia Park Sprint Stakes by five and a half lengths in near track record time.

The 5-year-old bay horse entered Tuesday’s dash in Hobbs, N.M., in search of his first win of the season. He made his 2023 debut on Aug. 23 at Saratoga and was last of nine in a five and a half-furlong allowance – one of four lifetime starts on the turf. Next out, he was last again in the six-furlong Lite the Fuse Stakes at Pimlico on Sept. 16, although beaten less than seven lengths. Most recently, he finished third in a five-furlong allowance in his Remington Park debut on Oct. 13. 

Making his first start at Zia Park (the 10th different track he’s raced over in 25 career starts), he went off as the 9-2 fourth choice in the 10-horse field, and drew the outside post under Joel Rosario.

He broke without incident and quickly shot for the early lead, while 72-1 outsider Tactical Attack also made a move for the front from the inside. Rather than get involved in a potentially destructive duel, Rosario elected to sit back and let the longshot go. It was an electric early pace, as Tactical Attack zoomed through a first quarter-mile in :21.66.

As they moved around the turn, Jaxon Traveler began to inch closer to a fading Tactical Attack. He poked a head in front as they passed the five-sixteenths pole, and took a clear advantage entering the stretch following an opening half-mile in a bruising :43.83. None of the closers made a serious impact, and Jaxon Traveler drew off, eliciting a chart comment “much the best. . . sharp.” He covered six furlongs in 1:07.37, missing the track record by .24 seconds.

The victory improved Jaxon Traveler’s career mark to 7-7-5 from 25 starts and earnings of $675,999. This is the fifth stakes victory in Jaxon Traveler’s career. The Maryland-bred champion male at 2 and 3, he capped off a perfect 3-for-3 season at 2 with a win in the 2020 Maryland Juvenile Futurity, and came back the next year to win the Bachelor Stakes at Oaklawn Park and Star de Naskra Stakes at Pimlico. At 4, he recorded his first graded win in Pimlico’s Maryland Sprint Stakes-G3 on the Preakness undercard. The Zia Park Sprint was his first win since the Maryland Sprint. During his career he’s been stakes-placed 10 times, including a second in the Grade 3 Chick Lang Stakes on the 2021 Preakness undercard, and a third behind Golden Pal in Saratoga’s Quick Call Stakes-G3 on the turf that summer.

Jaxon Traveler is owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and trained by Steve Asmussen. He was purchased for $140,000 by West Point at the OBS April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale in 2020. That was the second time he sold at auction; he previously went for $80,000 to Grassroots Training & Sales at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Jaxon Traveler, a son of Munnings, was bred by Dr. and Mrs. A. Leonard Pineau. He’s out of the After Market mare Listen Boy, a Sagamore Farm homebred who earned $61,950 in her nine-race career and was stakes-placed. The Pineaus purchased Listen Boy for $26,000 carrying her second foal in November 2015. Of her six foals of racing age, five are winners, including her first, Nuclear Option (First Defence), who has won 11 times and amassed $423,951, and My Candy Girl (Twirling Candy), a six-time winner and earner of $222,831. Listen Boy’s most recent foal is an unnamed yearling colt by Liam’s Map. A mating to Union Rags for 2023 did not produce a foal; she was bred to Jack Christopher for 2024.

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