Jaxon Traveler Returns to Familiar Ground in Maryland Sprint (G3)

Jaxon Traveler Returns to Familiar Ground in Maryland Sprint (G3)

2022 Winner, Now 6, Approaching $1 Million Mark in Career Earnings

LAUREL, MD – West Point Thoroughbreds and Marvin Delfiner’s multiple graded-stakes winner Jaxon Traveler will continue his march toward $1 million in career earnings in a familiar spot, taking on six rivals in Saturday’s $100,000 Maryland Sprint (G3) at historic Pimlico Race Course.

The six-furlong Sprint for 3-year-olds and up is among nine stakes, five graded, worth $3.3 million in purses on a blockbuster 14-race program anchored by the 149th Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. First race post time is 10:30 a.m. EST.

Now 6, Jaxon Traveler was bred by Dr. and Mrs. A. Leonard Pineau in Maryland, where he has made 11 of his 29 career starts with a record of five wins, three seconds and a third. He has three wins and two seconds in six tries at Pimlico, where he captured his Sept. 25, 2020 unveiling as well as his first graded-stakes in the 2022 Maryland Sprint.

“We love to run on Preakness weekend. He got his first big stakes win there, and we love running in Maryland,” West Point executive vice president Tom Bellhouse said. “He’s such a cool horse. He doesn’t win every time, but he always tries real hard.”

Overall Jaxon Traveler, by Munnings, has nine wins, seven seconds, five thirds and $910,849 in purse earnings, and is 2-for-4 this year having won the Bill Thomas Memorial Feb. 18 at Sunland Park and Whitmore (G3) March 16 at Oaklawn Park, where he most recently ran fifth behind millionaire stablemate Skelly in the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 13.

“Obviously, the big win at Oaklawn was beyond a thrill. He won the Bachelor there a few years back and then to come back and run that race against the level of competition that he faced was just a thrill for everybody,” Bellhouse said. “Skelly is probably at a different level than us at this point but, other than that, he’ll show up and run against anybody.”

Prior to Jaxon Traveler, Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen won the Maryland Sprint in back-to-back years with Switzerland in 2018 and New York Central in 2019.

“If the pace is legitimate, then I think we have a shot. He’s always going to try,” Bellhouse said. “He’s sound, he’s made a lot of money, he’s won some graded-stakes. Hopefully somebody takes a shot at him as a stallion when it’s time. We don’t have any complaints about him.”

Michael Dubb and Morris Bailey’s Prince of Jericho is another son of Munnings, based at Laurel Park with Brittany Russell, Maryland’s leading trainer in 2023. The 4-year-old colt has raced twice this year, returning from a six-month layoff to win a 5 ½-furlong optional claiming allowance by a nose Feb. 23, then getting nailed at the wire to run second by the same margin to Coastal Mission in the seven-furlong Frank Y. Whiteley April 13, both over his home track.

Charles Town-based Coastal Mission, 12-for-19 lifetime including four stakes wins for trainer Jeff Runco, a winner of 4,747 career races, returns in the Maryland Sprint.

“He’s doing really well since we gave him the time. The first run back was great. The last one was a little bit of a heartbreaker because he ran so hard I felt like he deserved to get that one. He got beat by a good horse,” Russell said. “It’s just nice to see that he can run with them. He’s doing good. He’s getting on his belly when we need him to. He came out of that race in great shape. This just makes sense. The three-quarters is good. He’s in very good shape right now.”

Prince of Jericho has raced once previously at Pimlico, running second by 1 ¾ lengths to Ryvit in last year’s Chick Lang (G3), also at six furlongs. He won two sprint stakes last year at Laurel, the Spectacular Bid in January and Concern in July.

“This is home,” Russell said. “I find this race can be extra salty. We’ve run in it a couple times and you think you have a horse doing good going into it and it’s a good spot, but it’s going to be no easy task for him. I think he’s up for the challenge.”

BC Stables’ Bourbon Bash, trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, seeks his first stakes victory after placing four times previously, most recently in the six-furlong St. Matthews May 2 at Churchill Downs. Lukas has won the Maryland Sprint with Commanche Trail (1995), Yes It’s True (1999), Snow Ridge (2002) and Hamazing Destiny (2012).

Godolphin homebred Prevalence snapped an eight-race losing streak dating back to April 2022 with a 6 ½-length triumph in a six-furlong optional claiming allowance April 6 at Keeneland. Second in last year’s Maryland Sprint behind favored Straight No Chaser, the 6-year-old Medaglia d’Oro gelding earned graded credentials in the 2022 Commonwealth (G3) at Keeneland.

Completing the field are Super Chow, a six-time stakes winner including the Toboggan (G3) and Tom Fool (G3) this winter that won a 2022 allowance in his only prior start at Pimlico and exits a third in the April 6 Carter (G2) at Aqueduct; and two-time West Virginia-bred stakes winner Little Roo Roo.