Cross Traffic win in Saturday's $750,000 Whitney H. (G1) was a fitting tribute to his sire Unbridled's Song, who passed away on July 26 from an inoperable mass in his sinus cavities.
Cross Traffic's score also picked up an automatic berth into the Nov. 2 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita Park since the Whitney is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" event. Trainer Todd Pletcher said a start in the Aug. 31 Woodward S. (G1), also at Saratoga, would be his next target.
Ridden by John Velazquez, Cross Traffic took the lead going into the first turn and held a 1 1/2-length advantage over Mucho Macho Man through a quarter in :24.17, then went a quick :47.28 while Fort Larned stepped up a length behind.
Cross Traffic pulled away from that duo coming into the stretch. The gray or roan 4-year-old held off a late-closing Successful Dan to win the 1 1/8-mile contest in 1:47.89 on a fast track
"This was a real quality-filled race," Pletcher said. "To beat the Breeders' Cup (Classic) winner (Fort Larned) and runner-up from last year (Mucho Macho Man) and some really good horses speaks volumes about his quality."
Cross Traffic, who did not start until January of this year, won his first two starts at Gulfstream Park. He came into the Whitney off a runner-up finish by a nose behind Sahara Sky in the May 27 Metropolitan H. (G1), and then finished second by a head to Flat Out in the April 27 Westchester S. (G3), both at Belmont Park.
"The plan was to let him run to the first turn," Pletcher said. "It worked out really well; the first quarter was key. Johnny was able to get the position he wanted without overdoing it, and kind of picked it up from there. It was a strongly run race throughout, and we were just hoping he could hold on the last part after the two losses we had at Belmont. Those were heart-breaking losses, to run as well as he did in those two races and miss by a whisker."
Cross Traffic, bred in Kentucky by Diamond A Racing Corp out of the Cure the Blues mare Stop Traffic, was a $300,000 purchase from the 2010 Fasig-Tipton New York select yearling sale. The Whitney purse increased his total earnings to $681,300.