Kentucky Derby Winner Always Dreaming Among 7 Derby Runners in Travers Stakes
Travers Day is set for Saturday, Aug. 26, and the $1,250,000 Travers Stakes headlines a stacked line-up of popular graded stakes races that includes some significant purse increases. Tons of betting on these races at Saratoga and other gambling shops. The record Travers Day handle could fall, with just under $50 million wagered on 2015 Travers Day.
- Travers presented by NYRA Bets (G1) $1,250,000 — 148th running for 3-year-olds
- Sword Dancer (G1) $1,000,000
- Personal Ensign (G1) $700,000
- Forego (G1) $600,000
- H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) $500,000
- Ketel One Ballerina (G1) $500,000
- Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa (G2) $400,000
The 2017 Travers looks wide open, as a field of 12 challenge for a $1.25 million purse and a place in history. This sets up as the race of the year for 3-year-olds, and seven of the contenders ran in the Kentucky Derby including winner Always Dreaming. The field includes all three Triple Crown race winners for the first time since 1982, plus the Haskell winner. Nine of the 12 entrants are graded stakes winners, and two of the three who aren’t have multiple graded stakes placings to their name.
The morning line favorite in the 2017 Travers is Tapwrit (7-2), who has not raced since he won the Belmont Stakes in June against a full but weaker field. Not sure why he’s not had a prep race since, but he can clearly compete and emerge in the classic distances. Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming (6-1) and Preakness victor Cloud Computing (8-1) both enter after running on the lead as co-favorites and fading to finish 3rd and 5th in the short field of the Jim Dandy Stakes last month. That race was won by Good Samaritan (5-1) by nearly 5-lengths in an impressive off-the-pace performance for trainer Bill Mott. Jockey Joel Rosario is so good, but especially over the longer distances, and he’s one of the most physically strong jocks in the country.
Tapwrit (Jose Ortiz) and Always Dreaming (John Velazquez) are both trainer by Todd Pletcher, while Chad Brown-trained Cloud Computing is ridden by the all-time Travers-winning jockey Javier Castellano, who has emerged victorious a record 5 times.
Trainer Bob Baffert ships in West Coast (4-1) with ‘Big Money’ Mike Smith riding. Those two paired together to win last year’s Travers with another late-bloomer when Arrogate’s breath-taking 13-length win was a Travers record-breaking performance. West Coast has won 3-straight including July’s Los Alamitos Derby with a strong closing kick as the heavy 2-5 favorite.
Haskell Invitational winner Girvin (10-1) and runner-up by a nose McCraken (12-1) will draw plenty of interest at these prices, and Irap (8-1) is in top form having nipped Girvin by a nose in the Ohio Derby before romping in the Indiana Derby. The Tiznow colt has tactical speed and is improving since his Derby dud, but trainer Doug O’Neill hasn’t had a graded victory at the Spa in a decade.
Rounding out the field is Kentucky Derby runner-up Lookin At Lee (30-1), Fayeq (20-1), who steps way up in class, Guiseppe the Great (20-1), and Gunnevera (20-1), who is an overlay off a minor stakes win, but freshened having also faced many of these in the Derby and other top graded stakes. Gunnevera’s late-running win in last year’s Saratoga Special was his graded stakes debut.
A strong field for this year’s 148th running of the Travers, but not a strong saddle opinion. Taking a swing with #5 Good Samaritan, #10 Irap and #11 Gunnevera with a late-running bid shooting for a bigger exotic score.
The Travers will be the featured race in a 90-minute broadcast from NBC Sports, airing on NBC from 4:30 – 6 p.m. ET.