Which Derby Runners are the Travers Contenders?
The 148th running of The Travers (G1) is set for Saturday at the historic Saratoga race track. The Travers is restricted for 3-year-olds with a purse of $1,250,000.00. This years edition has a very tough act to follow as 2016 winner Arrogate blazed the main track and set a new track record with the fastest running ever of the Travers; 1:59.36. Here is a look at the top Travers contenders that also competed in the Kentucky Derby.
- Tapwrit (7-2)
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Career record: 8 starts – 4 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds
Career earnings: $1,143,90
Pedigree: Tapit – Appealing Zophie, by Successful Appeal
Tapwrit comes into this race off an 11 week layoff off his win the Belmont Stakes. But one thing to note is the Saratoga morning line maker, installed him the lukewarm favorite at 7/2. This shows how confusing the 3 year olds have been this year. Tapwrit’s only poor effort came in the Lexington at Keeneland. We feel he just didn’t like the surface that afternoon. His last effort in the Belmont was his best race to date, and he was placed closer to the pace that afternoon. He doesn’t possess that quick turn of foot like most closers, but he has a relentless grinding style and it will pay off this Saturday at Saratoga. We feel Tapwrit is a win contender off the bench.
- Always Dreaming (6-1)
Jockey: John Velazquez
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Career record: 8 starts – 4 wins – 1 second – 2 thirds
Pedigree: Bodemeister – Above Perfection, by In Excess
He’s been labeled as the golden rail Kentucky Derby winner off his last two starts. But he needed his last race in a big way. He came into the Jim Dandy off a 10 week layoff and went straight to the front and was collard by Cloud Computing the entire way and once they turned for him he was all out to finish 3rd. Always Dreaming will have a big shot to win this Saturday as he’s the lone speed of the race. It will take either Irap, Fayeq, or Cloud Computing to put some pressure on him early and if they don’t Always Dreaming will be galloping on the front end and he will have plenty left in the tank once they real running commences down the lane. We feel he’s a legit win contender.
- Irap (8-1)
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez
Trainer: Doug O’Neill
Owner: Reddam Racing
Career record: 11 starts – 3 wins – 3 seconds – 1 third
Career earnings: $1,357,600
Pedigree: Tiznow – Silken Cat, by Storm Cat
Irap comes in as the now horse as he won 3 of his last 4 races all in graded stakes company. We feel if anyone is going to be on the flank of Always Dreaming, it’ll be Irap. Look for Mario to keep him within a length of Always Dreaming from the break, but that’s when it could all change for Irap. He’s facing the toughest competition to date, and if he’s up front in a contested pace, Irap may falter. Continued improvement needed to challenge on top.
Jockey: Robby Albarado
Trainer: Joe Sharp
Owner: Brad Grady
Career record: 7 starts – 4 firsts – 2 seconds – 0 thirds
Career earnings: $1,574,400
Pedigree: Tale of Ekati – Catch the Moon, by Malibu Moon
Girvin has been treated like the Rodney Dangerfied of the 3 year olds. His lone poor effort came in the Kentucky Derby, and he should have never been in the gate on the 1st Saturday of May. He was battling a quarter crack right after his win in the La. Derby. But his connections were hell bent on running him in the Kentucky Derby. After the Kentucky Derby, they gave him a 7 week freshening and he showed back up in the Ohio Derby. He ran well that afternoon, only to lose the bob at the wire to Irap. His connections wheeled him right back in the Haskell at Momouth. This time he was on the right side of the nose bob as he nailed McCraken right on the wire. We feel he will have a say so down the lane, but he’s picking up 8 pounds off his last effort and going a 1 ¼ this time. He’s a minor exotic contender.
Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.
Trainer: Ian Wilkes
Owner: Whitham Thoroughbreds
Career record: 8 starts – 5 wins – 1 second – 1 third
Career earnings: $672, 228
Pedigree: Ghostzapper – Ivory Empress, by Seeking the Gold
He’s consistent as they come, he’s only finished out of the money one time in 8 career starts and that was in the Kentucky Derby. His past two races have been very impressive and he was on the losing end of a nose bob in the Haskell at Monmouth Park last out. Many of the speed pundits feel he’s not fastest enough to beat this group. We agree with them, but we wouldn’t be surprised if he hit the board. Look for McCraken to take up a nice stalking position in the early stages of the race. One thing we know for sure, is that McCraken will have on display his closing kick through the lane. Look for him to hit the board on Saturday afternoon.
Kenny Schmitt contributed to this article. Follow him on Twitter @FBWinners