Bet on The Travers Stakes

Bet on The Travers Stakes

First run in 1864, and now continuously since 1913, the Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course is one of the most important races on the American thoroughbred racing circuit. Held in late August, and restricted to three-year-olds, the race often includes several of the horses that earlier in the year competed against each other in the Triple Crown series. It’s a opportunity for the winner of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes or Belmont Stakes to add another major stake win to their resume, and make a strong case for champion three-year-old at year’s end.

Run at the classic American distance of 1 1/4 miles on the Saratoga dirt course, the race is rated as a Grade I event, and currently offers a purse of $1 million dollars. In addition to the [+]

Whitney Handicap, held in early August, the Travers is the highlight of the Summer Meet at Saratoga, the oldest horseracing track in the United States. The race is named for William Travers, the first president of Saratoga. 

Three of the most famous horses in racing history have a significant tie to the Travers, as Whirlaway is the only Triple Crown winning horse to also capture the Travers, which is also sometimes referred to as the “Mid-summer Derby.” The last Triple Crown winner, Affirmed, had his last race in the rivalry with Alydar, the horse that had finished second in all three Triple Crown races. Once again Affirmed crossed the line first – but was disqualified to second for interference, giving Alydar the win. The legendary Man O’ War also ran his last race in winning the 1920 Travers.

In more recent history, the last Kentucky Derby winner to take the Travers was Street Sense in 2007, while 2012 saw the only dead-heat in the race’s 138-year history between Alpha and Golden Ticket. Since 1979, the race record has been held by General Assembly at 2 minutes flat. The 2013 winner, Will Take Charge has a strong case to become the only champion three-year-old in history to claim that title without a win in a Triple Crown race.

One other significant fact about the Travers is that it is the only race in history whereby a horse – namely Runaway Groom – defeated the winners of all three Triple Crown races that year, Gato Del Sol, Aloma’s Ruler, and Conquistador Cielo, which happened in 1982.

All racing fans deserve an opportunity to get to Saratoga for summer racing at least once. But even if you can’t get to the track, the Travers is definitely one race that should be included in your yearly handicapping schedule.

Travers Stakes Betting Odds

Coming off a single minor stakes win, and facing such rivals as Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist and Haskell Invitational (G1) winner Bayern, few handicappers paid much attention to V.E. Day, who broke from the gate at odds of 20-1. When he powered through to win by a nose, those that did back him celebrated a Win payout of $41.00 on a $2 bet, and keyed a huge $537 payout on a $2 trifecta! Racing fans can look for these kind of longshot upsets at Bovada racebook, our top-rated choice for online horse wagering.

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2016 Travers Stakes Contenders

While there is a big pile of money on the line for this Saturday's $1.25 million Travers Stakes, one gets the feeling there is something more important than just a payday to getting a win for Exaggerator and his connections. While it has been noted in the past that Exaggerator can run well without the help of an off track - he was second to Nyquist twice on fast surfaces, most notably in the Kentucky Derby - he has yet to get a Grade 1 win on anything but the mud. Unless he throws in a real clunker in the Travers, it's expected he'll be going to the Breeders' Cup Classic in November at Santa Anita, where it is highly likely he'll face the likes of California Chrome et al on a very fast surface. With no rain forecast for Saratoga on Saturday, a win will go a long way to showing he's a serious contender for the BC.

Of the others in the field, despite taking the Belmont Stakes, Creator is getting little respect from the morning line oddsmaker at 15-1. It's true that he made little impression last out in the Jim Dandy, trailing the field throughout to finish last of six, but he's developed a pattern of good race, bad race, good race, and the 1 1/4 miles Travers should be more to his liking than the 1 1/8 miles Jim Dandy. The top three runners in that event - Loaban, Governor Malibu and Destin - are all in the Travers field as well, and of those, Destin would rate as the top choice, as he has the tactical speed to get in good stalking position at Saratoga. Laoban may have run the race of his life to win the Jim Dandy and would need to repeat that effort here, while Governor Malibu is a good colt who has yet to prove he can win at the top level.

There are a handful of relative unknowns in the field, including a somewhat surprising second-choice in the ML in lightly raced Connect, who comes in off a stakes win over the Saratoga dirt. He's won three straight this year, and being sired by Curlin is a half-brother to Exaggerator, but he's taking a big step up in class here. 

The Travers Stakes goes Saturday, July 27 from Saratoga. Post time is 5:44 PM Eastern.

Entries with ML Odds

1) Arrogate (10-1)

2) American Freedom (6-1)

3) My Man Sam (20-1)

4) Governor Malibu (12-1)

5) Forever d'Oro (30-1)

6) Anaximandros (50-1)

7) Exaggerator (3-1)

8) Destin (10-1)

9) Gift Box (12-1)

10) Connect (4-1)

11) Majesto (30-1)

12) Creator (15-1)

13) Laoban (15-1)

14) Gun Runner (10-1)