Saturday August 25 marks the 149th edition of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes. With attendance being capped at 50,000 fans, all signs point to it being a record breaking day of racing at historic Saratoga Race Course. The thirteen race card features six Grade 1 stakes, and some of the best connections horse racing has to offer.
RACE 6 H. Allen Jerkens S. Presented by Runhappy (Grade I) $500,000 POST TIME – 2:23 PM
Top Pick: #8 Firenze Fire, trained by Jason Servis with leading rider Irad Oriz Jr. aboard.
Overall deep field for the Allen Jerkins, number one Promises Fulfilled and number three Engage faced off July 28 at the Spa in the Grade 3 Amsterdam. Promises Fulfilled won that race but benefited from an extremely fast pace set by Strike Power. Promises Fufilled and Engage look to battle up front for the early lead, Firenze Fire looks poised to pick up the pieces in deep stretch and get the win. Firenze Fire most recently raced in the Dwyer stakes at Belmont Park July 7, where he finished first beating UAE Derby winner and Travers runner Mendelssohn by over 8 lengths.
RACE 7 Personal Ensign S. (Grade I) $700,000 POST TIME – 2:59 PM
Top Pick: Number 6 Elate, trained by Bill Mott with Jose Ortiz aboard
The always dangerous number 1 Abel Tasman here is a good bet to make some noise. Abel Tasman will likely be the heavy favorite by post time. However, Elate moves forward here after a strong win in the Grade II Delaware Handicap.
RACE 8 Ketel One Ballerina S. (Grade I) $500,000 POST TIME – 3:35 PM
Top Pick number 5 Finley’sluckycharm trained by W. Bret Calhoun with Brian Joseph Hernandez Jr. aboard
This is an incredibly deep field, making choosing a winner anything but easy, however Finley’sluckycharm is the choice. She won at the Spa July 25 in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss. and the Grade 1 Madison Stakes earlier in 2018 at Keeneland.
Other top contenders include number 2 Ivy Bell, number 6 Lewis Bay and number 7 Marley’s Freedom. Both Ivy Bell and Lewis Bay have faltered in the past, making it an easy decision to stay away this time. West coast invader Marley’s Freedom looks to continue the success at Saratoga for trainer, jockey duo Bob Baffert and Mike Smith. The west coaster will likely be the favorite by post, there is better value betting the 5 here.
RACE 9 Forego S. (Grade I) $600,000 POST TIME – 4:12 PM
Top Pick: number 1 Limousine Liberal trained by Ben Colebrook with Jose Ortiz aboard
The Forego features some of the top dirt sprinters in America. Going to be another extremely competitive field. With a field this even, the recommendation is to play some exotics here. Following that theme is number 1 Limousine Liberal, who had an impressive victory in the Grade 2 Belmont Sprint Championship over number 3 Whitmore. Number 8 City of Light has leading rider Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard and will likely be the favorite. However, the outside draw for City of Light gives a slight advantage to Limousine Liberal. Longshot to watch here, number 5 No Dozing, 12 to 1 on the morning could upset.
RACE 10 Sword Dancer S. (Grade I) $1,000,000 POST TIME – 4:49 PM
Top Pick: number 5 Highland Sky trained by Barclay Tagg with Manuel Franco aboard
The Sword Dancer is a fan-favorite race. It is for distance specialists, 1.5 miles on the grass, always making for an exciting finish. Highland Sky will be a longshot, 12-1 on the morning line. Highland Sky had a solid allowance claiming victory in June against a talented field. Arguments can be made for several horses here, number 7 Channel Maker was one of the winners of the Bowling Green at Saratoga on July 28, going a Mile and 3/8ths on the grass. Number 1 Glorious Empire was the other victor in the dead heat finish, he will also be one to watch especially at 10-1 on the morning line.
RACE 11 Runhappy Travers S. Presented by NYRA Bets (Grade I) $1,250,000 POST TIME – 5:44 PM
Top Pick: number 9 Good Magic trained by leading trainer Chad Brown with eclipse award winning jockey Jose Ortiz aboard
Ah the Travers, the race of the day. At one and one fourth miles on the dirt it is a grueling race. The 2-1 favorite Good Magic is the go-to pick here. Good Magic is likely the best in this field and gets Mechanicville native Chad Brown his first Travers victory. Good Magic ran a strong second to triple crown winner Justify in this years Kentucky Derby. He is also coming off a victory in the Grade 1 Haskell where he was heavily favored. Breaking from post position 9, Good Magic will be placed slightly off the pace and make a strong move at the final turn. Another horse that needs to be mentioned is #10 Tenfold who won the Grade 1 Jim Dandy in July. Look to cover the number 4 Bravazo at 12-1 just in case there is a pace meltdown.