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Check out our predictions and odds for the Travers Stakes at Saratoga!
I Ortiz Jr
Odds provided by author Brian Zipse.
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In a race that could very well decide an Eclipse Award, Forte headlines a field of seven sophomore colts entered in Saturday’s Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, the son of Violence was the champion 2-year-old in 2022 and has done little wrong this year. A winner of three graded stakes this season, his only loss was a second-place finish in the Belmont Stakes.
Last time out he earned a hard-fought victory in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy, which is the local prep for the $1.25 million Travers.
Chief among his challengers in the 10-furlong Midsummer Derby will be the three winners of Triple Crown races in 2023.
Arcangelo rides a three-race winning streak into Saturday’s big test for trainer Jena Antonucci. Most recently, the son of Arrogate skimmed the rail to defeat Forte in the 12-furlong Belmont Stakes.
Mage, meanwhile, has lost twice since winning the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. Neither his third-place effort in the Preakness or runner-up run in the Grade 1 Haskell were poor efforts, though.
Not to be forgotten in the field of seven is the Preakness winner National Treasure. Trained by Bob Baffert, the Quality Road colt faded out down the stretch of the Belmont, but once again should be on the early lead on Saturday.
A champion last year, this Todd Pletcher-trained star had to miss the Kentucky Derby and Preakness with a minor hoof bruise. In the four races he did run this year, he has won three graded stakes and ran second in the Belmont.
He also has a couple of wins over the track, including last month’s Jim Dandy Stakes, and should be right at home at the 10-furlong trip he will see on Saturday. There is clearly a lot to like about the winner of 7-of-9 career races.
Having said that, this will be the strongest overall field he has faced. The champion son of Violence is the one to beat, but as a clear favorite on Saturday against tough rivals, I will take a small shot to beat him.
The winner of the Belmont Stakes will be making his first start since that big win 11 weeks ago. He is one of only two horses in the field coming into the Travers off a layoff. Will that strategy work for the son of Arrogate?
It’s possible, but I would have rather seen a prep for him, unlike National Treasure. The difference is that he is a big late runner, while the other colt is a speed horse, who should be fresh for the test.
Regardless, this is a very good colt for trainer Jena Antonucci, who peaked on Belmont Stakes Day. If he can reproduce that effort, he could win again. He is a threat.
Trained by Gustavo Delgado, this son of Good Magic has been running against nothing but the best since breaking his maiden at first asking. His only graded stakes win came in the big one, the Kentucky Derby at 10 furlongs.
Pointed for the Travers, as he was for the Derby, he should be ready to show his best after a good prep in the Haskell. He has the type of turn of foot to be able to forge to the lead early in the stretch and then will be tough to beat.
I believe the odds will be attractive on Saturday as no better than the third choice, and I do believe that he is primed and ready to run a big race here. Will that be good enough? We shall see. He is the top pick.
The winner of the Preakness didn’t fare as well in the Belmont when he faded to sixth, but now given more time between races and training well for Bob Baffert out in California, he will likely be a sharper horse for this test.
There is still much for him to hold off on Saturday, and he is not one of my top picks here, but quality speed is always dangerous.
If he can slow the pace down early with Johnny Velazquez in the saddle, he will become a tough horse to get by down the Saratoga stretch. He is a threat once again.
Although he has only once twice in eight career starts, this graded stakes winner continues to run solid races for trainer Steve Asmussen.
While it is true that he has never before gotten over the hump in a really big race, his performances are good enough to believe that the son of Gun Runner will at some point.
The 10-furlong distance should be right up his alley, and he also has run well over the track. I like a few others better, but he cannot be discounted.
A two-time graded stakes winner earlier this year for trainer Todd Pletcher, this son of Tapit has been a bit disappointing in his last three.
Out of the money finishes in the Kentucky Derby and Haskell sandwich a good effort when third in the Belmont. He lacks much early speed which could put him at a disadvantage when the real running begins.
At his best, he certainly could get a share on Saturday, but in a race with seven very good horses, he looks to be one of the least likely winners of the Travers.
This late-developing son of Good Magic could be the wildcard of the Travers. With three wins and a narrow miss in four career starts, he has been moving up the class ladder for trainer Bill Mott.
This will be a major move up for the chestnut gelding, but in his last two starts, he defeated the horses who ran 1-2 in this week’s Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx.
Most recently, he was a strong winner of the Curlin Stakes over the track, defeating Il Miracolo and Blazing Sevens. Before that, he defeated Cagliostro in a Churchill Downs allowance race. The odds should be good here and I will use him in the exotics.
Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
Email: [email protected]
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