Travers Stakes Draws Top 3-Year-Old Horses To Saratoga

The race Saturday has been long-awaited, the 154th running of the Travers Stakes. Its race #12 at Saratoga with a projected post of 6:11 pm Eastern time. The race will be run at 10 furlongs (or 1 ¼ miles) and will be carried by Fox Sports.

For the Saratoga people, the race known as the Mid-Summer Derby is the highlight of their season. Do you want tradition? The Travers began in 1864, the same year Grant took control of the Union armies.

It seems we have been waiting all year for Saturday’s clash of champions. This year’s crop of 3-year olds is the strongest we have seen in some time. For the first time since 2017, the Travers will include the winners of all three Triple Crown races competing together. The Derby winner, the Preakness winner and the Belmont winner are all in the field, and none of those horses are favored on the morning line.

Important horse betting information

Your basic bets are win, place and show. Win bets pay first place only, place bets pay first and second, and show bets pay first, second and third. You can also play exactas (pick the top two horses), trifectas (top three) and superfectas (top four).

If you’re not at the track, you can bet on NY horse racing from anywhere. FanDuel Racing has a platform where you can watch and wager on horse racing from all over the world. Currently, FanDuel Racing is offering a No Sweat Win Bet for new customers.

2023 Travers Stakes field

#1: Forte

  • Morning line odds: 7/5
  • Trainer: Todd Pletcher
  • Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr.

In the opinion of this writer, Forte should have been disqualified in the Jim Dandy. I thought he fouled another horse multiple times during the stretch run, but the stewards disagreed. As Nimitz wired to Admiral Halsey at Leyte Gulf, the world wonders.

Forte is the 2-year old champion and is a deserving favorite. If the track is wet Saturday, the odds on Forte, a proven mudder, may drop to 6/5 or lower. Even though he’s talented, I’ll pass at that price.

#2: Arcangelo

  • Morning line odds: 5/2
  • Trainer: Jena Antonucci
  • Jockey: Javier Castellano

He’s lightly-raced, but one of his prior efforts was a win in the 12-furlong Belmont Stakes (where I had him at odds of nearly 8-1). Jockey Javier Castellano has won this race six times. I’m going with him, but I hope the odds improve. 5/2 seems wrong, especially with so many big guns in this field.

#3: Tapit Trice

  • Morning line odds: 12-1
  • Trainer: Todd Pletcher
  • Jockey: Jose Ortiz

He’s broken many hearts this season after winning the Blue Grass in April. He’s flopped in his last three, although one of those was a third-place finish in the Belmont. The 12-1 odds are tempting, but I’m not buying.

#4: Mage

  • Morning line odds: 4-1
  • Trainer: Gustavo Delgado
  • Jockey: Flavien Prat

The underdog Kentucky Derby winner hinted at his potential when he was second behind Forte in the Florida Derby. He was third in the Preakness and second in the Haskell. He looks ready, but I can only pick one winner in this spot, and it’s not him.

#5: National Treasure

  • Morning line odds: 8-1
  • Trainer: Bob Baffert
  • Jockey: John Velazquez

He won the Preakness, but that was a weak group, with only Mage returning from the Kentucky Derby two weeks prior. Baffert will likely instruct Velazquez to go early and try to hold on. That worked at Pimlico. I don’t think it works here.

#6: Disarm

  • Morning line odds: 8-1
  • Trainer: Steve Asmussen
  • Jockey: Joel Rosario

Disarm’s last two races were in the slop, including a fourth-place finish behind Mage in the Kentucky Derby. He adds blinkers and has a good pedigree, but he’s not for me.

#7: Scotland

  • Morning line odds: 12-1
  • Trainer: Bill Mott
  • Jockey: Junior Alvarado

He’s lightly-raced, but put forth an impressive performance in wiring the field in the Curlin Stakes here earlier this summer. He has the indications of a late bloomer, and I’ve got a soft spot for Mott. I’m betting him somewhere.

My 2023 Travers Stakes betting strategy

These are my Travers wagers:

  • $50 to win: #2 Arcangelo
  • $10 to win: #7 Scotland
  • $20 to place: #7 Scotland
  • $5 exacta box: 1-7

More about Saratoga Race Course

If you have never been to Saratoga Race Course, then go. It’s a bucket list thing and not far away as the crow flies. Sports Illustrated rated Saratoga as amongst the top ten sporting venues worldwide. To see the place, walk the grounds, and absorb the racing atmosphere, will be an experience you will never forget. It’s that special.

The track has also been called the “Graveyard of Champions” for good reason. The great Man o’ War suffered his only defeat here in 21 starts. Appropriately, he lost to a pony named Upset. Other greats who have suffered defeat here include Gallant Fox, Secretariat (multiple times) and recent Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

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