Saturday’s $1.25 million Travers (G1) at Saratoga contains no shortage of contenders, with Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit installed as a slight 7-2 favorite and eight of the 12 runners listed at 12-1 or less on the morning line, and the 148th running of the Midsummer Derby plays a pivotal role in a wide-open divisional race this year.
One of seven stakes on a terrific 13-race program, the the 1 ¼-mile Travers features three Triple Crown race winners for the first time since 1982. Tapwrit will make his first start since capturing the final leg of the Triple Crown and is one of two entrants for Todd Pletcher. Jose Ortiz rides the Tapit colt.
Pletcher also will send out Kentucky Derby victor Always Dreaming, who finished third in the Jim Dandy (G2) earlier in the meet. The son of Bodemeister promises to show speed with regular rider John Velazquez and is the 6-1 co-fourth choice on oddsmaker Travis Stone’s morning line.
Preakness winner Cloud Computing will break from the rail with Javier Castellano, the all-time leading Travers jockey with five wins. By Maclean’s Music, Chad Brown-trained colt must rebound from a last-of-five effort in the Jim Dandy and has been pegged at 8-1.
West Coast, a rising star in the 3-year-old ranks, is the 4-1 second choice. An unraced juvenile, the lightly-raced Flatter colt jumped has reeled off three straight wins for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who saddled a stakes-debuting Arrogate to an 11-1 upset in last year’s Travers. West Coast exits a 2 ¾-length victory in the Los Alamitos Derby (G3) and will be ridden by Mike Smith.
Good Samaritan comes next at 5-1 after romping by 4 ¾ lengths in the Jim Dandy. That marked the first dirt start for the Bill Mott trainee, who also registered a career-best 102 BRIS Speed Rating, and the Harlan’s Holiday colt will be running late with Joel Rosario.
Winner of the TwinSpires Louisiana Derby (G2) and Risen Star (G2) earlier this year, Girvin elevated his profile by posting a minor upset in the Haskell Invitational (G1) on July 30. The Tale of Ekati colt appears to be peaking for trainer Joe Sharp and it will be interesting to see how he handles the 10-furlong distance. The dark bay is an early 10-1 with Robby Albarado.
Irap rates as an intriguing 8-1 on the morning line. Winless in his first seven starts, the son of Tiznow became the first maiden to win the Blue Grass (G2) when posting a 31-1 upset. He followed with a troubled unplaced effort in the Kentucky Derby and the bay colt is hitting his best stride presently, edging Girvin in the Ohio Derby (G3) before dominating the Indiana Derby (G3). Irap earned BRIS Speed numbers of 109 and 102 for those efforts and Mario Gutierrez has the reins.
McCraken is well-known to Thoroughbred racing fans after being prominent on the Kentucky Derby trail earlier this year and the 12-1 Ghostzapper colt will try to move forward off a close second in the Haskell. Brian Hernandez Jr. has the call for Ian Wilkes.
Jim Dandy runner-up Giuseppe the Great and Grade 2 winner Gunnevera are rated at 20-1. A pair of 30-1 outsiders, Fayeq and Lookin at Lee, complete the field.