Saratoga Weekend Preview – Travers Day


In 2015, “the horse of a lifetime” wore his triple crown into the Travers Stakes and took on a colt who would go on – however briefly – to be considered one of the best in the world.  And neither of them won the race.

In 2016, an invader from the west bursted onto the scene and began a run paralleled in recent years only by the long-awaited, three-race stretch authored the previous spring.

Things have changed.

There’s no American Pharoah in the field this year.  There’s no Arrogate either.  There may not even be a Keen Ice.  In a weak year for 3-year-old colts, the Travers isn’t what it has been in recent years.

Luckily, the rest of the day has everything a horse player needs.

Race 1: 2-8-1

Race 2: 9-3-8

Race 3: 10-9-8-5

Race 4: 9-4-8

Race 5: 1-8-4-10

In a race with some decent speed, I’m taking a shot with a horse dropping out of graded stakes competition and into a more comfortable position – a position in which he’s 2-for-4 with no finishes worse than fourth.

Race 6: 2-3-4

Race 7: 5-3-2

Watch the stretch drive of Carina Mia’s last start – and her explosion at each crack of the whip – and tell me why I shouldn’t bet on her.

Race 8: 9-1-7

Practical Joke is finally running the distance he was meant to run, but he’s drawn a dominant American Anthem who has the benefit of being the lone speed in this race.

Race 9: 10-6-4

Race 10: 7-5-3

If Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore come to the U.S., chances are I’m picking them to win. If they come and it’s not for the Breeders’ Cup, I am absolutely picking them to win.

Race 11: 3-5-4-6

If you’re confident in a Travers horse, you’re wrong.  On paper, none of them – not the Derby winner, nor the Preakness winner, nor the Belmont winner, incredibly – are particularly impressive.  Perhaps because none of them are particularly good. The race sets up best for Always Dreaming, but the Todd Pletcher colt got a perfect trip three weeks ago in the Jim Dandy and folded.  Tapwrit and Girvin’s best races could win, but neither can be trusted to show up with them on Saturday.  The best bet may be Good Samaritan, who is 5/1 after closing into a soft pace to win that Jim Dandy in his dirt debut.  If his form improves with some experience on the surface, he could certainly be there in the end.  But for a winner, I’m looking to the trainer that took last year’s Travers.  West Coast comes east with four wins in six starts, including a score at Belmont in June. He has the ability to rate or sit close, and with Mike Smith in the irons, you’re always live.

Race 12: 1-6-5

Race 13: 1-4-12-8

Author: Joseph White

Joe Bianchino is a writer, producer, and radio host located in upstate New York. He is a life-long New York sport fan, Chelsea supporter, and Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter @JoeBNTS. Email him at