By Bob Bauer
NOTE--Scheduled post is 5:44 p.m. for today's Travers (Grade 1) at Saratoga.
This year’s renewal of the of the historic Travers will showcase one of the most competitive groups to be found, outside of the Breeders’ Cup.
Not only does it feature all three winners of the Triple Crown races, there are at least a half-dozen other contenders capable of upsetting the twelve-horse field.
The last time a similar scenario occurred was in 1982. Canadian shipper Runaway Groom shocked the racing world by beating Derby winner Gato del Sol, Preakness victor Aloma’s Ruler and Belmont champ Conquistador Cielo.
We have seen in past seasons that good spring time form doesn’t always mean success at Saratoga in August.
Picks 1 to 4
Here are four runners that appear to have the most going for them this Saturday, listed in order of preference. However, anyone of these (and others) could take it all.
Good luck, enjoy what should be a great race!
5 GOOD SAMARITAN 5/1 Can’t look past this one’s 4 ¾ length romp in the Jim Dandy, the traditional Travers prep. This son of Harlan’s Holiday’s future should be bright as a dirt horse.
All he did in his main track debut was score a daylight win over a pair of Triple Crown race winners (Derby & Preakness) and register a Grade II victory. A repeat of this performance could put him right back in the Saratoga winner’s circle.
Any improvement and the rest will be running for place. Bill Mott, Saratoga’s leading trainer in several past seasons, stated earlier this week “I wouldn’t trade places with anyone” when asked about Good Samaritan’s chances.
Veteran jockey Joel Rosario, his only rider, will be in the irons and they should get some pace to close into.
4 TAPWRIT 7/2 Ran the race of his life while taking the Belmont on June 10th, and earned the best last-out Brisnet figure in this field. Has been rested for eleven weeks (runs well fresh) and has five local works for world-class conditioner Todd Pletcher, currently winning at 29% at Saratoga, one of the world’s toughest race meetings.
A grey son of Tapit, he has had the best results when pressing the pace from a few lengths off the lead. This tactic worked in the Belmont where he broke alertly and was fourth, only 2 lengths off the lead at the first call. He maintained that margin and slowly moved up. As a result, he was in a perfect spot to go after the leader in the stretch. He could get a similar trip here, as his stablemate, Always Dreaming will be one of the pace makers.
6 GIRVIN 10/1 Here is a hard-hitting longshot that could be a spoiler. Has 4 wins from 5 tries on fast tracks and was a 9/1 upset winner of the Grade I Haskell on July 30 at Monmouth. It is noteworthy that he broke last in a field of seven and made up nine lengths on a track that was said to be favoring speed, and got up by a nose. In prior outings he has exhibited a versatile running style, able to attend the pace or rate and run late. This could serve him well in here, he could get first run when they turn for home. Joe Sharp has 20% repeat wins with his stock, winning rider Robby Albarado retains the mount. Worked a “bullet” 5 furlongs in 59.4 Breezing on August 19.
10 IRAP 8/1 Irap, a son of Tiznow, has acted like a different horse since trainer Doug O’Neil took the blinkers off for the Keeneland’s Blue Grass Stakes on April 8. The result was a wake-up win at 31/1. Since then he has had success in 2 of 3 Graded Stakes attempts. His only hiccup was the Kentucky Derby where he had a rough trip in the slop, which is a throw out. After the Derby debacle, he was freshened for 6 weeks and then captured the Grade III Ohio Derby (and beat Girvin by a nose, his only dirt loss). Last time out he earned a 5 length tally in the Indiana Derby, also Grade III. Might be this good, has never run on the east coast.
5 GOOD SAMARITAN- WIN
4, 5, 6, EXACTA BOX
4,5,6,10 TRIFECTA BOX