Travers Stakes Preview

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The 2011 Travers Stakes is for three-year-olds going 1 ¼ miles on the dirt at Saratoga. The race was first contested in 1864 which makes it 11 years older than the Kentucky Derby. Its nickname is the Midsummer Derby.

Horses exiting one or more of the Triple Crown races tend to fare well in this spot. In fact, minus last year’s winner, bettors would have to go all the way back to 1998 to find a Travers winner that didn’t compete in the Triple Crown.

Todd Pletcher and Mike Repole’s son of Bernardini, Stay Thirsty, is the 5-2 morning line favorite. He is exiting a dominate Four length win in the Jim Dandy Stakes over this track and before that was beaten just ¾ of a length in the Belmont Stakes. JJ Castellano gets the call to ride.

Coil, winner of the Haskell Invitational, is the 3-1 second choice. Three time Kentucky Derby winning trainer and 2001 Travers winning trainer Bob Baffert joked that the colt set off an earthquake with his last work which was a very sharp Four furlong move in :46 B. Coil’s sire and grandsire both won the Travers. Baffert and company will hope it’s something in the blood. Martin Garcia will be in the irons.

Preakness winner Shackleford will have no shortage of backers at the generous price of 9-2. The speedster has an ideal post position on the outside and appears to be the only speed in the race. The primary question for him is the distance. He did go nearly as far when winning the Preakness and was only defeated 3 lengths in the Kentucky Derby. Jesus Castanon is set to pilot the Dale Romans trained colt.

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott brings the lightly raced, but immensely talented Raison d’Etat. He broke his maiden by a widening 7 ¾ lengths two back before finishing second in the Curlin Stakes where he chased a lone speed horse and shied when the jock went to the whip. That was his first try going two turns and he should move way up this time. His momma, Sightseek, was a multiple Grade 1 winner who earned $2,445,216. Eddie Castro will ride this Juddmonte colt for the third time.

There will be multiple millions of dollars wagered at Saratoga on Saturday and the chance for a big Scoreclearly exists.


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