Some top contenders from this year’s Triple Crown racing series are expected to be in the summer racing season takes place at Saratoga Race Course with the running of the 2016 Travers Stakes.
It will be a full day of racing at Saratoga with a number of events having a direct impact on the field for several races in this year's Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita Park in early November, but race fans will still be focusing most of their attention on the strong field of three-year-olds lining up to compete in this year's Travers. I have done my best to break down this field to come up with my top trifecta play for this event.
2016 Travers Stakes- Saratoga Race Course
The Travers is a Grade 1 stakes race with a total prize purse of $1.25 million. Some of the top three-year-old thoroughbreds in the nation will compete for this prestigious title on the dirt track at Saratoga over a distance of 1 ¼ miles.
The post positions are in place and the morning line betting odds have been released for the crowded 14-horse field for Saturday's main event at Saratoga and I am going with Connect as my top pick to win. This three-year-old Kentucky-bred colt will break from the 10th post as a 4/1 second-favorite to win. Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by jockey John Velazquez, his biggest victory to date came in the ungraded Curlin Stakes at Saratoga on July 29 over a distance of 1 1/8 miles. This follows a pair of victories at Belmont earlier this summer in non-stakes events.
Connect is a relative unknown as a three-year-old given his late start to this racing season, but as a pedigree of racing great Curlin, he is poised for a coming out party this Saturday at Saratoga.
The top favorite to win this race at 3/1 odds is Exaggerator breaking out of the No. 7 post, but I am going with this three-year-old Kentucky-bred colt as my second choice. He has been nothing short of spectacular this season with victories in the Preakness Stakes and more recently the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in late July behind trainer Keith Desormeaux and jockey Kent Desormeaux. My only concern for this Saturday is the relatively short time between his last race along with the fact that also ran all three Triple Crown events.
This could be Exaggerator's race to lose with the highest Horse Racing Nation rank in the field at No. 9 and a lofty rating of 8.57, but sometimes you get a feeling when a horse may not be at his best for a big race like this.
Rounding out my trifecta pick for the 2016 Travers is American Freedom breaking from the second post at 6/1 odds. He recently finished second to Exaggerator in the Haskell Invitational after winning the Grade 3 Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows on July 1 over a distance of 1 1/16 miles. Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by jockey Rafael Bejarano, he also posted a victory this season in the ungraded Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico on May 21 over that same distance. In five career races dating back to when he was a juvenile, he has been able to finish in the money in four of those events.
This three-year-old Kentucky-bred colt comes into this race ranked No. 39 by HRN with a rating of 8.29, which are both the third-best numbers in this deep field of contenders.