One of the biggest races of the summer horse racing season takes place this Saturday at Saratoga Race Course with the running of the Grade 1 Travers Stakes for three-year old thoroughbreds. This is just one of seven graded stakes events on that day’s race card at this popular upstate New York track.
Saratoga Race Course’s Saturday Card
To get horse bettors ready for Saturday’s extravaganza of action, Thursday’s card at Saratoga features the Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Cup with a total prize purse of $150,000. This specialty graded event is contested on the turf track at an extended distance of 19 furlongs.
Saturday’s card at that track features a seven furlong sprint in the $600,000 Grade 1 Forgo Stakes for three-year thoroughbreds and older. There is the Grade 1 Kettle One Ballerina Stakes at that same distance for three-year and older fillies and mares. The total prize purse for that race is $500,000.
Older horses four and up will try their hand at winning this year’s Grade 1 Sword Dancer Stakes with a total prize purse of $850,000. This race will be contested on the turf at Saratoga over 12 furlongs or 1 ½ miles.
This all leads up to the running of the 2019 Runhappy Travers Stakes with a total prize purse of $1.25 million. This is one of richest races outside the Triple Crown racing series and the annual Breeders’ Cup. This Grade 1 event will be contested on the dirt covering a distance of 1 ¼ miles.
The early field points to 12 entries listed as probable by Horse Racing Nation. Top trainers such as Dale Romans, Steve Asmussen and Chad Brown are expected to have one of their top three-year old’s in the field.
The highest-rated horse at HRN listed as probable is trainer William Mott’s Tacitus at 8.41. This Kentucky-bred colt took third in the Kentucky Derby and second in this year’s Belmont Stakes. More recently, the son of Tapit was second at Saratoga behind Tax in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.
Trainer Danny Gargan does have Tax listed as probable for Saturday’s Travers following that win at the end of July. This three-year old Kentucky-bred gelding covered the winning run in the Jim Dandy at 1:49.28. He was fourth in the Belmont Stakes his previous time out.
Another one of the top contenders for Saturday’s main event is trainer Claude ‘Shug’ McGaughey’s Code of Honor. Rated at 8.02 by HRN, this sire of Noble Mission won the Grade 3 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park on July 6 at a distance of one mile on the dirt track. He was second in the Kentucky Derby behind Country House in his only appearance in the Triple Crown racing series.
Del Mar’s Pat O’Brien Stakes
The featured event on Saturday’s race card at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien Stakes. With a total purse of $200,000, this race for three-year old thoroughbreds and up will be contested on the dirt track at a distance of seven furlongs. HRN’s early listing has trainer John Sadler’s Catalina Cruiser as one to watch.
This five-year old Kentucky-bred horse is a sire of Union Rags. Earlier this summer at Del Mar on July 20, he won the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap on the dirt at a distance of 1 1/16 miles. He has now won six of his last seven events, including a trio of victories at Del Mar.