This thoroughbred horse racing season has been one heck of a ride for trainer Bob Baffert and his Triple Crown Champion American Pharoah with a perfect 6-0 record as a three-year old. This duo with jockey Victor Espinosa once again along for the ride will put that winning streak on the line at Saratoga Race Course this Saturday in this year’s Travers Stakes.
The Travers is a Grade 1 stakes race for three-year old thoroughbreds with a total prize purse of $1.25 million. Also known at Saratoga as the Midsummer Derby, this race will be contested on dirt over a distance of 1 ¼ miles.
Horse Racing Nation’s early morning line has American Pharoah listed as a prohibitive 1/5 odds-on-favorite to keep his winning streak alive, but the following is a closer look at a few horses to watch in this Saturday’s race as they try and defy the odds by pulling off the improbable upset.
This three-year colt probably has the best chance of any horse in Saturday’s expected field of 10 to pull off the upset. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, he first gained notoriety with a victory in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 4. He went on to finish fourth in the Kentucky Derby before finishing second to American Pharoah in the Belmont Stakes. In Frosted’s last outing in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes on Aug. 1 at Saratoga he once again finished in the money with another second-place run.
Texas Red 8/1
If you are looking for a contender with a bullet then you might want to take a closer look at this three-year old colt. Texas Red did not run in any of the Triple Crown races this season, but he comes in as a third-favorite for Saturday’s race because of his recent form. Following a second-place run in the Grade 3 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont on the 4th of July Holiday, he bested the field in the Jim Dandy Stakes to create a home-track advantage for the Travers. Trained by J. Keith Desormeaux, look for jockey Kent Desormeaux to once again get the ride.
Keen Ice 12/1
Trained by Dale Romans, this three-year old colt has run head-to-head against American Pharoah in his last three races. He faded to seventh in the Kentucky Derby, but he remained firmly in the mix with a third-place finish in the Belmont Stakes. Earlier this month he finished second to the Triple Crown Champ in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park. The one thing working against his chances to take the next step is the simple fact that he has yet to win a major stakes race in six runs as a three-year old.
I was really high on this horse heading into this year’s Kentucky Derby following a strong second-place finish in the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 28th, but he went up to bring up the rear in the 18-horse field. In his only outing since then, Upstart bounced back to finish third in the Haskell on Aug. 2. Trained by Richard Violette Jr. and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., his biggest claim to fame as a three-year old was a victory over Frosted in late January in the Grade 2 Holly Bull Stakes at Gulfstream.
146th Travers Stakes Official Pick
I cashed-in on an American Pharoah/Keen Ice exacta in the Triple Crown winner’s 2 ½ length victory in the Haskell, but this time around in order to stretch the betting odds a bit I am going to pair him with Upstart as my exacta pick for this Saturday’s Travers. If you are looking to add a third horse to the mix then I would use Frosted with my sports picks at 5Dimes.