The Travers Stakes is a better betting race than the Kentucky Derby. Yeah, I said it. Let me see if I have this straight: Creator, Destin, Governor Malibu and Gun Runner are all 10-1 or better? Seriously, this is the closest thing to nirvana that the oddsmakers of any horse race can produce.
So, let’s just leave it at, I’m excited about this race especially given the recent history that the “longshots” come in, often. This is my kind of Spa.
Here’s the field for the Travers Stakes, which will be televised on NBC with live coverage beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday from Saratoga Race Course:
1. Arrogate: He’s been a massive favorite in the four races he’s run in, but none came in this class. So this is a big jump at a testing distance against a field that has some odds that don’t feel right. No thanks.
2. American Freedom: I loved him until I started seeing the depth and odds of the rest of the field, and then I talked myself out of loving him. He’s strong, as evidenced by his leading the pack into the stretch at the Haskell before being caught by mud master Exaggerator. Assuming no rain, he’s dangerous.
3. My Man Sam: One race since his shot in the Kentucky Derby and it was an $85,000 allowance … and he lost. Not awe inspiring. And they switched jockeys to Manny Franco. He’s a wild card but not the one I’d assume will be there in the end.
4. Governor Malibu: The 1 ½-mile at the Belmont Stakes was a little too long. He’s a comer in the 1 1/8-mile races so maybe, just maybe a mile and a quarter is the ticket. His 12-1 number on the morning line is beyond enticing.
5. Forever d’Oro: Stepped up in the Belmont Stakes and stepped back in a $100,000 race at Saratoga. In both instances, he showed he’s not of this caliber. Bye.
6. Anaximandros: What does that name mean? Wait, don’t bother telling me. I don’t care. Blown out in the West Virginia Derby and an unknown jockey is riding him. Let’s move on.
7. Exaggerator: Is it going to rain? If it is, forgetaboutit. But on a fast main track, he’s mortal.
8. Destin: 10-1? Really? He’s only run once since the Triple Crown races, which is interesting. So, is he in top form? I don’t know; but if he is, Destin is another enticing option.
9. Gift Box: This field is too deep for him. Gun Runner opens as a double-digit longshot. What chance does this guy have? I’m guessing he gets swallowed up by the pack of contenders.
10. Connect: So why is he 4-1 and Belmont Stakes winner Creator 15-1? Now, he did already beat a couple in this field at this track in the Curlin Stakes, but those he beat were not exactly contenders here either. If he goes right to the front, he’ll get caught.
11. Majesto: He was a complete no show in his big spots. Nothing in his workouts says he is back. So, I’m going with he loses by 15 lengths.
12. Creator: 15-1? Really? It’s the clunker in the Jim Dandy that led to that level of disrespect. He won the Belmont right? Truth is, if there is a perfect pace setup, he might win. If there isn’t, he won’t. Maybe the oddsmakers are on the right side of this one.
13. Laoban: Well, he woke up from the great slumber, eh? So, is it Jose Ortiz who knows how to ride him or is this a case of a squirrel finding a nut.
14. Gun Runner: He’s my favorite horse of 2016: moxie and heart. He hung tough at the Kentucky Derby despite everyone poo-pooing his presence. Now, his last race was a complete debacle, so I’m hoping here he isn’t on the wrong side of his best form. The other issue is the outside post. We just don’t know how he’ll fare from here.
The pick: I love the odds given, so I’ll take them with Governor Malibu and Gun Runner. I have some apprehensions about Gun Runner but only with his post position. Give me 10-1 or better all day on Triple Crown contenders.
The Full Milty — Trifecta Box: American Freedom, My Man Sam, Governor Malibu, Exaggerator, Destin, Connect, Creator, Gun Runner