The 2020 Travers Stakes

The $1 million dollar Grade 1 Travers Stakes 2020 installment was moved up-  three weeks earlier than usual in the COVID-19 adjusted racing calendar.

This years race runs a month ahead of the Kentucky Derby.  In doing so, the Mid-Summer Derby became an official prep race for the Run for Roses with qualifying points to the top four finishers (100-40-20-10).

TIZ THE LAW was named the 1-1 Morning Line favorite in the field of eight 3-year-olds, who will face the challenge of a 1 1/4-mile distance for the first time in their careers.

Here then is a closer look at the field for the 151st Travers.  It is race 11 on a card of 12 with a scheduled Post Time of 6:15.

1.  FIRST LINE  [ML 30-1]  Trainer: Orlando Noda.  Jockey: David Cohen.  Reportedly, owner/trainer Noda has been saying that this guy was a Kentucky Derby horse all year long.  It took four starts for him to break his Maiden, which he did at Saratoga just 10 days ago by a neck going a mile and an eighth.  This is an enormous step up in class.
2.  COUNTRY GRAMMER  [ML 6-1]  Trainer: Chad Brown.  Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. The son of TONALIST sold as a yearling for $60,000 dollars.  He broke his Maiden at Aqueduct in November in his 2nd start as a juvenile.  In the Fountain of Youth (G2), he lost footing and raced wide to finish 5th and then was 3rd in a Belmont Allowance race.  In the Peter Pan Stakes, he rallied up the rail to Win by a neck.
3.  UNCLE CHUCK  [ML 5-2]  Trainer: Bob Baffert.  Jockey: Luis Saez.  The Baff brings this very lightly raced guy to Saratoga to face a serious test on the Kentucky Derby trail.  He Won his debut in June by seven lengths in a field of five at Santa Anita Park.  No doubt that he will take his shot in the Travers as part of the early pace.  We have seen Baffert bring various horses to Saratoga which then seem to run beyond expectations.
4.  MAX PLAYER  [ML 6-1]  Trainer: Linda Rice.  Jockey: Joel Rosario.  He began his career at Parx Racing, where he broke his Maiden on a sloppy track by more than four lengths in December.  He became a Kentucky Derby contender when he Won the Withers (G3) with a late rally at Aqueduct on February 1st.  Due to the pandemic he had to wait more than four months to find another suitable race.  In the nine-furlong Belmont Stakes (G1), he closed from 9th place to finish 3rd after a wide trip.  He should appreciate the added distance in the Travers.
5.  SHIVAREE  [ML 30-1]  Trainer: Ralph Nicks.  Jockey: Junior Alvarado.This Florida-bred made his first 11 starts at the Gulfstream Park racetracks, where he Won two listed Stakes races and was 2nd in the Swale (G3) and the Hutcheson, all while sprinting.  He then was 2nd in the Florida Derby (G1) behind TIZ THE LAW while stretching out to a mile and an eighth for the first time.  In his first start away from home, he flashed his usual early foot speed, but then faded badly in the Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland.  Him going 10 furlongs at Saratoga is like a box of chocolates.
6.  TIZ THE LAW  [ML 1-1]  Trainer: Barclay Tagg.  Jockey Manny Franco. The top-ranked 3-year-old all year long.  He has the most Wins and the most earnings in this field.  He has three Grade 1 Victories and the only blemish to his record came on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs last year.  All five of his Wins were by margins of three or four lengths.  His stalk and pounce running style fits and makes him a formidable favorite in the Travers.      
7.  CARACARO  [ML 10-1]  Trainer: Gustavo Delgado.  Jockey: Javier Castellano. This very lightly raced son of UNCLE MO made a big jump from a Maiden special weight score at Gulfstream Park in January to a narrow defeat in the Peter Pan (G3) at Saratoga last month.  In the Peter Pan, he took the lead in the stretch after stalking the early pace and after some bumping was defeated by COUNTRY GRAMMER.  He has stayed in New York to prepare for the Travers.
8.  SOUTH BEND  [ML 15-1]  Trainer: Bill Mott.  Jockey: Jose Ortiz.  He Won the first two races of his career as a 2-year-old, including the Street Sense at Churchill Downs, but he has not found the Winner’s circle since then, while racing strictly against stakes company.  He was switched to turf for five starts, where again he was a contender in most of his races.  He was back on the dirt in the recent Ohio Derby (G3), where he rallied from 10th to miss the Win by less than a length against a field of 13.

Summary: The Travers Stakes will be the first time that these 3-year-olds face the daunting challenge of going a mile and a quarter and it is going to happen on the deep racing surface at Saratoga.

The question for horse-players to consider is which of these horses has a chance of having any run left in the final furlong?

It appears that there are four horses here that can get the distance.  Don’t doubt that #6 TIZ THE LAW can handle the 1.4 and that alone makes him the horse to beat.

#3 UNCLE CHUCK comes to Saratoga with so much hype and potential and when trainer Bob Baffert brings them to The Spa more times than not they are ready to run.

#4 MAX PLAYER finished the Belmont Stakes full of run and looks like the extra furlong will be to his liking.

#2 COUNTRY GRAMMER, who is a son of the 2014 Belmont Stakes Winner TONALIST, has the breeding for this distance.

The Play:  In multi-race wagers you can probably single #6 and still have yourself a decent ticket provided you have value odds on either side of him in Pick 3’s and 4’s.

Otherwise in the race itself the Daily Racing Blog will not accept wagering on a Morning Line 1-1 TIZ THE LAW.  We will use the #2 and 4 on top of a Trifecta Key using the #3-6-7-8 underneath.  The ticket will read: 2-4 with 2-3-4-6-7-8 with 2-3-4-6-7-8.

Best of luck no matter how you play it.


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