In a year of oddities, “the Midsummer Derby favorite being a Belmont winner who has never raced beyond 1 1/8 miles and prepping for the Kentucky Derby” is right up there for odd sentences. But that’s 2020, in a word it is odd. But it is all we have. And, in a world full of doubt, dread and uncertainty, we are happy to have “something” of substance in horse racing to grab onto.
The premier race of Saratoga has and always will be the Travers. And this year, unlike a few others in recent memory, we have the clear division leader for 3yos headlining the biggest race of the meet. Tiz the Law rolls into Saratoga on a four race win streak in which he towered over his competition at the finish. A win today would likely make him the biggest Derby favorite in modern memory. But as the Graveyard of Champions has already claimed some victims in 2020, nothing is certain in Saratoga.
Tiz faces a solid field of eight competitiors, including the lightly raced but undefeated Uncle Chuck from the deadly barn of Bob Baffert. Saratoga legend Bill Mott sends out South Bend, who has been knocking heads in this division all year with the nations best three year olds, but is new to the Mott barn after a fast closing second in the Ohio Derby. Ralph Nicks ships in from Florida with the speedy Shivaree, who ran second to Tiz in Florida in the Fountain of Youth. Linda Rice, Orlando Noda and Chad Brown all seek their first Travers. And Gustavo Delgado brings his consistently improving Caracaro to the table.
Although only eight strong, it’s a n interesting field with lots of story lines. And the rest of the card, although not packed with deep fields, has many horses at the front of their division, including: Gamine in the Test; and Come Dancing, Serengenti Empress and Bellafina in the Ballerina.
Here are our picks and plays for the day. Have a great Travers from home everyone
Race 1: no opinion here.
Race 2: 1,6
we like creative style (6) the best, as the 3-1 odds are appealing and like the sprint-route move for this runner, who ran well on the stretch out three back. The straight 1 appears the better half of the entry if he runs, but watch for scratches as Manny Franco is named on both. If 1 scratches, we like a strong win bet on Creative Style
Race 3: 9/8,12/4,5,7
We love turf sprints; always find them to be pretty formful races where horses get ignored for unknown reasons. Although I picked the heavy favorite Light in the Sky (9) on top, she has clearly best numbers and if she runs back to those, she wins. But this is still a great betting race, because after her its wide open. Watch to see if the white hot Christophe Clement scratches in with the 12, who is the clear second choice. If she doesn’t, I like the 8 to run in the money at 8-1. She ran well here last summer, and now turns back from 7f to 5.5f. After that, let the bombs roll with 30-1 Mz Pat Seb (5) for David Donk and Graetz (7) for the Jimmy Bond barn, which is firing on all cylinders. Probably best individual betting race of the day here.
Race 4: 8/2,5,9
Hard race to love on the basis that the condition is haven’t won a race in 2020. But somebody has to win here, and we think it will be Golden Spear (8). He owns a win at Saratoga last summer and should improve second out. Underneath 2 for Tom Morley could get an uncontested lead and the 9 is a nice price play for David Cannizzo who hasn’t run often on the grass but when he has we think he runs his best races. The addition of the en fungo Joel Rosario doesn’t hurt.
Races 5 and 6
Historically, we are awful at 2yo maidens. So we won’t offer picks here. Time to drink a few beers and get amped for the stakes action. But if you need some action, the American Pharaoh sired American Monarch (3) could be fun play out of the Bill Mott barn in the 6th.
Race 7: 4/5,6
Competive 7 horse field. We like Bellafina (4) to get the stalk and pounce trip and run down Serengeti Empress, who we feel has lost a step this year and folds badly when pressured. Under Bella, all three outside horses have a chance, including former Mexican champion Letruska (5). Pink Sands is hit or miss, but one turn sprinting appears to be her best game. Come Dancing is the toughest horse to read in this field. Now 6yo, has she trailed off? Or did she need her first two of the year and will run back to last years form? I think it’s gonna be a play against, but hard leaving her off the ticket in Pick 6s.
Race 8: 7/1,6
Chewing Gum (7) is our best bet of the day. Since turning to turf sprints he’s really taken off this year and is the one horse in the field in th best form of his career. the Favorites Impiris, Pure Sensation and Sheeky Shebbaz all have great back form, but recent races give little confidence. If we get higher than 3-1 on Chewing Gum its abig win bet. Will also try to single in pick threes. Dont sleep on 15-1 pulsate to finish out exact as and tris. shhhhhhhhh. Let’s get that $$$
Race 9: 1,7/3
Mrs Sippy (1) should be tough on return here. But we also like the on,y other runner in the field who has won at today’s 12 furlong distance in fools gold(7) in he event Sippy doesn’t fire off the bench. Also don’t sleep on the 3 at 20-1 to finish in the numbers.
Race 10: 5/1
Not a lot of analysis here. Gamine is better than these. But we do like Up in Smoke (1) at a price to close out the exacta.
Race 11: 6/3,7
We think Tiz takes it and could be a generational talent. But for second at a price we like Caracaro (7) who has improved with every start and could step up again going two turns for the second time. We see him as the best upset chance and if his odds float we might play a win bet here.
Race 12: 7,9/2,3
7 has best numbers in race and is 8-1. 9 ran a great number on turf and if he can run the same on dirt will be tough. Could be a nice little get out race after a possibly chalky day to roll the bankroll into Del Mar tonight
good luck everyone and happy Travers Day!