Saratoga Race Course's "graveyard of favorites" angle doesn't apply to the 148th Travers Stakes.
But with the male 3-year-old division wide open. the "Mid-Summer Derby" in upstate New York gets the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes winners on the same stage Saturday. It's the first such meeting in the Travers since 1982, when Canadian-bred Runaway Groom upset a field with Gato Del Sol, Aloma's Ruler and 2-5 favorite Conquistador Cielo.
Spring form didn't hold up either in 1918 when Sun Briar, the previous year's male juvenile champion, defeated Belmont winner Johren, Preakness hero War Cloud and Derby winner Exterminator in the Travers.
Idle since his June 10 Belmont triumph, Tapwrit is the early 7-2 favorite for the Grade 1 Travers, worth $1.25 million. Derby winner Always Dreaming, who like Tapwrit is trained by Todd Pletcher, is 6-1 on the morning line while Preakness winner Cloud Computing is 8-1 in a 12-horse field.
Always Dreaming and Cloud Computing look to regain stature in the division after finishing third and last of five, respectively, in Saratoga's Grade 2 Jim Dandy July 29. Good Samaritan, switching from turf to dirt, won the Jim Dandy, which at a mile and an eighth is a quarter mile shorter than the 10-furlong Travers.
"You got horses from everywhere (in the Travers), all the best," said Bill Mott, Hall of Fame trainer of Good Samaritan. "You got the Derby winner, the Preakness winner, the Belmont, you've got everybody. It shaped up to be a really good field. So now, we've got to go out there and run our race."
Other contenders include Girvin and McCraken, whom Girvin beat by a nose in Monmouth Park's July 30 Grade 1 Haskell Invitational. Irap, a maiden winner of Keeneland's Grade 2 Blue Grass in April, comes off consecutive Grade 3 victories on the Midwest circuit. Lookin At Lee, Kentucky Derby runner-up and third in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, seeks a breakthrough win for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.
Completing the field are the Bob Baffert-trained West Coast, Jim Dandy runner-up Giuseppe the Great, last-out stakes winner Gunnevera and Saratoga winner Fayeq, a half-brother to Hall of Fame mare Rachel Alexandra making her stakes debut for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
The most conspicuous no-show is Arkansas Derby winner and reigning 2-year-old champion Classic Empire, who has been off since tiring and placing second in the Preakness May 20. Trainer Mark Casse has mentioned a September return in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby for the Pioneerof the Nile colt, whose 3-year-old season has been filled with setbacks.Sports on 08/23/2017
Print Headline: Belmont winner early choice in Travers