Arriving on Saturday, August 26, 2017 is a Saratoga Super Saturday that will see numerous grade I stakes and several Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and Your In” races. The race card for the day is noted as possibly one of the most talented cards in racing outside of the Breeders’ Cup.
TwinSpires.com has created a FREE tool to help find betting picks, analysis and tips to help map the handicapping landscape for the 2017 Travers Stakes.
Travers Stakes Day Quick Handicapping Overview
by Alastair Bull
Race 7, 2:59PM: BALLERINA STAKES
$500,000, G1, F&M, 7 Furlongs, Dirt
Chad Brown holds a strong hand in this race with recent stable acquisition Carina Mia and with Paulassilverlining, the likely favorite. Since her third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint she’s undefeated in four races, including two grade 1 events. Carina Mia, in her second start for Brown,””is likely to run well again, while there will be support for Curlin’s Approval and Distinta after good runs in Florida, while Highway Star and By the Moon can’t be left out of multiples.
Race 8, 3:35PM: H. ALLEN JERKENS STAKES
$500,000, G1, 3YOs, 7 Furlongs, Dirt
Formerly the King’s Bishop Stakes, this race features Kentucky Derby fifth-place finisher Practical Joke, returning to seven furlongs for the first time since his Hopeful Stakes win on this track. He should face a stiff challenge from American Anthem, unbeaten in three starts under a mile. Amsterdam Stakes (G2) winner Coal Front is also a worthy challenger.
Race 9, 4:12PM: FOREGO STAKES
$600,000, G1, 3YOs & up, 7 Furlongs, Dirt
Champion sprinter Drefong aims to get back on track for 2017 after losing his rider at the start of his seasonal debut, the Bing Crosby Stakes. He returns to the scene of his King’s Bishop Stakes victory last year but will face an in-form Mind Your Biscuits, who since his Breeders’ Cup second-place finish to Drefong has won the Dubai Golden Shaheen and the Belmont Sprint Championship.
Race 10, 4:49PM: SWORD DANCER STAKES
$1,000,000, G1, 3YOs & up, 1 1/2 miles, Turf
Aidan O’Brien has sent Idaho in from Ireland to try to win his first grade 1 race. He hasn’t been much inferior to his older brother Highland Reel, and at his last two starts won the Hardwicke Stakes (G2) and finished third in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1). He faces another tough European rival in the French-trained Erupt, winner of last year’s Canadian International (G1). United Nations Stakes (G1) winner Bigger Picture and 2016 Sword Dancer runner-up Money Multiplier head the home team.
Race 11, 5:44PM: TRAVERS STAKES
$1,250,000, G1, 3YOs, 1 1/4 Miles, Dirt
The big race of the day, and an incredibly open race. It features the first Travers meeting of three Triple Crown race winners (Always Dreaming, Cloud Computing, and Tapwrit) since 1982, but a case can be made for all 12 runners. Punters need to assess which is the best form – the various Triple Crown races, the Jim Dandy, the Haskell Invitational, the Ohio Derby, and the up-and-coming form of West Coast, who aims to break onto the national stage like his stablemate Arrogate did a year ago.
Race 12, 6:20PM: BALLSTON SPA STAKES
$400,000, G2, 1 1/16 Miles, Turf
Star turf mare Lady Eli is likely to start favorite after winning the Gamely Stakes (G1) and the Diana Stakes (G1) at her previous two starts. Lady Eli’s stablemate Antonoe, winner of the Just a Game Stakes (G1), and Dickinson both finished behind the favorite in the Diana Stakes but they again look to be her toughest rivals.
Idaho, Erupt Rematch Enlivens Sword Dancer
by Kellie Reilly
Although Saturday’s Sword Dancer (G1) is by definition important as a “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), the 1 1/2-mile contest wasn’t generating much buzz – until the Europeans arrived. Now thanks to the Aidan O’Brien-trained Idaho and French-based Erupt, the Sword Dancer has suddenly become an intriguing component of Travers Day.
The duo met last fall in the Canadian International (G1), where Erupt lived up to his name with a telling burst of speed from just off a pedestrian pace. Idaho, never in a good tactical position, was a workmanlike fifth.
But there’s ample reason for projecting a better effort from Idaho this time. First, his trip to the Canadian International looked like a back-up plan. His prior race, the St Leger (G1) at Doncaster, was actually his main objective, only he stumbled and unseated his rider as the odds-on favorite. Before that bit of bad luck, Idaho was cruising as though to gallop all over his St Leger rivals. Had he scored a classic victory there, I doubt he’d ever have been on a plane to Woodbine.
Like his full brother Highland Reel, Idaho is improving with maturity, and we arguably haven’t seen the best of him yet. Third in the 2016 Derby (G1) at Epsom, Idaho took a step forward when a close runner-up in the Irish Derby (G1), and he put it all together in style in the Great Voltigeur (G2) before his Doncaster debacle. He’s resumed his progress at four, taking Royal Ascot’s Hardwicke (G2) and finishing third to two of the brightest stars of 2017– Enable and Ulysses – in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth (G1). Idaho beat Highland Reel that day, with an assist from the rain-softened ground, but he’s just as effective on firm. If Idaho stamps his BC ticket here, we might see another round of sibling rivalry versus reigning Turf champ Highland Reel.
Erupt could join fellow Niarchos Family homebred Ulysses, already bound for the Turf, at Del Mar. Although the Francis- Henri Graffard trainee has gone winless since Woodbine, a return to North America could bring out the best in him. Unlike many of Dubawi’s progeny, Erupt requires a quick surface to produce his best. That’s partly why he endured a losing streak after his 2015 Grand Prix de Paris (G1) heroics too. A close fourth in his comeback in the Prix Ganay (G1), he floundered last time when virtually eased in a too-bad-to-be-true Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (G1). The ground wasn’t that much worse than it was in the Ganay, implying something else may have been amiss, but the Spa may be curative.
While neither Idaho nor Erupt has the stature of now-retired champion Flintshire, the winner of the past two editions of the Sword Dancer, their international formlines – Idaho’s current and Erupt’s prior –command respect. The home defense is led by the horse who was a troubled second to Flintshire here last year, Money Multiplier. An honest Grade 1 bridesmaid, Money Multiplier deserves a breakthrough at the highest level, but he’d probably prefer a spot without any internationals.
Saratoga At A Glance For the Current Meet
|AVG. WINNING ODDS: 5.65 – 1|
|FAVORITE WIN%: 32% FAVORITE ITM%: 69%|
|TRACK BIAS WEEK (08/14 – 08/20)|
|Distance||# Race||% Wire||Best Style||Best Posts|
|TRACK BIAS MEET (07/21 – 08/20)|
|Distance||# Race||% Wire||Best Style||Best Posts|
|HOT TRAINERS||Starts||Wins||Place||Show||Avg. Odds||Winning Favorites||‘16-’ 17 Win %|
|Brown Chad C.||25||9||5||4||2.4||8||25%|
|Romans Dale L.||9||3||2||1||6.88||1||15%|
|HOT JOCKEYS||Starts||Wins||Place||Show||Avg. Odds||Winning Favorites||‘16-’ 17 Win %|
|Ortiz Jose L.||43||12||7||8||4.27||6||21%|
|Velazquez John R.||19||5||3||5||4.08||1||20%|
|COLD TRAINERS||Starts||Wins||Place||Show||Avg. Odds||Beaten Favorites||‘16-’ 17 Win %|
|Lukas D. Wayne||12||0||1||0||20.59||2||10%|
|Martin Carlos F.||11||0||0||2||10||2||13%|
|McGaughey III Claude R.||11||0||1||2||9.49||1||17%|
|COLD JOCKEYS||Starts||Wins||Place||Show||Avg. Odds||Beaten Favorites||‘16-’ 17 Win %|
|Reyes Luis R.||15||0||0||2||21.84||0||5%|
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