Saratoga (Adam Coglianese Photography/NYRA)

The $1.25 million Travers (G1) anchors a $1 million guaranteed All-Stakes Pick 4 (Races 8-11) at Saratoga, and the same sequence last year featured a pair of winning favorites and a $231.25 return for the 50-cent Pick 4. I’m optimistic for a better payout on Saturday.

My strategy involves multiple tickets with different singles.

FREE Travers Stakes PPs courtesy of Brisnet.com!

Race 8 – Ballerina (G1)

Little separates the top contenders on the morning line and I’m tabbing an upset with Cairenn (#4), who is listed at 15-1 on the morning line and starting to discover her best form for Graham Motion. After placing in her first graded attempt in June, the four-year-old filly continued to show more in her last two outings, including a fine second in the August 1 Shine Again. I thought she lost her momentum when swinging too wide into the stretch last time, and by the time Jose Ortiz got her focus back in deep stretch, it was too late to catch the winner. But I still liked the late kick Cairenn displayed under the wire and her BRIS Speed ratings have increased nicely of late.

Her main opponents – Finley’sluckycharm (#5), Lewis Bay (#6) and Marley’s Freedom (#7) – like to race up close and I can envision a scenario where those rivals hook up in upper stretch and Cairenn comes running by them late to get the money.

Race 9 – Forego (G1)

Two-deep approach with C Z Rocket (#6) and City of Light (#8).

Lightly-raced C Z Rocket registered a 108 BRIS Speed rating for an outstanding win in the Kelly’s Landing last out and makes his third start back from a six-month hiatus for Al Stall Jr. He’s very talented in my estimation with plenty of upside if he can remain healthy.

City of Light is the one to beat off a third to Accelerate in the May 26 Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1). A Grade 1-winning sprinter, the four-year-old possesses first-rate BRIS Speed numbers and the California invader promises to show speed from the start with leading rider Irad Ortiz Jr.

Race 10 – Sword Dancer (G1)

Sadler’s Joy (#10) took advantage of a contested pace in last year’s Sword Dancer and should receive a similar set-up for his title defense with several front runners in the mix. His recent efforts are commendable, and the four-year-old loves both the inner turf course and 1 1/2-mile distance.

Late runners Bigger Picture (#6) and Channel Maker (#7) also have some appeal. And I can’t dismiss the chances of the Chad Brown-trained Funtastic (#3).

Race 11 – Travers

The top two finishers from the July 31 Haskell Invitational (G1), Good Magic (#9) and Bravazo (#4), have the best chance of winning the Travers in my estimation. I will give the edge to the latter for straight bets but will employ a two-deep approach to all horizontal wagers. Check out my “How to Bet the Travers” blog for further analysis on the 149th running of the “Mid-Summer Derby.”

50-cent Pick 4 Tickets (races 8-11)

I am playing three tickets for less than $50.

Ticket 1: 4 with 6,8 with 3,6,7,10 with 4,9 ($8)
Ticket 2: 4,5,6,7 with 6,8 with 10 with 4,9 ($8)
Ticket 3: 4,5,6,7 with 6,8 with  3,6,7,10 with 4,9 ($32)

Total = $48

Good luck on Travers Day!