The $1 million Travers S. (G1) will be run Saturday as race 11 at Saratoga.  The 1 1/4-mile “Midsummer’s Derby” is for 3-year-olds and was able to attract a field of eight despite the presence of heavy favorite Tiz the Law.

Top Picks for the Travers

  • #6 Tiz the Law
  • #7 Caracaro
  • #2 Country Grammer
  • #1 First Line

Betting the Travers

  • $50 exacta: 6 with 7

Travers Contenders

#1 First Line looks like he doesn’t belong in here off a single maiden win, but his trainer is red-hot and he has already stated that they are going to the front from post 1. Not sure if he can get the distance, but the track here can favor speed going two turns and a win over the track has to have some value. Gelding cannot be disregarded as a longshot to get into the gimmicks.

#2 Country Grammer is 2-for-2 going two turns on dirt and now tries to get the extra furlong. Chad Brown has been curiously cold, by his standards, but winning the biggest race near his hometown would be huge. Colt’s win in the Peter Pan (G3) was very good and his final pace figures show that the distance will not be a problem.   

#3 Uncle Chuck has only run twice in his career, but he won both by wide margins including the Los Alamitos Derby (G3) in fast time going nine furlongs. He has tactical speed and Luis Saez has to keep him clear since he has a huge stride. Three straight bullet workouts indicate that Bob Baffert has him ready, but I question how he will run if he has to steady at any point in the race.

#4 Max Player returned off a five-month layoff with a good third in the Belmont Stakes (G1), but Linda Rice’s comments about how he is doing leave me questioning if this is the race she wants to be in. Training at Belmont, and not here, is another question mark but he does get Joel Rosario who will probably drop him back to last and make one, big run.   

#5 Shivaree was second in the Florida Derby (G1) two starts back but did nothing in the Blue Grass (G2) last out. He does have early speed and might be a pace factor, but I can’t see him hanging around. Son of Awesome of Course’s (offspring’s average winning distance is only 6.2 furlongs) best Speed ratings came going one turn and that is where he appears to be heading.  

#6 Tiz the Law is the logical heavy favorite and could regress from his Belmont effort and still win. He wins his races convincingly without too much effort and there is no reason to think that he can’t do it again. Son of Constitution relaxes beautifully in his races for Manny Franco and has been training on this main track for the last month. For the life of me, I can’t see a chink in his armor. Saratoga is a known as a graveyard of favorites, but this would be an absolute shocker.  

#7 Caracaro won going a one-turn mile in fast time at Gulfstream Park in his second career start then just missed in the Peter Pan when the winner came back on him. The son of Uncle Mo makes his second start off a six-month layoff and gets Javier Castellano, who has won a record six Travers. I like how the colt has had two easy breezes here which indicates to me that he is sitting on a big race.

#8 South Bend had been racing on the turf before switching back to the dirt and he almost won the Ohio Derby (G3) going nine furlongs. Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott has never won the Travers and this colt will be way back early with Jose Ortiz picking up the mount.