Tipsheet: 2022 Travers Stakes
A deep field of three-year-olds will square off over 1 1/4 miles in Saturday’s $1.25 million Travers S. (G1) at Saratoga. The fabled “Midsummer Derby” has drawn seven stakes winners, five graded winners, four Grade 1 winners, and two classic winners, so the list of viable contenders is long, and an excellent betting race awaits.
- #6 Epicenter
- #8 Zandon
- #5 Artorius
- #1 Cyberknife
- $10 Trifecta: 6 with 8 with 1,5 ($20)
- $10 Trifecta: 6 with 1,5 with 8 ($20)
#1 Cyberknife (7-2) parlayed a rail-skimming trip into a track-record victory in the Haskell S. (G1) last month, his second Grade 1 win of the year following a romp in the Arkansas Derby (G1). The improving son of Gun Runner has rebounded nicely from a surprising 18th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and enters off a career-best 104 Brisnet Speed rating, so a top-three finish is within reach.
#2 Rich Strike (10-1) shocked the world when he sprang an 80-1 upset in the Kentucky Derby, but the stretch-running longshot was aided by the fastest early pace in Derby history. Rich Strike subsequently finished sixth in the Belmont S. (G1), and while he’s trained nicely in the interim, Rich Strike figures to face a modest pace in the Travers and will have to prove he can bring his A-game without a hot tempo up front.
#3 Ain’t Life Grand (20-1) has emerged as one of the best Iowa-bred runners in training, beating open three-year-olds in the Iowa Derby before trouncing Iowa-bred rivals by seven lengths in the Iowa Stallion S. But Ain’t Life Grand has yet to contest a graded stakes and ran down an apparent sprinter to win the Iowa Derby, suggesting the Travers will be a tougher test.
#4 Gilded Age (30-1) has employed deep-closing tactics to place in a couple of stakes this year, finishing third in the Withers S. (G3) behind Early Voting and second in the Curlin S. behind Artorius. But Gilded Age was beaten by wide margins on both of those occasions, and Early Voting and Artorius are back for the Travers, so Gilded Age still has form to find against this caliber of competition.
#5 Artorius (9-2) delivered a powerful performance to win the 1 1/8-mile Curlin S. at Saratoga last month, sweeping from the middle of the pack to trounce Gilded Age by 4 3/4 lengths. The Travers will obviously mark a much stiffer test of his talents, but Artorius has the pedigree to handle 1 1/4 miles (sire Arrogate set a track record in the 2016 Travers), and his rapidly improving profile suggests we haven’t seen his best yet.
#6 Epicenter (7-5) placed second in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness S. (G1) while enduring deceptively tricky trips. He recently returned to the winner’s circle with a confident 1 1/2-length score in the 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy S. (G2) at Saratoga, beating a deep field in the fast time of 1:48.99 over a slow track. Epicenter remains in strong form and looms as the horse to beat in the Travers.
#7 Early Voting (8-1) surprisingly faltered to finish last of four in the Jim Dandy after carving out a modest pace, but two starts back the son of Gun Runner parlayed a pace-tracking trip into a 1 1/4-length victory over Epicenter in the Preakness. Early Voting is the only obvious pacesetter in the Travers field and may escape with an easy early lead, but his subpar showing in the Jim Dandy is a cause for pause. Was it a fluke, or does Early Voting dislike the tiring Saratoga main track?
#8 Zandon (5-1) employed deep-closing tactics to win the Blue Grass S. (G1) and finish a game third in the Kentucky Derby, so it was interesting to see him switch to pace-tracking tactics in the Jim Dandy, where he ran second behind Epicenter. Zandon has actually finished behind Epicenter in all three of their meetings, and turning the tables will be tricky in the Travers, but a top-three finish is well within reach for this consistent and versatile colt.
Also check out Vance Hanson's weekly Saratoga racing trends for the 2023 Saratoga meet: