The $1.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday is missing Triple Crown race winners Country House, War of Will and Sir Winston and even Maximum Security, who was disqualified from the Kentucky Derby, but the race still managed to draw a solid dozen for the Mid Summer Derby.
The Bill Mott trained Tacitus is the 5-2 morning line favorite. The colt will break from the six post with jockey Jose Ortiz in the irons with blinkers added.
The colt ran second to Tax in the Jim Dandy (G2) in his last outing. He competed in the Kentucky Derby (G1) where he was placed third and the Belmont Stakes (G1) where he finished in the runner up spot.
The Shug McGaughey trained Code of Honor is the second choice on the morning line at 4-1. The colt was placed second in the Run for the Roses and then won the Dwyer (G3) after skipping the final two jewels of the Triple Crown. John Velazquez has the return call and will break from the two post.
“He’s had time between races now and he’s done everything right. I can’t see that his last race [the Dwyer], which was back in the first part of July, took anything out of him. I think he’s done nothing but move forward,” said McGaughey.
Ohio Derby (G3) winner Owendale, Haskell invitational (G1) runner up Mucho Gusto and Jim Dandy (G2) winner Tax are each listed at 6-1 on the morning line.
The Travers is one of six Grade 1 races on Saturday’s 13-race card at the Spa. Three of the Grade 1 races—the $500,00 Ballerina, $850,000 Sword Dancer (G1) and the $700,000 Personal Ensign are Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races.
There is live coverage on Fox2 from 11:30am ET to 5:00, and then Fox will pick up coverage of the Travers.
Let’s head out to Saratoga for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Saratoga Race 11 The Travers G1 (Post time 5:44 ET)
#2 Code of Honor 4-1
#9 Looking At Bikinis 10-1
#7 Mucho Gusto 6-1
#6 Tacitus 5-2
Code of Honor
The colt was last early in the six-horse field in the Dwyer and came with a good five wide run, the jock dropping his whip inside the final furlong, but it did not matter and he drew clear to win by 3 1/4 lengths. He did it over a racing strip that was playing to inside speed that day. The colt made a good late run to finish third across the wire in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and was placed second thanks to the DQ of Maximum Security. After his Fountain of Youth (G2) score I thought this was the Kentucky Derby winner, but he came up a bit flat in the Florida Derby (G1) in his third-place finish. He still does not appear to have run his best yet and it may come here on the stretch out to 1 1/4 miles and two turns.
Looking At Bikinis
The Chad Brown trainee made his stakes debut in the restricted Curlin where he caught a muddy track. The colt set the early fractions while down along a deep inside and weakened to finish fourth. The colt ran big breaking his maiden in his debut last September in the slop and he beat Alw-1 optional claimers two back off a 9 1/2-month layoff two back in fast time. The $240,000 Ocala purchase is bred to get the distance, by Lookin At Lucky out of a Bernardini mare, her first foal to race. The Brown trainee will move forward off his last effort and could give the trainer his first Travers win. Castellano sticks and with just three starts under his belt this guy still has a ton of upside and we may see it this afternoon. Decent value if he goes off near his 10-1 morning line.
The Baffert trainee ran second to Maximum Security in the Haskell (G1) last out, eight lengths clear of the rest of the field. This race as not on Baffert’s radar until his bullet drill on Aug. 19 at Del Mar, at least that is what the Hall of Fame trainer said. he was pointing Game Winner here. This colt has landed in the exacta in 7 of 8 starts and had not earned back to back career top speed figs. He won the Affirmed (G3) two back at Santa Anita going 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Baffert won this race in 2017 with West Coast and in 2016 with Arrogate.
WIN: #2 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 2,9 / 2,6,7,9
TRI: 2,9 / 2,6,7,9 / 1,2,6,7,9