While much of the hype surrounds the $1.25 million Travers (G1) itself with all three Triple Crown race winners squaring off, the undercard on Saturday at Saratoga features four Breeders’ Cup Challenge races and the stars will be out in force.
The first “Win and You’re In” race on the 13-race card is the $700,000 Personal Ensign (G1), the sixth race on the card. A field of five will head to the gate in the 1 1/8-mile event with a fee expenses paid trip to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) going to the winner.
The brilliant Songbird is the 2-5 morning line favorite. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee has won 13 of her 14 career starts, her lone loss coming by Beholder who bested her by a nose in last fall’s Distaff.
Her main rival appears to be Forever Unbridled (7-2), winner of the Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2) at Churchill Downs in her last outing on June 17.
The seventh race is the $500,000 Ballerina (G1), a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1). Seven were entered to go seven furlongs on the main track.
The Chad Brown trained Paulassilverlining is the 2-1 morning line favorite. The mare has won her last four starts, three since landing with Brown. Each of her three wins for the connections have come by a neck, last out taking the Honorable Miss (G2) at Saratoga on July 26.
She faces a solid field that includes Princess Rooney (G2) winner Curlin’s Approval (4-1), Shining Again winner Carina Mia (7-2) and Honorable Miss third place finisher By the Moon (3-1).
The $600,000 Forego (G1) drew a field of 10 looking to stamp a ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). The Bob Baffert trained Defrong is the 5-2 morning line favorite.
The defending Breeders’ Cup Sprint champ, Drefong ducked in and dumped jockey Mike Smith last out in the Bing Crosby (G1) which was his 2017 debut.
He faces a tough one in Mind Your Biscuits (3-1), who won the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) and Belmont Sprint (G2) in his last two starts. The Chad Summers trainee was third and later placed second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
The $1 million Sword Dancer (G1) drew a rather small field of seven with a free trip to the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) up for grabs.
The two Euro invaders figure to take most of the betting action. The Aiden O’Brien trained Idaho is the 2-1 morning line favorite. He won the Hardwicke Stakes (G2) and then was third in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) in his last two starts.
Erupt (3-1) faded to finish a well beaten ninth I the Grand Prix de Saint Cloud (G1) last out but likes his footing firmer which he should get on Saturday. He won the Canadian International (G1) last fall at Woodbine over firm ground.
Get Michael’s Best Plays Report each Saturday which will include all of the U.S. based Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races from now to October and Michael Dempsey’s 2-Day Breeders’ Cup Report.
Michael’s two-day Breeders’ Cup Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for every race on the two-day championship event from Del Mar on Nov. 3-4.