Travers Day Wagering: Alpha Morning Line Favorite in Mid Summer Classic

Alpha is the 5-2 morning line favorite for Saturday's $1 million Travers at Saratoga

The $1 million Travers (G1) at Saratoga on Saturday is lacking star power, with I’ll Have Another, Union Rags, Paynter, Bodemeister, and Hansen on the sidelines, which leaves a field of eleven up and coming three-year-olds looking to take over the top spots in the division.

The 143rd running of the Travers may have drawn one of the weakest fields in recent memory, but strictly from a wagering standpoint, horseplayers will be happy to see a wide open field.

The Kiaran McLaughlin trained Alpha is the 5-2 morning line favorite off his gate to wire victory in the Jim Dandy (G2) over a sloppy Spa main track on July 28.

Jockey Ramon Dominguez saw there was no speed in the race and for the first time in the colt’s eight race career, he found himself on the front.

It was a rather easy victory, drawing clear to win by two lengths over a wet track he seemed to relish.

It is doubtful that Dominguez uses the same strategy today, as the colt seems more likely to sit just off the pace.

His main rivals figure to be Haskell Invitational (G1) runner up Nonios, who was beaten by 3 ¾ lengths by Paynter, who likely would have been the favorite in this race had he not missed some training.

The Chad Brown trained Street Life continues to progress, winning the Curlin in the slop on July 27 in a good looking effort for his second stakes victory.

The colt won the Broad Brush on the inner track at Aqueduct back in March in his first start against winners.

Neck ‘n Neck earned back to back triple digit Beyer Speed Figures beating first level allowance foes and then taking the Matt Winn (G3), both at Churchill Downs.

The colt could not catch a loose on the lead Alpha last out and had to settle for the runner up spot in the Jim Dandy.

The Travers is set for 5:46 ET and will be televised live on NBC as part of a two hour telecast of “Summer at Saratoga” that gets underway at 4:00 ET

Here is the complete field for the Travers: 1. Speightscity (Irad Ortiz Jr., 30-1); 2. Five Sixteen (Rosie Napravnik, 15-1); 3. Golden Ticket (David Cohen, 20-1); 4. Stealcase (Shaun Bridgmohan, 15-1); 5. Street Life (Jose Lezcano, 5-1); 6. Alpha (Ramon Dominguez, 5-2); 7. Atigun (Mike Smith, 12-1); 8. Neck ’n Neck (Leandro Goncalves, 9-2), 9. Liaison (Rafael Bejarano, 8-1); 10. Nonios (John Velazquez, 4-1); 11. Fast Falcon (Junior Alvarado, 20-1).

NYRA Offers $1 million Guaranteed Graded Stakes Pick 4

The graded stakes action starts today with the ninth race, the $250,000 Ballston Spa (G2), and there will be at least a $1 million Pick 4 pool to go after. The Travers serves as the final leg of the Pick 4.

Here is a quick look at the first three legs:

$250,000 Ballston Spa (G2)

A field of eight fillies and mares will go 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf in this Grade 2 race. Zagora is the 5-2 morning line favorite and seems likely to bounce back off a third place finish in the Diana (G1), a race she won last year. The Chad Brown mare makes her second start off a 2 ½ month break. Hungry Island (3-1), Tapitsfly (7-2), and Summer Soiree (9-2) are the other logical contenders in the race.

$500,000 Test (G1)

Contested leads a field of ten three-year-old fillies in the Test at seven furlongs on the main track. The Bob Baffert trainee did not fire in the Mother Goose (G1) over a wet track in her last start, snapping a three race win streak. She was impressive winning the Eight Belles (G3) and Acorn (G1) in her two previous starts. There are a number of fillies that look capable of stepping up including Book Review (5-2), a talented filly from the Chad Brown barn that is making her stakes debut, and the New York bred Beautiful But Blue (10-1), who beat state breds in her last two starts and comes into the race sharp. Aubby K (5-1) and Amie’s Dini (8-1) both ran against the tough Grace Hall in the Delaware Oaks (G2) in their last outings.

$500,000 King’s Bishop (G1)

Currency Swap is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the King’s Bishop off a sharp win in the Amsterdam (G2) at 6 ½ furlongs over the Spa main track. The colt is perfect in three trips over the surface. He runs into the speedy Trinniberg (7-2), who was nailed late in the Carry Back (G3) at Calder by Fort Loudon (12-1). The Rick Dutrow trained Willy Beamin (10-1) won the state bed Albany on Wednesday and comes back off just a two day break. Gun Boat (5-1) adds blinkers and will bring some early zip to the race, and Unbridled’s Note (10-1) looks primed for a solid effort and should get a good pace set up.

Michael Dempsey provides his selections for Saratoga each racing day.  Mike’s Best Plays Report is available each weekend, with his strongest plays and selections including the top stakes races.

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