Raising the Stakes with SIG – The Travers
All eyes will be on the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, American Pharoah (1/5 ML), as he returns to the track on Saturday afternoon in the Grade 1 Travers.
Saratoga has a thirteen race card which will deliver a Grade 2 and six Grade 1 stake races. The highlight of the Saturday card at Saratoga Race Course is the $1.25 Million Travers Stakes (Gr. 1) with a post time of 5:46pm EST. This race is for Three-Year-Olds who are out to battle for a purse that could total $1,600,000 if American Pharoah participates due to a stipulation that will increase the purse if a Triple Crown winner competes.
Horse racing fans will be excited to witness the first meeting between American Pharoah and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Winner Texas Red (8/1 ML). Texas Red was knocked off the Derby trail in February with a foot issue and has not raced against American Pharoah up until this point in their respective careers. The two colts were to meet in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall at Santa Anita Park, but American Pharoah was scratched from the race due to his own foot issue. Texas Red went on to win the BC Juvenile by 6½ lengths after a late rally as he was 10th out 12 at the ¾ mark of the race.
We will never know if the Keith Desormeaux trained colt, Texas Red, could have kept American Pharoah from becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, but we could see the curse of Saratoga put a mark on American Pharoah’s legacy the same way that Onion upset 1973 Triple Crown winner, Secretariat in the Whitney also held at Saratoga. With his breeding rights already sold and more than likely only one more race in his career, The Breeders’ Cup Classic, American Pharoah will want to show up to cement his legacy.
American Pharoah, the Bob Baffert trained colt will also see some familiar foes on Saturday. Upstart (15/1 ML), a Richard Violette trained ridgling, will have Saratoga’s leading jockey, Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard if he goes to the post, but rumors are circulating that Upstart’s connections may scratch from Saturday’s contest rather than face American Pharoah again. Upstart has hit the board in 8 of his 9 starts with the only miss being an 18th place finish in the Kentucky Derby.
The Dallas Stewart trained colt, Tale of Verve (30/1 ML), who finished second to American Pharoah over the muddy Pimlico track in the Preakness will get the ageless Gary Stevens in the irons on Saturday. While his past two races have been lackluster, the addition of Stevens cannot be discounted when looking for horses to user under the prohibitive favorite.
Frosted (6/1 ML), out of the Kiaran McLaughlin barn ran second to AP in the Belmont Stakes and will take another shot on Saturday with Joel Rosario set to ride. He has been working the past few months over the Saratoga surface and will look to take another shot at Triple Crown winner.
A horse that has been working well leading up to Saturday’s race is the Dale Roman’s trained Keen Ice (12/1) who rallied past the aforementioned Upstart to finish as the runner-up to American Pharoah in his last start, the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.
On paper this appears to be American Pharoah’s race to lose, and the only mystery is whether Texas Red can provide a challenge as the two have not battled on the track up until this point of their careers. Given the level of competition, any number of horses can hit the board though and the Travers Stakes should still provide value in the exotic bets even if American Pharoah, as expected, wins again.
Let’s go cash some tickets!
American Pharoah’s Triple Crown Highlight Video