Thoroughbred horse racing’s “Midsummer Derby” takes place on Saturday and for the first time since 1982, all three separate Triple Crown race winners will meet in the Grade I, $1.25 million dollar Travers Stakes at Saratoga Raceway in upstate New York. Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming, Preakness winner Cloud Computing, and Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit are all back for one of the most wide open Travers in recent memory.
How wide open is this race, six of the 12 horses entered in the race have morning lines between 4-1 and 8-1. West Coast with Mike Smith in the irons was made the lukewarm with Belmont winner Tapwrit the second choice at 7/2. Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming is 6-1 while Preakness winner Cloud Computing is 8-1. The field in loaded with graded stake placed three-year olds, many of whom participated throughout the Triple Crown Series.
The winner of the Travers will also have a leg up for end of the year honors for three-year-olds. Horses that race well here will also move on to the fall Classic series and possibly the Breeders Crown Classic. Arrogate pulled off that double last year winning here and then winning the Classic in November.
Jeff Allen prediction and betting strategies
The winner … No.7 Always Dreaming (John Velasquez): Will the real Always Dreaming please stand up. He romped over the best in this crop early easily winning The Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby. The horse was obviously exhausted coming back two weeks late and cutting the 1 1/8th in the Preakness and fading to eighth. The horse was freshened up and finished third in his Jim Dandy tightner, again on a wet tiring track. With conditions expected to be perfect Saturday in Saratoga, look for Always Dreaming to get out quickly and win easily in wire-to-wire fashion.
No.4 Tapwrit (Jose Ortiz): Tapwrit finished a well beaten last in his maiden debut on this track last summer. He’s been brought along slowly and raced well in the Kentucky Derby before skipping the Preakness and then taking the Belmont. Tapwrit looks to become the first Belmont winner to win the Travers with no races in between since Birdstone in 2004. Reports are out there that this horse has not been training well but his connections report that he is fine and just needs more time and work between races. Expect a sharp effort here.
No.10 Irap (Mario Guitierrez): Irap would be the best story in the race and is also in the best form. After finishing 18th in the Kentucky Derby leaving him as an 0-7 maiden, Irap has reeled off three straight graded stakes wins including the Ohio and Indiana Derbies. His final eighths have been lighting and his Beyer numbers have him as fast as any horse in the field. A fast early place would really help this horse if he was well positioned late.
Jeff Allen Betting Strategies
No.7 Always Dreaming … Bet Win-Place-Show Travers Exacta Betting … Box (4-7-10) Travers Trifecta Betting … Box (4-7-8-10) Travers Superfecta Betting (4-7-10 over the 3-8-9 for fourth)