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Home / Articles / Jeff's Grade 1 Travers Stakes Preview

Jeff's Grade 1 Travers Stakes Preview

By: Jeff Hochman
Date: Aug 23, 2023
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The Travers Stakes, the "Midsummer Derby," highlights Saratoga's most significant summer day. The Sat., Aug. 26 card features five Grade 1 races. Seven competitive three-year-old runners, including the three Triple Crown race winners, will compete for the $1.25 million prize. Forte, the champion 2-year-old, adds more star power to the field. The race will start at 6:11 p.m. ET and be shown nationwide on FOX. It's important to note that each horse in the 154th Travers Stakes possesses talent, and it would be unwise to dismiss any of them. National Treasure is the only horse with an "early" run style of the field, while the others have used a sustained or come-from-behind approach. Each of the seven horses has a legitimate chance of winning the race!

#1 Forte (7/5) Owners: Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable

He has the speed and stamina to handle the 1 1/4-mile distance and should be the favorite. Forte is a son of Violence and has won 7 of his nine career starts with earnings of $2,954,830. He is trained by Todd Pletcher and will be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. Forte won the Jim Dandy at Saratoga last month by a nose. This year, he has won three out of four races, with a second-place finish as the favorite in the Belmont Stakes. Historically, two of the previous seven Travers favorites had hit the board, even though the last two Jim Dandy Stakes winners both won the Travers as post-time betting favorites - Essential Quality in 2021 and Epicenter in 2022. Owns the highest late-pace speed figure (120) of this bunch. The One to Beat!

#2 Arcangelo (5/2)

Owner: Blue Rose Farm

Arcangelo, the impressive offspring of Arrogate, triumphantly won his most recent race (Grade 1 Belmont Stakes) 11 weeks ago, finishing 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Forte. With a remarkable record of 3 victories in five career starts and earnings exceeding $1,067,400, this formidable racehorse is trained by the highly esteemed Jena M. Antonucci and ridden by the skilled jockey Javier Castellano, who has claimed the Travers title an astounding six times. Although he has yet to race at Saratoga, Arcangelo is predicted to easily dominate the added distance, making him a top contender in this upcoming event. Furthermore, the prestigious Belmont Stakes winner has won three straight races with improving speed figures. Win Contender!

#3 Tapit Trice (12/1)

Owners: Whisper Hill Farm, LLC and Gainesway Stable (Antony Beck)

Tapit Trice, the winning horse of the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes, has an impressive record of 4 victories out of eight career starts. His total earnings amount to an impressive $1,063,650. He is under the guidance of esteemed trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Jose Ortiz. Tapit Trice has the potential to surprise the betting favorites if he can improve his recent form and receive the right trip. Although he lost by just a nose to runner-up Forte in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, he could not hit the board in the Kentucky Derby and the Haskell last month despite winning the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby and Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes this spring. After winning four straight races, he has only one third-place finish (Belmont Stakes) on his resume. Keep an eye on how he breaks from the gate, as he tends to be a step slow. Live Long shot!

#4 Mage (4/1)

Owners: OGMA Investments, LLC, Restrepo, Ramiro, Sterling Racing LLC and CMNWLTH

Mage, a magnificent horse who is the son of Good Magic, has triumphed in the prestigious Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, defying the odds at 15/1. He’s won 2 of his six career starts, raking in a handsome sum of $2,488,780. While Mage displayed impressive prowess by securing second place in the Haskell Stakes and third place in the Preakness, there is room for improvement as he strives to claim victory in the upcoming Travers race. Nevertheless, Mage has proven his mettle in four other graded stakes appearances, including a commendable third-place finish in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and a noteworthy second-place finish in the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes last month. Mage is trained by Gustavo Delgado and ridden by Luis Saez, who won this race on Essential Quality in 2021. He’s the only horse in the field to win at this 1 ¼ mile distance. Win Contender!

#5 National Treasure (8/1)

Owners: SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Masterson, Robert E., Stonestreet Stables LLC, Schoenfarber, Jay A., Waves Edge Capital LLC and Donovan, Catherine

A notable equine athlete, National Treasure, who previously won the esteemed Grade 1 Preakness Stakes, will make his first career start at Saratoga. Expect him to be on the lead with a clean break from the gate. The celebrated Bob Baffert trains the horse, and will be ridden by the skilled John Velazquez. Despite showcasing an impressive performance history with earnings of $1,365,000 and 2 wins out of seven starts, National Treasure faced a setback during the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, finishing sixth. Interestingly, the horse's highest recorded speed figure was during the Preakness Stakes. However, National Treasure struggled during the marathon-like race at the Belmont Stakes. Although National Treasure has earned a spot on the board in three other graded stakes, it's been over eight months since the horse has achieved such success. NT should benefit from the cutback in distance. Win Contender!

#6 Disarm (8/1)

Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

This horse, named Disarm, is undoubtedly a fascinating one. He has improved his speed figures in four consecutive races, which is impressive. It is important to note that he faces a significant challenge as he moves up in class, which explains the 8/1 morning line. His consistent placement within the top four suggests a strong background and a promising future. Disarm won the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes at Ellis Park in his most recent outing, which is no small feat. This victory preceded two fourth-place finishes in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy and the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby. Disarm is a son of the famous Gun Runner and has won 2 of his eight career starts, earning $750,200. He also has 2 seconds and 2 thirds on his resume. Steve Asmussen trains the horse, and Joel Rosario will ride. The duo aims to win back-to-back Travers Stakes, having won with Epicenter last year. Owns the second fastest late-pace speed figure (117) of the group. Asmussen wins 19% when his horses race with first-time blinkers. My Top Choice!

#7 Scotland (12/1)

Owner: LNJ Foxwoods

In the recent Curlin Stakes (listed) at Saratoga, a promising longshot contender delivered a remarkable performance, achieving a career-best Equibase speed figure of 107. Although he still has much to learn due to his lack of experience, he has secured two consecutive victories, including a triumph in an Allowance race at Churchill Downs. The name of this exceptional colt is Scotland, and he is the proud son of Good Magic. Boasting an impressive record of 3 wins in four career starts, Scotland has earned a respectable sum of $211,210. Trained by the renowned Bill Mott and guided by Junior Alvarado, Scotland is a horse to keep an eye on, and don’t be shocked if this 3-year-old gelding hits the board. Live Long shot!

My Selection: #6 Disarm (8/1) to Win, Place, and Show

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  Jeff Hochman
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