byIlana Cramer| Aug 24, 2017
Fashion, food, art, history, and of course, horses, will all collide this Saturday, August 26th at Saratoga Race Course for the 148th running of the $1,250,000 Travers Stakes (GI). The top three-year-old Thoroughbred racehorses in the country will contest for the champion title of the ‘Mid-Summer Derby’.
First run in 1864, the Travers Stakes is a Saratoga Springs, New York tradition. The charm and appeal of this small town mimics that of Wellington and Ocala, Florida and Aiken, South Carolina. Attracting celebrities, Hall of Fame horsemen and women, and embodying the pinnacle of the sport, Saratoga entices New York socialites and West Coast invaders, alike. A breeding ground for talent and a true test of a champion’s abilities, there is something different about the air at the Saratoga Race Course—a place where horse racing truly is alive and thriving.
For the first time in 35 years, this year’s Travers Stakes will host some celebrities of its own: the three horses that won this year’s Triple Crown races. The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes’ winning mounts will have no easy feat ahead of them as they rematch against additional Triple Crown runners as well as freshened graded stakes horses.
Here, we’re breaking down the top three contenders and letting you pick your own winner—no trifecta bet required!
Kentucky Derby Winner: Always Dreaming
Ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez and trained by arguably one of the bests, Todd Pletcher, Always Dreaming needs to run back to his top performances to stay competitive against this strong field. After winning the Kentucky Derby, the colt out of Bodemeister has struggled in his last two outings in the Preakness Stakes and then in the Grade II Jim Dandy, a prep race for the Travers.
Preakness Stakes Winner: Cloud Computing
The Chad Brown trainee, Cloud Computing, looked much the best in the Preakness Stakes as he defeated a strong field of runners. After that performance, he seemed ready to progress in the Jim Dandy Stakes, but the colt disappointed his connections and crossed the wire in last place. Stabled and working across from Saratoga’s main track, Chad Brown and Cloud Computing will have something to prove come Saturday. His regular rider, Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, hopes to pilot the colt to victory.
Belmont Stakes Winner: Tapwrit
Unraced since winning the Belmont Stakes on June 10th, Tapwrit comes into the Travers Stakes sharp, rested, and with positive works under his belt. The stunning grey, by Tapit, is the second of three of trainer Todd Pletcher’s runners. Ridden by Saratoga Summer Meet leading rider, Jose Ortiz, Tapwrit will most likely enter the gate as the betting favorite, and like the rest of the field, has a lot to prove as he seeks to extend his own winning streak.
The Rest of the Field
Not to be overlooked, the rest of the field boasts strong runners who are all looking to take down the Triple Crown favorites. Losing by a nose in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, McCraken will likely have his eyes on formal rival Girvin, both of whom could easily upset the Triple Crown race winners. After a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Preakness Stakes, Gunnevera seems refreshed and ready to run after a recent win in the Tangelo Stakes at Gulfstream Park. And finally, West Coast invader and Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will also be looking to repeat his astounding performance in last year’s Travers Stakes with Arrogate, and brings a fittingly named colt—West Coast—to the gate, hungry for his fourth win in a row.
Which one of this year’s Triple Crown Race Winners will be first under the wire in Saturday’s 148th running of the Travers Stakes in Saratoga Springs? Place your “bet” below!
Coverage for the Travers Stakes will begin at 4:00 p.m. EST on NBCSN.
Photo credits: Maryland GovPics/Wikimedia Commons; Kenny Martin/Adam Coliganese Photography; Flickr.com/Ian Robertson.