by Jeremy Plonk
August 5, 2020
Belmont Stakes winner Tiz the Law drew post 6 of 8 for Saturday’s Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga. NYRA oddsmaker David Aragona made the son of Constitution the even-money favorite. California invader and unbeaten Uncle Chuck, who starts from post 3, was made second-choice at 5-2. With a long run to the clubhouse turn and a field of 8 over one mile and one-quarter, the starting post positions for the Travers should not have a major impact.
The early pace of the Travers is expected to come from the Floridians, Shivaree and Caracaro. Neither has been all-out to make the front consistently, but either has enough speed, if asked, to set the tempo. Caracaro will be ridden by all-time leading Travers jockey Javier Castellano, who might be best to sense how this race will unfold as he aims for a record-padding seventh Midsummer Derby. Longshot First Line from the rail could be hustled, but has been more of a pace-presser against lesser.
Uncle Chuck potentially could contest the front as well, and is drawn nearest the rail among the front-end players. With an aggressive early pilot in Luis Saez, and with Shivaree and Caracaro to his outside, don’t be surprised if Uncle Chuck gets sent to the front. With his long stride, though, Uncle Chuck also could be reserved behind the top pair and tilted out to the 3-path for clearer sailing down the backstretch. Those will be the key tactics of discussion between Bob Baffert and Saez. Expect favorite Tiz the Law just behind the top few and Manny Franco may be tasked with following Uncle Chuck to keep the other logical player in his crosshairs throughout the journey.
Here’s the complete Travers field with jockeys and morning line odds.
1. First Line (David Cohen) - 30-1
2. Country Grammer (Irad Ortiz Jr.) - 6-1
3. Uncle Chuck (Luis Saez) - 5-2
4. Max Player (Joel Rosario) - 6-1
5. Shivaree (Junior Alvarado) - 30-1
6. Tiz the Law (Manny Franco) - 1-1
7. Caracaro (Javier Castellano) - 10-1
8. South Bend (Jose Ortiz) - 15-1