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Travers Week Saratoga Stakes Primer

by Jeremy Plonk

August 3, 2020

As we hit Travers Week, the 2020 Saratoga meeting already has presented 24 stakes races following Sunday’s renewal of the Birdstone. If you are handicapping Saturday’s Travers Stakes (and 4 stakes on the undercard), here are some things you might want to know.

Joel Rosario tops the jockey colony with 6 stakes wins at a 38% strike rate. Irad Ortiz Jr. is next-best with 4 (24%). Javier Castellano is next at 3 (23%). Christophe Clement tops the trainers with 6 scores in just 8 starters, followed by Mike Maker’s 3 wins (43%) and Chad Brown’s 3 wins (27%). Favorites are a steady 9-for-24 (38%). Note the average winning favorite is just 4-5 odds, hammered on the tote, with all favorites averaging just a 6-5 price. Favorites at even money or greater are only 4-for-15 (27%). Of the 24 stakes winners, 16 of them last raced at Belmont Park. Otherwise, only Churchill Downs (2 wins) has produced more than a single stakes winner at the meet.

Here are some additional Travers tidbits:

Bob Baffert (Uncle Chuck) has a 22: 10-3-3 record at Saratoga since 2016, including the August 1 Grade 1 Whitney victory by Improbable. That’s 45% wins, 59% in the exacta and an ROI of $1.90 for every $1 bet. The last summer in which Baffert hasn’t won a Saratoga stakes was 2015 when American Pharoah finished second in the Travers, his only appearance at the meet.

Uncle Mo, sire of Travers contenders Uncle Chuck and Caracaro, sports a strong 19: 6-2-1 record with his offspring over the distance of one mile and one-quarter on dirt. Those wins include 2016 Kentucky Derby champ Nyquist and the 5-time, Ohio-bred distance stakes star Mo Don’t Know.

Favorites are 15: 3-2-3 in Saratoga dirt races at the distance of one mile and one-quarter since 2013. Travers chalks are 7: 0-2-0 during that span, runner-up performances by American Pharoah (2015) and Tacitus (2019).

Of the 15 races winners on dirt at one mile and one-quarter since 2013 at Saratoga, 10 of them prepped most recently over one mile and one-eighth. Three stretched out from one mile or one mile and one-sixteenth; one returned from a distance of one mile and one-quarter.

Jockey Javier Castellano boasts a 12: 5-1-0 record on dirt at Saratoga over the one mile and one-quarter distance since 2013. Those scores include 3 Travers wins during that span paying $16, $31 and $44.