Saratoga is Buzzing About Saturday’s Travers
By Bob Bauer
(Bob Bauer is HorseRacingFLA’s handicapper and Tampa Bay Downs correspondent. He is a native of Albany, N.Y., and has spent many afternoons at nearby Saratoga Race Course)
“It’s Travers time already,” is what many Saratoga players have been saying to themselves this week.
The approach of the mid-summer Derby signals that the impending conclusion of the popular Spa meeting on Labor Day is only eight racing days away.
Soon after, the upstate New York summer will fade to early fall as the racing action moves to Belmont. How time flies, when you are having fun!
The usually quiet, small-town atmosphere of Saratoga Springs is abuzz with activity as the time for the race of the season grows near.
The $1.25 million Travers (Grade 1) will be run Saturday, with scheduled post of 5:44 p.m. as Saratogaâ€™s 11th race. It is 1 ¼ miles for 3-year-olds
The enthusiasm and passion of the Saratoga crowd rivals that of those in Louisville or Baltimore when their marquee event arrives.
The Travers always brings discussion and excitement for handicappers and fans alike, this year’s edition should be one of the best in recent memory. Not since 1982 have the winners of all three Triple Crown events been pitted together for a face-off.
This time, world-class conditioner Todd Pletcher has a double-barreled threat with Always Dreaming, the Kentucky Derby winner and Tapwrit, who took the Belmont.
Chad Brown, Saratoga’s leading trainer, saddles the Preakness king, Cloud Computing. Nine more sophomores will join this trio in the gate to make an even dozen and it appears to be a wide-open affair with some possible lucrative betting opportunities.
Six of the runners have gained racing experience in Florida. They are Giuseppe the Great, Tapwrit, Always Dreaming, McCraken, Gunnevera and Fayeq. A case can be made for several of these.
At Gulfstream Park, Always Dreaming won the Florida Derby (Grade 1) and Gunnevera won the Fountain of Youth (Grade 2).
At Tampa Bay Downs, Tapwrit won the Tampa Bay Derby (Grade 2) and McCraken won the Sam F. Davis (Grade 3).
I was fortunate to witness the 1982 Travers that featured Kentucky Derby victor Gato del Sol, Preakness champ Alomaâ€™s Ruler and Conqu00istador Cielo, the Belmont boss. The thousands of spectators gasped as Canadian longshot Runaway Groom stormed past them all in the stretch to upset the favorites in true Saratoga style. Another surprise could be in store this Saturday at the graveyard of favorites.
Stay tuned-and turn to the adjacent article Bob Bauer’s Travers Picks.