For 150 years Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, NY has been the pinnacle of summer racing and, for most of those years, the Travers Stakes, or the Mid-Summer Derby as it's commonly referred to, has been the centerpiece of the boutique meet. The Grade 1 $1,000,000 Travers Stakes will feature some of this year's best three-year-olds going 1 1/4 miles over the Saratoga dirt.
Among a field of nine, Kentucky Derby winner, Orb, and runner-up, Golden Soul, will take on fellow Kentucky Derby contenders Will Take Charge, Verrazano, and Palace Malice. The latter coming out of a disastrous Derby, in which he donned blinkers for the first and last time, to dominant victories in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and Jim Dandy Stakes (G2).
Todd Pletcher's Verrazano, who finished a lackluster 14th in the Kentucky Derby, has returned to his winning ways and has been installed as the 2-1 favorite going into Saturday's Travers. Since the rainy Kentucky Derby, Verrazano has nabbed victories in the Pegasus (G3) and Haskell Invitational (G1), besting his rivals by over nine lengths in both races. Verrazano continues to show improvement and may be poised to give jockey John Velazquez his second Travers win. Assuming no rain is in the forecast for Saturday, Verrazano looks like the horse to beat. The only concern with this son of More Than Ready is whether or not he wants to run 1 1/4 miles.
Todd Pletcher will also send out the second choice on the morning line at odds of 5-2, Palace Malice. This son of Curlin is looking more and more like his sire, sharper and more confident as the year progresses. Since his 12th place finish in the Kentucky Derby, Palace Malice has garnered victories in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and Jim Dandy Stakes (G2). Palace Malice will likely be near the lead and ready to battle Verrazano in the stretch as the early speed of Moreno starts to fade. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will be in the irons.