Travers Stakes 2018: Odds Like Good Magic

The 149th edition of the mile-and-1/8 Travers Stakes (G1) runs Saturday afternoon (5:44 p.m. ET) August 25 at the historic Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York.

The Mid-Summer Derby fields its first filly since 1979, as Wonder Gadot (5-1) attempts to upset the boys for the first time since 1915. She’s certainly qualified, winning the initial two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown in her last pair of starts. Reigning two-year-old champion Good Magic (2-1) is the morning-line favorite, while Belmont runner-up Gronkowski (4-1) makes up the top three betting choices.

Here’s a look at the best three-year-old field since the Kentucky Derby, complete with morning-line odds and projections:

PP1 – Trigger Warning (30-1)

Trainer: Mike Rone
Jockey: Irwin Rosendo

The son of Candy Ride is simply outclassed here with just 246K in career earnings via 12 starts. Caught at the wire in his last effort (G3 Indiana Derby), Trigger Warning finished third at astronomical 86-1 odds in a not-so-stellar Ohio Derby field two back. Expect Irwin Rosendo to take the colt to the lead, wilting rapidly down the stretch. Could be a roadblock for a closer looking to find a hole along the rail late.

PP2 – Wonder Gadot (5-1)

Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.

The first filly to run in the Travers since 1979, she’s hit the board in 12 of 13 lifetime starts. Saratoga’s leading jock Irad Ortiz Jr. gets his saddle debut with regular rider John Velazquez piloting Vino Rosso for go-to trainer Todd Pletcher. Wonder Gadot’s last two races have been her best, romping by nearly six lengths in the Prince of Wales Stakes and by five in the $1 million Queen’s Plate, Canada’s oldest thoroughbred race.

PP3 – Gronkowski (4-1)

Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Joel Rosario

Finished second to Triple Crown winner Justify in the Belmont Stakes; hasn’t raced since (June 19), but is prepped by the spectacular Chad Brown. Brown wins at a 28 percent clip with horses on 45-90 days rest. Will fall to the back, needing a clear path and early urging to run down the leaders.

PP 4 – Bravazo (12-1)

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas
Jockey: Luis Saez

The Awesome Again colt is coming off a game second-place finish in the Haskell Invitational last month, rallying three wide in the far turn to chase down winner Good Magic. Only black-type win came as a 21-1 longshot in the Risen Star in February. Even his best race likely isn’t good enough in this talented field.

PP 5 – Vino Rosso (10-1)

Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: John Velazquez

The Wood Memorial winner took to the Saratoga surface well with a lively third-place finish in the Jim Dandy last month. Vino Rosso went off a 2-5 favorite in the race. Trainer Todd Pletcher owns a 25 percent win rate when beaten as odds-on last time out.

PP 6 – Meistermind (30-1)

Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey: Manny Franco

The Steve Asmussen-trained colt is making his first stakes start, despite floundering to a fifth place finish in an allowance race on a muddy track in his last effort. Quite the jump for a horse that needed five attempts to break his maiden. Pass.

PP 7 – King Zachary (15-1)

Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Robbie Albarado

Failed as the 3-5 favorite last time out in the Indiana Derby, the son of Curlin appears to be headed the wrong way in the form cycle. He finished a distant sixth in the Wood Memorial, his lone black-type start above G3 classification.

PP 8 – Mendelsshon (12-1)

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien
Jockey: Ryan Moore

The Euro shipper just does not take to American dirt courses. The $3 million auction purchase finished last in the Kentucky Derby and nine-and-a-half lengths off the lead in the G3 Dwyer Stakes in early July; needs a return to the grass immediately.

PP 9 – Good Magic (2-1)

Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Jose Ortiz

The two-year-old champion is all class, finishing off the board once in his career (Preakness Stakes, 4th). The 2-1 favorite gets in the money here, but will have to work hard to settle nicely in the first turn due to the outside post position.

PP 10 – Tenfold (8-1)

Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

The horses-for-courses angle is intriguing here with the Asmussen-trained colt winning the Jim Dandy after a near-60 day layoff. Visibly tired in the effort, Tenfold should rebound in better shape to make the distance on the notoriously deep surface. Shipped to the track in early July, and has shined in workouts.

PP 11 – Catholic Boy (8-1)

Trainer: Jonathan Thomas
Jockey: Javier Castellano

The versatile roan has won stakes on the turf and the dirt, entering the Travers the field’s most winning contender. Owns five victories in eight career starts. Likes to stalk or run midpack. Will labor finding a running position from the 11 post.

Predicted Finish:

2-9-5

Look for the filly to make history here. The post-position sets up perfectly, as Wonder Gadot (5-1) will slot easily behind the rabbit Trigger Warning. Should see Bravazo (12-1) on her outside, unless Good Magic (2-1) can beat him to the spot from the nine hole. Expect the filly to assume the lead early on the backstretch. I. Ortiz needs to keep her focused driving to the wire. Vino Rosso (10-1) will be on her heels, while Good Magic makes a run but flattens due to the extra ground he’ll be forced to make up.