Expert picks: Travers Stakes 2019 predictions, longshots

August 23, 2019 02:30pm
After a couple months of buildup, the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes is here, and a number of prominent names from racing's glamour division are entered to go 1 1/4 miles at Saratoga.

Ahead of post time at 5:44 p.m. ET Saturday -- this one will air live on FOX -- here's how the Horse Racing Nation team handicapped the Mid-Summer Derby. When forming your own opinions, be sure to check out free Travers Stakes past performances.

Nick Costa, Trackside with Trackman

Winner: #2 Code of Honor

On the board: #6 Tacitus, #7 Mucho Gusto

Longshot I like: #9 Looking At Bikinis

Analysis: Code of Honor was given plenty of rest after bring placed second in the Kentucky Derby, then ran extremely well when prepping in and winning the Dwyer Stakes (G3) last out. His morning works have been really strong coming into this. He has been pointed to this spot and is poised for a top effort. Tacitus has been unlucky due to racing circumstances in each of his last three starts. He gets blinkers to sharpen his concentration, and that equipment change could take the multiple Grade 2 winner to the next level. Mucho Gusto finished a close second in the Haskell Invitational (G1) behind Maximum Security, and that one no doubt would probably go favorite here. He owns the highest speed figure of the group, and that fact should not be taken lightly.

My bet: Trifecta 2-6/2-6/1-3-7-9-11-12


Jarrod Horak, Pick 6 Blog

Winner: #6 Tacitus

On the board: #2 Code of Honor, #3 Highest Honors

Longshot I like: #11 Endorsed

Analysis: Tacitus raced against the inside bias when wide throughout from post 10 in the Belmont Stakes, then last time, he stumbled badly at the start and landed the place in the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2). He adds blinkers and drilled a training track bullet for this on Aug. 17. Code of Honor got no pace help but won the Dwyer anyway. He graduated in his local debut last summer and could easily take this. Highest Honors is lightly raced and on the improve for trainer Chad Brown. He is bred to go this far and looked good in the Curlin Stakes in the mud on July 26. Endorsed is on the upswing for Kiaran McLaughlin. The Curlin Stakes runner-up could be set for a forward move in his third start after a layoff. I will include Owendale and Tax underneath in the trifecta.

My bets: #6 to win; exacta 6/2-3-11; exacta 2-3-11/6; trifecta 2-6/2-3-6-11/1-2-3-6-11-12


Reinier Macatangay, Setting the Pace

Winner: #12 Tax

On the board: #7 Mucho Gusto, #6 Tacitus

Longshot I like: #4 Laughing Fox

Analysis: Tax's wide post works as a blessing in disguise, as he will now get sent up front into an almost pace-less race. Looking At Bikinis and Mucho Gusto will join him, but only the latter owns enough proven talent to give a serious challenge. Tacitus will run late, although the added blinkers bring an unknown to the favorite.

My bets: trifecta wheel: 6,7,12/2,3,6,7,8,12/4; superfecta wheel 6,7,12/2,3,6,7,8,12/2,3,6,7,8,12/4

Mark Midland

Winner: #7 Mucho Gusto

On the board: #6 Tacitus, #9 Looking At Bikinis

Longshot I like: #4 Laughing Fox

Analysis: Arrogate and West Coast wired this race for Bob Baffert in 2016 and 2017. Last year Catholic Boy and Mendelssohn ran 1-2 around the track. Clearly, speed has been a key factor in the Travers lately, and there isn't much signed on in this race.  Looking at Bikinis could set a moderate pace, tracked by Mucho Gusto and Tax. Look for all three to be factors at the end.

Mucho Gusto is improving and comes in off his best race to date, plus strong works since then to get ready. Looking At Bikinis will be overlooked due to his third in the Curlin, but the muddy track favored closers that day, and he's bred, being by Lookin at Lucky, for this extra distance.  Tacitus is a deserving favorite, but he has a habit of just missing the win spot, and may again here.

My bets: Play 7,9 over 2,6,7,9 and add the 1,12 in third. If you're looking to the superfecta, consider #4 Laughing Fox and #8 Chess Chief, who could up the payouts by running fourth. 

 

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