SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- An even dozen entries are slated to enter the gate this Saturday at the 150th running of The Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race course and there is no clear favorite – other than the morning betting lines released Tuesday evening at The Adelphi Hotel in downtown Saratoga.
Bill Mott trained Tacitus is the morning line favorite at 5-2 odds and will break from the No. 6 post in Saturday’s Travers Stakes.
Tacitus was placed third in the Kentucky Derby and was second in both the Belmont Stakes and the Jim Dandy after an opening stumble, Mott is hoping that luck will change for Tacitus on Saturday.
“I mean he really could have done some damage if you were to reached up and grab a corner or you know, he could've grabbed himself badly,” Mott said. “ I'm glad he didn't do a somersault in that race or do some damage.
“I think his training has been good. We've actually added some blinkers to his last couple of works and I thought that maybe they helped him focus a little bit.”
Trainer Shug McGaughey knows a bit about the Tavers, a three-time winning owner has the second-choice favorite in 4-1 odds with Code of Honor and jockey John Velazquez up. The horse was second in the Kentucky Derby after the DQ of Maximum Security and comes off a win in the Dwyer (G3) at Belmont Park in July.
“I felt he was a little bit lazy coming ou of the Dwyer for three or four days,” Shug McGaughey said. ‘When we got him up here whe's done everything that I asked for. I think he's enjoyed his time up here. You know, we'll see what happens Saturday.”
There was much anticipation when trainer Danny Gargan stepped up to the podium to talk with emcee Andy Serling about Tax drawing the No. 12 post and he didn’t waste any time offering up his game plan.
“We're going to find out how fast they are, somebody's going to have to be real fast because I'm going to have to heat it up,” Danny Gargan said. “I have no choice from the 12-hole. I'm going to break running and see where we stand, whoever's going better be ready.”
First-time Alabama winning trainer Chad Brown looks to continue to dominate the Saratoga meet with a chance at his first-ever Travers on Saturday with two entries, a new signature for Brown at Saratoga this year in Highest Honors and Looking at Bikinis, both 10-1 morning line odds.
The two horses finished one-two in the Curlin on a sloppy track and the weather is in everyone’s favor on Saturday, both fans and the horses.
“Looking at Bikinis was kind of on the lead on a wet track, a wet rail and I don't think he really cared for, so we're just going to draw a line through that one,” Chad Brown said. “Of course Highest Honors got a really good trip and got out to a good part of the track late and took advantage of it.”
Endorsed, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin is the son of 2002 Travers winner Medaglia d’Oro and has won two out his last four starts. He would be the first son of a Travers winner to capture the Travers since Alpha in 2012, a son of 2006 Travers winner Bernardini leaves from the No. 11 post and is 15-1.
Bob Baffert trained Mucho Gusto and Brad Cox-trained Owendale open with 6-1 odds.
The longest shots in the Travers include Chess Chief, Everfast, Laughing Fox and Scars are Cool at 30-1.