Travers Stakes 2014 at Saratoga

Dave Bond | OTB Writer

Las Vegas, NV - The biggest race on North American soil this weekend - the Grade 1 Travers Stakes will be contested Saturday, August 23 from Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. Some of the best three year olds in the country will be after the winner's share of the $1.25 million purse and Eclipse Award consideration when they go 1 1/4 miles on Saratoga's main track.

The Travers has attracted a very strong group of 10 three year olds to go in race 12 on Saratoga's tremendous Saturday card. Post time is 5:45 PM. Here is a look into the past performances of all 10 entries for the main event of Saratoga's summer meet.

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2014 Travers Stakes Race Favorite Entries

Bayern - Bob Baffert trained colt has seven starts and has hit the board in all except for a disappointing ninth in the Preakness. He enters on a terrific two race win streak - the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational last time out at Monmouth Park followed the Grade 2 Woody Stephens at Belmont Park June 7. Before the Preakness was a good second after getting disqualified from victory in the Grade 3 Derby Trial Stakes at Churchill Downs April 26 and a third in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby April 12. He started his career with two straight wins - a maiden score at Santa Anita in January and an Allowance score at Santa Anita in February. Bayern is used to being at or near the top - more is expected on Saturday. Martin Garcia gets the mount on the 2-1 morning line favorite from post 2.

Tonalist - Christophe Clement trained colt is coming off an OK second in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes on this track after a terrific two race win streak - a career defining win in the Belmont Stakes June 7 followed a great win in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes May 10. Before that was a second behind Constitution in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Gulfstream and a maiden score January 18 on that same track. He enters this week on fire having won three of his last five starts with a pair of seconds in the others. Joel Rosario will be in the saddle of the 3-1 morning line second choice from post 6.

Travers Stakes 2014 | Remaining Contenders

Wicked Strong - enters off a good win over Tonalist in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy on this track July 26 after consecutive fourth place finishes - in the Belmont Stakes and in the Kentucky Derby and an eye-opening win - in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct April 5. Before that his career defining win was two substandard efforts - a fourth in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Gulfstream February 22 followed a disappointing ninth in the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes January 25. He has placed in four of eight career starts and has knocked on the door in his last two starts. Wicked Strong is a bit hit-or-miss (two wins and three fourths in his last five starts overall) and will have Rajiv Maragh aboard from the gate 7 as the 7-2 third choice this weekend.

Mr Speaker - Shug McGaughey trained colt arrives off a terrific win last time out in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational July 5. He looked very good at the end of 2013 as well - an impressive 10 3/4 length win in the Grade 3 Dania Beach Stakes on December 21 and a MSW score at Belmont Park in October. He did have a disappointing fifth in the minor Pennine Ridge Stakes two back - May 26 but before that recorded a good win in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland in April and a good second in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream March 1. He also had a disappointing seventh in the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes January 25 in his first start on dirt. Mr Speaker has four wins, a second and a third place finish in nine career starts and has won two of his last three starts overall. Jose Lezcano will be aboard from the outside post at an intriguing 10-1 odds.

Kid Cruz - Linda Rice trainee enters on the heels of an OK third behind Wicked Strong and Tonalist in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy here July 26 which followed a great two race win streak - the Grade 3 Dwyer at Belmont Park July 5 and in the minor Easy Goer Stakes also at Belmont Park June 7. Before the streak was a somewhat disappointing eighth in the Preakness - back on May 17 and two minor stakes scores - the minor Private Terms Stakes at Laurel Park March 8 and in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico April 19. He has won four of his last six starts overall and five of eight with the Preakness being his lone poor result the last nine months. Kid Cruz is expected to be competitive again from post 7 with Irad Ortiz getting the return call at 12-1 odds.

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Commanding Curve - Dallas Stewart trainee has a win, two seconds and two third place finishes in nine career starts and was last seen running an OK fourth in the competitive Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes after a ninth in the Preakness Stakes June 7, a very good second to California Chrome in the Kentucky Derby at 37-1 odds and a good third in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby in March. His win came in a MSW in November. He has placed in two of his last four graded stakes starts and will be looking for just his second career win against this uber-tough field. Shaun Bridgmohan will get the mount from the rail at 15-1 odds..

Charge Now - legendary trainer Bill Mott sends out Charge Now who has just five career starts with two wins and two second place finishes. He enters off a second place finish in the minor Curlin Stakes here July 25 after a seventh in his stakes debut - the Grade 2 Iowa Derby in June, an Allowance score at Belmont Park May 30 and after breaking maiden in his second career start - at Gulfstream March 29. He looks to break through in stakes company Saturday and leaves from post 3 with Junior Alvarado in the saddle at 15-1 odds.

V.E. Day - James Jerkins trained colt makes his graded stakes debut Saturday but has looked good in his five starts thus far - three straight wins ahead of this weekend. Last time out his win came in the minor Curlin Stakes here July 25 after an Allowance and maiden score at Belmont Park. His other two career results were a second and a fifth respectively in MSW races at Gulfstream. V.E. Day looks ready for his step up and leaves from gate 6 with Javier Castellano in the reins at 15-1 odds.

Viva Majorca - Ian Wilkes trained colt also makes his graded stakes debut. He enters off a fourth in the minor Curlin Stakes here July 25 which followed an Allowance Optional Claiming score June 20, a second in a similar race in May and a maiden score in his second career start at Gulfstream in March. Julien Leparoux gets the call from gate 5 at 20-1 odds.

Ulanbator - Ian Wilkes trainee has a win, a second and three third place finishes in eight career starts and is coming off a fifth in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes June 26 after an OK third in the Grade 3 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park July 5 and a good second behind Tapiture the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes at 9-1 odds at Churchill Downs June 14. Before that was a third in an Allowance Optional Claiming in May and a MSW score at Gulfstream in March. He has placed in four of his last five starts overall and looks OK ahead of this weekend. Brian Joseph Hernandez gets the call aboard the longest shot in the field (30-1) from post 9.

2014 Travers Stakes Entries & Odds

Race 12 on Saratoga Race Course's Saturday card with a Post Time of 5:45 PM.

Entry Horse Jockey Trainer ML Odds
1 Commanding Curve S. Bridgmohan D. Stewart
2 Bayern M. Garcia B. Baffert
3 Charge Now J. Alvarado W. Mott
4 V. E. Day J. Castellano J. Jerkens
5 Viva Majorca J. Leparoux I. Wilkes
6 Tonalist J. Rosario C. Clement
7 Wicked Strong R. Maragh J. Jerkens
8 Kid Cruz I. Ortiz, Jr. L. Rice
9 Ulanbator B. Hernandez, Jr. I. Wilkes
10 Mr Speaker J. Lezcano C. McGaughey III

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