2023 Travers Stakes Contenders & Odds

Horse Betting Online

Edited NYRA Press Release | OTB Writer
Updated: August 22, 2023

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The 154th running of the $1,250,000 Travers Stakes will be held on Saturday, August 26 at Saratoga Race Course.

The Travers Stakes, also known as the Midsummer Derby, is one of the most historic races in the country and has been an annual feature at Saratoga for nearly as long as the track has been running.

2023 Travers Stakes Race Info

Purse: $1,250,000
Grade: 1
Distance: 1 1/4 Miles
Age: 3
Last Year’s Winner: Epicenter
Track and Stakes Record: Arrogate (2016) 1:59.36

The Travers is slated as Race 11 at 5:44 p.m. Eastern, and can be wagered and watched at OffTrackBetting.com - US legal online OTB.

Morning-Line Favorite Forte Draws Post 1 for Travers

The field is set for the 154th running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers on August 26 at Saratoga Race Course, which will see the winners of each of the three legs of the Triple Crown and last year's Champion 2-Year-Old Colt all vie for superiority amongst a wide open 3-year-old male division.

The Travers is carded as Race 12 on a blockbuster 13-race program, which also includes the Grade 1, $600,000 Forego, the Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial, the Grade 1, $500,000 Ballerina, which offers a "Win and You're In" berth to the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, and the Grade 1, $750,000 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer Invitational - a "Win And You're In" qualifier for the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf. First post is 11:40 a.m. Eastern. Gates open at 7 a.m.

2023 Travers Stakes Field & Odds

Race 12 at Saratoga on Saturday, August 26 - Post 6:11 PM

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Forte 7-5 Irad Ortiz, Jr.
126 Lbs
Todd Pletcher
2 Arcangelo 5-2 Javier Castellano
126 Lbs
Jena Antonucci
3 Tapit Trice 12-1 Jose Ortiz
126 Lbs
Todd Pletcher
4 Mage 4-1 Flavien Prat
126 Lbs
Gustavo Delgado
5 National Treasure 8-1 John Velazquez
126 Lbs
Bob Baffert
6 Disarm 8-1 Joel Rosario
126 Lbs
Steven Asmussen
7 Scotland 12-1 Junior Alvarado
126 Lbs
William Mott

Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable's Forte, the 2022 Champion 2-Year-Old Colt, headlines this year's Travers and sports a ledger of 9-7-1-0 while bragging field-best earnings of $2,954,830.

The son of Violence enters from a narrow triumph in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy presented by DK Horse on July 29 over a sloppy and sealed Spa main track. Racing an even third along the inside down the backstretch, Forte raced in between Angel of Empire and Saudi Crown in upper stretch and defeated the latter by a nose while earning a career-high 105 Beyer Speed Figure.

The Jim Dandy victory was a redeeming one for Forte, who finished a late-closing second in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on June 10, five weeks after being scratched as the morning-line favorite for the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby.

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher used the traditional local Travers prep as a springboard for both of his previous Travers winners Flower Alley [2005] and Stay Thirsty [2011].

"It was great to get him back in the winner's circle here," Pletcher said. "Obviously, it was a frustrating time around the Derby and going into the Belmont off a 10-week layoff, so we're hoping to get back on track and put him in the best position to win the Travers. I thought we got a good race from him there [in the Jim Dandy], so hopefully we've accomplished that."

Prior to scratching from the Kentucky Derby, Forte was a game winner of the Grade 1 Florida Derby on April 1 at Gulfstream Park over next-out Kentucky Derby winner and returning rival Mage after winning his seasonal debut in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth on March 4 at the South Florida oval.

Pletcher spoke highly of Forte's Florida Derby effort, comparing it to his Jim Dandy win.

"You can see [his determination] in almost all of his wins, but particularly in the Florida Derby, he seemed to salvage victory from what looked like a sure defeat coming by me at the eighth pole," recalled Pletcher. "To accelerate like he did and make up that much ground on the eventual Derby winner [shows it]. I was proud of him in the Belmont, he was taking all the worst of it and got a wide trip coming around the turn off a 10-week layoff and still gaining on the winner at the end. Again, in the Jim Dandy, he had a lot to do with a sixteenth of a mile to go and he's got that personality that he wants to get there first."

Forte earned Eclipse Award honors after completing a juvenile season which saw three Grade 1 victories, including the seven-furlong Hopeful at Saratoga before stretching out to two turns in the Claiborne Breeders' Futurity and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, both at Keeneland.

Horse Racing Rebates

While disappointed in not being able to see his star pupil compete in the `Run for the Roses,' Pletcher said a Travers win would be a sweet one.

"You're never going to make up for not getting to run in the Kentucky Derby, but it would be some sort of a consolation prize to win the Travers against the three Classic winners," Pletcher said.

Current meet leading jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. has been aboard Forte for all his starts, and retains the mount from post 1 aboard the 7-5 morning line favorite.

Pletcher also will saddle Whisper Hill Farm and Gainesway Stable's Tapit Trice, who seeks his first win since capturing the Grade 1 Blue Grass on April 8 at Keeneland. The gray son of Tapit, who sired 2021 Travers winner Essential Quality, finished a distant seventh in the Kentucky Derby before a third-place finish in the Belmont Stakes, where he finished a nose behind Forte.

Entering from a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Haskell on July 22 at Monmouth Park, Tapit Trice will sport blinkers for the first time in Saturday's test.

"We feel like sometimes, like some of the Tapits, he gets a little distracted by other things. I don't know if it's going to make him any quicker early, but I don't think it can hurt," Pletcher said of the equipment change. "He's kind of put himself in a compromising position a couple of times, the Haskell for one, the Derby for another; I just feel like we need to make some sort of adjustment to hopefully improve on that a little bit. He's got the talent to win a big race, and already has in the Blue Grass, but the talent is there. We just need to keep him locked in."

Tapit Trice was purchased for $1.3 million at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale and is out of the multiple graded stakes-placed mare Danzatrice, whose Pletcher-trained sire Dunkirk finished second in the 2009 Belmont Stakes.

Jose Ortiz will seek his first Travers conquest when picking up the mount aboard Tapit Trice from post 3 [12-1 ML].

A total of 10 Grade 1 Kentucky Derby winners later added a Travers win to their ledger, and this year's winner Mage will attempt to be the first since 2007 winner Street Sense. The Good Magic chestnut ran a respectable second in the Haskell, settling in between horses in sixth going down the backside before launching a bid at the top of the stretch and finishing 1 3/4 lengths behind Geaux Rocket Ride.

This effort came two months after rounding out the trifecta in the Grade 1 Preakness, where he finished 2 1/4-lengths behind returning rival National Treasure.

Trainer Gustavo Delgado shipped Mage to Saratoga in early August to allow him to acclimate to his surroundings.

"The difference is we have more time," Delgado said. "The Preakness we shipped immediately after the Derby. It was the same thing in the Haskell, we shipped in the week of the race. Right now, we can take things a little easier being here for a few weeks. He's happy in Saratoga, everybody is happy in Saratoga."

Mage will provide Delgado with his second Travers starter after saddling 2020 runner-up Caracaro.

"He ran a good race, and he was a good horse. I think this time, we have a little more of a chance," Delgado said.

Owned by OGMA Investments, Ramiro Restrepo, Sterling Racing and CMNWLTH, Mage is out of the graded stakes placed Big Brown mare Puca. He was bought for $290,000 at the 2022 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale.

UPDATE: AUG 23: Flavien Prat will replace the injured Luis Saez. Luis Saez, who piloted 2021 Travers winner and eventual Eclipse Champion 3-Year-Old Colt Essential Quality, will pick up the mount aboard Mage from post 4 [4-1 ML].

Grade 1 Preakness winner National Treasure will attempt to become the ninth horse to capture both the middle jewel of the Triple Crown and the Travers. The son of Quality Road went gate to wire in the Preakness, keeping Blazing Sevens at bay to his outside to win by a head. He put the same frontrunning tactics on display in the Belmont Stakes, ultimately fading to sixth.

A triumph would provide trainer Bob Baffert with a fourth Travers triumph, putting him on even terms with fellow Hall of Famer Elliott Burch. Baffert said his Preakness winner would need to up his game to earn a Travers win.

"He's going to have to run that race and a little better. It's good horses and the Travers is always tough," said Baffert, whose previous Travers winners are Point Given [2001], Arrogate [2016] and West Coast [2017] - all were crowned Eclipse Champions following their respective seasons.

National Treasure will make an equipment change and run with blinkers off. His last start without blinkers was in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in April, where he finished fourth.

"He's been working well without them. We've had them off him before, but I think he's maturing now," Baffert said.

National Treasure is owned by SF Racing, Starlight Stables, Madaket Stables, Robert E. Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital and Catherine Donovan. He was a $500,000 purchase from the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale and out of the Medaglia d'Oro mare Treasure - a half-sibling to four stakes-winners.

Hall of Famer John Velazquez will go for his third Travers victory when piloting National Treasure from post 5 [8-1 ML].

Trainer Jena Antonucci made history when becoming the first female trainer to saddle a winner of a Triple Crown race when Arcangelo captured the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes. A victory from the gray colt would make her the second female trainer to win the Travers, 85 years after Mary Hirsch saddled 1938 winner Thanksgiving.

Owned by Jon Ebbert's Blue Rose Farm, Arcangelo had no prior two-turn experience before conquering the `Test of a Champion,' which came four weeks after he won his graded stakes debut in the Grade 3 Peter Pan going a one-turn 1 1/8 miles at Belmont Park.

He handled the additional three-eighths of a mile with aplomb, saving ground behind the pace before losing position down the backstretch and re-rallying in between horses nearing the far turn. Arcangelo moved to the inside of National Treasure and built a 3 1/2 length advantage at the stretch call and fended off the late-rallying Forte.

Antonucci opted to train Arcangelo up to the Travers from his memorable Belmont Stakes win, a successful path used by 2004 winner Birdstone. A total of 31 horses have swept the Belmont-Travers double.

"This horse has had most of his career spaced out with a lot of time. We just found that it's given him the breathing room he needed to mature, grow up, fill in and fill out," Antonucci said. "It really wasn't a heavy debate, to be honest the races he had run back-to-back were the Peter Pan and Belmont. So, continuing to let him come out of a big race like the Belmont and put himself where he needed to for this race was a kind of an easy conversation."

Antonucci expressed excitement in squaring off against a deep field.

"The quality of field is going to be a lot of fun and great for racing fans," Antonucci said. "We are so blessed to have such a versatile colt that we can really back into any kind of [pace] scenario. It is a blessing that we aren't tied to having to have one setup to be able to find success. Super excited for a great day of racing for the industry, for the fans. Let's go win a race."

Arcangelo is by 2016 Travers winner Arrogate, whose record time of 1:59.36 still stands. A win would make Arrogate the 16th Travers winner to sire a Travers winner. Bred in Kentucky by Don Alberto Corporation, Arcangelo is out of the Tapit mare Modeling and a direct descendant of influential broodmares Better Than Honour and Best in Show.

Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, who is 3-for-3 aboard Arcangelo, will pursue a record-extending seventh Travers conquest from post 2 [5-2 ML].

After campaigning last year's winner Epicenter, Winchell Thoroughbreds and Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen will compete this year with Disarm in attempt to be the first owner-trainer combo to win back-to-back Travers since Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey and the Phipps family did so with Easy Goer [1989] and Rhythm [1990].

Disarm, a chestnut son of Gun Runner, has never finished worse than fourth in eight lifetime starts, entering from a fourth beaten 2 1/4 lengths in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy. In his prior start, he posted a half-length win in the Grade 3 Matt Winn on June 11 at Ellis Park over next out graded stakes winner Verifying, and ran a career-high 102 Beyer.

A runner-up effort in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby in March at Fair Grounds Race Course and a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Lexington three weeks later at Keeneland provided Disarm with a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. He was nearly 10 lengths off the pace early on from 13th, but improved position through each point of call to finish fourth, 4 1/2-lengths behind Mage.

Disarm will sport blinkers for the Travers.

"I like him with the addition of the blinkers, hopefully we can make up about 2 1/2 lengths," Asmussen said. "Obviously, we feel good about the distance for him. It appears there's more pace on paper, but until they run you aren't sure of that. I think the circumstances of the day and how the racetrack is playing will come to hand there."

Disarm, a Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred, is out of the Tapit mare Easy Tap and a half-brother to multiple Venezuelan Group 1-winner Tap Daddy. He is a direct descendant of Reine de Course mare Papila.

Joel Rosario will ride from post 6 [8-1 ML].

Completing the quality Travers field is LNJ Foxwoods' Kentucky homebred Scotland [post 7, Junior Alvarado, 12-1 ML] for Hall of Fame conditioner Bill Mott. The Good Magic chestnut will attempt to be the first gelding to win the Travers since 2000 winner Unshaded.

Through a 4-3-1-0 record, Scotland is the lightest-raced contender in the field, but won the restricted nine-furlong Curlin last out in dominant fashion with a pacesetting trip en route to a 3 1/4-length score in his stakes debut. The last horse to win the Travers following a Curlin score was V.E. Day [2014].

"Obviously there's some horses in there who have run that distance, so it's probably easier to speculate on what they'll do more so than a horse who hasn't done it. We'll give it our best," Mott said.

Scotland is out of the graded-stakes winning and Grade 1-placed Speightstown mare Gemswick Park, who also produced the multiple stakes-placed Tapped.

The Travers is amongst the most prestigious races for sophomores, and predates all three Triple Crown races. Inaugurated in 1864, the historic 10-furlong event is the Spa's marquee race and honors Saratoga's first president William Travers, who won the first running with the A.J. Minor-trained Kentucky. Since then, the Travers has been captured by a total of 25 Hall of Fame thoroughbreds including Kentucky, Ruthless [1867], Harry Bassett [1871], Tom Bowling [1873], Duke of Magenta [1878], Hindoo [1881], Henry of Navarre [1894], Broomstick [1904], Roamer [1914], Man o' War [1920], Twenty Grand [1931], Granville [1936], Eight Thirty [1939], Whirlaway [1941], Native Dancer [1953], Gallant Man [1957], Sword Dancer [1959], Buckpasser [1966], Damascus [1967], Arts and Letters [1969], Alydar [1978], Easy Goer [1989], Holy Bull [1994], Point Given [2001], and 2023 inductee Arrogate [2016].

Pre-Draw News

Kentucky Derby winner Mage final preps for G1 Travers

August 19 - Grade 1 Kentucky Derby winner Mage worked six furlongs in 1:15.56 over the main track this morning in preparation for Saturday's 10-furlong Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers at Saratoga Race Course

Under partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the 60s, Mage logged his maintenance move with exercise rider J.J. Delgado aboard. NYRA clockers caught the Good Magic chestnut colt in splits of 13.60, 26.40 and 50.40 before galloping out seven furlongs in 1:29.33.

"Mage worked very well this morning. He went very easy," said trainer Gustavo Delgado.

The breeze was a third local move for Mage, who arrived at the Spa in early August. Last Saturday, he covered the six-furlong distance in a sharp 1:12.98.

Gustavo Delgado, Jr., the son and assistant to the elder Delgado, said everything went according to plan.

"He did well. It was just a maintenance breeze. He did exactly what my Dad told J.J. to do. He wanted 1:15 or 1:16 for six furlongs and that's exactly what he did," said Delgado, Jr.

Following a triumph in the Kentucky Derby, Mage finished third in the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes on May 19 at Pimlico Race Course, which was won by fellow Travers aspirant National Treasure. He returned to action two months later to run a hard-fought second in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational on July 22 at Monmouth Park, finishing 1 3/4 lengths behind the victorious Geaux Rocket Ride.

Delgado, Jr. said Mage has acclimated well to his Saratoga surroundings.

"He likes it here. It's been three weeks already that we're here and he shows us all the good signs," Delgado, Jr. said. "It helps him to be at the track with time. In the Preakness, we arrived Wednesday and ran Saturday and for the Haskell it was the same thing, we got there earlier in the week and ran that Saturday. But here, he's been able to adapt."

Mage is owned by OGMA Investments, Ramiro Restrepo, Sterling Racing and CMNWLTH. Bred in Kentucky by Grandview Equine, Mage is out of the graded stakes-placed Big Brown mare Puca, whose half-brother Finnegan's Wake was a Grade 1-winner on grass. Mage is a half-brother to stakes-winner Gunning and has a half-brother by McKinzie listed as Hip. 669 in the Keeneland September Yearling Sale catalogue. He sports a 6-2-2-1 ledger with earnings of $2,488,700.

2023 Preakness-winner National Treasure works for Travers

August 19 - Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said Grade 1 Preakness winner National Treasure will ship to New York on Tuesday for next Saturday's Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers after breezing five furlongs in 1:00.40 this morning over the main track at Del Mar.

"It went well," said Baffert, who noted the colt breezed without blinkers and will drop the equipment for the Travers. "I was happy with him and everything went as planned. He's doing well and we're looking forward to it."

To win the Travers, National Treasure will have to topple a field that features all three Classic winners for the first time since 2017 with Kentucky Derby-winner Mage and Belmont Stakes-winner Arcangelo set to line up along with the reigning Champion 2-Year-Old Colt Forte.

"That's what the Travers is supposed to be - it's a major," Baffert said.

National Treasure, by Quality Road, provided Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez his first Preakness win with a game head score over Blazing Sevens on May 20 at Pimlico Race Course. The $500,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale purchase was last seen finishing a prominent sixth on June 10 in the 12-furlong Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.

National Treasure, to be ridden by Velazquez, is owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert E. Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital and Catherine Donovan.

Forte, Tapit Trice turn in final works for G1 Travers

August 19 - Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher's two contenders for the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers, multiple graded stakes-winners Forte and Tapit Trice, each recorded their final works on Saturday in preparation for next weekend's prestigious 1 1/4-mile test for sophomores at Saratoga Race Course.

Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable's reigning Champion 2-Year-Old Colt Forte, who did not wear blinkers for his work last week, wore blinkers once again in his latest breeze when covering a half-mile in 50.50 seconds in company with three-time winning 4-year-old colt Bright Future. A last-out winner of the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at the Spa, Forte covered the same distance last week in 48.33.

"He looked super, was moving really well and got into a nice rhythm," said Pletcher, who vies for his third Travers win. "Sometimes if you put them [blinkers] on all the time, you lose a little effect. We were just looking to keep him as good as he is going into this. We got a good, steady work and a good strong gallop out. He was well within himself throughout and I think he's moving terrific. He seems really happy, so we're trying to just keep him happy."

A four-time Grade 1-winner, Forte looks to cement his place atop the sophomore division after wins in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and Grade 2 Fountain of Youth this spring at Gulfstream Park, as well as a runner-up finish to Arcangelo off 10-week's rest in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets. He is 2-for-3 at Saratoga, capturing last year's Grade 1 Hopeful and the aforementioned Jim Dandy on July 29.

Whisper Hill Farm and Gainesway Stable's Grade 1 Blue Grass-winner Tapit Trice became the latest Pletcher trainee to add blinkers, sporting them for the first time in a timed work when covering a half-mile solo in 49.22 under the guidance of jockey Jose Ortiz, who picks up the mount from Luis Saez in the Travers.

Pletcher said Tapit Trice, who was last seen finishing a closing fifth in the Grade 1 Haskell on July 22, is often hindered by a lack of early speed.

"His weakness so far has been getting out of the gate and getting into a good position," said Pletcher. "We're hoping that will help a little with that, maybe keep him a little more focused throughout the race. We galloped him earlier in the week with blinkers and he seemed to be dialed in a little more, and it seemed like that was the case breezing this morning."

Pletcher added he is pleased with the addition of Jose Ortiz as Saez rides Grade 1 Kentucky Derby-winner Mage in the Travers.

"We had a couple choices rider wise - we felt like Jose would be a good fit for him and we wanted to get him familiar with the horse today," said Pletcher. "He was impressed. He thought it was perfect and said he was focused but not rank. Just the effect you would want [with blinkers]."

Tapit Trice finished a nose back of Forte in the Belmont Stakes to claim show honors after finishing seventh in the Kentucky Derby. He won the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby in March ahead of his determined neck score over Verifying in the Blue Grass.

Kentucky Derby Winner Mage Preps fro Travers

August 11- Grade 1 Kentucky Derby winner Mage logged his penultimate breeze on Friday at Saratoga Race Course in preparation for the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers on August 26. The chestnut son of Good Magic covered six furlongs in 1:12.98 over the Spa's main track around 7:45 a.m. under regular exercise rider J.J. Delgado.

"He did pretty good. He was a little more in the bridle today," said Gustavo Delgado, Jr., son and assistant to trainer Gustavo Delgado. "His exercise rider was happy about it and the best thing is how he came back. He took a couple rounds [cooling out] and that was it. It's always good to see that."

Owned by OGMA Investments, Ramiro Restrepo, Sterling Racing and CMNWLTH, Mage put in a more serious effort than last week when covering five furlongs in 1:01.03 over a Spa main track that held some moisture after steady rains in the days leading up to the breeze.

Delgado, Jr. said he expects Mage to have one more maintenance breeze next week ahead of the 1 1/4-mile Travers.

"It will depend on the weather, but hopefully Friday on the main track again," said Delgado, Jr.

In addition to his win in the Kentucky Derby, Mage boasts two runner-up efforts in Grade 1s this year in the July 22 Haskell at Monmouth Park and the April 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park where he was defeated one length by the reigning Champion 2-Year-Old Colt Forte. He was a closing third two starts back in the Grade 1 Preakness 2 1/4 lengths back of the victorious National Treasure, who he will likely face again in the Travers.

Tapit Trice and Forte Breeze In Company for G1 Travers

August 10 - Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable's reigning Champion 2-Year-Old Colt Forte and Whisper Hill Farm and Gainesway Stable's Grade 1 Blue Grass-winner Tapit Trice worked in company over the main track Thursday in preparation for the 10-furlong Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers on August 26, at Saratoga Race Course.

Forte, with Irad Ortiz, Jr. up, worked without blinkers to the outside of Tapit Trice, who was guided through the half-mile breeze by exercise rider Fernando Rivera. The workmates stopped the clock in 48.33.

"I thought both horses worked extremely well - both were moving really well and good gallop outs," said Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. "They came back and cooled out quickly. We got what we were hoping for."

It was the first breeze back for both horses after Forte's thrilling nose score in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy on July 29 at the Spa and Tapit Trice's fifth-place effort in the Grade 1 Haskell on July 22 at Monmouth Park.

While the consistent Forte has won 7-of-9 starts, including four Grade 1 scores, Tapit Trice has endured difficult trips in his last three outings when seventh in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby in May at Churchill Downs and a closing third on June 10 in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes.

Pletcher said he would like to see Tapit Trice be more involved early in his races.

"He reacts well to the doors opening, but he just doesn't get away from the gate real quickly and I think that's compromised his chances in a couple of races," Pletcher said.

With Luis Saez committed to ride Kentucky Derby-winner Mage in the Travers, Pletcher said it is likely either Jose Ortiz or Flavien Prat would pick up the mount aboard Tapit Trice.

Arcangelo Looks Strong In Breeze for G1 Travers

August 6 - Arcangelo (Blue Rose Farms) worked five-eighths in 1:00.21 Sunday over the Saratoga Race Course main track in preparation for the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers slated for August 26.

Accompanied to the track by trainer Jena Antonucci on her pony and piloted through the work by Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes winner was caught by NYRA clockers galloping out strongly through splits of 1:26 1/5, 1:39 and 1:53.

"It was a little more serious work," Castellano said. "I usually hold him together. Today, I let him stretch out a little bit. I like the way he did it today - good fractions and a good move. The best thing for him is galloping out - he reaches out longer.

"In the turn, I asked a little bit and he took off. I just dropped my hands and let him roll," added Castellano. "The boss wanted me to put on a good show today. I had been holding and keeping him fresh, but we are in a stage to make it serious because we are facing the best 3-year-olds in the country. You have to put a good foundation in and I think he does."

Castellano, who is also the regular pilot of Grade 1 Kentucky Derby-winner and Travers contender Mage, has yet to make a riding commitment.

Antonucci said Arcangelo nearly got two works for the price of one when the Arrogate colt attempted to join in on another breeze during his impressive gallop out.

"He swapped leads and went to go again," said Antonucci, with a laugh. "That's a good quality for a horse to have. We finally got him pulled up over the three-eighths pole. He was kind of pleased with himself.

"He's happy and he loves it and he's enjoying it," Antonucci added. "What better gift could I have?"

A three-time winner of five starts, The $35,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase won the Grade 3 Peter Pan in May at Belmont Park ahead of his Belmont coup.

He has breezed on a roughly every 10-day schedule since returning to the work tab on July 5 at Saratoga. Antonucci said the colt thrives on spacing between his races and works and she is listening attentively to her horse as she prepares him for a cut back to 10-furlongs in the Travers.

"He has a great foundation. His speed is there. I don't need to keep putting more speed into this horse, it's there," Antonucci said. "Obviously, making sure a horse like this has the foundation he needs when we have to call upon it is the most important thing and that's my focus for him."

Mage Preps for Travers at Saratoga

August 5 - Grade 1 Kentucky Derby winner Mage breezed five furlongs in 1:01.03 at Saratoga on Saturday in preparation for the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers on August 26 at Saratoga Race Course.

NYRA Clockers caught the Gustavo Delgado trainee through splits of 12.58, 24.49 and 36.35 over the main track.

Mage was scheduled to work Friday over the Spa main, but had his work pushed back following torrential rainfall throughout the morning. Under clear skies Saturday, Mage stepped onto the track shortly after the renovation break in the company of a pony and traveled clockwise around the clubhouse turn to the finish line before turning back to begin his work on the backstretch. He completed his exercise under little urging from regular exercise rider J.J. Delgado and followed with a strong gallop out.

"Very good, because it was very easy," Delgado said of the work, which was Mage's first since finishing a game second in the Grade 1 Haskell on July 22 at Monmouth Park. "The rider said to me, `no complaints.' Very intelligent and concentrated. He came back and wasn't breathing heavy and was quite focused. We can't ask for more. We wanted whatever the horse wanted to do. It's two weeks after the Haskell, so we had no expectations and he didn't need to hit a mark."

Co-owner Ramiro Restrepo was on hand for the work, and said he could not be more pleased with the way Mage has settled in at the Spa.

"I'm super happy," said Restrepo. "He galloped out strong and he's really feeling himself. He's really enjoying Saratoga and a lot of horses take to it here. It's like a horse paradise for them and for ourselves. We go week-by-week in this process.

"We as humans make the plans, but sometimes Mother Nature alters them and we have to be patient. The track maintenance crew did a fantastic job with the track," added Restrepo.

Restrepo said that adding a win in the prestigious Travers to Mage's resume would be a dream come true.

"For all of us, it's a really special place. Gustavo and his family have come here every year since they moved from Venezuela," said Restrepo. "I've only missed three Saratoga meets in my life and there's even a book about Saratoga with a picture of my grandfather walking a horse here. Other than the Derby, the Travers is the race that you dream about. To have a blanket of roses on one shoulder and a canoe on the other would be something that you could only script."

Mage will look to post another strong result in the sophomore division after his breakout win in the Kentucky Derby, which he entered off a close second to leading 3-year-old colt Forte in the Grade 1 Florida Derby. Mage exited the Kentucky Derby to finish third in the Grade 1 Preakness behind gate-to-wire winner National Treasure.

In the Haskell, Mage showed his usual strong turn of foot under Hall of Famer Javier Castellano to run down all but the victorious Geaux Rocket Ride to be defeated 1 3/4 lengths. He earned a 98 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort, the second-highest of his career behind the 105 he earned for his Derby coup.

"The Haskell was the prep for the Travers. We needed one race between the Preakness and Travers, and I preferred the Haskell," said Delgado. "He came back even better out of the Haskell than he did the Preakness."

Delgado added Mage will likely work again Friday over the Spa main track.

Out of the graded stakes-placed Big Brown mare Puca, Mage was purchased for $290,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale. He has amassed nearly $2.5 million in earnings through a record of 6-2-2-1.

Jim Dandy Winner Forte Eyeing Travers

July 30 - Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable's reigning Champion 2-Year-Old Colt Forte was awarded a career-high 105 Beyer Speed Figure for his gutsy nose victory in Saturday's Grade 2, $500,000 Jim Dandy presented by DK Horse, a nine-furlong main track test for sophomores, at Saratoga Race Course.

Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, Forte notched the win after stalking along the rail behind the pace set by Saudi Crown and angling around that foe into the turn to make his bid for the lead under regular pilot Irad Ortiz, Jr. He brushed with Grade 1-winner Angel of Empire to his outside and needed to squeeze his way through as Saudi Crown drifted out, but found enough late to get his nose down first in a final time of 1:49.61.

"There was a lot going on and he was boxed in there for a little while and pushed his way through," said Pletcher, who won a record-extending seventh Jim Dandy. "The horse on the lead drifted all the way from the rail to the six or seven path and was carrying everyone out with him. They came back together right at the end and fortunately he [Forte] was able to surge and get his head in front."

Pletcher said despite a hard stretch battle, Forte emerged from the effort in good order.

"He came back very well and his energy level is good," said Pletcher. "He had a well-deserved nap this morning and I liked the way he looked last night after the race and this morning."

Pletcher noted that a key takeaway from the effort was Forte's ability to hold position in the final turn, something he struggled with when winning the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park and when finishing a rallying second in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park.

Greyhound Betting

"The one thing that seemed to help him was that he maintained his position in the far turn, which was one of the things that we didn't like about the Florida Derby and the Belmont," said Pletcher, who opted to add blinkers to Forte for the first time in the afternoon in the Jim Dandy. "He had kind of put himself at a disadvantage in the far turn of those races, where in this case he held his ground. I think the blinkers helped to keep him more focused."

Forte burst onto the scene last year with a strong three-length victory in the Spa's Grade 1 Hopeful, and followed with additional Grade 1 coups when stretching out to two turns at Keeneland in the Breeders' Futurity and Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Forte has continued to excel around two turns as a sophomore, adding to his resume with wins in Gulfstream Park's Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby this spring ahead of his game runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes.

Forte has flashed his talents both at sprint and route distances, and is just the second Hopeful winner in the past 10 years to have won around two turns. He is the only horse in that time frame to have won at distances beyond one-mile. The last Hopeful winner to have won beyond one-mile was the Pletcher-trained Shanghai Bobby, who, like Forte, won the 1 1/16-mile Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile in 2012.

Pletcher said Forte's success in stretching out beyond the recent trend for Hopeful winners proves his natural ability.

"I think it speaks of his quality that he was able to accomplish what he did early on," said Pletcher. "He broke his maiden sprinting and came back and was able to win the Hopeful, but we always thought he was a horse looking for two turns. He proved that in the Breeders' Futurity and Breeders' Cup, and subsequently this year."

Forte will face added ground again in his next likely start as Pletcher points the dark bay colt to the 10-furlong Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers on August 26 at the Spa. Pletcher is in search of his third win in the prestigious test for sophomores and successfully pulled off the Jim Dandy/Travers double with both of his Travers champions: Flower Alley in 2005 and Stay Thirsty in 2011.

"It's exciting and we've been fortunate that both our Travers winners came out of the Jim Dandy," Pletcher said. "We'd love to do it again."

Tapit Trice points to 2023 Travers

July 29 - Hall of Famer trainer Todd Pletcher reported that Whisper Hill Farm color-bearer Tapit Trice will target the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers on August 26 at Saratoga.

Co-owned by Gainesway Stable, Tapit Trice was a last-out fifth in the Grade 1 Haskell on July 22 at Monmouth Park. Also a son of Tapit, the sophomore gray colt raced off the pace and lacked a crucial late kick, finishing 8 3/4 lengths behind the victorious Geaux Rocket Ride.

A 2023 Triple Crown alumnus, Tapit Trice was third in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes five weeks following a distant seventh in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby. Over the spring, he captured the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs and Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland.

"Everything went wrong," Pletcher said of his Haskell effort. "He didn't get away well. He got bottled up behind horses in a lot of traffic. It was very similar to the Derby. He was in an impossible spot to run from, especially on a track like that."

Bred in Kentucky by co-owner Gainesway, Tapit Trice is out of the multiple graded stakes-placed mare Danzatrice, whose Pletcher-trained sire Dunkirk finished second in the 2009 Belmont Stakes. He was bought for $1.3 million at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

About the Travers Stakes

The Travers Stakes is the oldest major stakes race in the U.S. having first been conducted in 1864.

The Travers was named for William R. Travers, president of the old Saratoga Racing Association. The initial running of the race was won by his horse Kentucky. From 1864 to 1889, the race was run at 1 3/4 miles, and the current distance was adopted for the 1904 running.

In 1941 Triple Crown champion Whirlaway became the first and only horse to win the Travers after sweeping the Triple Crown. In the 1982 Travers, Canadian champion Runaway Groom became the first horse to defeat the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont winners in a single race. No other horse has accomplished this feat since. In 2012 Alpha and Golden Ticket won the race the first and only Travers dead heat.

Other top horses to win the Travers include Bernardini, Medaglia d'Oro, Holy Bull, Easy Goer, Forty Niner, Alydar, Arts and Letters, Damascus, Sword Dancer, Native Dancer and Man o' War.

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