Hanson: Attacking Travers Day Early Pick 5
It's generally one of the top 10 betting cards of the year in the U.S., but this Travers Saturday at Saratoga is truly an excellent one from top to bottom, both from a handicapping and sporting perspective.
Like the Triple Crown race days and Breeders' Cup weekend, there's no shame in bringing plenty of capital to the table and the willingness to invest it. That's the view I'm taking as I hope to get the day started off with a bang in the early Pick 5 that begins in Race 1.
Trainer Todd Pletcher has a history of unveiling a major two-year-old on Travers Day, and #2 HAZIT (3-1) could be no exception. His dam won easily first out. #4 GLASS BRIDGE (5-1) brings an intriguing worktab from Monmouth Park, and this trainer/jockey combo is traditionally a strong one despite their limited success here of late. Taking a shot that #5 ROAD TO MEATH (7-2) might be slightly better than million-dollar stablemate #8 GOOD MAGIC as the Brown/J. Ortiz duo a highly profitable one. #6 HIGH NORTH (6-1) is kin to first-out winner Benner Island and could pull a mild surprise.
#5 KABANG (15-1) is going awfully good at the moment with three wins in his last four starts. Stone-closer will need some pace help and faces better this time, but has always run well here even during his lengthy stay in the maiden ranks. #6 MARSHALL EDDY (20-1) was farther off the pace than usual last time and didn't challenge until very late. Extended breaks a concern, but a career peak potentially in sight. #9 FOCUS GROUP (3-1) graduated impressively from off a very slow pace last time. Hopefully more than just a three-turn specialist. #10 SON OF A SAINT (6-1) is in a tough spot conceding grass experience. Speightstowns can win on anything, though, and dam was a Cozzene half-sister to English Group 1 winner White Moonstone.
Multiple Grade/Group 1 turf winner Treasure Beach has already thrown several winners from his first crop, and #1 PARADISE ISLAND (8-1) could add to that tally for the dangerous George Weaver barn. First-timer #8 STRIKE ME DOWN (5-1) makes plenty of sense. By Tapit, he's out of Grade 2 turf winner Strike Softly, who's already reared Grade 3 winner Golden Sabre, a proven performer on turf and synthetic. Looks well meant for the Graham Motion barn. #9 ANOTHER (7-2) and #10 NEEPAWA (5-2) are logical inclusions off their respective debuts.
Only two deep in this leg. #4 THREEFIVEINDIA (5-2) likes this track, is multiple Grade 3-placed, and was second best at this level earlier in the meet. #9 STICKSTATELYDUDE (2-1), last seen winning the Discovery (G3) in November, won on debut here two years ago and is three-for-three when Kiaran McLaughlin has been the trainer of record.
#1 PROFITEER (15-1) didn't fire at all in the Transylvania (G3) (nor did Oscar Performance for that matter), but hard to knock his previous form. Faces older horses for the first time here off a spell, yet bred to be any kind for Shug. #4 CLOONTIA (3-1) has won here before, comes in fresh for Jimmy Jerkens and retains Jose Ortiz. Should be prominently positioned. #8 RAY'S THE BAR (4-1) presumably gelded after a bad fade in his season debut on Belmont Day. Won here last summer and was a solid fourth in the Saranac (G3) in his follow-up.
Here's the 50-cent ticket:
2,4,5,6 with 5,6,9,10 with 1,8,9,10 with 4,9 with 1,4,8 = $192.
You can also check out my wagering strategy for the Travers (G1) and my top three selections for the day's stakes at the TwinSpires.com Travers Betting Guide (pages 7-8).
(Susie Raisher/Adam Coglianese Photography)