Shapiro's All-Stakes Pick 4 ticket for Travers Day

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TwinSpires Staff

August 25th, 2017


The best day of summer racing is upon us as it is Travers Stakes Day at Saratoga!

The card is loaded with seven graded stakes races, including six Grade 1s and of course the headliner, the 148th running of the $1.25 million Travers Stakes.

As part of the massive day of Thoroughbred racing, the New York Racing Association is offering horseplayers a $1 million guaranteed All-Stakes Pick 4 sequence. The four-race slate commences in Race 8 with the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens and concludes with a wide-open rendition of the Midsummer Derby.

While I am extremely excited for the quality racing this is not a sequence I will load up on. I can see the first 3 races producing logical winners and expect the public to spread deep in the very challenging Travers. I will toss one morning line favorite and give myself a chance to beat all four, but just on a limited budget.

Here are my thoughts on each of the four races and my suggested wager:

The Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens -$500,000, Seven Furlongs

The race formerly known as the King’s Bishop, but renamed to honor the great trainer, features the Grade 2 Woody Stephens winner #9 American Anthem and Grade 3 Dwyer winner #1 Practical Joke. Both will take a ton of support at the windows, but are not the only two worth a look.

Trainer Bob Baffert has freshened up American Anthem after two graded stakes wins to close out his spring. He is a perfect 3 for 3 in one-turn races and drew well to the outside for his first try since a career best effort at Belmont in June. He is the deserving 2-1-morning line favorite, but this is his toughest task to date. I expect him to run well, but am willing to take a shot against him at what is likely to be a short price.

#1 Practical Joke would be a single for me if not for the track profile and the rail draw. He is a horse I always have thought was at his best at one turn despite solid efforts in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational most recently at Monmouth Park. I am just concerned Joel Rosario may leave himself with too much to do late on a main track that has played towards frontrunners all meet.

I will use Practical Joke, but also include two others.

#7 Coal Front is a perfect 3 for 3 for trainer Todd Pletcher after a dominant wire-to-wire score in the Grade 2 Amsterdam. I like his speed and the fact he has a win over the track.

#8 No Dozing is an interesting price option. He comes in off of a win in the mud in a non-graded stakes race at Laurel in his first start since the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile on Derby Day. He should get a great trip under Javier Castellano. At 12-1 he is worth including.

The Grade 1 Forego- $600,000, Seven Furlongs

I expect #10 Drefong to be the prohibitive favorite in the Forego based on what appears on paper to be a pace advantage for the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner.

While I respect the son of Gio Ponti and am not willing to toss him, I expect him to get over bet. He certainly can win, but I have my concerns on how he will rebound from the chaotic events in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar.

I give a big look to #4 Divining Rod. The Lael Stables runner makes his second start of 2017 after a huge effort in the slop for trainer Arnaud Delacour. I think he has the tactical speed to sit second and can out finish Drefong in the final furlong. He offers significantly better value and is my top pick.

#6 Mind Your Biscuits is having an amazing 2017, but faces his toughest task to date. He is hard to dismiss, but I am worried about him chasing the likely slow pace.

The Grade 1 Sword Dancer- $1,000,000, One mile and one half (Inner Turf Course)

I do not have much of an opinion in the twelve-furlong event over the lawn.

I will toss the four runners that come out of the Grade 2 Bowling Green in late July. I thought that was an extremely light rendition of the mile and three-eighths event.

#7 Idaho is perhaps the likeliest single in the sequence. However, I cannot trust this one and prefer to give myself the opportunity to beat him, so I will also use the other European #6 Erupt and Chad Brown’s lone participant #5 Money Multiplier.

The Grade 1 Travers- $1,250,000, One mile and one quarter

The featured three-year-old stakes event at ten furlongs is as wide-open as it gets. The Derby, Preakness and Belmont winner, as well as the Haskell and Jim Dandy winner are all present. I will take stands against 2 of the 3 Triple Crown winners, as well as a few others and include half of the field to close out the All-Stakes Pick 4.

You can check out my complete thoughts on the 148th Running of the Travers Stakes here.

Here is my recommended ticket:

Ticket 1: ($.50 Pick 4)

H. Allen Jerkens: 1+7+8

Forego: 4+10

Sword Dancer: 5+6+7

Travers: 1+2+3+5+6+10

Ticket Cost: $54

Good luck at the windows!

You can find my full card Daily Selections each and everyday for the Southern California and Indiana Grand circuit here: