Shapiro’s Travers Day $1 million guaranteed All-Stakes Pick 4 Analysis

TwinSpires Staff

August 26th, 2016


Saturday is Travers Stakes Day at Saratoga Race Course and wow did the New York Racing Association put together an amazing card.

The Grade 1 events commence in Race 6 with the Personal Ensign for fillies and mares and run through the “Midsummer Derby” in the 11th race on the 13-race card.

Race 8 starts an all-stakes Pick 4 that should draw plenty of attention even with a very short priced favorite in Flintshire competing in the Sword Dancer in Race 10. Here are my thoughts on the four races and how I plan to attack the sequence.

Race 8- The King’s Bishop

The King’s Bishop Stakes is one of my favorite races of the summer. This is a race I will be spreading in as there are several that are good enough to win this with the right voyage.

The seven-furlong race for three-year-olds generally attracts at least one or two of the Triple Crown competitors looking to cutback to a one-turn distance and several of the top sprinters of the age group. This year is no different with #6 Mohaymen looking to get back to the winner’s circle after three straight off the board finishes at two turns. I respect the son of Tapit, but am against him in this spot. I think if he was at his best, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin would have him running in the Travers Stakes, not here. Plus, I do not think he has the turn of foot necessary to win a race of this nature.

#13 Drefong ships across cross-country to take on stakes company for the first time and also will garner plenty of attention in this spot. The Bob Baffert runner will need to be sent hard from the extreme outside post by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith. I will include this Gio Ponti colt, but cannot endorse betting to win at anything near the 4-1-morning line price.

Baffert also sends out #9 Jazzy Times. This Zayat Stables runner was extremely impressive in crushing an optional claiming field at Del Mar last month. He is hard to toss off the effort, but will likely be caught between other speeds in this one. I prefer others, but will include in my spread.

#2 Fish Trappe Road to me is the most likely winner in a wide-open race. This Trappe Shot colt is 2-for-3 with a runner-up finish at the seven-furlong distance and should get a nice trip right off the pace. However, the pace figures to be hot, which could hinder his chances of beating the late runners to the wire.

Speaking of late runners, there are a few I give a shot at big prices. #7 Star Hill finally gets a favorable draw and could be rolling late for trainer George Arnold. #8 Mind Your Biscuits is in good form after winning the Amsterdam (G2), but must move forward to score again in this group. #10 Rated R Superstar is on the improve and 1-for-1 at the distance. All could pull off the upset with the right trip.

#3 Summer Revolution is a wild card that has shown the ability to win a race of this caliber, but returns off a monster effort three weeks ago for trainer Rudy Rodriguez. He is a tough read, but is worth including in a race I will spread deep in to start the sequence.

Race 9- The Forego

This Grade 1 sprint for the boys drew a field of 12 in search of the lion’s share of the meaty $700,000 purse.

I am against the second choice on the morning line, #12 Marking. This Bernardini colt ran a career best in the Belmont Sprint (G3) in early July and returns in this spot for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. He had every reason to pass morning line favorite #11 A.P. Indian in that one, yet was unable to get by. He has not won in the States since his first two starts in New York in 2015 and I do not see that changing on Saturday.

A.P. Indian is in great form and hard to knock, but I think he is best at six panels despite a perfect 3-for-3 record at seven-eighths of a mile. He can certainly win, but with the chalky single of Flintshire in Race 10, I am obligated to search for value elsewhere and I think A.P. Indian could regress off of two huge efforts in July.

Of those that will be prominently placed early, #1 Catalina Red and #3 Limousine Liberal interest me most. They will need to settle off what should be a contentious early pace and should be dangerous if they get the right trip.

#9 Ready for Rye looks like he should get a perfect trip. The four-year-old gelding gets Johnny V. up for the first time and could be sitting on a big one.

I definitely think there is a chance they go too fast early in here. That could set things up for late runners at a price. For that reason, I will include #4 The Truth or Else, #6 Tamarkuz and #10 Dannie’s Deceiver. All three can create significant separation in the Pick 4.

Race 10- The Sword Dancer

There is not too much to say about the $1 million Grade 1 event over the inner turf – the mile and a half race goes through # 6 Flintshire. The six-year-old son of Dansili is the class of the field and should be able to easily dispose of this group barring unforeseen circumstances. I will be singling the heavy favorite in all horizontal wagers despite the lack of value.

Race 11- The Travers Stakes

The $1.5 million Travers Stakes is the final leg of the sequence. The mile and a quarter event drew a field of 13 with the scratch of #11 Majesto this morning.

#7 Exaggerator is the one to beat and 3-1-morning line favorite. The Curlin colt comes off a strong effort in the slop in the Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park. If the track comes up sloppy the Keith Desormeaux runner will be ultra-tough to beat, but otherwise I think he is a play against on top at a short price.

Bob Baffert sends two to Saratoga for the 2016 Travers and I think both are in with significant chances. #2 American Freedom ran a game second last time in the Haskell and is a colt that Baffert has always thought highly of. He takes the blinkers off the son of Pulpit and “legs up” regular rider Rafael Bejarano.

#1 Arrogate takes a big step up in class, but has rattled off three straight in Southern California versus older runners. He drew the rail, so it is likely Mike Smith will send from the gate and see how far he can take them. This Unbridled’s Song colt has serious ability and is in with an upset chance.

If they go too fast upfront I think two price options could be rolling late. #3 My Man Sam clearly needed his last and should move forward off this one for leading trainer Chad Brown. The 20-1-morning line is appetizing. #4 Governor Malibu is a horse I have backed in each of his last two starts and am willing to give one more shot for trainer Christophe Clement.

Wagering Strategy

Despite the clear lack of value, I will build my ticket around odds-on favorite Flintshire in the Sword Dancer. From there, I will hope to beat the likely top choices in the Forego and Travers and get lucky on a big spread in the King’s Bishop.


Race 8: 2,3,7,8,9,10,13
Race 9: 1,3,4,6,9,10
Race 10: 6
Race 11: 1,2,3,4

Ticket Cost: $84