Updated Travers Stakes Top 5 Power Rankings

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D.S. Williamson

August 3rd, 2017

Non-horseplayers might believe that this group of three-year-olds aren't special. That makes sense. After a multitude of three-year-old races, including the entire Triple Crown, a star has yet to emerge. But while most casual horse racing fans aren't excited about this three-year-old group, us horseplayers definitely are!

We're always looking for the price edge, right? That's what real horseplayers care about? Fair odds? Overlay odds? The best bang for our hard-earned bucks?

Look no further than the 2017 Travers Stakes. My Top 5 is totally different than my original Top 5. I don't have a single Triple Crown race winner in my Top 5. To me, that's a great, and wonderful thing. What it means is that plenty of talented horses, equines with a chance to win the Mid-Summer Derby, are going to offer odds on race day.

That makes this year's Travers Stakes a horseplayer's dream.

Good Samaritan

He chased dawdling fractions put up by the Derby winner and skated by an entire field of talented three-year-olds to win the Jim Dandy. That's all you need to know. If you must know more, he's trained by Bill Mott. Winstar Farm President Elliott Walden trained Victory Gallop, who was one of the best closers I've ever watched run. Walden convinced Mott to give Good Samaritan a go on dirt.

There's no reason to believe he doesn't become the best three-year-old in the U.S. I mean, he's proven his class on both grass and dirt. Not only that, his breeding screams dirt.


What amazes me about Girvin's Haskell Invitational win is his versatility. Girvin was on the pace in the Ohio Derby. He almost held off Irap for the win. In the Haskell, Girvin laid back before making a sweet run to the wire. He let Irish War Cry and Timeline do all the running for him.

That versatility should serve him well in the Travers Stakes. He might be the horse to back because he could get the jump on Good Samaritan in a crowded field while keeping touch with the front runners.


Irap has grown into a big horse. When I think about how he won the Ohio Derby, it's difficult to keep him out of my Top 5. He's big, strong, fast, there are other superlatives I could use. I think he might offer the most value in the Travers, if his connections decide to run him, because he's got the smoothest action out of any horse on this list. He appears to be gliding in the Ohio Derby. The way he distributes energy might give him an edge in the Mid-Summer Derby.

West Coast

He must improve to beat the likes of Irap, Good Samaritan, and Girvin in the Travers Stakes. I believe Bob Baffert still ships to run in the Mid-Summer Derby. I don't think those horses scare him, but his win in the Los Al Derby, although impressive, was against horses that he was supposed to beat. That won't be the case in the Travers.

He has a shot. Plus, now, he's going to offer great odds. Is he Baffert's next Arrogate? Do you want to take the chance that he isn't?


I think Todd Pletcher should give him a shot in the Travers. I know that a race like the Belmont can knock a horse out for the rest of the year. But, he's as deserving of a shot in the Travers as any other three-year-old in Pletcher's barn.

After watching Always Dreaming, I'm sort of convinced he's not a 1 1/4 mile horse. Sure, he won the Kentucky Derby. But, like I wrote in a blog right after the Derby, the golden rail aided Always Dreaming that day. Maybe, Always Dreaming is better suited for mile races?

Tapwrit? He improved from the Bluegrass and Derby to the Belmont. Any more improvement could land him in the Travers Stakes winner's circle.