This day has been circled on my calendar since the beginning of 2019, and it’s finally here: the $1.25 million Travers Stakes (G1)! With seven graded stakes races (six Grade 1s) along with a fantastic undercard, this is the best day on the NYRA circuit; and yes, that includes Belmont Stakes Day. Not only does today’s card showcase some of the best thoroughbreds around, but it also gives an indication for who’s ready for the Breeders’ Cup. This card has everything that a horseplayer might want and I’m here to share my views.

Saratoga Meet Statistics (7/31 thru 8/22):

Races Top 4 Wins Top 4 Exactas Top 4 Trifectas Top 4 Supers
39 30 16 10 1
 
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Saratoga 8/24

Race 1: $62,500 AOC for 3-year-olds and upward going 1 mile on the inner turf

The Klaravich entry will be a deserving heavy favorite in here, whether it’s just #1 Frontier Market or #1A Unleveraged, and especially if both remain in the field. #8 Lemonist lost last out to Pillar Mountain, who will run in the Sword Dancer Stakes (G1) later on in the card. Assuming he runs a similar race, he will have a lot to say with how this race plays out. #5 Keep Quiet comes out of the same race as fellow foe Frontier Market but is a more likely winner here. He closed pretty well into slow fractions last time out and will hope for a quick pace up front. Another horse looking for a quick pace is #10 Penalty. Bill Mott got this colt to the winner’s circle over this turf course last time out and will look to make it two in a row.

Ricky’s Picks: 1/1A-8-5-10

Credit: NYRA

Race 2: $90,000 MSW for 2-year-olds going 6 furlongs on the dirt

#4 Atoka ran a monster race at 26/1 in his first start and almost shattered the tote board before getting nailed late. A true dirt sprinter, he will look to go gate-to-wire in a furlong less than his debut race. Mark Casse brings #1 Tap It to Win down from Canada to try breaking his maiden. He didn’t have the best of starts and was used early to get to the lead. A better start here makes this son of Tapit a clear favorite to win. #3 Complexifier was not nearly quick enough to go 5 1/2 furlongs in his debut. This 6-furlong race should provide him a chance to settle off the lead and come charging late. #7 Onward, ridden by Jose Ortiz, has the proper connections to win first time out. Purchased for $600,000, the son of Street Sense will look to fulfill his owners’ big aspirations.

Ricky’s Picks: 4-1-3-7

Credit: NYRA

Race 3: $90,000 MSW for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and upward going 1 1/16 miles (8 1/2 furlongs) on the inner turf

George Arnold just missed with #3 First Wave last time out after she battled Peaceful down the stretch. She has a ton of early speed and will look to control the pace around this two-turn turf route. Joel Rosario almost got #2 Charreada home in her last start. A consistent runner, she has finished in the money four of six times. #7 Balon Rose was in a little over her head in her last start against Beau Belle, who has now won two in a row. A shorter distance, and a lesser field, makes this well-bred filly a tough one to beat. #12 Confessing also faced a much more difficult field last time out when she lost to New and Improved, who finished fourth in the Riskaverse Stakes this past week. Expect Ricardo Santana, Jr., to have her forwardly placed in an effort to nab First Wave at the wire.

Ricky’s Picks: 3-2-7-12

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Race 4: $92,000 ALW for 3-year-olds and upward going 6 1/2 furlongs on the dirt

#11 Performer is an out-and-out dirt sprinter who most recently broke his maiden in his 3-year-old debut while facing elders. Joel Rosario stays aboard as he faces winners for the first time. Orlando Noda hasn’t had many runners here at the meet, but he’s won at 38%, which certainly makes #8 T Loves a Fight a contender. It doesn’t hurt that he’s won 10 of 30 career starts. Florent Geroux will attempt to win his first of the summer at Saratoga aboard #5 Off the Record. He ran a masterful race in the slop on debut and has as good of a chance as anyone. #7 Payne certainly has had his gate troubles in the past, but even with poor starts, he closes very well. He ran well recently against much better runners, such as Rowayton and Ruler of the Nile.

Ricky’s Picks: 11-8-5-7 

Credit: NYRA

Race 12: $40,000 AOC for New York-bred 3-year-olds and upward going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf

#11 Discretionary Marq figures to be on the lead here, as that is his best running style. He didn’t get the opportunity last time out, but the far outside post has proven to be a good place for early speed turf sprinters this meet. Assuming one or more scratches occur, #13 Dowse’s Beach should have a profound impact on this field. He will also vie for the lead with Discretionary Marq and might make this a match race. Jose Lezcano will be aboard #2 Fled, who had to go seven-wide in his last start and still managed to win with ease. Winning his only start on the Saratoga turf, he seems to enjoy this track and should do well in this field. Joel Rosario just missed with #9 Ghost Giant against Dowse’s Beach in his last start on a yielding turf course. Assuming Dowse’s Beach and Discretionary Marq duel for the lead, Ghost Giant could close from deep stretch to win at the wire.

Ricky’s Picks: 11-13-2-9

Credit: NYRA

Race 13: $90,000 MSW for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and upward going 1 1/16 miles (8 1/2 furlongs) on the inner turf

#2 Pat Pat Pat just missed out in her debut against New and Improved, et al. At 25/1, she certainly outran her odds, and the extra 1/2-furlong should help her tremendously. Chad Brown and Jose Ortiz will look to get #5 Magic Star to the winner’s circle as she makes her 3-year-old debut. She’s looked great in the mornings, and her most recent workout at 5 furlongs suggests that she should be able to handle this distance. #10 Keepme in Thegame struggled mightily in her last start. Bet down to 7/2, she didn’t do much running, but in her defense, the fields were more difficult than what she’ll see here. Amandrea won as a heavy favorite, and most recently, Catch a Bid won the Riskaverse Stakes. For all of the class that #6 Razeena has run against, she has yet to hit the wire first. This filly has a lot of talent and finally runs in a spot suited for her abilities.

Ricky’s Picks: 2-5-10-6

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Good luck to everyone playing and be sure to follow me on Twitter @RickyP_15 for more NYRA race previews!

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