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SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – The 148th running of the Grade 1 Travers Stakes features a full field of 12, and Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit sits atop them all as the 7-2 morning line favorite.
The Todd Pletcher-trained colt will break from post position 4 under Jose Ortiz, the Saratoga meet’s leading rider. Tapwrit enters after a 76-day break following his dominant Belmont performance and will be flanked at the break by two near-favorites.
“Everyone was in agreement that the Travers was the race for him,” Pletcher said. “We felt like if we ran in either the Jim Dandy or the Haskell, we’d leave a little something on the table that we wanted to save for the Travers. I think he’s been training exceptionally well and has put in some good breezes, and I feel good that we have him fit enough and fresh enough to fire his ‘A’ race.”
California invader West Coast was made the second choice at 4-1. Representing the Bob Baffert barn, West Coast will break from just inside of Tapwrit (post 3) under Mike Smith.
“Going a mile and 1/4, 3 is fine,” said Baffert assistant Jimmy Barnes. “We were 1-2 last year. I think this horse really wants the distance; he looks like he wants the distance. He really doesn’t have a lot of early speed, so Mike is going to have just play the break and put him in a comfortable position.”
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Trainer Bill Mott will hope that Good Samaritan will repeat his first dirt effort, the Grade 2 Jim Dandy, which he won after having raced exclusively on turf. Drawing just outside of Tapwrit in post 5, Good Samaritan was given 5-1 on the morning line.
“You got horses from everywhere, all the best,” Mott said. “You got the Derby winner, the Preakness winner, the Belmont; you’ve got everybody. It shaped up to be a really good field. So now, we’ve got to go out there and run our race.”
The other Triple Crown winners, Always Dreaming (the Kentucky Derby) and Cloud Computing (the Preakness), drew posts 7 and 1 with morning lines of 6-1 and 8-1. Both colts will look to rebound off of subpar Jim Dandy performances for respective trainers Pletcher and Chad Brown.
“We drew inside in the Preakness and it worked out,” Brown said, dismissing the start along the rail. “We’re just looking to save some ground in this race. The track was very demanding (on Jim Dandy day). This horse has never let us down in a workout or a race except that one day. Since the race, I’ve thought about the Travers a little bit. He’s come back and worked great twice. He’s ready to run his race.”
Multiple graded stakes-winning Irap was the only other horse to receive a single-digit morning line (8-1) after drawing post 10 for trainer Doug O’Neill.
After finishing a nose-hair apart in the Grade 1 Haskell, Girvin and McCraken drew posts 6 and 9 with morning lines of 10-1 and 12-1.
The Jim Dandy runner-up Giuseppe the Great (20-1), the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth winner Gunnevera (20-1), the multiple graded stakes-placed Lookin At Lee (30-1), and the lightly-raced newcomer Fayeq (30-1) complete the field.
Full lineup for the 2017 Grade 1 Travers Stakes:
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