#2 AMERICAN PHAROAH – If he shows up with his normal effort, nothing else that happens in the race will make any difference and he will dominate…what a nice feeling that must be for his connections! There is nothing that says he’s not ready to roll, but this is horse racing so there are always a million things that could go wrong. If he’s able to win the race he will become the first horse in 74 years to win the Triple Crown and the Travers Stakes, and would also become the first horse in HISTORY to win the Triple Crown, Haskell, and Travers. It’s also worth noting that the Haskell/Travers double alone is not easy to pull off. It has only been accomplished three times, and has not been achieved since Point Given did it in 2001. So obviously a win here would be one of epic proportions, and it very well could happen. Saturday will be one of the defining moments in the history of the sport!
#6 FROSTED – What can you say…he’s pretty much been a tough luck loser in three straight races now. His effort in the Kentucky Derby was very admirable seeing as how he had zero pace to run into and still finished fourth. Then he ran a race at Belmont that would have won a good number of Belmont Stakes, but unfortunately for him not one that American Pharoah was also running in. Last time out in the Jim Dandy he once again fell too far back and was a victim of a slower pace, although he still had a bit of shot to win in the end but Texas Red held him off. This time I think the distance of a mile and one quarter will benefit him greatly, but sadly for him I still don’t see him finishing close to American Pharoah.
#4 TEXAS RED – Finally we saw Texas Red back in the winners circle last time out in the Jim Dandy! Even though it was only a four horse race you can’t take away how well he ran. He did get first jump on Frosted who lacked an early turn of foot, but Frosted had his chances late in the race and Texas Red dug back in and put him away. This might be the only horse left of the major three year olds that hasn’t matched up with American Pharoah this year, but as two year olds American Pharoah beat him on several occasions. It’s nice to see this horse back running in the races he belongs to be in, but I can’t seeing him running down the Triple Crown winner.
#7 KEEN ICE – His chances of winning this race…or any other race for that matter…remain to be not very high in my opinion. However, he is very likely to hit the board in any race he enters. He seems to do the same thing every race: Make a run at the end, pass horses that are tired or weakening, and keep to task to the wire. The problem is he just isn’t quite fast enough at this top level to pick up wins, which in this case is ok as running seconds and thirds for this kind of money can add up quickly. He’ll be ready to grind it out again in this one, but expect more of the same with his trend of minor awards.
#10 SMART TRANSITION – I don’t have any thoughts that he can win this race, but could see him running second with the right set up. Looks to be a horse that is going to love going a mile and a quarter, and is improving with every race. Last year V.E. Day won the Curlin Stakes and then went on to win the Travers so we have seen that the Curlin Stakes can produce serious runners. He’ll keep at task until the very end…one to consider playing underneath at a price.
#3 MID OCEAN – From a Delaware Park maiden win to the Travers! Not what you would call a logical progression, not to mention the fact it took this horse six times to pick up that first win.
#5 FRAMMENTO – This poor horse…I actually do not believe he could beat a good allowance field at Saratoga right now. Expect him to fall way back like always, but will need an absolute historic pace meltdown to make an impact.
#1 UPSTART – I only put him in this spot because it’s believed he will be scratching from the race. However, if he does run he has a mild shot to hit the board as his last race in the Haskell was a nice building block for him.
#8 TALE OF VERVE – Be careful not to fall for the Dallas Stewart trick! We’ve seen him hit the board in Triple Crown races with huge prices for three years now, but they never do much after that. Tale of Verve is well on his way to being another one of those types.
#9 KING OF NEW YORK – Come on…really?