While there have been periods when favorites take down consecutive runnings of the Travers Stakes, a favorite hasn't won since Alpha in 2012. And that was a dead heat with a 33-1 longshot.
In the last 10 runnings, including both of the dead heat winners, the $2 win payout has averaged $19.90. In the last five, it's been $30.80. Since 2007, the race has produced an average $2 trifecta mutuel of $1,441.50. In the last five editions, the tri has come back over $2,110 on average.
It's simply a fantastic betting race.
With that in mind, I'll watch the board and see if I get tantalizing win prices on one or two longshots I like and then load in with a tri or two.
Obviously, we need to narrow down the field for that purpose. Several of the recent Travers winners have come out of the Jim Dandy Stakes, and a third of these 12 ran in that prep. I'm throwing out all of them except the winner, Good Samaritan (5-1). Always Dreaming (6-1) and Cloud Computing (8-1) ran 1-2 most of the way in the 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy, setting tepid fractions, and neither had an answer in the stretch. I know they've both won at this distance or close to it, but both victories came under circumstances that may not replicate here. Giuseppe the Great (20-1) clunked up for second in a blanket finish well behind the clear Jim Dandy winner.
I'm also throwing out Lookin at Lee (30-1) and Gunnevera (20-1) because they both leave too much work to do and it's unlikely they'll get a scorching pace to run into here.
The Haskell 1-2 combo of McCraken (12-1) and Girvin (10-1) both come into the race with excellent resumes if you throw out the Kentucky Derby, and they're a combined 12 for 15 in the exacta, so they have proven reliable. Along with Good Samaritan, they are my win keys.
Irap (8-1) has also proven consistent in recent races and makes a third start off the layoff with a pair of strong speed figures in the last two. I'm on the fence about Tapwrit (7-2). While I liked him heading into the Belmont, not having a prep for this since then is something of a concern, despite having Todd Pletcher saddling him and jockey Jose Ortiz in the irons. I'll probably have to include him underneath but I won't put him on top.
The two wild cards in the Travers are West Coast (4-1) and Fayeq (30-1). West Coast, trained by Bob Baffert, ships in looking like a dangerous newcomer, the way Arrogate proved to be last year. With four starts and no stakes races on his record, Fayeq is the most lightly raced colt in the field. But like West Coast, he's improving and 3-year-olds have won this race coming in off allowance or listed stakes preps. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and jockey Luis Saez both have Travers victories on their resumes.
If I key my three win candidates over the other horses I'm keeping, we have this .50 trifecta totaling $45:
1st: #5 Good Samaritan, #6 Girvin, #9 McCraken
2nd: 5, 6, 9, #3 West Coast, #4 Tapwrit, #10 Irap, #12 Fayeq
3rd: 5, 6, 9, 3, 4, 10, 12
If you're into boxing, you could take five of them and box a .50 tri for $30. A bold move would be to toss the two favorites Tapwrit and West Coast and wind up with this juicy trifecta box:
#5 Good Samaritan, #6 Girvin, #9 McCraken, #10 Irap, #12 Fayeq
If I get double digit odds on McCraken and Girvin, I'll bet one or both to win and throw down a small across-the-board wager on Fayeq, if he stays close to 30-1.
Should be fun. Be sure to take advantage of the sign up promotion at www.nyrabets.com. Earn up to a $200 bonus when you join.
Best of luck with your bets!
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