We’ve finally arrived to Travers Stakes Day at Saratoga in Saratoga Springs. The running of the $1,000,000 Travers Stakes (Gr. 1) is set for Saturday. A seven-horse field will be invited to the gate to duel for the top prize out of a million. There are some Kentucky Derby implications in this race. The winner will get 100 points, while second will be awarded 40, third 20, and fourth will still get 10 points. Every point is important for some team at the moment. Country Grammer, Max Player, and Uncle Chuck are likely in, with Tiz the Law a lock going into Saturday. He could get scratched and still receive a ticket to Churchill Downs in September.
Manny Franco will be aboard Tiz the Law and expected to pilot him in the Kentucky Derby. Franco will participate in several other races today at Saratoga as well. Jockeys must be in Kentucky by August 24 or risk being prevented from participating in the Derby. The Travers isn’t the only big event at Saratoga today. The running of the Ballerina Stakes (Gr. 1) and Longines Test Stakes (Gr. 1) both worth $300,000 are both scheduled for Saturday. I might be more excited to see Gamine run for Bob Baffert than Tiz the Law today. Head below for our free Saratoga selections and Travers Stakes pick for August 8, 2020.
Not a creature was stirring…💤 pic.twitter.com/sb1fWfEzB5
— NYRA (🎪) (@TheNYRA) August 8, 2020
Post Time: 2:26 p.m. EST
Distance: 5 ½ Furlongs
Race 5 will be our starting point for Saratoga on Saturday afternoon. This isn’t a stakes race, but a few of the runners in this event should expect to be participating in graded events in the future. This is a battle of inexperienced horses, with several making their debut on Saturday. Four of seven horses will be first-time runners in Race 5, including Bottle Rocket Man and Mutasaabeq who are projected to have big careers. Race 5 will feature 5 ½ furlongs on the dirt for a $72,000 purse.
Bottle Rocket Man and Mutasaabeq are expected to get their careers started with bold bids. Bottle Rocket Man was a $350,000 purchase in September of 2019 and should expect to have a productive career for Chad Brown. You can’t discount a Chad Brown trainee, especially a horse with plenty of promise. Bottle Rocket Man looked strong on July 26 with a time of 59.89 seconds at 5 furlongs. That’s his best workout to date. He followed up for 50.55 seconds at 4 furlongs on August 3. Other workouts in July include recorded times of 1:02.00 at 5 furlongs, and 48.20 and 48.69 seconds at 4 furlongs.
He is in tough company with Mutasaabeq who is a highly regarded $425,000 horse. He has been flying high in morning workouts leading up to Friday. Mutassabeq completed 5 furlongs in 59.55 and 1:00.98, and an electric 4-furlong workout with a time of August 1 with a time of 46.53 seconds. He was the most impressive horse on the practice track on that day. It’s becoming common to see Mutasaabeq as the most impressive horse in the morning at Saratoga. If Mutasaabeq isn’t bothered and wants to run today, he should have a good chance at a win in the first outing of his career.
Race 10 – Longines Test Stakes
Post Time: 5:39 p.m. EST
The second of two $300,000 Grade 1 events at Saratoga on Saturday, Bob Baffert’s Gamine takes to the gate with a ton of anticipation after she dazzled in her last performance. The Longines Test Stakes will cover 7 furlongs on the dirt, with a couple of horses a class above the rest.
Venetian Harbor and Gamine are in a class of their own and should perform as such. Venetian Harbor is coming off a 2nd place performance in the Ashland Stakes (Gr. 2) on July 11. She lost by 3 lengths against Speech who took over a half length lead at the top of the stretch and cleared the field.
Venetian Harbor was a highly regarded favorite in that race, so can’t say 2nd was good enough for her there. Prior to her entry in the Ashland Stakes, Venetian Harbor placed 2nd in the Fantasy Stakes (Gr. 3) as the favorite. Swiss Skydiver was incredibly impressive and was one of the better fillies you are going to find in the country at the moment.
She won by 2 ½ lengths over Venetian Harbor. Venetian Harbor was 10 ¾ lengths ahead of Shedaresthedevil, so it wasn’t much of a contest with the others. She was a winner on February 8 by 9 ¼ lengths over Gingham in the $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes (Gr. 2) for her most recent victory.
Venetian Harbor has finished 2nd, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd in her career. It’d be foolish to believe that Venetian Harbor isn’t going to be close in this one. Gamine will look to social distance herself from the field on Saturday in this one, though. She was brilliant in a 18 ¾ win over Pleasant Orb in the $300,000 Acorn takes (Gr. 1).
I was on Gamine in that race and was never a doubt. Gamine recorded a track record in the wire-to-wire win. Baffert has a gem in the $1,800,000 Gamine. She is one of the most talented fillies in the nation, and should clear the field for her second straight Grade 1 win. Venetian Harbor will threaten, but expect Gamine to pull away to win the Test.
Race 11 – Travers Stakes
Post Time: 6:15 p.m. EST
Distance:1 ¼ Miles
We’ve arrived at the main event of the weekend. It’s the biggest race on the schedule before September in Kentucky. A purse of $1,000,000 is offered in the Travers Stakes (Gr. 1) at Saratoga today. This is the last chance that we’ll have to see Tiz the Law in a race before the Kentucky Derby. Tiz the Law leads the leaderboard with 272 points. That is more than enough to punch his ticket to the Kentucky Derby. Even before the Belmont Stakes, Tiz the Law was in good shape.
Is Tiz the Law as good as advertised? After his performances in the Florida Derby and Belmont Stakes, I’d have to say Tiz the Law would not be a shocker to go the distance and win the Triple Crown. With months separating races, this is not as tricky as a typical Triple Crown, but it would go down in the record books nonetheless. Overall, Tiz the Law is 5 for 6 in his career, with three straight wins in 2020. He won the $250,000 Holy Bull Stakes (Gr. 3) by 3 lengths over Ete Indien to get the attention of the public on February 1.
It wasn’t until the Florida Derby on March 28 that Tiz the Law really introduced himself to the world, though. Tiz the Law was in superior form once again, as he cleared Shivaree for a 4 ¼ length win. His most notable win was on June 20 in the running of the first leg of the Triple Crown. Tiz the Law shook loose once again for a 3 ¾ length win over Dr Post to take home the top prize out of a $1,000,000 purse.
Another notable win for Tiz the Law in his career was the $500,000 Champagne Stakes (Gr. 1) on October 5, 2019. He beat Green Light Go by 4 lengths for one of several impressive performances for Tiz the Law. His only loss was in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (Gr. 3) on November 30, 2019 for 3rd behind Finnick the Fierce and Silver Prospector. Besides that mistake, Tiz the Law has been on fire since late last year.
Uncle Chuck will press Tiz the Law in this one. He is 2 for 2 in his career and fresh off a win in the $150,000 Los Alamitos Derby (Gr. 3) by 4 lengths over Shared Belief Stakes winner, Thousand Words. He won his debut on June 12 in a $50,000 maiden event by 7 lengths over Big Mel. He’s a dangerous relatively new competitor that has a lot to give. We just haven’t seen him up against competition like Tiz the Law, though. That’s not to say he can’t run a competitive race and come close to an upset. However, I believe Tiz the Law is that good and will be too much to handle in the final furlong.