Travers Stakes Betting Guide

Horse Racing Odds And Predictions


Dating back to 1864, the Travers Stakes is America’s oldest stakes race for Thoroughbreds. The Travers is a Grade 1 race at Saratoga and restricted for 3-year-olds. The 2022 race is the 153rd edition and offers a purse of $1,250,000. Nicknamed the Midsummer Derby, the Travers has been contested at the classic 1 1/4 mile distance since 1904.

Travers Day is the most popular day of the Saratoga summer racing meet and is held on the last Saturday of August. This year’s Travers will take place on Saturday, August 27.

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Travers Stakes odds and post positions

Travers Stakes odds have been made available at TVG. Epicenter checks in as the Travers favorite in this loaded field after second place finishes in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

1Cyberknife7-2Florent Geroux
2Rich Strike10-1Sonny Leon
3Ain't Life Grand20-1Tyler Gaffalione
4Gilded Age30-1Jorge Alvarado
5Artorius9-2Irad Ortiz
6Epicenter7-5Joel Rosario
7Early Voting8-1Jose Ortiz
8Zandon5-1Flavien Prat

Angles galore mark the 153rd Travers Stakes, Saturday’s $1.25 million showcase for the nation’s top three-year old thoroughbreds from Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. All participants have something to prove in a drama nationwide bettors can watch play out on TVG.

In a year-long circuit marked by parity, this race, along with the Breeders Cup Classic in November, are the two remaining events to determine 2022 Horse-of-the-Year honors.

Travers morning line odds

The morning line odds are the ultimate reflection of the muddled three-year-old racing circuit. The Kentucky Derby winning Rich Strike is 10-1. The Preakness winning Early Voting is 8-1. And the horse that beat neither of them in those two races is the 7-5 chalk.
Go figure.

Variables surround all the top horses here.

  • Favored Epicenter, 7-5 after finishing second in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, tries to seize an elusive Grade I triumph.
  • Zandon looks to avenge two close losses to him. Rich Strike tries to show that his Kentucky Derby triumph at 80-1 odds was no fluke.
  • Early Voting, who tired badly in the Jim Dandy on the same Saratoga surface and was beaten by horses he faces here.
  • This may also be the day that an opportunistic Cyberknife, second choice at 7-2, becomes a premier horse.

Field Overview for the Travers Stakes

1. Cyberknife (7-2): Is he rounding? Came up big in the Arkansas Derby, flattened out to finish 18th in the Kentucky Derby and then won a thrilling Haskell Stakes nailbiter over Taiba. Got an excellent rail trip and captured the duel down the stretch. If handicappers forgive the Kentucky Derby, they will weigh the fact he’s won four of the last five races into the equation. Should be close enough to the lead without having it. Would benefit if somebody puts heat on Early Voting. Has to be respected off of the Haskell. Brad Cox, who trains him, also guided 2021 Travers winner Essential Quality.

2. Rich Strike (10-1): Moved like a freight train to pass 19 horses and steal the Kentucky Derby at a whopping 80-1. Had an extra quarter-mile to work with in the Belmont Stakes. Surely, the 1 1–2-mile distance would have given him a greater chance to run down the pack than the 1 1–4-mile Kentucky Derby, right?
But he didn’t fire, finishing a dull sixth. Epicenter and Zandon will be there again, probably in front of him entering the homestretch. The question is whether he can make the most of his one-run style. He figures to mount a single late move at the front-runners. Switches back to the distance he won the Kentucky Derby at. Was the Derby a fluke or does he like 1 1-4 miles? The love for this distance may run in the family. His father Keen Ice won the 2015 Travers, defeating reigning Triple Crown champion American Pharoah, at 1 1-4.

3. Ain’t Life Grand (30-1): Unlikely. Would be a Cinderella story. Closed from five lengths back in the stretch to snare the Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows, exploiting a blistering pace that weakened 1-2 frontrunner Conagher. Must stretch out from 1 1-16 miles and a weaker class level at Prairie Meadows to 1 1-4 miles and a championship field. Nonetheless, as Rich Strike proved in the Kentucky Derby, a pace that’s too fast early can negate class differences. Outsider, would need many things to go right.

4. Gilded Age (30-1): Would be asking a lot. Charged nicely to cover most of the field in gaining a picking-up-the-pieces second to Artorius in the Curlin Stakes. But this is a major step up.
Good horse and well meant, but this is probably too much.

5. Artorius (9-2): Won the Curlin Stakes here at 5-2, outworking the field in a lower stakes race. Stalked on the rail and was much the best in the stretch. Gets leading Saratoga jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. Must step up significantly in class, but there was nothing wrong with the last effort. Gaining significant early respect because of the victory at the track in only his third effort. Thought his odds would be be a little higher based on the move up. It will be interesting to see if betting action varies from the early line. His finishing kick at 1 1-8 miles suggests he can get 1 1-4 miles, but he still has to do it. Lightly raced, suggested arc for improvement, but already baked heavily into the line, if it holds.

6. Epicenter (7-5): Hooked up with Zandon in the Jim Dandy, winning the thrilling rematch of their Kentucky Derby encounter. At the Jim Dandy, there was no Rich Strike to spoil the party in the last 100 yards. This time there is. Legitimate Eclipse Award-winning candidate. Can run in front or stalk. Stylistically resembles Essential Quality, who swept the Jim Dandy and the Travers enroute to gaining an Eclipse Award last year. Always in the picture heading for home. The logical choice on his best. May be the race to finally give him a Grade I. Will be keyed in trifecta and exacta tickets if his post-time price is not attractive.

7. Early Voting (8-1): Those odds are not a misprint. These are big numbers for the Preakness winner. The consummate profile of the King-for-a-Day 3-year-old racing circuit. He won the Preakness in frontrunning style. Was in position to capture the Jim Dandy, leading the four-horse field at the top of the stretch after moderate fractions. But they all reeled him in. Epicenter, Zandon and Tawny Port passed him definitively and he finished last. Epicenter and Zandon are in this race too. May be the controlling speed, but must now turn the tables on the horses that beat him in the Jim Dandy. If that can happen in any year, it’s this one.

8. Zandon (5-1): Ran the race expected of him in the Kentucky Derby and the Jim Dandy. Was right there in both, edged by Epicenter. Hard knocker, capable of turning the tables. Should be right with the leaders heading for home. And then it’s simply a matter of whether he’s good enough. Along with Epicenter, will be used prominently in tickets. At 5-1, the best value in the race.

Pace Overview

Early Voting usually takes the front. It doesn’t look like someone wants to contest that here. That’s an edge.
Epicenter would like to be forwardly place and within striking distance. Rosario can’t repeat his Preakness mistake of dropping back too early.

The others usually want to get in position and try to be the best horse down the lane.

Betting Overview

This is like sprinting on an oil slick. There is no firm footing on the win line.

That said, I like the consistency of Epicenter. You always know what you will get from him. I will put him in most of my tickets and hope to hook up the right exacta partner with him. If his odds go to 9-5 or better, I’ll take a pop on the win line.

I will take one $5 exacta box with Epicenter and Zandon, and a $1 trifecta box with Epicenter, Zandon and Rich Strike, based on their performance at this distance, to complete the early round of betting.

After that, you have to respect Cyberknife’s improvement, the effort of Artorius over the track and the fact that Early Voting has early speed. What if he wakes up at this distance, at a price? Saratoga favors speed.

But you can’t play ‘em all. That’s why I’ll hone in closer to race time, after making these initial wagers.

Some bettors may take a pop on a contender with mid-sized odds, because very little separates the top pack. Zandon, for instance, is exceptional value if he stays 5-1 and some big bettors may even slam him in win and place pools.

Good luck bringing this one home.

Whose turn is it to sit atop the 3-year-old circuit?

TVG Bettors can preview track conditions and pace variables that could impact the big race by playing an undercard so loaded it resembles a miniature Breeders Cup.

The supporting cast includes:

  • $750,000 Sword Dancer
  • $600,000 Personal Ensign
  • $600,000 Forego
  • $500,000 Allen Jerkens Memorial
  • $400,000 Ballston Spa

Travers Stakes schedule and race details

The 153rd running of the Travers Stakes will be broadcast on FOX with coverage from 5:00-6:30 p.m. ET. Also, FS2 carries earlier race coverage along with all of Saturday’s races on TVG as part of its comprehensive daily racing coverage.

  • Date: Saturday, August 27, 2022
  • Time: 6:12 p.m. ET
  • TV: FOX 5-6:30 p.m. ET
  • Track & Location: Saratoga Race Course, Saratoga Springs, New York
  • Distance: 1 1/4 miles (10 furlongs)
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Horses: 3-year-old thoroughbreds by invitation only
  • Track Record: Arrogate won the 2016 Travers in a record time of 1:59.36
  • Largest Margin of Victory: Arrogate (13 lengths)

A gold-plated replica of the Travers Trophy, known as the Man O’War Cup, is presented to the winner, along with the locally hand-made floral blanket with thousands of carnations draped over the horse in the winners circle.

Bettors can place wagers on the Travers Stakes legally at online sites like TVGBetAmerica and TwinSpires. Mobile betting on horse racing is legal in 31 states.

You can also wager on horse racing legally across the US at racetracks and simulcast centers such as Off Track Betting (OTB) Centers.

Travers Stakes betting guide and field

As handicappers and bettors try to identify a value horse or two that could pull the upset in this year’s Travers, review races of 1 1/4 miles like the Kentucky Derby, and other races at least 1 1/8 miles while evaluating current form. There are annually improving and maturing 3-year-olds at this time of year who can break onto the scene like the great Arrogate did in winning the 2016 Travers – his first stakes race and record time.

Travers Stakes winners and history

The Travers Stakes has produced some notable champions during its storied history. The 2016 winner Arrogate was a relative unknown until he delivered a breath-taking 13-length victory in a Travers-record time of 1:59.23. That victory was Arrogate’s stakes debut, and the late-bloomer went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Pegasus World Cup, and the Dubai World Cup in his next three starts to become North America’s all-time money winner.

Historic Saratoga Race Course has produced many legends of racing with Travers winners becoming champion 3-year-old and/or Horse of the Year winners. The Man o’ War Cup, awarded to the Travers winner, is named in honor of the 1920 winner Man ‘o War, whose victory was one of his 20 wins in 21 career starts.

The most recent two decades has produced some of racing’s stars, among its many memorable moments. Winners include Bernardini (2006), Street Sense (2007), Summer Bird (2009), Stay Thirsty (2011), Will Take Charge (2013), Arrogate (2016) and Keen Ice (2015), who upset Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. In last year’s 2020 Travers, Tiz the Law won after capturing the Belmont Stakes and then finishing 2nd in the October Kentucky Derby in an unusual year of racing due to the pandemic and COVID-19 health crisis.

Alpha and Golden Ticket (2012) completed the first dead heat winner in Travers history that never went to a race-off.

2020Tiz the Law1-2$3.0002:00.9Pace Pressing
2019Code of Honor4-1$10.8002:01.1Closer, back
2018Catholic Boy7-1$16.2002:02.0Stalking
2017West Coast6-1$14.2002:01.2Front
2015Keen Ice16-1$34.0002:02.6Mid-pack, off pace
2014V.E. Day19-1$41.0002:03.0Closer, back
2013Will Take Charge9-1$21.0002:02.7Mid-pack, off pace
2012Alpha/Golden Ticket dead heat)2-1/33-1$4.10/$28.8002:02.7Stalking (both)
2011Stay Thirsty2-1$6.8002:03.0Pressing
2010Afleet Express7-1$16.0002:03.3Mid-pack, off pace

Past Travers noted champions that paved the way for the modern race winners include: Triple Crown winner Whirlaway (1941), Sword Dancer (1953) and Ruthless (1867), who went on to become the first of seven fillies to win the Travers.

In the past 40 years, other notable and significant wins include: Alydar (1978) who won after rival Affirmed was disqualified, previous record holder General Assembly (1979), Java Gold (1987), Easy Goer (1989), Holy Bull (1994), Thunder Gulch (1995), Lemon Drop Kid (1999), Point Given (2001), Medaglia ‘d Oro (2002), Birdstone (2004), and those above in the last decade.

Some racing greats both running and riding have won and lost some of the tightest finishes, as 10 Travers Stakes have been decided by a nose, including two in the past decade, V.E. Day (2014) and Afleet Express (2010).

Jockey Javier Castellano has recorded a record six Travers wins over the last decade, guiding Bernardini (2006), Afleet Express (2010), Stay Thirsty (2011), V. E. Day (2014), Keen Ice (2015) and Catholic Boy (2018) to victory.

The most shocking result in Travers history occurred in 1930 when Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox lost to 100-1 longshot Jim Dandy, who is now honored with a stakes race that serves as Saratoga’s leading Travers prep.

How to bet the Travers Stakes

The Travers will be part of a special NYRA Bets Late Pick 5 which will feature a minimum single-ticket payout of $1 million. The $1 million single ticket payout bonus is available only to NYRA Bets customers online, on track, and at New York State simulcasting facilities.

Travers Day will also feature an all-stakes Pick 4 guaranteed at $1 million. There are six Grade 1 races and a Grade 2 race on 2021 Travers Stakes Day.

In addition to the traditional “straight” wagers (Win, Place, Show), fans can also attempt to cash big in the various “exotic” pools. Exacta (first two), Trifecta (first three) and Superfecta (first four) wagering are all offered, and cashing a ticket in any of these pools can produce a bigger payday.

  • Win: Bet on the horse you think you will win the Travers Stakes.
  • Place: Get paid the place price if your horse finishes first or second.
  • Show: A show bet pays the least, but you win and get paid the show price if your horse finishes first, second or third.
  • Exacta: Predict the first two horses in the correct order.
  • Trifecta: Predict the first three horses in the correct order.
  • Superfecta: Predict the first four horses in the correct order.

The Travers Stakes betting odds are finally determined by the pari-mutuel system at the track which means your potential payout depends on how much money is in the pool overall, divided by how many bets are placed. The odds will fluctuate in the build-up to the race and never more so than in the final few moments before post time.

Travers Stakes FAQ

When is the 2022 Travers Stakes?

The 153rd running of the Travers Stakes will take place on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

How many horses run in the Travers?

The field is limited to a maximum of 14 horses and the 2022 field is projected to include at least 8 runners.

What is the Travers Stakes purse?

The 2022 Travers Stakes purse is $1.25 million, which has been the purse every year since 2014 except in 2020 when it was reduced to $1 million.

How much does the winner of the Travers get?

The winner of the Travers receives $670,000, runner-up $230,000, third place $125,000 and the top eight places are paid.

What kind of race is the Travers Stakes?

The Travers is a Grade 1 stakes race and is restricted to 3-year-old Thoroughbreds.

When is post time for the Travers Stakes?

Post time is approx. 6:15 p.m. ET on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

How much are Travers Stakes tickets?

General admission or Grandstand tickets for 2022 Travers are $10 in advance, $15 day-of. Clubhouse admission is $25.

What is the record handle for Travers Day?

In 2018, Travers Day surpassed $50 million in all-sources handle for the first time with $52.08 million. The 2019 handle broke the record with $52.1 million.

Who was the fastest horse to win the Travers Stakes?

Arrogate (2016) raced home a 13-length winner in 1:59.36; breaking General Assembly’s 1979 record of 2:00 flat.