Does the spring racing season matter now? That’s the question Kentucky Derby graduates Essential Quality, Midnight Bourbon, Keepmeinmind and Dynamic One, along with three others in a seven-horse field, will answer after handicappers attempt to navigate 2021 Travers Stakes odds.
The $1.25 million, 1 1/4-mile Saturday showcase at Saratoga is the nation’s oldest three-year-old thoroughbred stakes races. It dates back to 1864. The 152nd running has an approximate post time of 6:15p ET. Here is Travers Stakes TV information.
Bettors can access the action via the TVG app.
2021 Travers Stakes Preview
Essential Quality, installed as the clear 4-5 favorite, finished fourth in the Run for the Roses, easily defeating his rivals entered in the Travers. But Keepmeinmind nearly overtook him in the 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy, making Essential Quality sweat out the Travers prep last month.
Has Keepmeinmind improved steadily enough to break his 0-5 record against Essential Quality or is the extra one-eighth of a mile going to benefit the chalk?
Dynamic One ran a faster 1 1/8 than Essential Quality at Saratoga last month. Will that matter at 1 1/4 miles?
There’s another wild card: a 60% chance of isolated rain showers. They are expected to be light, for now. Heavy rain would alter the race style but is not anticipated. Make many of your bets late.
Here’s a look at the field with jockeys, trainers and the morning-line odds. Pari-mutuel betting determines final 2021 Travers Stakes odds at post time.
Field For The 2021 Travers Stakes
1. Midnight Bourbon (9-2) – Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr, Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Always gives a game effort and is an excellent selection underneath. Ran late after a bad Derby trip to finish sixth and earned a good second to Rombauer in the Preakness Stakes. Was en route to a likely third-place finish at the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park before clipping heels with Hot Rod Charlie, who won the race but was disqualified. Mandaloun was put up. Will try for a good stalking trip and hope that it’s enough down the lane. Underneath on exotic tickets.
2. Essential Quality (4-5) – Jockey: Luis Saez, Trainer: Brad Cox
The king of exciting finishes. Consider these nail-biting endings: a just-missed fourth at the Kentucky Derby, a thrilling stretch duel triumph over Hot Rod Charlie to win in the Belmont Stakes and a gut-check triumph over Keepmeinmind at the Jim Dandy. Did not win the Jim Dandy with 2-5 ease. Was surprisingly wide on both turns in a five-horse field and needed every bit of grit to slide past a stubborn Keepmeinmind.
Better positioning – this problem also hurt him in the Kentucky Derby – could improve his performance by a couple of lengths. That would make him tougher. He won the Belmont at 1 1/2 miles. May prefer a longer race. Will be forwardly placed early. Nonetheless, with Saratoga known as the “graveyard of favorites”, 4-5 looks short for a horse that doesn’t win decisively.
3. Keepmeinmind (6-1) – Jockey: Joel Rosario, Trainer: Robertino Diodoro
Backers will love his forward momentum. He was a distant seventh in the Derby, fourth in the Preakness, a stubborn third in the Grade III Ohio Derby and an eye-opening second to Essential Quality in the Jim Dandy. Keepmeinmind gave Essential Quality all he wanted in that race, testing the heavy favorite all the way to the wire. It was the closest he’s come in victory against Essential Quality. Was that his breakout effort? Trainer Robertino Diodoro says Keepmeinmind has two bullet works of 46.01 and 46.03 for four furlongs. If that’s the horse that shows up here, look out. Likes to run late, needs one of his rivals to soften up Essential Quality. Live.
4. Dynamic One (6-1) – Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Comes off a sharp victory in the Curlin Stakes, coming from 10 lengths back and dead last to overtake the entire field in the stretch. The move was more impressive considering the half-mile pace of 47.34 was modest. The class angle has figured into all of his races. He was nipped at the wire by Bourbonic in the Wood Memorial and finished well behind Essential Quality in the Kentucky Derby. He was 18th. But after a layoff of nearly three months, he showed a class edge in winning the Curlin. And his winning time of 1:49.36 over this track was faster than the 1:49.92 for Essential Quality in the Jim Dandy one day later. Did he find something?
5. Miles D (12-1) – Jockey: Flavien Prat, Trainer: Chad Brown
Made a nice jump going from Maiden Special Weights to the Curlin. Was given betting respect at 8-1 and did beat 6-5 favorite First Captain with a bold surge from next-to-last. But was overtaken in the lane by Dynamic One, who came all the way from last, at 3-1. Looks over his head against these but would benefit if the race fell apart.
6. Masqueparade (8-1) – Jockey: Miguel Mena, Trainer: AL Stall Jr.
Spirited Jim Dandy effort saw him near the front the entire way. Battled Essential Quality and Keepmeinmind tooth and nail until the final few strides. Was shut off, denied an opening between the two of them in the homestretch. That could have been worth a length. Showed grit in winning a head-to-head stretch duel in the Grade III Ohio Derby June 25. Had just enough to outlast Keepmeinmind and King Fury. Has been improving all year. Was Jim Dandy a peak or is there another level upcoming?
7. King Fury (15-1) – Jockey: Jose Ortiz, Trainer: Kenny McPeek
Throw out the last, a 10th place finish in the Saratoga Derby. It was a a $1 million turf race and his connections took a shot. Finished second to Masqueparade in the Ohio Derby, engaging in a furious late run from mid-pack around the final turn. If the form for that race repeated itself, he’d be at the bottom of the trifecta or superfecta pools.
Betting Overview For 2021 Travers Stakes Odds
There’s little money in the race if Essential Quality wins. A $10 straight exacta with one of the other contenders is a suggestion.
An exacta box, hoping he gets beat, is another. Even a three-horse exacta box, hoping he runs out of the top two.
Essential Quality should be on or near the lead early. The only question is whether somebody peppers him, setting up a closer.