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 restricted for 3-year-olds 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, NY summer racing meet and held on the last Saturday of August. Nicknamed Saratoga’s Midsummer Derby, the 2019 Travers is the 150th running and is expected to break last year’s all-sources wagering record of $52.08 million on the 13-race Travers Day card.

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Travers Stakes schedule and race details

The 150th running of the Travers Stakes will be broadcast on NBC.

  • Date: Saturday, August 24, 2019
  • Time: 5:44 p.m. ET
  • TV: NBC 4-6 p.m. ET televising three races
  • Tablet, Online, Mobile: NBC Sports App and streamed live on NBCsports.com/live and fuboTV
  • 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 odds and post positions 2019

PostHorseOpening OddsCurrent OddsLast Race
1Owendale+600+6001st at Ohio Derby (G3)
2Code of Honor+400+4001st at Dwyer (G3)
3Highest Honors+1000+10001st at 2019 Curlin (RS)
4Laughing Fox+3000+30004th at Jim Dandy (G2)
5Everfast+3000+30004th at Haskell Invitational (G1)
6Tacitus+250+2502nd at Jim Dandy (G2)
7Mucho Gusto+600+6002nd at Haskell Invitational (G1)
8Chess Chief+3000+30002nd at West Virginia Derby (G3)
9Looking At Bikinis+1000+10003rd at 2019 Curlin (RS)
10Scars Are Cool+3000+30001st at Sar MSW (R5)
11Endorsed+1500+15002nd at Curlin (RS)
12Tax+600+6001st at 2019 Jim Dandy (G2)

Travers Stakes analysis & predictions

A pretty solid but not great group of 3-year-olds for the 2019 Travers with six very capable contenders in the field of 12. The 150th edition has a large, competitive field which makes for a good betting race in the 1 ¼ mile Travers (G1) at Saratoga. Missing is Maximum Security, who is the current leader for 3-year-old Horse of the Year honors. But that year-long race along with the Travers is still wide open. So which of the Travers runners is going to win?

In post order, here is some insight on the horses and top contenders to include in your win wagers and exotic payoffs.

1 – Owendale (6-1) won his last race in the Ohio Derby(G3) in late June while posting the fastest Equibase Speed Figure (114) of any horse to date in this field. The Brad Cox-trained Into Mischief colt also won the Lexington (G3) in April and finished 3rd in the Preakness (G1) between those two victories. Owendale has never run a mile and a quarter, and being in prime physical condition is essential to winning at a Classic distance and against stronger contenders. The time off since June is not ideal, and we don’t know if he’s capable of getting this distance. A 4-1-2 record in 10 starts, Owendale will be stalking but not likely getting ahead of the leaders late. Consider underneath as both trainer Brad Cox (first Travers) and jockey Florent Geroux seek their first Travers win.

2 – Code of Honor (7-2) has been training very well over the Saratoga surface the past month and broke his maiden at Saratoga a year ago. He’s since run well in graded stakes races going 2-2-1 while winning the Fountain of Youth (G2). He also won his last race in early July at Belmont in the one mile Dwyer (G3), pulling away from a slow pace in the stretch to win easily by more than three lengths. Code of Honor placed 2nd as a 14-1 longshot in the Kentucky Derby (G1) coming off the pace with a solid move before tiring late. Trainer Shug McGaughey, a 3-time Travers winner, said the Dwyer was the best performance for Code of Honor, and veteran jockey John Velazquez will be aboard one of the top contenders looking for his second Travers victory. Win potential for certain and include in your top 3 or 4.

3 – Highest Honors (10-1) is a lightly-raced son of Tapit trained by Chad Brown, who is 0-for-8 in the Travers and without an in-the-money finish. Highest Honors has raced just three times and won his stakes debut last month in the Travers prep Curlin Stakes. That victory at 1 1/8 miles was over muddy Saratoga surface, and Highest Honors prevailed over the favorite Lookin at Bikinis (3rd) and also runner-up Endorsed, who are also both running in the Travers. An intriguing option to upset, and one to include in the money. Jockey Luis Saez won the Travers on debut in 2013.

4 – Laughing Fox (30-1) will be a toss for many horse players, but the son of Union Rags is talented and better than these odds. He finished 4th in the Jim Dandy, a local prep, and 5th in the Preakness, so he’s raced against solid graded stakes runners. Three wins in nine career starts, but trainer Steve Asmussen is 0-for-5 in the Travers. Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. needs a faster pace for this closer to make his run to the money. Not likely.

5 – Everfast (30-1) has one win in 13 starts for trainer Dale Romans, and he’s not going to suddenly explode as a closer to pull the upset. His 2nd place finish in the Preakness (G1) provides hope, but that race winner War of Will has done nothing since.

6 – Tacitus (5-2) is 3-2-1 in seven starts for trainer Bill Mott and will close less than 2-1 in the Travers. He won the Tampa Bay Derby and Wood Memorial, placed 3rd in the Kentucky Derby while making up ground, 2nd in Belmont Stakes traveling wide, and 2nd in Jim Dandy to Tax after stumbling badly at the start. Saratoga’s leading jockey Jose Ortiz has a great chance to get this strong son of Tapit to the winners circle coming from off the pace again. A first Travers win for both Ortiz and Mott makes sense in this year’s Mid-Summer Derby.

7 – Mucho Gusto (6-1) will be one of the pacesetter and pressers up front for trainer Bob Baffert, a 3-time Travers winner. He shipped in from out West last month to finish 2nd in the Haskell (G1) at Monmouth Park chasing Maximum Security to the wire. That was his fourth straight improved speed rating, and Baffert decided to try the Travers and ship him East again after Mucho Gusto’s superb work last week at Del Mar indicating he’s fit to run well again. Mucho Gusto has finished in the money in all eight starts and won five times. The Classic distance is not an issue, and at this price, Mucho Gusto needs to be considered as he has yet to finish out of the money. Jockey Joe Talamo makes his Travers debut.

8 – Chess Chief (30-1) has just one win in 10 starts and finished six lengths behind the winner for 2nd in the West Virginia Derby (G2) earlier this month. Not even HOF jockey Mike Smith, a 4-time Travers winner, can get this colt into the money against his best competition yet.

9 – Lookin’ at Bikinis (10-1) is another lightly-raced colt for trainer Chad Brown with just three lifetime starts. He couldn’t win as the favorite last month in the Travers prep Curlin Stakes over the muddy surface, and he won’t win the Travers even with six-time Travers-winning jockey Javier Castellano in the irons. Along with Tax on the outside, Lookin’ at Bikinis will try to get out quickly and be one of the pace pressers.

10 – Scars are Cool (30-1) steps way up in class after breaking his maiden last month at Saratoga in his third start. The horse has promise, but not enough speed as jockey Tyler Gaffalione will find out.

11 – Endorsed (15-1) finished 2nd behind Highest Honors last race in the Curlin Stakes. He was off for eight months prior to winning an allowance race in June, but the talent is there as a son of 2002 Travers winner Medaglia d’ Oro. Jockey Joel Rosario is knows as a great closer, and trainer Kieran McLaughlin has won the Travers three times, but recent works over Saratoga surface do not suggest he’s ready to win or challenge against stronger class horses.

12 – Tax (6-1) has run in six consecutive grades stakes races winning two including the Jim Dandy G2) last month when he turned the tables on Tacitus from the Wood Memorial (2nd). Tax also finished 4th in the Belmont (G1) and 14th in the Kentucky Derby (G1). He’s improving, and had another bullet work at Saratoga since winning the Jim Dandy. Surprisingly, jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. has never won or finished in the money in seven Travers starts. This is the first Travers runner for trainer Danny Gargan, and while the odds are pretty attractive for a proven and competitive colt, Tax is not the winner of choice but one to include in exotics with his pedigree (Arch) and proven performances.

Travers Day and the Breeders’ Cup

The winner of the Travers Stakes along with other select contenders in the race may run in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) in November. However, three other races on Travers Day are “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series races with the winner earning an automatic fees-paid entry to the 2019 Breeders’ Cup World Championships Nov. 1-2 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, CA.

  • $500,000 Ballerina (Filly & Mare Sprint)
  • $700,000 Personal Ensign (Longines Distaff)
  • $1 Million Sword Dancer (Longines Turf)

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 racings stars among its many memorable moments. Winners include Bernardini (2006), Street Sense (2007), Summer Bird (2009), Will Take Charge (2013), Arrogate (2016) and Keen Ice (2015), who upset Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. In total, 36 Travers winners were later named Champion-3-Year-Old.

Alpha and Golden Ticket (2012) completed the first dead heat winner in Travers history that never went to a race-off. No race favorite has won the Travers (alone) since 2011 with Stay Thirsty. 

YearWinnerOddsPayoutTimeStyle
2018Catholic Boy7-1$16.2002:02.0Stalking
2017West Coast6-1$14.2002:01.2Front
2016Arrogate11-1$25.4001:59.4Front
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 that will begin with the Ketel One Ballerina, and conclude with the Runhappy Travers Stakes.

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 Belmont 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 2019 Travers Stakes?

The 150th running of the Travers Stakes will take place on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019.

How many horses run in the Travers?

The field is limited to a maximum of 14 horses.

What is the Travers Stakes purse?

The Travers Stakes has maintained a purse of $1.25 million since 2014.

How much does the winner of the Travers get?

The winner of the Travers receives $670,000, 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. 5:44 p.m. ET on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019.

How much are Travers Stakes tickets?

General admission or Grandstand tickets 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. The 13-race card generated a handle of $52,086,597 with an on-track handle of $11,466,264

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.