Travers Stakes Betting Guide

Horse Racing Odds And Predictions

travers stakes

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 the 2020 edition offers a purse of $1,000,000. 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. However, the 2020 Travers Stakes is Aug. 8 and was moved up due to the Covid-19 health crisis and the rescheduled Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5. For the first time ever, the Travers will award Derby points (100-40-20-10) to the top four finishers towards qualifying for the 2020 Kentucky Derby.

The 2019 Travers Day all-sources handle of $52.1 million was an all-time record. But more than 48,000 fans were in attendance at Saratoga and wagered an on-track handle of $11.6 million. This year’s Travers is spectator free and will be run in front of an empty grandstand at Saratoga.

The 2020 Travers is the 151st running and will include the Kentucky Derby favorite Tiz the Law.

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Travers Stakes schedule and race details

The 152nd running of the Travers Stakes will be broadcast on FOX.

  • Date: Saturday, August 28, 2021
  • Time: 6:15 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 odds and post positions

PostHorseOpening OddsJockey / TrainerLast Race
1First Line30/1David Cohen
Orlando Noda
1st Maiden Special Weight
2Country Grammer6/1Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Chad Brown
1st Peter Pan (G3)
3Uncle Chuck5/2Luis Saez
Bob Baffert
1st Los Alamitos Derby (G3)
4Max Player6/1Joel Rosario
Linda Rice
3rd Belmont Stakes (G1)
5Shivaree30/1Junior Alverado
Ralph Nicks
11th Blue Grass (G2)
6Tiz the Law1/1Manny Franco
Barclay Tagg
1st Belmont Stakes (G1)
7Caracaro10/1Javier Castellano
Gustavo Delgado
2nd Peter Pan (G3)
8South Bend15/1Jose Ortiz
Bill Mott
2nd Ohio Derby (G3)

The 2020 Travers Stakes (G1) is set for Saturday, Aug. 8 at Saratoga, and Tiz the Law (1/1) is the prohibitive even money favorite. Betting leading up to the $1 million Runhappy Travers Stakes will be brisk, and the potential to break last year’s all-sources handle of $52.1 million is within reach following last weekend’s record handle of $35.7 million for Whitney Stakes Day.

Along with the Travers Stakes, there are four consecutive graded stakes races leading into the Travers including The Ballerina (G1). That race will award the winner a fees-paid entry to the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at the 2020 Breeders’ Cup World Championships Nov. 6-7 at Keeneland.

Tiz the Law will try to snap the seven year losing streak of post time favorites failing to win the Travers Stakes. As handicappers and bettors try to identify a value horse or two that could pull the upset in this year’s Travers, understand that this is the first time any of these 3-year-olds have raced the classic 1 1/4 mile distance.

Travers Stakes betting guide and field

Win or lose, it’s worth watching how Tiz the Law (1/1) runs and finishes against seven rivals and potential Kentucky Derby runner Uncle Chuck (5/2), who will take some action as the lightly-raced, improving Bob Baffert-trained colt with talent and upside. Recent Peter Pan (G3) winner Country Grammer (6/1), who edged Caracaro (10/1), already has enough points to run in the Derby. So does Max Player (6/1) and Shivaree (30/1). Bookends First Line (30/1) from the rail and the outside horse South Bend (15/1) are in deep, although this Travers field is not a very good one.

The pace can often dictate a race, and Tiz the Law figures to be pressing the pace and running up front again as he was when winning last month’s 1 1/8 mile Belmont Stakes and posting a 113 Equibase Speed Figure. Coming from well off the pace to finish third was Max Player, whose speed figure was 105 and never a factor in chasing after Tiz the Law. Max Player will be closer to the pace this race, according to his trainer Linda Rice.

“He was too far back last time, and he’ll (jockey Joel Rosario) be more aggressive to keep him close,” Rice told NYRA racing analyst Andy Serling following the Travers post position draw Wednesday.

Profile of a winner

Tiz the Law and Max Player are the only two Travers runners with a triple-digit speed figure in their most recent race. That’s one of the key profiles in identifying a Travers Stakes winner the past decade.

  • 10 of the last 11 Travers winners recorded an Equibase Speed Figure (ESF) of 105 or more in the race prior to the Travers.
  • Since 2010, every Travers winner finished in-the-money in the race preceding the Travers (7 wins, 3 place and 1 show).
  • Forwardly-place runners have fared better, as 6-of-11 winners were in the front three at quarter pole and 8-of-11 raced in the front half of the pack by the half-mile marker.
  • Since 2010, the average odds of the winning Travers is 8/1 with an average win payout of $18.05.
  • Only two of the last seven Travers favorites have hit the board.

That includes last year’s runner-up Tacitus, and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, who lost the lead in the stretch and was upset by 16/1 outsider Keen Ice in the 2015 Travers. There’s a reason some of the best race horses in the big races at Saratoga have fallen victim to the “Graveyard of Champions.”

Along with running the added 1 1/4 mile distance, six of the eight runners will be racing over a new Saratoga surface for the first time. The potential stage is set for another upset in the Travers, although Tiz the Law could not have asked for a much weaker field of runners. Perhaps Uncle Chuck will be this year’s semi-surprise like another late-developing Bafftert-trained 3-year-old, Arrogate, who won the 2016 Travers Stakes by 13-lengths at 11/1 odds in a track record time (1:59.36).

A few years later, Baffert explained again the significance of the Travers and racing in the biggest races at Saratoga.

“The thing about Saratoga is everybody is watching, the whole industry,” he said. “This is where it happens. If you are going to showcase a horse, it is important to get a win on the East Coast, but if you can get it in Saratoga, it means more because it is probably the biggest platform to showcase a horse. All of these races have so much history and have been won by all the greats.”

Travers Day and the Breeders’ Cup

The winner of the Travers Stakes – along with other select contenders in the race – may run in the $7 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) in November. The 2020 Travers undercard includes a “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series race as well. The $300,000 Ballerina (G1) will award the winner a fees-paid entry to $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at the 2020 Breeders’ Cup World Championships Nov. 6-7 at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky.

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), Will Take Charge (2013), Arrogate (2016) and Keen Ice (2015), who upset Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

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.

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 four graded stakes on the undercard ahead of the Travers.

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 2021 Travers Stakes?

The 152nd running of the Travers Stakes will take place on Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021.

How many horses run in the Travers?

The field is limited to a maximum of 14 horses and the 2020 field is projected to include 8 runners.

What is the Travers Stakes purse?

The 2020 Travers Stakes purse is $1 million, which is reduced from $1.25 million each year since 2014.

How much does the winner of the Travers get?

The winner of the Travers receives $600,000, runner-up $200,000 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. 8, 2020.

How much are Travers Stakes tickets?

General admission or Grandstand tickets for 2019 were $10 in advance, $15 day-of. Clubhouse admission is $25. However, there are no spectators allowed for the 2020 race due to the Covid-19 health crisis.

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.