Happy Travers Day! 

Today is the big day with five Grade I stakes. The Travers field contains the three winners of the Triple Crown races as well as Forte, who took control of the division with his narrow (and controversial) win in the Jim Dandy. This race could very well settle divisional honors. 

Trivia Question:  Which jockey has won the most Travers Stakes? 

Race 11 – Sword Dancer Stakes – Grade I 

One Mile And A Half On The Inner Turf For Four Year Olds And Upward 

  1. Soldier Rising: In the Bowling Green as he was significantly impacted by Rebels Romance clipping heels and he had to check severely breaking his momentum. Hasn’t won against graded stakes company, but has hit the board a number of times including a nice second in the Manhattan. Should get a ground saving trip around all three turns. The Pick.
  2. Verstappen: Chased Channel Maker in the Bowling Green but couldn’t make a dent in Channel Maker’s lead. Won the Elkhorn earlier this year in his only attempt at twelve furlongs. Should be able to save ground – a key in these races. Two sharp recent works. Hits the board.
  3. Bolshoi Ballet: Aiden O’Brien ships in this Galileo colt after racing at Ascot. He competed in the U.S. as a three year old in 2021 when he won the Belmont Derby and placed fourth in the other two legs of the NYRA Turf Triple. That Belmont Derby was his last win – it was over two years and ten starts ago. He is 0/5 at twelve furlongs and appears to prefer less ground. Passing.
  4. Daunt: Was fourth behind a couple of these in the Bowling Green (92 Beyer) with a wide trip from the outside post.  Earlier this year he ran Beyers consistently in the low to mid 90s against optional claimers with three seconds. Distance should suit. Too tough a bunch today.
  5. Pioneering Spirit: Linda Rice scratched this one from the John’s Call on Wednesday to go here. This four year old was a maiden when Linda Rice took over training and after a couple of failed efforts on the dirt she moved this American Pharoah colt to the grass this Spring and that did the trick. He has won four straight as he stretched from a mile to eleven furlongs. Irad picks up the mount from his brother who goes with Soldier Rising. Exotics.
  6. Channel Maker: At age nine, he is almost as good as ever – just an amazing racehorse.  This is the sixth edition of the Sword Dancer that Channel Maker as participated – winning in 2020. Last out he won the Bowling Green by getting to the front and setting a fairly easy pace that let him stay strong all the way home (99 Beyer). He will need to gain position quickly to avoid being hung wide. If he gets clear and isn’t pressed – he could go all the way. Contender.  
  7. Stone Age: Chad Brown picks this one up from Aiden O’Brien.  He ran decently in two legs of the NYRA Turf Triple last year but his best performance was a second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland (103 Beyer). His only race this year was a last place dud in Qatar in February. Has been working on the dirt leading into this.  Zero for four at twelve furlongs. Chad said this one is “80% fit”. It’s a softer group, but still. Suspect favorite at a short price. Fade.

Picks 1-2-6-5 


Race 12 – Travers Stakes – Grade I 

One Mile and One Quarter on the Dirt for Three Year Olds 

  1. Forte: Narrowly won the Jim Dandy after an eventful stretch run (105 Beyer) where the connections were lucky there wasn’t a DQ given Irad’s ride. Only blemish this year was a second place finish to Arcangelo in the Belmont. Today he gets the rematch. Has a high cruising speed and can finish off a race. He’s the one to beat and should get the setup he likes with some pace signed on here. Legit favorite.
  2. Arcangelo: Hasn’t raced since his rousing win in the Belmont Stakes where he pressed a hot pace set by National Treasure and got the jump on the field with a nice rail skimming ride (102 Beyer). That followed a win in the Peter Pan where he was determined to hold off Bishop’s Bay (97 Beyer) coming off a similar layoff to what he faces today.  He’s formidable and has shown both the talent and desire needed to win big races. Only has five career starts and can still move forward. Should press National Treasure along with Scotland.  Castellano stays. The Pick.
  3. Tapit Trice: Last out in the Haskell he was flat in the stretch finished fifth after a good trip. Two back he was decent in the Belmont finishing third as part of a calvary charge that chased Arcangelo home. He was second choice in the Kentucky Derby off wins in the Tampa Bay Derby and the Blue Grass – but didn’t show much at Churchill.  Blinkers go ON. Passing.
  4. Mage: Derby winner (105 Beyer) has been good in his two starts since, but not good enough to win. In the Haskell he ran well and looked poised to go but couldn’t keep up with Geaux Rocket Ride (98 Beyer). Finished in a similar even manner in the Preakness behind National Treasure. Prat picks up the mount from Saez who was injured earlier this week.  Small slice.
  5. National Treasure: Hasn’t raced since setting the pace in the Belmont (93 Beyer) and getting caught in the stretch. That followed a Preakness win (98 Beyer) for this Baffert trainee where he went to the front and controlled the race.  Will be up front early. Comes in here fresh for a trainer who knows how to win this race. Blinkers come OFF. If he can get a soft pace, he’s dangerous.
  6. Disarm: Ran a decent fourth in the Jim Dandy by tipping out at the eighth pole (101 Beyer). Two back he won the Grade III Matt Winn on a sloppy track with a ground saving trip (102 Beyer).  Mid-pack type who might appreciate the ten furlongs. Blinkers go ON. Passing.
  7. Scotland: Went wire to wire in the nine furlong Curlin Stakes (99 Beyer) for Bill Mott. This gelding was straight and true in the stretch as he opened up on the field. That was his first two turn effort and he certainly took to it. Should sit just off the lead today and try and get first run at National Treasure. Takes on the big boys. Underneath in exotics.

Picks 2-1-4-7 

Trivia Answer: Hall of Fame rider Javier Castellano has won six Travers Stakes. He goes for number seven today on Arcangelo.