Should You Bet On American Pharoah To Win The Travers Stakes at Saratoga?Josh Bailey
American Pharoah became the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 37 years. On Saturday the Bob Baffert trained superstar horse will try to end an even longer thoroughbred racing drought. No horse since Whirlaway in 1941 has won both the Triple Crown and the Travers Stakes.
2015 Travers Stakes
Date: Saturday, August 29, 2015
Post Time: 5:46 PM ET
Location: Saratoga Springs, New York
Stadium: Saratoga Race Course
Odds: Chiefs -4.5
Game Total: 43
Stream: NBC Sports Live
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) August 24, 2015
Travers Stakes Morning Line Odds & Post Postions
- Upstart (15-1)
- American Pharoah (1-5)
- Mid Ocean (50-1)
- Texas Red (8-1)
- Frammento (30-1)
- Frosted (6-1)
- Keen Ice (12-1)
- Tale of Verve (30-1)
- King of New York (50-1)
- Smart Transition (20-1)
American Pharoah also has a shot to do something that no other three-year-old in the history of thoroughbred racing has ever done. No horse has ever won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, the Belmont Stakes, the Haskell Invitational and the Travers Stakes. As great as winning the Triple Crown has been, winning the 5 most prestigious races of the year for three-year-olds in the United States would stamp American Pharoah as one of the greatest three-year-olds to ever run. If the son of the Pioneerof The Nile were to add a BC Classic victory to his resume in October, a real discussion about American Pharoah being the greatest of all time might have to take place.
But, what if American Pharoah were to lose on Saturday? As great as winning the Triple Crown is, there’s no doubt that losing to one of his three-year-old rivals might diminish his value as a stallion. But, who can possibly beat American Pharoah on Saturday?
The obvious choice from a handicapping perspective is Texas Red. Although Frosted is listed as the second choice at 6 to 1, Texas Red, the BC Juvenile Champion of 2014, ran a marvelous race to catch Japan in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy. Being a son of Afleet Alex, Texas Red shouldn’t have an issue running the 1 ¼ mile distance of the Travers. The Keith Desormeaux trainee is a push button horse. He also has a win over Saratoga’s unique dirt track. Texas Red can close a lot of ground in a short time span and has the best chance of beating American Pharoah in the Travers.
Frosted is likely to be compromised by the slow pace. The half mile in the Jim Dandy was run in 48 seconds. Frosted couldn’t get to Texas Red that day. It’s unlikely that any pace close to a 48 second half mile will lead to a Frosted victory. At 6 to 1 on the morning line, Frosted is actually an underlay. Most professional handicappers will be expecting double-digit odds before betting on Frosted.
The best long shot on the board is Smart Transition. Trained by John Shirreffs, who campaigned Zenyatta, Smart Transition is a late-blooming son of Smart Strike, the same sire of Classic winner Curlin. Smart Transition will have to run faster than he’s ever run before in order to beat American Pharoah, but he’s going in the right direction and Shirreffs is known to go slow with his horses.
Bob Baffert’s history at Saratoga isn’t very good. American Pharoah is great. But, they don’t call Saratoga the ‘Graveyard of Favorites’ for nothing. We shall see on Saturday.