They'll gather at Saratoga and at wagering outlines online around the world for Saturday's Travers Stakes, the mid-summer Derby. But it's the Personal Ensign in Race 10 that may have the most competitive lineup on a star-studded, 13-race card. The Personal Ensign has lured some of the best in the Distaff division, fittingly for a race named after the unbeaten, Hall of Fame mare.
Horseplayers tackling the Saratoga card on Saturday at Xpressbet and on the 1/ST BET app can take advantage of up a $10 money-back guarantee on every race on the card if your win bet finishes second or third.
Grade 1 winners abound with SWISS SKYDIVER, LETRUSKA, HARVEY'S LIL GOIL and DUNBAR ROAD. The Grade 2 heroines include BONNY SOUTH, AS TIME GOES BY and MISS MARISSA. The Grade 3 winners include ROYAL FLAG and GRACEFUL PRINCESS. This top-class group doesn't have a wide stretch in terms of schedule quality; they've mostly all been battling at the top of the division, though it's hard to argue against the gameplan SWISS SKYDIVER has attempted and success accumulated.
LETRUSKA is one of the most high-quality speedsters we've seen in the Distaff division in recent years. Those trying to apply pressure to her figure to be AS TIME GOES BY (with California speed), MISS MARISA on the class rise and perhaps even SWISS SKYDIVER. It's a difficult assignment to pressure LETRUSKA and finish the deal; so from a pace standpoint, it looks most likely to be LETRUSKA on the front end or a deeper closer to benefit.
LETRUSKA has won 3 in a row over 3 different tracks. She wired the Shuvee over this 1-1/8 miles distance at Saratoga last summer, eliminating any concern that she'll take her 'track' with her in this next move. You'll have to soften her up to beat her, and that's not easy. There is some speed to her inside, namely AS TIME GOES BY (post 2) and SWISS SKYDIVER (post 4), so there's some chance that she'll have to work for it into the clubhouse turn or give away some ground loss. With jockey Jose Ortiz interestingly taking the seat aboard SWISS SKYDIVER, the mount on LETRUSKA goes back to Irad Ortiz, Jr., who rode her to victory in the Apple Blossom against champion Monomoy Girl.
SWISS SKYDIVER ran a very good fourth in the Whitney vs. the boys just 3 weeks ago. But that race wasn't in her original plans, and has diverted the training path because of a quarantine in her barn that kept her out of action. While the quarantine had nothing to do with her, or her Ken McPeek stablemates, it could have an impact on the Personal Ensign. The turn-around time is tight after such a strenuous effort in the Whitney when forced to do the dirty work pressing the blazing, lone-speedster that day, Knicks Go. She will benefit a great deal if IF TIMES GOES BY takes that attacking role Saturday in battling with LETRUSKA. She she had to chase that one in the Apple Blossom this spring, SWISS SKYDIVER was left empty late.
The quality closers here include DUNBAR ROAD, the 2019 Alabama winner over this track for the resurgent Chad Brown barn at the Spa; ROYAL FLAG, already a course and distance stakes winner at the meet for the aforementioned Brown barn; BONNY SOUTH, last year's Alabama runner-up and recent workmate for Travers star Essential Quality, shining bright in the a.m.; HARVEY'S LIL GOIL, last year's Alabama third behind SWISS SKYDIVER and BONNY SOUTH, who has been turfing of late, but tipping her hand in the morning; and GRACEFUL PRINCESS, the regally bred daughter of Horse of the Year Havre De Grace, and recent Monmouth stakes winner with a gaudy 112 BRIS late pace figure.t t
Most Certain Exotics Contender:
LETRUSKA is a head away from 6 straight wins and has a track/distance win. Her speed takes away a lot of the variables. She may be worn down on the win end, but, if so, is trustworthy to keep fighting in the exotics.
Best Longshot Exotics Contender:
BONNY SOUTH will be an inflated price after misfiring over the Delaware Park dirt that often trips up out of towners with its unique qualities. She gets 4 pounds from the favorites and a hot pace to rally into on what could be a huge day for the Brad Cox outfit.
Sending it in ($100 bankroll):
$80 win BONNY SOUTH. $10 exacta box BONNY SOUTH and LETRUSKA ($20).
1/ST Bet is offering a Travers Day Money-Back Special: Get your cash back — up to $10 — if your horse finishes 2nd or 3rd on all races at Saratoga on Travers day. GO HERE FOR DETAILS.
Also you can get in on the Travers All-Stakes Pick 5: Register at Xpressbet.com and hit the Travers all-stakes Pick 5 on Races 8-12 and split $10,000.