Kentucky Derby top-three finishers Rich Strike, Epicenter and Zandon face off with Preakness victor Early Voting in what promises to be a memorable renewal of the Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Saturday’s 153rd Travers is covered in-depth digitally in the 1/ST Travers Wager Guide (news.1st.com/wager-guides/travers-stakes-2022) with stats and trends, expert picks, artificial intelligence and exclusive XBTV workout videos and analysis.
Early Voting led wire to wire in the Preakness but came up short on stamina in the local prep, the Jim Dandy, most recently. He could be outfitted with a pace advantage in the Preakness. As for the late runners, Epicenter has gotten the better of Zandon twice, and Rich Strike will have to prove his 80-1 stunner for the roses was no one-hit wonder. The Derby winner hasn’t added a Travers win since 2007 when Street Sense pulled off the trick. Cyberknife, the Haskell winner, must be respected. For my money, they have to beat Epicenter, the most reliable sophomore in this 2022 class.
For those betting Saratoga on Travers Day, here are the key Betmix.com local stakes stats during the current summer meet.
Percentage of winning favorites: 42%
Average win odds: 4.8-1
Hot trainers: Steve Asmussen (5-11, 45%), Wesley Ward (4-9, 44%), Bill Mott (4-13, 31%), Brad Cox (3-10, 30%), Chad Brown (6-35, 17%), Todd Pletcher (4-25, 16%)
Hot jockeys: Joel Rosario (13-31, 42%), Irad Ortiz Jr. (9-39, 23%), Luis Saez (5-30, 17%)
What To Watch For This Week
Saratoga kicks off Travers Weekend with six stakes races for New York-breds on Friday, and wraps the action Sunday with the Grade 1 $500,000 Ballerina for top filly and mare sprinters … Sprinters also take Del Mar’s center stage with Saturday’s Grade 2 $250,000 Pat O’Brien for the boys and Sunday’s Grade 3 $150,000 Rancho Bernardo for fillies and mares … Golden Gate Fields in Northern California reopens for a new meeting Friday after its summer break for the fair circuit … Racing in Maryland switches to Timonium for a short meet through Sept. 5 before moving to Pimlico.
Friday Weekend Firestarter
Friday night’s $1 million Grade 2 Charles Town Classic highlights a seven-stakes card in West Virginia. Defending champion Art Collector returns fresh from a light campaign that saw him win the Alydar at Saratoga in his second start of the year. Given his front-end strength (and the presence of mile speedster Mind Control), look for a late runner to pick up the pieces for second and round out the exacta. Unbeaten local star Muad’dib has the right late running style and an affinity for the track, having won at 1 1/8 miles among his 10 straight scores.
1/ST BET App Top Handicapping Tracks of the Week
The free 1/ST BET app allows you to apply millions of data points across dozens of handicapping factors in mere seconds and immediately place your wagers. Here’s where the artificial intelligence was most dialed-in last week by win percentage:
— Arizona Downs: 64%
— Finger Lakes: 46%
— Prairie Meadows: 44%
— Thistledown: 44%
— Mountaineer: 38%
Tracks with most reliable favorites last week (by win pct.)
— Mountaineer: 50%
— Charles Town: 50%
— Thistledown: 48%
— Delaware Park: 46%
— Del Mar: 44%
Tracks that were long-shot havens last week (most winners 10-1 or higher)
— Saratoga: 7
— Charles Town: 5
— Canterbury: 5
— Monmouth: 5
— Thistledown: 5
America’s hot jockeys last week
— Perry Ouzts (10-23, 43%), Belterra
— Elvin Gonzalez (6-16, 43%), Prairie Meadows
— Devin Magnon (8-20, 40%), Evangeline Downs
— Carlos Lopez (6-16, 38%), Laurel, Charles Town
— Juan Hernandez (8-22, 36%), Del Mar
America’s hot trainers last week
— Larry Smith (4-6, 67%), Belterra
— Kim Puhl (5-10, 50%), Thistledown, Presque Isle
— Mike Stidham (6-14, 43%), Colonial, Delaware
— Jeffrey Englehart (6-16, 38%), Finger Lakes, Saratoga, Monmouth, Colonial
— Kevin Attard (6-19, 32%), Woodbine
Final Qualifier for Fun in the Sun Contest Saturday
Handicapping Saratoga and Del Mar? Put it to extra use and make money in the process with the weekly Xpressbet.com contest Fun in the Sun. The last five races at Saratoga and last five races at Del Mar require $10 win bets to play, and the entry fee is just $25 for weekly and season-ending cash prizes. The final table is next week — just one more week to qualify. Visit Xpressbet.com/tournaments for more.
Statistics courtesy of Betmix.com