King Zachary seeks crowning achievement in Travers

The Grade I, $1.25 million Travers Stakes is set for Saturday at Saratoga. A field of 11, led by Haskell winner GOOD MAGIC, will contest this classic event for three-year-olds. The distance for the “Midsummer Derby” is 1 1/4-miles. Going as Race 11 on a 13-race program, the Travers is scheduled for 5:44 p.m. EST. In addition to watching and wagering, be sure to get involved in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#9 GOOD MAGIC (2-1, morning-line favorite) won the Haskell with ease in his latest start, but the Haskell-Travers double hasn’t been completed since 2001 (Point Given). Not even American Pharoah could pull off that feat in his Triple Crown year. Like many in this group, GOOD MAGIC is hoping for a stalking trip, but will likely face outside pressure from #10 TENFOLD and #11 CATHOLIC BOY. The Jose Ortiz-ridden colt must be respected, but there is another option in the Travers field that is more appealing.

#7 KING ZACHARY (15-1) had a long-awaited coming-out party in the Matt Winn two starts ago before coming up empty late in the Indiana Derby. His most recent start can be forgiven, as it looked like he bounced off that big Matt Winn effort. KING ZACHARY had a sizzling tune-up work over this course for Dale Romans, who conditioned 2015 Travers winner Keen Ice. Robby Albarado will be aboard this late-blooming closer that could pop at a huge price.

#3 GRONKOWSKI (4-1) looked hopelessly far back in the Belmont Stakes, his stateside debut, but put forth a bold late rally to make things interesting late for Triple Crown winner Justify. Ortiz jumps off, but Joel Rosario takes over. If GRONKOWSKI, stablemate of the Chad Brown-trained GOOD MAGIC, can replicate his Belmont effort he’s got a big shot in the Travers.

#5 VINO ROSSO (10-1), like GRONKOWSKI, was far back in his most recent start but rallied late for a major share. ‘ROSSO nearly caught a bolting TENFOLD in the 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy but had to settle for third. The extra furlong he gets today should aid his cause. However, he’ll have to turn the tables on GRONKOWSKI, who outfinished him in the Belmont two-back. John Velazquez will have the call.

The play: $5 win/place 7 ($10)

DFJ analysis: Irad Ortiz Jr.’s collection of Saturday mounts can best be described as a mélange.  He’s not riding for any one particular trainer, with just two repeat mounts for Brown in a collection of 12.

Favored firster Greyes Creek should get his day started smoothly. Later on, Jason Servis-trained Firenze Fire (5-2) runs in the Grade I Allen Jerkens. Ortiz follows that up with Lewis Bay (3-1) in the Grade I Ballerina. His biggest ‘pick up mount’ comes in the Grade I Forego, where he’ll have the call on City of Light (9-5). The reliable Bigger Picture is Ortiz’s charge in the Grade I Sword Dancer before he gets a leg up on female contender WONDER GADOT in the Travers. Then right after the Travers is 7-5 favorite A Raving Beauty in the Grade II Ballston Spa, likely to be many a handicapper’s best bet of the day.

Ortiz is well in command in the jockey standings at “The Spa.” A successful Travers day would be the icing on the cake.

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