Code of Honor should triumph in Travers

The Grade I, $1.25 million Travers Stakes, the traditional centerpiece of the Saratoga meeting, will be renewed for the 150th time this Saturday. The 1 1/4-mile classic drew full field of 12. Post time for the Travers, Race 11 of 13 on the day, is 5:44 p.m. ET.

#2 CODE OF HONOR (4-1) crushed his foes the one-mile Dwyer Stakes at Belmont when last seen. That was a drop in class off a rough-trip third (placed second) in the Kentucky Derby. CODE OF HONOR flattened out late in the “Run for the Roses,” but that could’ve been due to the interference he suffered or the wet track, or a combination thereof. However, his pedigree does not preclude him from handling the Travers distance. Trained by three-time “Mid-Summer Derby” winner Shug McGaughey and ridden by John Velazquez, CODE OF HONOR looks imposing but not impossible to beat on Saturday.

#1 OWENDALE (6-1) has won both the Grade III Lexington Stakes and Ohio Derby this year and was also third in the Preakness. However, he still seems to be just a cut below the best in his division. His sire, Into Mischief, certainly won’t help OWENDALE get the distance. Brad Cox trains and Florent Geroux rides. OWENDALE will be one of many trying to blow by the field late.

#6 TACITUS (5-2, morning-line favorite) has had little go his way in his last two starts. He was wide on both turns in the Belmont Stakes, leading to his defeat by Sir Winston, and missed the break in the Jim Dandy before rallying for second behind #12 TAX (6-1). TACITUS is a viable threat to win the Travers but won’t offer any value. Jose Ortiz gets the leg-up from Bill Mott on the 2019 Tampa Bay Derby and Wood Memorial winner.

#3 HIGHEST HONORS (10-1) won the Curlin Stakes over this course last time out with a four-wide bid, topping #11 ENDORSED (15-1) and #9 LOOKING AT BIKINIS (10-1). The late-blooming Chad Brown trainee switches to Luis Saez (who won the 2013 Travers atop Will Take Charge) with Ortiz committed to TACITUS. Look for HIGHEST HONORS to potentially make the first move against the tiring pacesetters.

The play: $5 exacta 2/1,6, $4 exacta 2/3, $3 win 1,3 ($20)

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