For the first time in history, the “Mid-Summer Derby” will be run before the Kentucky Derby. The Grade I, $1 million Travers Stakes, moved up from its traditional spot at the end of August to serve as a Derby prep race, is the Saturday feature at Saratoga. Eight three-year-old colts will be tested over 1 1/4-miles in here, including Belmont Stakes winner TIZ THE LAW. In addition to the rich purse, the Travers also offers 170 Kentucky Derby points, with 100 going to the winner. Post time for the Travers, Race 11 on a stakes-laden 12-race program at “The Spa,” is 6:15 p.m. ET.
#6 TIZ THE LAW (even-money, morning-line favorite) is the obvious horse to beat in the Travers. He’s a perfect 5-for-5 on fast dirt, including his runaway Belmont Stakes score on June 20. TIZ THE LAW has yet to find his equal in the lane in any of his fast-track starts, winning by at least three lengths in each instance. He continues to work sharply for Barclay Tagg and retains Manny Franco. TIZ THE LAW is the champ until proven otherwise.
#7 CARACARO (10-1) looks like the value of the race and should be used confidently underneath. After hitting the shelf for nearly seven months following an emphatic maiden victory, the Gustavo Delgado trainee returned to nearly win the Peter Pan over this course on July 16. CARACARO could easily improve with the rust shaken off, and he need not move up much to best probable second-choice UNCLE CHUCK. Javier Castellano will be in the irons.
#3 UNCLE CHUCK (5-2) is looking to prove himself as Bob Baffert’s best Kentucky Derby hope. He’s 2-for-2 to start his career, but his victory in the Los Alamitos Derby last time out was not as impressive as some might have hoped. UNCLE CHUCK could improve and land second in this race, but at the price, it’s worth having some action against him. Luis Saez has the call.
The play: $5 exacta 6/3,7 ($10)
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