There's no shortage of recognizable names in the 10-horse field for the Travers 2014. The Midsummer Derby is set for Saturday, August 23, and the purse is a handsome $1.25 million, per NYRA.com.
Here's a look at the post positions and odds information, per Saratoga.com:
|Post Positons, Odds, Trainers and Jockeys for Travers 2014|
|1||Commanding Curve||Dallas Stewart||Shaun Bridgmohan||15-1|
|2||Bayern||Bob Baffert||Martin Garcia||2-1|
|3||Charge Now||Bill Mott||Junior Alvarado||15-1|
|4||V.E. Day||Jimmy Jerkens||Javier Castellano||15-1|
|5||Viva Majorca||Ian Wilkes||Julien Leparoux||20-1|
|6||Tonalist||Christophe Clement||Joel Rosario||3-1|
|7||Wicked Strong||Jimmy Jerkens||Rajiv Maragh||7-2|
|8||Kid Cruz||Linda Rice||Irad Ortiz Jr.||12-1|
|9||Ulanbator||Ian Wilkes||Brian Hernandez||30-1|
|10||Mr. Speaker||Shug McGaughey||Jose Lezcano||10-1|
The race will begin at 5:45 p.m. ET, and NBC will have coverage of the event beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET. Obviously, Bayern is one of the horses to watch, but here are a few contenders that could knock off Bob Baffert's colt.
Bleacher Report's Michael Dempsey likes Tonalist's chances to best Bayern. He writes:
"Tonalist came up 2 1/4 lengths short of getting to Wicked Strong last out in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga, going nine furlongs as the 4-5 chalk, but may be able to turn the tables with the extra ground."
Bayern is certainly speedy, but he may not have the endurance to hold Tonalist off.
After thwarting California Chrome's attempts at a Triple Crown, Tonalist has already proved that he has the stamina to perform on the longer tracks.
With more room to operate, that could be the definitive factor on Saturday.
Having beaten the Belmont Stakes champion is a major boost for Wicked Strong's status as a serious threat at Saratoga.
Before the win in the Jim Dandy, Wicked Strong's season looked a bit disappointing. After failing to win, place or show in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, bettors were probably down on Jimmy Jerkens' horse.
With recent success at Saratoga, there's new reason to believe in Wicked Strong. Will he win? Maybe not, but he at least seems like a good bet to finish in the money this time.
If you're looking for more of a long shot, consider Mr. Speaker. Shug McGaughey's colt's odds are at 10-1, but after taking the Grade 1 Belmont Derby in July, he could prove to be a force at Saratoga.
After watching his horse win the Belmont Derby, McGaughey said this per Jerry Bossert of the New York Daily News:
“He definitely redeemed himself,” McGaughey said. “His last race was very disappointing.”
The win in New York was a bit of a surprise since Mr. Speaker hadn't performed up to expectation in his previous runs. As is the case with most things, horse racing is about what you've done lately.
With recent success on longer-distance races, Mr. Speaker can't be discounted. Steve Haskin of BloodHorse.com chimes in on Mr. Speaker's status as a live dog. He writes:
"First off, Mr Speaker has already won at 1 1/4 miles, and the only Travers horse who has won going that far is Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist."
Haskin also points out that the horse is bred to run well on dirt, which is the surface the horses will race on at Saratoga. If you're looking for a not-so-obvious pick, you could certainly do worse than Mr. Speaker.