Travers 2021: Odds, Post Positions, Prize Money and Picks

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistAugust 27, 2021

Jockey Luis Saez reacts after crossing the finish line atop Essential Quality (2) to win the 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes horse race, Saturday, June 5, 2021, At Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Associated Press

The three-year-old horse racing season continues Saturday with the 152nd running of the Travers Stakes at the Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga, New York.

The race, often referred to as the Midsummer Derby, will be lucrative for those involved. The total purse will be $1.25 million.

Of the seven horses vying for the crown, the odds-on favorite is Essential Quality. The Belmont winner kept up his momentum with a first-place run at the Jim Dandy Stakes in Saratoga at the end of July.

He will have some quality competition, though. Keepmeinmind challenged him at the Jim Dandy and finished second. Midnight Bourbon was the runner-up in the Preakness and will look to bounce back after not finishing the Haskell Stakes.

Here's the complete lineup, post positions and odds for those set to run the 1 ¼-mile race for a share of the $1.25 million.


Travers Stakes Info

When: Saturday, August 28

Post Time: 6:12 p.m. ET

TV: Fox


Post Positions and Odds

1. Midnight Bourbon 9-2

2. Essential Quality 4-5

3. Keepmeinmind 6-1

4. Dynamic One 6-1

5. Miles D 12-1

6. Masqueparade 8-1

7. King Fury 15-1

Odds via the race's official website


All eyes should be on the inside track, as heavy favorite Essential Quality will break from the No. 2 post and his biggest competitor, Midnight Bourbon, will go from the No. 1 position.

The Brad H. Cox-trained colt is the big favorite for one reason: Save one disappointment at the Kentucky Derby, where he still finished fourth despite a difficult trip, Essential Quality has been lights out. The colt has won every other start in both his two-year-old and three-year-old campaigns.

Cox has little doubt that he would have been a historic horse had things gone his way in Louisville.

"He's at the head of the class right now," the trainer said, per Bob Ehalt of BloodHorse. "It crossed my mind the other day that if this horse had won the Kentucky Derby he probably would have been a Triple Crown winner, given the success he had against the horses who ran in the Preakness."

While a Triple Crown is out of the question, there's still plenty to race for in his three-year-old campaign. Winning the Travers would strengthen his claim to to be named Horse of the Year ahead of the Breeders' Cup Classic. The race will carry a $6 million purse and another opportunity for Essential Quality to etch his name into history books.

But all he can do Saturday is live up to his status as the favorite.

Doing so will mean outrunning a few lively challengers. Keepmeinmind was close to pulling off the upset in the Jim Dandy. The Robertino Diodoro-trained colt has not lived up to the promise he showed as a two-year-old, but his form has improved as his three-year-old campaign has progressed. He followed up seventh- and fourth-place finishes in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness by coming third in the Ohio Derby before placing second at Saratoga.

The biggest push for Essential Quality should come from Midnight Bourbon. The colt has only found the winner's circle once as a three-year-old but had an impressive run in the Preakness. With a much less talented field, he should get the opportunity to show his stuff.

That opportunity was thwarted at the Haskell Stakes, where he was in third until he was bumped and unseated his jockey, Paco Lopez. Fortunately, trainer Steve Asmussen feels good about his horse's recovery from the incident.

"He's a very impressive horse," Asmussen said, per BloodHorse. "I think we're obviously very fortunate that he came out of the mishap in the Haskell in good shape, and he's training well, per usual."

Dynamic One is a wild card to keep an eye on. The Union Rags progeny has been lightly raced since an 18th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Still, he won his only race since that appearance at Churchill Downs, the Curlin Stakes in late July. He comes into Saturday's event with 6-1 odds.

In a race that is dominated by closers and stalkers there are few pace-setting horses, so this one could get off to a slow start. Maybe that causes a few surprises and a close finish, but it's too hard to bet against Essential Quality here.



Win: Essential Quality

Place: Midnight Bourbon

Show: Dynamic One