2019 TRAVERS STAKES

The 2019 Travers Stakes is on August 24th at Saratoga Race Course. The inaugural Travers in 1864 was won by the colt Kentucky, who was co-owned by two of the founders of the Saratoga Racing Association, William Riggin Travers and John Hunter. William Travers (1819-1887) made a fortune on Wall Street and was the first president of Saratoga Race Course. Since 1864, the race named after him has been run annually except for six years in the late 19th century and early 20th century. It is widely regarded to be the third most prestigious race for 3-year-olds in the United States, trailing only the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, and has been won by such greats as Native Dancer and Buckpasser.

This year’s renewal is particularly relevant because there is no clear-cut candidate for champion 3-year-old colt or gelding. The winners of the Kentucky Derby (Country House) and Belmont (Sir Winston) are out of action and the Preakness winner War of Will is being prepped for the Pennsylvania Derby instead of the Travers. Disqualified Kentucky Derby winner Maximum Security is not entered. Omaha Beach has not raced since being scratched as the pre-race favorite in the Kentucky Derby. The absence of a dominant colt makes for a challenging and attractive race to watch and bet.

Following are the twelve entries and their morning lined odds:

Chess Chief 30/1
Code of Honor 4/1
Endorsed 15/1
Everfast 30/1
Highest Honors 10/1
Laughing Fox 30/1
Looking at Bikinis 10/1
Mucho Gusto 6/1
Owendale 6/1
Stars are Cool 30/1
Tacitus 5-2
Tax 6/1

Tacitus, who broke poorly in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga but rallied to finish second, is a real threat at 1 ¼ miles, as is Code of Honor, who last month won the Dwyer at Belmont Park. The race has live longshot contenders like Owendale and Laughing Fox.

The Travers traditionally has drawn the crème de la crème of American 3-year old Thoroughbreds. The race has not been kind, however, to many of them. Whirlaway is the only Triple Crown champion to win the race. In 1978, Triple Crown winner Affirmed crossed the finish line first, but was disqualified for interference and placed second behind his arch-rival Alydar. And in 2015, American Pharoah was upset by Keen Ice.

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On August 14, 1938, trainer Mary Hirsch, daughter of Hall of Fame trainer Max Hirsch and sister to Hall of Fame trainer W. J. “Buddy” Hirsch became the first woman to saddle the winner of the Travers Stakes, sending out Thanksgiving for owner Anne Corning. Mary Hirsch was also the first woman in North America to be licensed as a horse trainer and the first woman to saddle a starter in the Kentucky Derby.

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