The Travers Stake is widely known as “the Midsummer Derby” and sometimes as “the fourth leg of the Triple Crown.”  Only Whirlaway in 1941 has managed to win the Triple Crown and also win the Travers.  The only colt with a chance to replicate this difficult feat in 2020 is Belmont winner Tiz the Law, who is expected to run in the Travers.

The Travers Stakes is named for William R. Travers (1819-1887), the co-founder and first president of the Saratoga Racing Association, which opened the Saratoga Race Course in 1863.  He also was an investor in the Sheepshead Bay Racetrack on Coney Island.

Travers graduated from Columbia College in 1838 and proceeded to earn an immense fortune on Wall Street.  In addition to his horse racing interests, Travers was a yachtsman and the president of the New York Athletic Club.  The summer home of the NYAC is on Travers Island on Long Island Sound in New Rochelle, New York.

When Travers died, The New York Times wrote that he “may have been the most popular man in New York,” as he was a man of wit, self-deprecating manner, and charm.  Most notably, he was a stutterer and made light of it. 

A 2010 story on Saratoga.com, titled “The Wit of William R. Travers,” related anecdotes that demonstrated Travers’ self-deprecating humor.  One went like this:  While walking on a street in New York City, Travers happened upon an old acquaintance from Baltimore and the two conversed.

“’Why, Bill, you stutter worse now than when you were in Baltimore,’ his friend said.
‘H-h-have to,’ answered Mr. Travers.  ‘B-b-bigger city.’”

The namesake for the Travers Stakes was evidently a Wall Street tycoon with a very human persona and a sense of humor.

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