Exaggerator heads packed field in Travers Stakes

WPPROD

This Saturday marks the 147th running of the Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, one of racing’s oldest traditions. This year a full field of 14 3-year-olds was entered for the first time since 1977, with a mix of horses who have established their ability at the top level and those who are up-and-comers.

Get the scoop on the race and all the entrants below.

Race Details

Saturday, Aug. 27, post time 5:48 p.m. ET

The Travers Stakes is an annual August race for 3-year-olds at Saratoga, run at 1 ¼ miles on the dirt and nicknamed the Mid-Summer Derby. The race result often carries weight when year-end championship honors are decided and offers a $1.25 million purse. Last year Triple Crown winner American Pharoah lost the Travers at Saratoga, which is known as the “Graveyard of Champions” due to the frequency of seemingly unbeatable horses losing at the track.

1. Arrogate (10-1 morning-line odds)

Jockey: Mike Smith

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owner: Juddmonte Farms

Career record: 4 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $114,600

Earnings per start: $28,650

Pedigree: Unbridled’s Song – Bubbler, by Distorted Humor

Color: Gray or roan

Running style: Pacesetter/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Arrogate will be making his stakes debut in the Grade 1 Travers with only four career races to his name. He’s won three of them, though, after finishing third in his career debut in April. Arrogate was a $560,000 purchase as a yearling by his owner, Saudi Arabian Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms. He’s conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

2. American Freedom (6-1)

Jockey: Rafael Bejarano

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owner: Gary and Mary West

Career record: 5 starts – 3 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $446,100

Earnings per start: $89,220

Pedigree: Pulpit – Gottcha Last, by Pleasant Tap

Color: Bay

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: American Freedom is another of the more lightly raced colts in this year’s Travers field, having just five races under his belt. He’s won three of them, including the Grade 3 Iowa Derby, and finished second to Exaggerator in the Haskell in a gritty effort on a sloppy track. Trainer Bob Baffert conditioned last year’s Travers runner-up American Pharoah and 2001 winner Point Given.

3. My Man Sam (20-1)

Jockey: Manny Franco

Trainer: Chad Brown

Owner: Sheep Pond Partners, Newport Stables and Jay W. Bligh

Career record: 6 starts – 1 win – 3 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $268,200

Earnings per start: $44,700

Pedigree: Trappe Shot – Lauren Byrd, by Arch

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts:  My Man Sam flashed elite ability in his second career start but really burst onto the scene when he finished second two starts later in the Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. That runner-up finish earned My Man Sam a start in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, but he ran into traffic near the quarter-pole when he was just finding his best stride and would up a nonthreatening 11th. From the first crop of Trappe Shot out of stakes-placed winner Lauren Byrd, by Arch, he finished second in his comeback race at Saratoga in July. My Man Sam appears poised to take a step forward in the Travers, but he’d need to improve by leaps and bounds to win this race.

4. Governor Malibu (12-1)

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: Christophe Clement

Owner: Jump Sucker Stable and Oak Bluff Stables

Career record: 9 starts – 2 wins – 5 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $429,600

Earnings per start: $47,733

Pedigree: Malibu Moon – Akilina, by Langfuhr

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Out of multiple stakes winner Akilina, by Langfuhr, Governor Malibu was stakes-placed as a 2-year-old. He won a New York-bred stakes race to start his 3-year-old season and then finished first in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park but was disqualified and placed second. He earned a 103 Equibase Speed Figure for the Tesio, which established a new benchmark for Governor Malibu, as he has not slipped below triple digits since then.  He finished second in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes, fourth in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes and second in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes, in which he earned a new career-best 111 speed figure. He could be the beneficiary of a perfect trip behind the speed horses, save ground and get a jump on the closers.

5. Forever d’Oro (30-1)

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Dallas Stewart

Owner: Charles Fipke

Career record: 5 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $58,660

Earnings per start: $11,732

Pedigree: Medaglia d’Oro – Lemons Forever, by Lemon Drop Kid

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Forever d’Oro has a maiden win and a third-place finish in the Curlin Stakes from his five career starts. Though recent race history indicates a race on the Saratoga track is beneficial in the Travers, he has an uphill battle here. Forever d’Oro was bred by his owner, Charles Fipke, and is a daughter of Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever, making him a half-brother to Grade 1 winners Forever Unbridled and Unbridled Forever.

6. Anaximandros (50-1)

Jockey: Leonel Reyes

Trainer: Mikhail Yanakov

Owner: Olympia Star Inc.

Career record: 5 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $89,220

Earnings per start: $17,844

Pedigree: Hard Spun – Dragon Fly, by Sadler’s Wells

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Anaximandros is a lightly raced 3-year-old with two wins from five career starts. He didn’t make his debut until April of this year and didn’t win his first race until his third start, but since then has two wins and a fourth-place finish in the West Virginia Derby to his credit. Anaximandros is the first Travers runner for his jockey, owner and trainer.

7. Exaggerator (3-1)

Jockey: Kent Desormeaux

Trainer: Keith Desormeaux

Owner: Big Chief Racing, Head of Plains Partners, Rocker O Ranch, et al

Career record: 13 starts – 6 wins – 3 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $3,571,120

Earnings per start: $274,702

Pedigree: Curlin – Dawn Raid, by Vindication

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Exaggerator is one of the most experienced horses in the field and the highest-earning. He has Grade 1 wins in the Preakness Stakes, Haskell Invitational Stakes and Santa Anita Derby, but all of those impressive victories came on tracks rated sloppy. He did finish a fast-closing second in the Kentucky Derby on a fast track but it had some moisture in it from an afternoon rainstorm. It remains to be seen if he is as effective on a fast, dry track, which will very likely be the situation on Saturday. Exaggerator’s trainer, Keith Desormeaux, and jockey, Kent Desormeaux, are brothers.

8. Destin (10-1)

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Twin Creeks Racing Stables and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners

Career record: 8 starts – 3 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $730,700

Earnings per start: $91,338

Pedigree: Giant’s Causeway – Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer

Color: Gray or roan

Running style: Stalker/pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Destin won two straight graded stakes early this year before taking an unorthodox eight-week break leading into the Kentucky Derby, resulting in a sixth-place finish in the field of 20. He followed that up with a close runner-up finish in the Belmont Stakes before finishing third in last month’s Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga. Trainer Todd Pletcher has two Travers wins to his credit and jockey Javier Castellano has won five of the last 10 editions of the race.

9. Gift Box (12-1)

Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Trainer: Chad Brown

Owner: William S. Farish

Career record: 5 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $155,500

Earnings per start: $31,100

Pedigree:  Twirling Candy – Special Me, by Unbridled's Song

Color:  Gray or roan

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Gift Box is from the first crop of record-setting Grade 1 winner Twirling Candy and is a half-brother to multiple Grade 2 winner Stonetastic. He’s been consistently fast since his career debut, stringing together four straight triple-digit Equibase Speed Figures during a streak that includes two wins and pair of top-three finishes in stakes races. The Travers will be by far Gift Box’s toughest test to date and his first time trying 1 ¼ miles.

10. Connect (4-1)

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Chad Brown

Owner: Paul Pompa Jr.

Career record: 4 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $165,000

Earnings per start: $41,250

Pedigree: Curlin – Bullville Belle, by Holy Bull

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Pacesetter/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Connect won the Curlin Stakes at Saratoga last month to score his third straight victory for trainer Chad Brown, who grew up near Saratoga but seeks his first career win in the Travers. A recent win on the Saratoga track can be beneficial in the Travers as eight of the last 12 Travers winners (including both dead-heat 2012 winners) exited the Jim Dandy or Curlin Stakes.

11. Majesto (30-1)

Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

Trainer: Gustavo Delgado

Owner: Grupo Seven C Stable

Career record: 8 starts – 1 win – 2 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $240,500

Earnings per start: $30,063

Pedigree:  Tiznow – Unacloud, by Unaccounted For

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Majesto earned a breakthrough first career win in his fifth start and then went out and qualified for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands with a runner-up finish in the Grade 1 Florida Derby. He generated some buzz leading up to the first jewel of the Triple Crown because he looked terrific in the morning and had a great pedigree: by Horse of the Year Tiznow out of the Unaccounted For mare Unacloud, which makes him a half-brother to Grade 1 winners Meadow Breeze and Overanalyze. He ran into trouble early in the Kentucky Derby and faded to finish 18th before another dull effort in the Curlin Stakes. His owner and trainer did manage to spring a 55-1 upset in the Grade 1 Test Stakes with Paola Queen three weeks ago at Saratoga, but he’d need to be at his absolute peak to win the Travers. Unfortunately, Majesto’s last two races show him headed in the wrong direction.

12. Creator (15-1)

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owner: WinStar Farm and Bobby Flay

Career record: 11 starts – 3 wins – 4 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $1,580,320

Earnings per start: $143,665

Pedigree: Tapit – Morena, by Privately Held

Color: Gray or roan

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Creator has just three wins to his name but they came in his last six starts, all since February of this year. Two of his wins were in Grade 1 races: the Belmont Stakes and the Arkansas Derby.  He last finished a disappointing sixth in the Jim Dandy at the Spa, but Creator does have the benefit of racing and training on the Saratoga track. Creator’s trainer, Steve Asmussen, hasn’t won the Travers before but was inducted in the racing Hall of Fame this summer.

13. Laoban (15-1)

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Trainer: Eric Guillot

Owner: McCormick Racing and Southern Equine Stable

Career record: 8 starts – 1 win – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $526,250

Earnings per start: $65,781

Pedigree: Uncle Mo – Chattertown, by Speightstown

Color: Dark Bay or Brown

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Laoban, from the first crop of freaky-fast champion Uncle Mo, shocked the racing world with a front-running upset at 27-1 in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes for his first career win in his eighth start. His 113 Equibase Speed Figure was a new career top and places him right there with the best horses in this field. But he’s not going to surprise anyone this time and you’d have to expect opposing jockeys and trainers would learn that he can’t be left alone again to set an uncontested pace. He’s also going to be going an extra eighth of a mile in the Travers than the Jim Dandy and will have to navigate a path to the front from post position 13.

14. Gun Runner (10-1)

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds, Three Chimneys Farm and Besilu Stables

Career record: 8 starts – 5 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $1,198,300

Earnings per start: $149,788

Pedigree: Candy Ride (ARG) – Quiet Giant, by Giant's Causeway

Color:  Chestnut

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: If you draw a line through Gun Runner’s two starts on a sloppy racetracks from his eight lifetime starts, you see a record of five wins and a third in his other six races. Considering that third-place finish came in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, Gun Runner’s record is a snapshot of class and consistency on the racetrack. Prior to finishing fifth in the slop in the Haskell Invitational Stakes, Gun Runner achieved a new career-best 114 Equibase Speed Figure in winning the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs. The far outside post position is tough luck for a colt who prefers to be near or on the lead, but as long as the rain stays away he is extremely dangerous … and his 10-1 morning-line odds are very appealing.

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