At least we are consistent with our race of the week picks -- just not the right kind of consistent. Again this week we took a stand against California Chrome because he was a heavily-bet favorite and we longed for more value. Again he dominated. Same thing happened with Frosted. Doesn`t feel great no matter how many times it happens.
This week, though, we have a totally different story in the Travers - the top summer race for three year olds. As a fan, this race is as good as it gets - a full field of 14 of the best three year olds in the country lining up to duke it out. As a handicapper, though, the race is a freaking disaster. There are no horses that have proven to be truly great in this three year old field yet, but a lot that have shown flashes of being really good. Most of them are here.
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Rarely do you see a field this deep or a betting outlook this muddy. There really aren't more than two or three horses I can completely and comfortably count out. It's crazy. We'll fearlessly attempt to figure it out, though. The race is scheduled to go off at 5:44 p.m. ET on Saturday from Saratoga and is the 11th race on the card.
Exaggerator (3/1): The winner of the Haskell and Preakness is arguably the current leader for three year old championship honors. The biggest issue here, though, is that the forecast for Saturday at Saratoga is hot and sunny. He has run his best on off tracks. I wouldn't be surprised if he won, but I'm going to try to beat him at this price. Of course, we know how well that has gone the last couple of weeks.
Connect (4/1): Like Exaggerator, this is a son of the great Curlin. It's fitting then that he won his stakes debut last time out in the Curlin Stakes. It was a spectacular win, and he clearly has immense talent. This is a big step up in class, though. I like him a lot, but I would like him even more at 6/1 or better.
American Freedom (6/1): This is the first of two Bob Baffert entrants, and like most Baffert runners he looks spectacular in training. He was second to Exaggerator last time out in the Haskell and had won two stakes in a row before that. I love this horse, but this is a tough spot. There is a big problem, though. He's a speed horse, and there are several of those in this one. I'm afraid he doesn't have the experience to weather it.
Arrogate (10/1): This is the second Baffert horse. This horse is making his stakes debut, but he comes in off a three-race winning streak. It's a really tough spot for him, but he looks like he can run forever, he has trained well, and he has made winning look really easy up to this point. I'm very tempted by this one and will use him aggressively in exotics.
Destin (10/1): There are horses every year that are like this - very good, but seemingly never quite good enough. He was a game sixth in the Derby, a frustrating second in the Belmont, and third in the Jim Dandy, the major prep for this race. He's consistent, but I'm not sure that that's enough. I'll pass again - though it is much harder to pass on a Todd Pletcher horse at Saratoga than at Churchill Downs.
Gun Runner (10/1): I liked this guy a lot heading into the Derby, and he was a solid third. He won a meaningless race after that but then was really disappointing in the Haskell. He didn't like that surface, but I'm not sure that that is enough. Pass.
Governor Malibu (12/1): He's always in the mix, but he hasn't won a race since February and has been beaten by some very good horses - like he faces here. A factor, but not a winner.
Gift Box (12/1): He was second behind his stablemate Connect in the Curlin last time out. That was only his second race of the year, though. He seems to have been pointed to this race his whole life. Will that gamble work out? I'm certainly intrigued. I'll have a Chad Brown exacta with this one and Connect just in case.
Laoban (15/1): I ruled this horse out completely as a maiden in the Jim Dandy, so of course he won it. I'm not going to learn from that - I'm ruling him out again. There is a lot more pace in this one than the Dandy, and I don't respect his chances.
Creator (15/1): I backed this horse enthusiastically in the Belmont, and he rewarded me in a big way. He was pretty disastrous in the Jim Dandy, but that was his first race back and I'm willing to ignore it mostly. There is a fair bit of speed in this one, so things should set up well for a closer like this. At this price he's my top bet.
My Man Sam (20/1): This is the third Chad Brown entrant but by far the easiest to dismiss. I didn't like him at all heading into the Derby, and he hasn't done anything since to change that.
Forever d'Oro (30/1): It was ridiculous that he was entered in the Belmont, and he was an embarrassing last. He was third in the Curlin in his only race since. I just don't think he's good enough.
Majesto (30/1): Hard to judge this one. He was a very compelling second in the Florida Derby but then had a disastrous Derby and was sixth in the Curlin. He just hasn't run at all in his last two races. If he runs here he could be dangerous. I'm compelled, but not compelled enough for this price.
Anaximandros (50/1): He had a couple of decent wins in allowance races at Gulfstream but then was only fourth in the West Virginia Derby, and he passed some really tired horses to get that spot. Just not good enough.
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