2017 Travers Stakes Picks with Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
I've been following horse racing obsessively for well over 30 years now, and I don't remember too many three-year-old classes quite like this one. It's the end of August, and you could make a case for a dozen different horses to win the Eclipse Award for the top horse in the division. Heck, right now you can make a pretty good argument that no horse is particularly deserving.
In this race we have all three Triple Crown race winners - very odd in and of itself aside from American Pharoah's year - but two aren't getting a lot of respect in the odds, and the third is a lukewarm favorite. And the 12-horse field has at least 10 horses - and likely more than that - that could win this race without causing too much shock. Such a weird year.
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At least we can't complain about a dull, predictable 2017 Travers Stakes. And remember, at this time last year as we awaited the summer's greatest race, Arrogate wasn't much more than an afterthought. After winning this race and the Breeders' Cup Classic he was a legend. Here's how the 12-horse field breaks down as we search (probably futilely) for the next legend:
Tapwrit (7/2): I really don't like that he has not had a race since his Belmont win, but then again, given this crop, that just means he avoided having a dud of a performance. He's tough, and I liked that Belmont win, so I respect him fine, but I can't get excited about him at this kind of price when others are out there.
West Coast (4/1): Last year Bob Baffert brought a late bloomer to Saratoga and stunned the world, so it's no wonder that this guy is getting plenty of attention here. Probably a bit too much because he didn't beat anyone in the Los Alamitos Derby, but I really like the horse despite the price and will be using him in exotics.
Good Samaritan (5/1): We know he can run on this track against this caliber of horse because he beat the Derby and Preakness winners in the Jim Dandy at the end of July. And he should have no issue with this distance. This is a deeper field, though, and I am tempted to go against him at this price.
Always Dreaming (6/1): Since his Derby win he has disappointed in the Preakness and again in the Jim Dandy. And I didn't feel like either race was a massive fluke. I have never been a huge fan, and I remain unenthused. He won't be a big factor for me here.
Cloud Computing (8/1): The Preakness winner won despite being very raw - largely because he got a perfect trip. That lack of experience was badly exposed in the Jim Dandy where he moved too soon, worked too hard, and wound up last. I have all the respect in the world for trainer Chad Brown, and would have to seriously consider him a play if he stays at this kind of price, but I don't expect him to. He'll be part of my exotics plays but not the star of them.
Irap (8/1): This horse won Derbies at Sunland and in Ohio and Indiana. The problem, though, is that he was just awful in the only one that matters in Kentucky. Regular readers will know how little patience I have for his trainer Doug O'Neill, but that plays only a small role in my total distaste for this price. Hard pass.
Girvin (10/1): The Haskell winner is at 10/1 in the Travers?!? We don't need to overthink this one too much. At half this price he'd be playable. He wasn't as healthy for the Derby as he needed to be, and that hurt his chances. This could easily be the best horse in this class. Very solid play.
McCraken (12/1): This horse annoys me so much. On raw talent he is the best horse in this group, and I don't think it's close. He's a beautifully-bred and wildly-athletic colt. And all he does is disappoint. His Derby was a mess. He got run down in the Haskell. He just can't scratch the surface of his potential. I am not convinced this is his distance, but at this kind of price I have to use him - at least on the bottom of exotics.
Giuseppe the Great (20/1): His breeding is strong, and he was second in the JIm Dandy, but all he did there was pass tired horses, and I don't think he has a lot more to give. I'm also not convinced he needs this extra distance. Pass.
Gunnevera (20/1): He won on this track last year, so that's a big positive. Since winning the Fountain of Youth in February, though, all he has done is disappoint. I have to use him in the bottom of exotics at this price - you just have to - but I'm not betting the house on him.
Lookin at Lee (30/1): He was second in the Derby and then has burned my money ever since - the rest of the way in the Triple Crown and in finishing third in the West Virginia Derby. Sometimes you have to break up with someone even if you still think they are cute. No more of my money is going on his back.
Fayeq (30/1): This is how bizarre this race is - the 30/1 shots are the Derby runner-up and the half-brother of Rachel Alexandra, one of the all-time greats. This horse is taking a massive step up in class, and it's probably too much, but I'm going to toss him into the bottom of some exotic action just in case.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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