Magic Man’s Race of the Week: The Travers Stakes

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I took my first loss in my CCS selections last week but hit the exacta box in the Pacific Classic. After a modest run last week, the Magic Man treks back to the East Coast for Saratoga’s biggest day of racing.

The headliner is the Mid Summer Kentucky Derby, also known as the Travers Stakes will be run. What a very strong field we have as 12 will meet the starter.

The combination of all three winners of the Triple Crown season and several up-and-comers makes for an absolutely wide open contest. This race is the centerpiece of a huge card with five other Grade 1 contests but the Magic Man will give you his look at the Travers with horse-by-horse analysis and selections

RACE 11 Travers S. Presented by NYRA Bets (Grade I) POST TIME – 5:44 PM


PP (RACE 11)

Exacta, Trifecta (.50), Super (.10), Pick 3 Races (11-13), Double Wagers

Saratoga STAKES

Purse $1,250,000. For Three Year Olds. By subscription of $1,250 each which should accompany the nomination; $9,000 to pass the entry box and an additional $9,750 to start. For horses not originally nominated, a supplemental payment of $12,500 (along with the entry and starting fees) may be made at any time prior to the closing of entries. The purse for the Travers shall be divided as follows: $670,000 to the owner of the winner, $230,000 to second, $125,000 to third, $85,000 to fourth, $50,000 to fifth, $35,000 to sixth,$30,000 to seventh and $25,000 to eighth. Weight 126 Lbs. Trophies will be presented to the winning owner, trainer and jockey. Closed Saturday, August 12, 2017 with 17 Nominations. One And One Fourth Miles.

P# PP Horse  Virtual
A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 1 Cloud Computing (KY) [ ] 3/C L J Castellano 126 C C Brown 8/1
2 2 Giuseppe the Great (KY) [ ] 3/C L T Gaffalione 126 N P Zito 20/1
3 3 West Coast (KY) [ ] 3/C L M E Smith 126 B Baffert 4/1
4 4 Tapwrit (KY) [ ] 3/C L J L Ortiz 126 T A Pletcher 7/2
5 5 Good Samaritan (KY) [ ] 3/C L J Rosario 126 W I Mott 5/1
6 6 Girvin (KY) [ ] 3/C L R Albarado 126 J Sharp 10/1
7 7 Always Dreaming (KY) [ ] 3/C L J R Velazquez 126 T A Pletcher 6/1
8 8 Lookin At Lee (KY) [ ] 3/C L R Santana, Jr. 126 S M Asmussen 30/1
9 9 McCraken (KY) [ ] 3/C L B J Hernandez, Jr. 126 I R Wilkes 12/1
10 10 Irap (KY) [ ] 3/C L M Gutierrez 126 D F O’Neill 8/1
11 11 Gunnevera (KY) [ ] 3/C L E J Zayas 126 A Sano 20/1
12 12 Fayeq (KY) [ ] 3/C L L Saez 126 K P McLaughlin 30/1

Owners: 1 – Klaravich Stables, Inc. and Lawrence, William H.; 2 – Mossarosa; 3 – Gary and Mary West; 4 – Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, LaPenta, Bridlewood Farm et al.; 5 – WinStar Farm LLC, Head of Plains Partners LLC, China Horse Club, SF Racing Group; 6 – Grady, Brad; 7 – MeB Racing, Brooklyn Boyz, Teresa Viola, St Elias, Siena Farm and West Point; 8 – L and N Racing LLC; 9 – Whitham Thoroughbreds LLC; 10 – Reddam Racing LLC; 11 – Margoth; 12 – Shadwell Stable

Breeders: 1 – Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings, Inc &Stretch Run Ventures, LLC; 2 – Buck Pond Farm Inc.; 3 – CFP Thoroughbreds LLC; 4 – My Meadowview LLC; 5 – WinStar Farm, LLC; 6 – Bob Austin & John Witte; 7 – Santa Rosa Partners; 8 – Ray Hanson; 9 – Whitham Thoroughbreds, LLC; 10 – Aaron & Marie Jones; 11 – Brandywine Farm & Stephen Upchurch; 12 – Heaven Trees Farm

Pedigrees (Sire – Dam, by Dam Sire): 1 – Maclean’s Music – Quick Temper , by A.P. Indy ; 2 – Lookin At Lucky – Shawnee Moon , by Forestry ; 3 -Flatter – Caressing , by Honour and Glory ; 4 – Tapit – Appealing Zophie , by Successful Appeal ; 5 – Harlan’s Holiday – Pull Dancer , by Pulpit ; 6 – Tale of Ekati – Catch the Moon , by Malibu Moon ; 7 – Bodemeister – Above Perfection , by In Excess (IRE) ; 8 – Lookin At Lucky – Langara Lass , by Langfuhr ; 9 – Ghostzapper – Ivory Empress , by Seeking the Gold ; 10 – Tiznow – Silken Cat , by Storm Cat ; 11 – Dialed In – Unbridled Rage , by Unbridled ; 12 -Malibu Moon – Lotta Kim , by Roar ;


1-Cloud Computing is an enigma. For those who thought this guy had something going after a sterling win in the Preakness back in May, you wonder what in the world happened to him in his prep in the Jim Dandy. This is his longest race of his short career and I would expect a better effort than what he produced in the Jim Dandy. The question has to be asked – is it enough to conquer a deep and talented field? His rider has five Travers wins since 2006 but I don’t know what to expect. I am inclined to toss him out but he does present a dilemma for those who like him.

2-Giusseppe the Great ran late to finish second in the Jim Dandy. He drew close until mid stretch that day but could not keep up. Thinking the waters are much too deep for me to consider him a contender here so let me move on.

3-West Coast comes into this in good form but I have not been a fan of the California-based 3 year olds all year long. When you look closely at this entrant, you see he has yet to be tested against the top-tier 3 year olds. I am inclined to toss him out but it is a Baffert and Mike Smith combo so let’s not forget last year where they turned Arrogate loose in the Travers. Still I will let him beat me.

4-Tapwrit has not been seen since his resolute victory in the Belmont but sports a pocket full of solid works heading into this extremely tough contest. He can fire well fresh but his Belmont doesn’t flatter you when you consider the horses behind him there have not run well in subsequent starts. This is a tough call for me as far as his viability here.

5-Good Samaritan exploded in a big way to win his last out in the Jim Dandy. Before you think about a bounce consider that his running style allows him a chance to repeat his last out. He has solid turf races but did the Jim Dandy tell us his future is on dirt? I believe this is the one who will be forgotten and slip away at a nice price. He has a big chance here.

6-Girvin needed every bit of the Monmouth stretch to win the Haskell and if he was to win here then you have to include him in any discussion for top 3 year old. Consider his only off the board finish came in the Kentucky Derby after battling  a quarter crack. He has never been off the exacta in his other starts and thus merits another long look. At 10-1 I am tempted to use him in my exacta box.

7-Always Dreaming is who I thought he was. I have banged on this horse since he won the Kentucky Derby and though he set a modest pace in the Jim Dandy he backed up readily. The pace flow gives him a puncher’s chance but I am not going to use him.

8-Lookin at Lee showed some fight in his first two Triple Crown races but his Belmont flop and subsequent run in the West Virginia Derby tells me not to consider him here. 

9-McCracken did not get enough credit for his Haskell effort in which he was caught right at the wire by Girvin. A 12-1 listing seems an outlandish morning line for a horse who can absolutely win this. I think he moves forward off the Haskell so he will be on my gimmicks

10-Irap beat Girvin in the Ohio Derby two back and followed it up with a dominant win in the Indiana Derby. There are those who will say he is turning the corner but I will take pause. Outside of the win over Girvin who has he really beaten? I will take a stand and toss him off of my exotics.

11-Gunnavera gained a confidence-building win in his last start but does not get help from how the pace makeup looks despite the big field. I do not like him at all in here.

12-Fayeq? So you win a conditioned allowance and think ‘let’s take a stab in the Travers’ but his chances however minimal they were ended with the wide draw. Is it any more obvious how I feel about his chances?

My Selections

1-McCracken-Thought he ran too good to lose the Haskell and to me a forward move gets him there but it is a close one to call

2-Good Samaritan-Wonder how good he really is on dirt. Might be this good but boy its a deep crop he faces in here

3-Girvin-Another price play that I liked in the Haskell and believe he has another big effort in him with these

4-Tapwrit-Steady works in preparation for this and the slight cutback in distance should help his chances in this one

My preview of the 2017 Travers is part of a monstrous day of racing at Saratoga. A lot will be learned with the plethora of Grade 1 races so make sure you partake in the festivities. I will be back next week with another edition of the Magic Man’s Race of the Week so until then as always may your winners be plentiful and your wallets be fat.

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George Pepis

Horse Racing Analyst

George Pepis provides racing analysis during each Fair Grounds racing season. He also shares commentary and selections for major stakes events and prep races around the country. In the past, George has hosted sports talk programming on WGSO 990am in New Orleans. He has served as both play-by-play and color analyst on Louisiana high school football radio and internet broadcasts.

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