It’s difficult to wring more excitement from a Thoroughbred season for 3-year-olds that already includes a Triple Crown, but the Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday will make a run at it.
The $1.25 million race, known as the Midsummer Derby, offers racing fans a chance to revisit the 3-year-old division months after Justify swept to the sport’s 13th Triple Crown last spring.
The most obvious change between then and now is the departure of the Triple Crown winner himself. Justify was retired from racing in July because of a nagging ankle injury.
Saturday’s 1 ¼-mile Travers brings together several of Justify’s top challengers, plus others who never got to make a run at him — most notably Wonder Gadot, who will attempt to become the first filly to win the Travers since 1915.
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Good Magic, winner of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland last April, was installed Tuesday as the 2-1 morning-line favorite for the $1.25 million Travers, which goes off at 5:44 p.m. and will be televised on NBC. Good Magic, who finished second in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness Stakes before skipping the Belmont, comes in off a victory July 29 in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth.
Second choice, at 4-1, is Gronkowski, the colt named after New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski who missed the first two Triple Crown races before finishing second to Justify in the Belmont in his most recent outing.
Wonder Gadot, in post No. 2, is the 5-1 third choice.
The full 11-horse field, in post position order, includes: Trigger Warning (30-1), Wonder Gadot (5-1), Gronkowski (4-1), Bravazo (12-1), Vino Rosso (10-1), Meistermind (30-1), King Zachary (15-1), Mendelssohn (12-1), Good Magic (2-1), Tenfold (8-1) and Catholic Boy (8-1).