The Travers Day card at Saratoga is annually among the top five nationally, and this year is no exception. The Mid-Summer Derby on Saturday is the final leg of an all-Grade I stakes Pick 4 that appears heavy on chalk in the horse racing odds – except for a potential price in a wide-open Sword Dancer. Fast and firm conditions appear likely, although the turf courses could hold some moisture with afternoon thunderstorms forecast for Friday.
Pick 4: Price Could Be Right in at Least One of the Races
The Pick 4 begins with the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial at seven furlongs for 3-year-olds (Race 8, 3:52 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 2). Jack Christopher is the 6-5 morning-line favorite, but didn’t scare away too many as a field of nine was entered. Jack Christopher, trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Jose Ortiz, is 4-for-5 lifetime after finishing third in the Haskell at Monmouth last month. A mile and an eighth proved to be too much that day, but the Jerkens distance is right in his wheelhouse. The top three finishers in the Amsterdam — the local prep for the Jerkens — are in the field, led by the Steve Asmussen-trained Gunite (6-1). An intriguing longshot is Actuator (12-1), who won the Indiana Derby in his fourth career start last month. Best Actor, the second-place finisher in Indiana, came back to win the Grade III Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx on Tuesday in impressive fashion.
The top 4-year-old fillies and mares in the country square off in the Personal Ensign at 1⅛ miles (Race 9, 4:32, FOX). Clairiere (6-5) and Malathaat (5-2) resume their rivalry with defending champion Letruska (3-1) and Search Results (7-2) also in with a chance. Clairiere and Malathaat passed a tiring Letruska and Search Results in the Grade I Ogden Phipps on Belmont Day. Clairiere made it two straight over Malathaat in the Grade II Shuvee at Saratoga last month. Letruska could offer value if left alone on the lead — something Search Results did not let happen in the Phipps.
Ten were entered in the Sword Dancer Stakes at 1½ miles on the turf (Race 10, 5:05, FOX) with three trained by Brown and two by Christophe Clement. This could be the key race when betting online that offers value and makes the Pick 4. Most of these veteran grass horses have banged heads all year, but European invader Broome (3-1) is the morning-line favorite. Broome was nailed on the wire after rallying from a 12-length deficit in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Turf race in his only start in North America. An intriguing longshot is Soldier Rising (15-1), trained by Clement and ridden by Ortiz. Soldier Rising faces his stiffest competition in the Sword Dancer, but has competitive speed figures with this bunch. Brown’s best chance likely lies with Adhamo (7-2), who could map out a ground-saving trip from the rail under Flavien Prat.
The Travers Stakes (Race 11, 5:44, FOX) completes the Pick 4 with Epicenter (7-5) tabbed as the heavy favorite. A price possibility is Early Voting (8-1), who could steal it on the front end under Ortiz. Check the racebook leading up to the Travers for your Pick 4 will pays.
Technical Analysis, Jackie’s Warrior Are Double Trouble
The daily double involving Races 4 and 5 could pay as little as even money with a pair of prohibitive favorites poised to wire their respective fields. Technical Analysis is 1-1 in the Ballston Spa Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the turf (Race 4, 1:17, Fox Sports 1) while Jackie’s Warrior is 1-2 in the seven-furlong Forego (Race 5, 1:55, FS1). Jackie’s Warrior is 12-for-16 lifetime and 5-for-5 at Saratoga. Technical Analysis faces softer after finishing second in the Grade I Diana Stakes at Saratoga last month.