No one would mistake Bill Mott for Bob Baffert, but one trainer could be ready to pull a trick out of the other’s bag. Mott sends out Scotland in the Travers Stakes on Saturday. Baffert knows a thing — or two — about winning the Travers with late-bloomers, delivering at prices with Arrogate (2016) and West Coast (2017), but it could be Mott’s turn to pull a surprise. Horse racing predictions are usually hard to make, though, and this seven-horse field going 1¼ miles is dicey to decipher. One thing seems certain, though: You’ll get great betting odds on Scotland.
THE FIELD (PP, Horse, Jockey, ML Odds)
- Forte, Irad Ortiz Jr., 7-5
- Arcangelo, Javier Castellano, 5-2
- Tapit Trice, Jose Ortiz, 12-1
- Mage, Flavien Prat, 4-1
- National Treasure, John Velazquez, 8-1
- Disarm, Joel Rosario, 8-1
- Scotland, Junior Alvarado, 12-1
Does Scotland Belong on the Map with Main Rivals? You Bet
Scotland made horse racing news when he won the Curlin Stakes by 3¼ lengths at Saratoga on July 21. Scotland went right to the lead under jockey Junior Alvarado, and pulled away from Il Miracolo in the stretch. Scotland was flattered when Il Miracolo came back to win the Grade 3 Smarty Jones Stakes by 3 three lengths at Parx on Tuesday.
“He did everything right,” Mott, a Hall of Famer who has never won the Travers, told Horse Racing Nation about Scotland winning the Curlin. “Obviously, he’s going against a different group of horses, so he’s got to move forward.”
Scotland worked four furlongs in 47⅗ seconds on Aug. 20, the fastest of 67 moves at the distance over the Oklahoma training track that day. He is 3-for-4 lifetime with the loss by a nose as the 2-5 favorite in an allowance race at Keeneland in April. His price in the horse racing odds will be much higher on Saturday as he is listed at 12-1 on the morning line.
Scotland appeared strong at the end of the 1⅛ -mile Curlin, so the extra furlong Saturday doesn’t appear to be an issue. Good Magic, Scotland’s father, finished second in the Kentucky Derby, but ninth in the Travers in his two tries at 1¼ miles.
Forte Could Have Say at the Betting Windows
Forte, the 2-year-old Eclipse champion, also won a local prep – the Jim Dandy on July 29. The 105 Beyer speed figure he earned that day is the highest in the field. Forte would have been the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, but was scratched the morning of the race with a leg injury.
Forte returned to run second in the Belmont, 1½ lengths behind Arcangelo. At 7-5 on the morning line, Forte will be most-popular in the horse racing picks, especially with leading jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons. The Jim Dandy was run over a sloppy track, which could serve Forte well on Saturday. It is expected to rain at Saratoga starting on Friday and into the wee hours of Saturday morning, with thunderstorms potentially popping up throughout the day.
Others Are Also Sure to Attract Attention
Arcangelo hasn’t run since the Belmont and will be ridden by Castellano, who has won six Travers. The son of Arrogate got a perfect trip in the Belmont, and could get another one here. The big difference is that Arcangelo won’t be 7-1 at the racebook this time.
Mage is attempting to become the first horse since Street Sense in 2007 to win the Kentucky Derby and the Travers, but his off-the-pace running style may prove too daunting – especially on an off track. Flavien Prat replaces Luis Saez, who sustained a dislocated collarbone and fractured wrist in a spill at Saratoga on Wednesday. Mage is also by Good Magic.
Tapit Trice finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby at 9-2 and third in the Belmont. His fifth-place finish in the Haskell on July 22 does not inspire, although the closer is 1-for-1 in the slop. … National Treasure, trained by Baffert, won the Preakness on the front end and set the pace in the Belmont before fading to sixth. He will likely be first or second in the early going. … Disarm has earned triple-digit Beyer figures in his last three starts and adds blinkers, a sign that trainer Steve Asmussen may want him more forwardly placed.
Travers Stakes Race Information
- Location: Saratoga Race Course, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
- Day/Post Time: Saturday, 6:11 ET (Race 12)
- Travers Stakes Live Stream: TVG
How the Race Will Be Run, And Won
The track condition could be a key factor in the equation. Nobody – humans or equines — likes mud thrown in their faces, so frontrunners have the advantage in sloppy conditions. This bodes well for Scotland, who is expected to be either first or second entering the first turn.
Forte and Arcangelo figure to settle near the rail, not too far behind Scotland and National Treasure. The wild card is Disarm. Mage and Tapit Trice should bring up the rear.
Mott has finished second three times in the Travers, but visits the winner’s circle on Saturday after Scotland either takes them all the way, or takes charge from National Treasure at the top of the stretch. Arcangelo will prove that the Belmont win was no fluke, and can pick up the pieces if Scotland isn’t up to the task. Arcangelo is also a must-use on top in exactas and trifectas, and in any Daily Doubles, Pick 3s, Pick 4s, Pick 5s or the Pick 6 when betting online.
- 7 to win
- 2,7 with 1,2,7 in Exactas and Trifectas
- Use 2.7 in all horizontal wagers