NBC Sports Presents TRAVERS STAKES Live from Saratoga Race Course, 8/26
For just the third time its 148-year history, winners of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness STAKES and the Belmont STAKES are slated to meet in the $1.25 million Travers STAKES from Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., this Saturday, August 26, live at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC. The broadcast is presented as part of the "Breeders' Cup Challenge Series: Win and You're In - Presented by Lane's End Farm and America's Best Racing."
Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming, Preakness STAKES winner Cloud Computing and Belmont STAKES winner Tapwrit are the Triple Crown race winners leading the field of 12 3-year-olds in the 1¼-mile Travers in Saturday's 90-minute "Summer at Saratoga" program, which will also include live coverage of the 1½-mile Sword Dancer Stakes, with the winner earning an automatic berth in the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf.
The Travers STAKES broadcast is the eighth of 11 telecasts in the "Breeders' Cup Challenge Series: Win and You're In, presented by Lane's End Farm and America's Best Racing," on NBC and NBCSN, featuring 17 "Win And You're In" races plus other major STAKES on the road to the Breeders' Cup World Championships, November 3-4, at Del Mar, which will also be televised by NBC Sports Group. Saturday's show also will be streamed live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Winners of these Challenge races, which combined offer more than $10 million in purses, automatically qualify for a spot in the Breeders' Cup.
Saturday's program will be hosted by Laffit Pincay III, who will be joined by analyst and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, analyst Randy Moss and reporters Nick Luck and Donna Brothers.
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Robert La Penta and Bridlewood Farm et al's Tapwrit, the 7-2 morning line favorite in the Travers field, has not raced since capturing the 1½ mile Belmont on June 10. Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Jose Ortiz from the No. 4 post position, Tapwrit won the Tampa Bay Derby in March and seemed hot on the Derby trail until he finished fifth as the 2-1 favorite in the Blue Grass STAKES at Keeneland. He finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby, and came back five weeks later to capture the Belmont by two lengths over Irish War Cry.
Things haven't been as smooth for Pletcher's other Travers starter, MeB Racing, Brooklyn Boyz, Teresa Viola, St. Elias and West Point's Always Dreaming. After a dominant win in the Florida Derby and a commanding, front-running triumph in the Kentucky Derby, Always Dreaming finished eighth in the Preakness after surrendering the lead early in the race, which was won by Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence's Cloud Computing.
Always Dreaming (6-1, John Velazquez, post 7) and Cloud Computing (8-1, Javier Castellano, post 1) resurfaced in the 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy STAKES at Saratoga on July 28. The winners of the first two jewels of the Triple Crown battled down the stretch only to be overtaken by longshots Good Samaritan and Giuseppe the Great (20-1, Tyler Gaffalione, post 2).
WinStar Farm's, Head of the Plains Partners, China Horse Club and SF Racing Group's Good Samaritan, trained by Bill Mott, is the 5-1 third choice. After five consecutive grass starts, including a third-place finish in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, Mott decided to put Good Samaritan (Joel Rosario, post 5) on the dirt, and won the Jim Dandy by 4 ¾ lengths.
After Triple Crown winner American Pharoah was upset in the 2015 Travers, trainer Bob Baffert returned last year with the little known Arrogate, who broke the track record and ran the fastest Travers in the history of the race en route to a 13 ½- length win. This year, Baffert brings in West Coast (post 3, Mike Smith), owned by Gary and Mary West, who has won 4 of-6 career starts, including Belmont's Easy Goer STAKES and the recent Los Alamitos Derby.
Brad Grady's Girvin (10-1, Robby Albarado, post 6) qualified for the Breeders' Cup Classic when the won the Befair.com Haskell at Monmouth Park on July 30. Trained by Joe Sharp, Girvin, 13th in the Kentucky Derby, won both the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds earlier this year.
Lookin at Lee (30-1, Ricardo Santana, Jr., post 8), second in the Kentucky Derby; McCracken (12-1, Brian Hernandez, Jr., post 9); Irap, winner of the Blue Grass Stakes, (8-1 Mario Guitierrez, post 10; Fountain of Youth STAKES winner Gunnevera (20-1, Edgard Zayas, post 11) and Fayeq (30-1, Luis Saez, post 12) complete the Travers field.