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Betting The 2019 Travers Stakes Race
The "Mid-Summer Debry" is hitting the big 150! The sesquicentennial anniversary — try to say that really fast three times — of the race comes at you on the last Saturday of August, as has become an almost annual tradition since 1864.
The race is the perfect midpoint between the Triple Crown series and the looming Breeders' Cup Classic in November.
At one mile and a quarter length, it's certainly not a race for the faint of heart. Heading into the historic race, here are the horses currently with the best 2019 Travers Stakes odds per online sportsbooks:
- Tacitus (+250)
- Code of Honor (+275)
- Mucho Gusto (+500)
Travers Stakes current odds have been in flux since last Thursday when two top contenders — Game Winner and Maximum Security (the disqualified Kentucky Derby victor) — both dropped out of the field due to health reasons.
But fear not, we're here to restore order and offer our Trevers Stake 2019 expert picks!
Which Favorite Can Finally Get Over The Hump?
All the shuffling throughout the race field has left two horses firmly entrenched as co-favorites — Tacitus and Code of Honor. The 2019 race calendar for both three-year-olds has been very good, but not quite good enough.
The slight favorite, Tacitus, placed high at the Belmont Stakes (runner-up), Jim Dandy Stakes (second again), and Kentucky Derby (third place).
A few short lengths are all that separated Tacitus from the eventual winners in those three losses.
In hindsight, Tacitus could have and should have won both the Belmont and Dandy. In the Belmont, he raced too wide during both turns. Then at Dandy — on this same Saratoga course — he buckled coming out the gate.
With a winning purse of $1.25 million on the line at Saratoga, this could be sweet vindication for Tacitus and Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
However, the same applies to Code of Honor. The colt has his own Triple Crown second-place finish this year at the Kentucky Derby, just edging out the aforementioned Tacitus.
Code of Honor is trained by a Hall of Famer in his own right, Shug McGaughey. The old-timer is no stranger to the event, having won the Travers Stakes three times before. However, all those wins — in 1989, 1990, and 1998 — feel like lightyears ago at this point.
Our Travers Stakes 2019 picks is Tacitus. His body of work in seven races — three wins, two seconds, and a third — just evokes a lot of confidence in us. A good run at Saratoga a few months ago only adds to our confidence.
Plus, in the lead-up to this race, Mott has tweaked his horse's training regime.
As of late, Tacitus has been running with a set of blinkers to hone in his rear vision. The goal behind the adjustment is for Tacitus to shift his focus more on what's ahead, not on distractions around him.
We're betting that one extra nudge will make all the difference come Saturday!
Betting pick: Tacitus (+250)
Rest of the Pack
Outside of the aforementioned top-three, here are some other under-the-radar horses and their accompanying betting lines ahead of the Travers Stakes:
- Tax (+800)
- Highest Honors (+900)
- Global Campaign (+1200)
- Owendale (+1200)
- Endorsed (+1400)
- Looking At Bikinis (+2000 and certainly the best name of the group)
Two horses immediately jump out to us — Tax and Owendale.
For one, Tax won the previously-mentioned Dandy Stakes on this very course in July. That alone puts him at an advantage over other foes. While the horse, and trainer Danny Gargan, have yet to win a Grade 1 race, they certainly are trending in the right direction.
In preparation for the Runhappy Travers, Tax was clocked at a break-neck pace of 47.33 seconds in a half-mile.
As for Owendale, he has some recent success of his own. At the Preakness Stakes, Owendale finished third in the 12-horse field. Outside of that Triple Crown run, he's finished first in three of four races he's run this calendar year. And trainer Brad Cox thinks the one-mile-and-a-quarter race length suits him well, too.
While we don't believe either one of those two should command the lion's share of your betting money, especially compared to Tacitus, they're still good value bets at +800 and +1200 apiece.
So there you have our free horse racing picks! Now you just need to lock in a bet, which you can easily do at one of our partners below! Check any one of them out for up-to-the-minute odds between now and race time.
And as always, make sure to check out NBC Sports for television watching or live streaming! Coverage of the event begins on Saturday at mid-day!
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