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2019 Woodward Stakes Preview & How to Bet

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2019 Woodward Stakes Odds & Entries

Race 11 at Saratoga on Saturday, August 31 – Post 6:00 PM

Entry Horse Aus Fixed Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Mr Buff 11-1~ BET $25 RISK-FREE HERE Jose Lezcano
118 Lbs
John Kimmel
2 Bal Harbour 18-1BET $25 RISK-FREE HERE Javier Castellano
118 Lbs
Todd Pletcher
3 Vino Rosso SCRATCHED John Velazquez
122 Lbs
Todd Pletcher
4 Mongolian Groom 14-1BET $25 RISK-FREE HERE Luis Saez
118 Lbs
Enebish Ganbat
5 Preservationist 3-1BET $25 RISK-FREE HERE Junior Alvarado
120 Lbs
James Jerkens
6 Forewarned 60-1BET $25 RISK-FREE HERE Anthony Salgado
118 Lbs
Uriah St. Lewis
7 Yoshida (JPN) 6-5BET $25 RISK FREE HERE Joel Rosario
124 Lbs
William Mott
8 Wooderson 14-1BET $25 RISK-FREE HERE Jose Ortiz
118 Lbs
Todd Pletcher
9 Tom’s d’Etat 4-1BET $25 RISK-FREE HERE Irad Ortiz, Jr.
118 Lbs
Albert Stall, Jr.

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The $750,000, Grade 1 Woodward Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets is the closing Saturday showcase event at Saratoga’s summer meet.

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The 1 1/8-mile Woodward is not a “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series automatic qualifying race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but the race is still an important prep for the Classic and has historical significance in its own right, having been won by legends such as Kelso (three years in a row), Damascus, Forego (four years in a row), Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid (in a walkover), Cigar (twice in a row), Ghostzapper, Curlin, and Rachel Alexandra (10 years ago as the first filly to win the race).

This year’s 66th running of the Woodward drew nine horses and will be broadcast live on FS2 as part of NYRA’s “Saratoga Live” program presented by Runhappy, Claiborne Farm, and America’s Best Racing, and also on TVG. For more information, click here.

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RUNNER PREVIEW


1. Mr. Buff

Jockey: Jose Lezcano

Trainer: John Kimmel

Owners: Chester and Mary Broman

Career record: 30 starts – 10 wins – 6 seconds – 4 thirds

Career earnings: $678,786

Earnings per start: $22,626

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 114

Pedigree: Friend Or Foe – Speightful Affair, by Speightstown

Color: Chestnut

Age: 5

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: In a Woodward field that, on paper, is largely devoid of speed, this workmanlike gelding deserves a look. He enters Saturday’s race off of two consecutive dominant wins in stakes races restricted to New York-breds: a 6 ¼-length score in the June 30 Saginaw Stakes at Belmont; and a 3 ½-length win in the Aug. 7 Evan Shipman Stakes at Saratoga. In those races, he raced to the lead early and was never threatened. Overall, Mr. Buff has been racing well for more than a year, winning seven of 11 starts since August 2018 – although it must be noted that his one poor performance came when elevated to open-graded stakes company in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds on March 23. He pressed the pace through the far turn of the 1 1/8-mile race but fell back entering the stretch and stopped. He was walked off by jockey Junior Alvarado. Once back in New York and competing against fellow state-breds, the gelding has circled back to his best form. Obviously, he’ll face a class test even greater than the one he did in New Orleans on Saturday, but he’s 2-for-4 lifetime at Saratoga and has six career wins at 1 1/8 miles – both big positives. Alvarado has been aboard Mr. Buff for his prior five starts but will ride Preservationist in the Woodward. Trainer John Kimmel won the 2006 Woodward with Premium Tap.

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2. Bal Harbour

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Red Oak Stable

Career record: 16 starts – 5 wins – 4 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $388,755

Earnings per start: $24,297

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 108

Pedigree: First Samurai – Casino Transaction, by Carson City

Colour: Chestnut

Age: 4

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This multiple stakes winner nearly broke through and won his first graded stakes in his most recent start, losing by a head to veteran War Story in the Grade 3 Monmouth Cup Stakes July 20. That race was held at 1 1/8 miles, and it was Bal Harbour’s best effort yet in three starts at that distance. He’ll try nine furlongs again in the Woodward and, although he’ll be one of the longest shots in Saturday’s race, he should be considered for inclusion in exotic bets based on his consistency and competitiveness. This horse has improved gradually throughout his career and has strung together seven triple-digit Equibase Speed Figures in a row. Plus, he has a good, stalking running style for the Woodward and should be positioned in an advantageous spot behind the pacesetters but in front of the deep closers as the field makes its way through the far turn. Trainer Todd Pletcher has won the Woodward three times with Lawyer Ron (2007), Quality Road (2010), and Liam’s Map (2015). Javier Castellano was aboard Liam’s Map in 2015, and the Hall of Famer has two other Woodward wins with the great Ghostzapper in 2004 and Shaman Ghost in 2016.

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XX SCRACTCHED XX

3. Vino Rosso

XX SCRACTCHED XX


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4. Mongolian Groom

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Enebish Ganbat

Owner: Mongolian Stable

Career record: 14 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $369,141

Earnings per start: $26,367

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 114

Pedigree: Hightail – Bourbonesque, by Dynaformer

Color: Dark bay or brown

Age: 4

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: California-based Mongolian Groom ships across the country two weeks after running a decent, if nonthreatening, third behind impressive winner Higher Power in the TVG Pacific Classic Stakes at Del Mar. Prior to that start, he’d run even better when finishing second by a length to top-class Catalina Cruiser in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap. This veteran gelding may actually have reached the best form of his career over the past several months, but he’s constantly been matched against graded stakes competition and has proven to be just a cut below that level. This will be his second race outside of California following a fifth-place finish in the Charles Town Classic back in April. If he takes to Saratoga’s track, he could sneak into the trifecta on Saturday, but anything better than that would be a surprise. This is the first Woodward Stakes appearance for Mongolian Groom’s ownership group and trainer.

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5. Preservationist

Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens

Owner: Centennial Farms

Career record: 9 starts – 5 wins – 1 second – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $637,300

Earnings per start: $70,811

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 111

Pedigree: Arch – Flying Dixie, by Dixieland Band

Color: Bay

Age: 6

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This lightly-raced 6-year-old tired to finish fourth in the Whitney Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 3, which was his first career start around two turns. Preservationist set the early pace in the 1 1/8-mile Whitney but had no punch in the stretch and checked in 7 ¾ lengths behind winner McKinzie. That halted a three-race winning streak, highlighted by a dominant 4 ½-length score in the Suburban Stakes going 1 ¼ mile around one full turn at Belmont Park. If Preservationist gained useful experience from his first two-turn start in the Whitney and can move forward off of that start in the Woodward at the same distance and track, he has a good shot at winning on Saturday. He should be forwardly placed early on, along with Tom’s d’Etat and Mr. Buff, ideally sitting just off the pace under regular rider Junior Alvarado. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens won the 2016 Woodward with Shaman Ghost.

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6. Forewarned

Jockey: Anthony Salgado

Trainer: Uriah St. Lewis

Owner: Uriah St. Lewis

Career record: 18 starts – 6 wins – 4 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $245,613

Earnings per start: $13,645

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 104

Pedigree: Flat Out – Fortune Play, by Five Star Day

Color: Bay

Age: 4

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Racing for owner-trainer Uriah St. Lewis of Discreet Lover fame, Forewarned finished a well-beaten fifth at odds of 89-1 in his most recent start, the Whitney Stakes Aug. 3 at Saratoga, and then fell during the gallop out and unseated his jockey. That was his first graded stakes appearance in his 18th career start as he’d previously plied his trade in allowance races and stakes races restricted to Ohio-breds. As expected, the Whitney was a cavernous class jump for Forewarned, one he couldn’t successfully manage. The Woodward field lacks a superstar horse on the level of McKinzie but still appears too difficult a race for this hard-trying type to make much of an impact. He has posted three consecutive triple-digit Equibase Speed Figures, the first three of his career, and has been training steadily at his Parx Racing home base since his first trip to Saratoga. Uriah St. Lewis’s Discreet Lover finished 12th in last year’s Woodward, won by Yoshida, after posting a good third-place finish in the 2018 Whitney. Discreet Lover posted an upset in the Jockey Club Gold Cup in his first start following the Woodward.

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7. Yoshida

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: Bill Mott

Owners: China Horse Club, WinStar Farm, and Head of Plains Partners

Career record: 16 starts – 5 wins – 4 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $2,370,770

Earnings per start: $148,173

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 116

Pedigree: Heart’s Cry – Hilda’s Passion, by Canadian Frontier

Color: Bay

Age: 5

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: The defending Woodward Stakes winner returns on Saturday seeking to double up for his ownership group, and he’s got some momentum building having run a good second to McKinzie in the Aug. 3 Whitney Stakes at the Spa. He has not won in five starts since taking the 2018 Woodward by two lengths, but showed good determination to make up some ground on McKinzie (who’s generally regarded as the top older dirt male in training) and lost by 1 ¾ lengths in the Whitney. Yoshida in turn defeated third-place Vino Rosso by 4 ¾ lengths in the Whitney, and if he can build on that effort he has a great chance to score a repeat win in the Woodward. The field for last year’s Woodward was arguably tougher than what Yoshida will face on Saturday, and Joel Rosario, who was in the irons for both Yoshida’s 2018 Woodward win and his recent runner-up finish in the Whitney, retains the mount. Yoshida will need a fast early pace in the Woodward to develop in order to set up his closing rally, but he’s shown the ability to come from way out of the clouds while racing wide before (as in last year’s Woodward win) and he’s been at his best when paired with Rosario, winning two out of three career starts. Rosario picked up his first career win in the Woodward aboard Yoshida, and it was Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott’s fourth career victory, following wins by the legendary Cigar in 1995 and 1996 and by To Honor and Serve in 2012.

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8. Wooderson

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Let’s Go Stable

Career record: 9 starts – 3 wins – 3 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $171,830

Earnings per start: $19,092

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 116

Pedigree: Awesome Again – Lotta Kim, by Roar

Color: Bay

Age: 4

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This half-brother (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to 2009 Woodward winner and Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra has shown improvement so far in his 4-year-old season but will need to take a giant leap forward to win Saturday’s Woodward. He won his first two starts of 2019 — a seven-furlong allowance race at Keeneland and then a 1 1/16-mile allowance-optional claiming race at Monmouth Park — but then ran a disappointing 10th in the Grade 2 Suburban Stakes won by Preservationist. In his most recent start, Wooderson rebounded to finish one length behind another Woodward foe, Tom’s d’Etat, when second in the Alydar Stakes on Aug. 2 at Saratoga. He earned a career-high 116 Equibase Speed Figure in the Alydar and, if he can repeat that effort against a tougher field, he could sneak into the Woodward exacta. Of note: he has run very well in three starts at the Spa, breaking his maiden and then losing by a half-length there last summer along with his runner-up finish in the Alydar. Todd Pletcher has won the Woodward three times with Lawyer Ron (2007), Quality Road (2010), and Liam’s Map (2015).

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9. Tom’s d’Etat

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Trainer: Al Stall Jr.

Owner: G M B Racing

Career record: 13 starts – 7 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $716,892

Earnings per start: $55,146

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 118

Pedigree: Smart Strike – Julia Tuttle, by Giant’s Causeway

Color: Bay

Age: 6

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This talented racehorse may finally be on the cusp of breaking through and securing his first graded stakes win in his 6-year-old season. He made a lasting impression to fans and horseplayers just over three years ago, when he broke his maiden in his third career start by four lengths at Saratoga. But then Tom’s d’Etat missed an extended period of time due to minor injuries, a storyline that would repeat itself again in 2017-18 when he was away for more than 13 months. In December 2018, he won his first listed stakes and then competed in three consecutive graded stakes to start off 2019, finishing second to McKinzie in the Alysheba Stakes Presented by Sentient Jet and third to Seeking the Soul and Quip in the Stephen Foster Stakes, both Grade 2 races at Churchill Downs. He then won his second career stakes race, the listed Alydar Stakes, by a comfortable length at Saratoga on Aug. 2. Based on the career-best 118 Equibase Speed Figure Tom’s d’Etat earned in the Alydar, he looms as a major win candidate in the Woodward, especially since he excels when racing on or near the lead and his two most accomplished foes – Yoshida and Vino Rosso – are deep closers. Joel Rosario was aboard Tom’s d’Etat in the Alydar but will ride Yoshida in the Woodward, and Irad Ortiz Jr., currently second in Saratoga’s competitive jockey standings, picks up the mount.

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HOW TO BET

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#9 TOM’S D’TAT TO WIN @ 4/1 

(USA RESIDENTS BACK HERE / AUSTRALIAN RESIDENTS BACK HERE)

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How to Bet: Gr1 2019 Sword Dancer Stakes – Saratoga

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2019 GR1 Sword Dancer Stakes

Race 10 at Saratoga on Saturday, August 24 – Post 4:49 PM

Draw Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Proven Reserves 30-1 Bet Now Manuel Franco
118 Lbs
Chad Brown
2 Tiz Morning 50-1 Bet Now Dylan Davis
118 Lbs
Edmund Davis
3 Noble Thought 30-1 Bet Now Irad Ortiz, Jr.
118 Lbs
Michael Maker
4 Channel Cat 5-1 Bet Now Luis Saez
120 Lbs
Todd Pletcher
5 Pillar Mountain (IRE) 10-1 Bet Now John Velazquez
118 Lbs
Todd Pletcher
6 Ya Primo (CHI) 7-2 Bet Now Jose Ortiz
124 Lbs
Chad Brown
7 Annals of Time 5-2 Bet Now Javier Castellano
118 Lbs
Chad Brown
8 Channel Maker 3-1 Bet Now Joel Rosario
124 Lbs
William Mott
9 Sadler’s Joy 9-2 Bet Now Jose Lezcano
120 Lbs
Thomas Albertrani

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TOP CHOICE

#10 Sadler’s Joy – This 5-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy is the class of this field and won this race a year ago by a 1/2-length over Money Multiplier. That win led to a fourth-place finish in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf to round out his season. He has only one victory in 2018 but has hit the board in three straight tough races. The defending champion will have a big shot to repeat.

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HORSES TO USE IN MULTI RACE WAGERS

#3 Funtastic – Trainer Chad Brown has this horse running fantastic with back-to-back wire-to-wire wins coming into this race. Two back, he defeated allowance company at Belmont Park before shipping to Monmouth Park and winning the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes. He will be looking for his second straight Grade 1 win in this race.

#2 Spring Quality – Trainer Graham Motion always garners respect in these types of races, especially with a horse that has won 2 of his last 3 starts. His most recent was definitely the biggest of his career in the Manhattan, which he took by a neck at odds of 18-1. Several horses that ran in the Manhattan have already come back to win, including Robert Bruce in the Grade 1 Arlington Million and Fashion Business in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap. Spring Quality scratched out of the Arlington Million in order to run in this spot.

#4 Hi Happy – This horse was having a tremendous year before a non-effort last time out in the Bowling Green over this track. Before that, he had won 2 of 4 this year while hitting the board in every start, and three starts back, he picked up his first Grade 1 victory in the Man O’ War Stakes while following that up with a solid third-place effort in the Manhattan. Perhaps the soft turf in the Bowling Green bothered him, so if he can get back to his best race, then he could certainly win here.

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EXOTIC PLAYS

#7 Channel Maker – Last time was certainly exciting as Channel Maker and Glorious Empire hit the wire together for a dead heat in the Bowling Green. Channel Maker closed furiously on the front-running Glorious Empire there and can do the same here if the early pace sets up well for him. His strategy is always the same: drop to the back of the pack and make one giant run at the end.

#6 Bigger Picture – He always puts up consistent efforts, especially at Saratoga, where he was third in this race a year ago. He opened 2018 with a win in a Grade 3 race at Sam Houston, and two races ago, he was third in the United Nations. He will drop to the back of the pack and make one big run at the end, so a hot pace would be to his favour.

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PARTY CRASHERS

#5 Highland Sky – The son of Sky Mesa has been a familiar face in this division for years and is set to give it another go in this tough spot. He nearly won the 2016 Grade 1 Belmont Derby and was defeated by just a neck, so he has some back class. Two races ago, he defeated allowance company at Belmont Park, and last time out, he was fifth in the Bowling Green. That race was contested over a soft turf course, so like Hi Happy, perhaps he did not care for the surface.

THROW OUTS

#1 Glorious Empire – This horse is red-hot with two straight victories, including the Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes last time out over this track at odds of 22-1. The rain has played a major factor at Saratoga this year, including in that last race, where the turf was very soft. Right now, the forecast calls for sunny skies, but if it rains, we know that this horse won’t mind the give in the ground.

#9 Revved Up – He is no stranger to big races, and last time out, he was a solid second in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap behind Divisidero. That horse came back to run a decent third here two weeks ago in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Stakes.

#8 Seahenge – He ships to the United States for the third straight time after failed attempts in his previous two efforts. It has been a long time since this horse has seen the winner’s circle, and this spot looks to be very difficult for him once again.

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2019 – 150th Travers Stakes – In-Depth Runner Analysis & Tip Cheat Sheet

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The $1.25-million, Grade 1 Runhappy Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday is shaping up to be a very important race in determining how the 3-year-old division plays out for the rest of 2019, since, with the arguable exception of Maximum Security, no horse has separated from the rest of the upper echelon through the first eight months of racing. Furthermore, the 150th Travers should also be a horseplayers’ delight as it features a large, competitive field.

The 1 ¼-mile Travers will be the featured race in a one-hour national broadcast on FOX from 5 to 6 p.m. ET. The Travers is not an automatic qualifying race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but three other stakes races on Saratoga’s loaded Saturday card are Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” races, and will be televised by Fox Sports.

Whether you are interested in making a couple of bucks on the race or just want to know a little bit about this year’s runners, we’ve got you covered with our 2019 Travers Stakes In-Depth Runner by Runner Analysis & Tip Cheat Sheet.

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2019 Travers Stakes Odds, Horses, Jockeys & Trainers

THE 150TH RUNNING OF THE GREAT ‘MID-SUMMERS’ DERBY

Race 11 at Saratoga on Saturday, August 24 – Post 5:44 PM

Stall Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Owendale 6-1 BET NOW Florent Geroux
126 Lbs
Brad Cox
2 Code of Honor 4-1 BET NOW John Velazquez
126 Lbs
Claude McGaughey III
3 Highest Honors 10-1 BET NOW Luis Saez
126 Lbs
Chad Brown
4 Laughing Fox 30-1 BET NOW Ricardo Santana, Jr.
126 Lbs
Steven Asmussen
5 Everfast 30-1 BET NOW Martin Chuan
126 Lbs
Dale Romans
6 Tacitus 5-2 BET NOW Jose Ortiz
126 Lbs
William Mott
7 Mucho Gusto 6-1 BET NOW Joseph Talamo
126 Lbs
Bob Baffert
8 Chess Chief 30-1 BET NOW Mike Smith
126 Lbs
Dallas Stewart
9 Looking At Bikinis 10-1 BET NOW Javier Castellano
126 Lbs
Chad Brown
10 Scars Are Cool 30-1 BET NOW Tyler Gaffalione
126 Lbs
Stanley Hough
11 Endorsed 15-1 BET NOW Joel Rosario
126 Lbs
Kiaran McLaughlin
12 Tax 6-1 BET NOW Irad Ortiz, Jr.
126 Lbs
Danny Gargan

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Top 10 Travers Stakes Winners

Known as the Mid-Summer Derby, the Travers Stakes is a 1 ¼ mile race for 3-year-olds held at Saratoga Race Course. The race was first held in 1864, and there have been some remarkable races and winners in the Travers. Still, only one of the 12 Triple Crown champions has won the Travers Stakes (Whirlaway).

While there have been many wonderful winners, here is a selected list of the top 12 horses to win the Travers Stakes.

1920: Man o’ War – Won the Travers in 2:01.80; a stakes record that stood for more than four decades. The permanent trophy since 1936 is named the Man o’ War Cup.

1921: Sporting Blood – The great conspiracy race and betting scandal with the owner of Sporting Blood betting $150,000 on his horse to win with a bookie, and the favourite Grey Lag scratched just before post time.

1930: Jim Dandy – Shocked the crowd and bookmakers as a 100-1 shot, upsetting Triple Crown champion Gallant Fox over a muddy and deep track on a stormy afternoon at Saratoga.

1941: Whirlaway – The only horse to win the American Triple Crown and Travers Stakes.

1962: Jaipur – Won by a nose-bob in a then track record time. Considered one of the greatest races and duels in Travers history, running less than a half-length apart with Ridan the entire race.

1967: Demascus – Won by a record 22 lengths in a then track record time of 2:01.60.

1982: Runaway Groom – Champion Canadian 3-year-old beat the three American Triple Crown winners.

1997: Deputy Commander – Memorable stretch duel between Behrens and Deputy Commander with Hall of Fame jockeys Jerry Bailey and Chris McCarron aboard.
  
2001: Point Given – Won in front of a then Travers-record crowd of 60,486 who bet a record $34.5 million on the race; a record at the time.

2012: Alpha and Golden Ticket – Finished in a dead heat for first place.

2015: Keen Ice – Notable winner as he upset Triple Crown winner American Pharoah on a record-wagering Travers Day ($49.6 million) with an added purse of a record $1.6 million.

2016: Arrogate – Won by 13 ½ lengths while setting a new stakes record of 1:59.36.


Travers Stakes Winners History

The Travers Stakes has produced some notable champions during its storied history, and the 2016 winner Arrogate was a relative unknown until he delivered a breath-taking 13-length victory in a Travers-record time of 1:59.23. That victory was Arrogate’s stakes debut, and the late-bloomer went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Pegasus World Cup, and the Dubai World Cup in his next three starts and become North America’s all-time money winner.

The ‘Midsummer Derby’ is contested at the classic 1 ¼ mile distance, and the race at historic Saratoga Race Course has been won by many of the legends of racing. The Travers trophy, known as the Man o’ War Cup, is named in honour of the 1920 winner Man ‘o War, whose victory was one of his 20 wins in 21 career starts.

The most recent decade has produced some of racings stars among its many memorable moments. Winners include Bernardini (2006), Street Sense (2007), Summer Bird (2009), Will Take Charge (2013), Arrogate (2016) and Keen Ice (2015), who upset Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. Many of these and other notable winners went on to win champion 3-year-old and/or Horse of the Year honours. In total, 36 Travers winners were later named Champion-3-Year-Old.

Alpha and Golden Ticket (2012) completed the first dead-heat winner in Travers history that never went to a race-off. No race favourite has won the Travers (alone) since 2011 with Stay Thirsty.

Past Travers noted champions that paved the way for the modern race winners include:  Triple Crown winner Whirlaway (1941), Sword Dancer (1953) and Ruthless (1867), who went on to become the first of seven fillies to win the Travers.

In the past 40 years, other notable and significant wins include: Alydar (1978) who won after rival Affirmed was disqualified, previous record holder General Assembly (1979), Java Gold (1987), Easy Goer (1989), Holy Bull (1994), Thunder Gulch (1995), Lemon Drop Kid (1999), Point Given (2001), Medaglia ‘d Oro (2002), Birdstone (2004), and those above in the last decade.

Some racing greats both running and riding have won and lost some of the tightest finishes, as 10 Travers Stakes have been decided by a nose, including two in the past decade, Wicked Strong (2014) and Afleet Express (2010).

Jockey Javier Castellano has recorded a record 5 Travers wins over the last decade, guiding Bernardini (2006), Afleet Express (2010), Stay Thirsty (2011), V. E. Day (2014), and Keen Ice (2015) to victory.

 

THE 2018 TRAVERS STAKES WAS TAKEN OUT BY CATHOLIC BOY, THE RACE REPLAY IS AVAILABLE BELOW.

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On Travers Day a win pays more, losses get “Winsurance”!

The best racing of the Saratoga meet happens Saturday! Get up to $100 in bonus cash with a winners bonus in every race. Plus if you make a contest bet in every race, you’ll get 15% “Winsurance” on your losses!

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Travers Stakes Information & History

The Travers at Saratoga Race Course is America’s Oldest Stakes Race for Thoroughbreds.

When the Saratoga Racing Association named the Travers Stakes for William R. Travers (one of the founders of America’s oldest racecourse), they sought only to honour a man who’d made his mark on the sport of horse racing. Mr Travers’ horse, Kentucky, won that first in 1864.

Almost immediately, the Travers became a prestigious event, as word spread that the race was designed for only extraordinary three-year-old horses. The race has been run at four different distances during the course of its history to-date:

  • 1 miles (2.81 km): 1864 to 1889
  • 1 miles (2.41 km): 1890 to 1892
  • 1 miles (2.01 km): 1893 to 1894, 1897
  • 1.12 miles (1.81 km): 1895, 1901 to 1903
  • 1¼ miles (2.01 km): 1904 to present

The present distance of 1 1/4 miles is a perfect distance for contemporary three-year-olds. The race is open to colts and geldings, carrying 126 lb (57.2 kg) and fillies, carrying 121 lbs. (54.9 kg).

traversThe Travers creates memories every year, for thousands of people. Too many wonderful experiences to recount here, but some of those memories that have been shared by large numbers of race fans:

  • In 1941, Whirlaway became the only horse ever to win the superfecta: he’d won the Triple Crown, then went on to take the Travers, as well.
  • In 1962, Jaipur won by a nose-bob in track record time over Ridan, who was considered to be more talented. The long battle (the entire 1 1/4 miles) saw the two horses duke it out the entire distance of the race.
  • In 1982, Runaway Groom (Champion Canadian three-year-old), who was trained by John DiMario, arrived at the Saratoga backstretch after a very long and exhausting season. He’d competed in the Canadian Triple Crown: he won the Prince of Wales Stakes, the Breeders’ Stakes, and finished second in the Queen’s Plate. Runaway Groom’s Travers victory made him the only horse in racing history to beat the winners of that year’s American Triple Crown in the same race. (Kentucky Derby winner Gato Del Sol; Preakness Stakes winner Aloma’s Ruler and Belmont Stakes winner, Conquistador Cielo.)
  • Point Given, a gorgeous, big, 17hh monster, won the Travers on August 25, 2001. That day, Point Given drew a record Travers Stakes Day crowd, 60,486 fans. The race brought in a total betting handle of $34,529,273. This was also a Saratoga record to that date.

 

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IN-DEPTH RUNNER ANALYSIS

1. Owendale

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This colt enters the Travers Stakes in career-best form and sporting the highest career Equibase Speed Figure in the 12-horse field. Owendale earned that in a hard-fought, half-length win over Math Wizard in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby at Thistledown June 22, his most recent start. Prior to that, he tallied two triple-digit figures when running a rallying third in the Preakness Stakes in May and then when winning his first graded stakes, the Grade 3 Stonestreet Lexington at Keeneland in April. Other than an inexplicably dull eighth-place effort in the Risen Star Stakes back in February, this son of top sire Into Mischief has never run a bad race since breaking his maiden in his third start last fall. Based on form, he should be a leading win candidate in the Travers, although it should be noted that Ohio Derby runner-up Math Wizard came back to run a well-beaten sixth in the West Virginia Derby, more than five lengths behind that race’s runner-up and Travers longshot Chess Chief. The big question with Owendale is distance: Into Mischief, while currently leading the North American sire list for 2019, has yet to sire a classic-distance horse of any distinction, and several other Travers starters, including probable favourites Tacitus and Tax, both have more suitable pedigrees for the Travers’ 1 ¼ miles as well as more experience competing in route races. But Owendale is a legitimate contender in the Travers and should be sitting in an advantageous stalking spot under Florent Geroux after saving ground early as the field makes its way through the backstretch. Geroux finished third on Gun Runner in the 2016 Travers. Owendale is the first Travers starter for up-and-coming trainer Brad Cox.


2. 
Code of Honor 

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code of honor

Code of Honor figures to be one of the post-time favourites in Saturday’s 150th Travers, and he will carry a lot of support on track as a local hero. He broke his maiden first out at Saratoga last summer and was in the top echelon of 2019 Kentucky Derby contenders through the winter and into early spring until he finished a dull third in the Florida Derby. The Kentucky Derby provided some measure of redemption for Code of Honor, as he reached contention at the top of the stretch with a very good trip under John Velazquez but could not seal the deal and finished third (elevated to second after Maximum Security was disqualified). Following the Derby, Code of Honor was patiently handled by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey and bypassed the remaining Triple Crown races, returning with a visually impressive win in the one-mile, Grade 3 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park on July 6. He’s been training steadily at Saratoga ever since, and McGaughey is renowned for getting his horses to excel in races that he’s targeted on the calendar. Code of Honor has a good stalking running style for the Travers, although getting the 1 ¼-mile distance is still a concern given how he tired late in the Kentucky Derby. Still, this professional colt is a logical win candidate and a horse to build exacta and trifecta tickets around. Hall of Fame rider Velazquez won the 2005 Travers aboard Flower Alley and he also finished second twice. McGaughey has three Travers wins: back to back in 1989 and 1990 with champions Easy Goer and Rhythm and in 1998 with Coronado’s Quest. Will Farish of Lane’s End Farm also campaigns Travers starter Highest Honor; he co-owned both 2007 Travers runner-up Grasshopper and 2008 runner-up (by a nose) Mambo in Seattle.


3. 
Highest Honors 

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highest honors

Highest Honors won the local prep for the Travers, the July 26 Curlin Stakes, by 1 ½ lengths on a muddy track over fellow Travers starters Endorsed and Looking At Bikinis. After trailing the field early, he made a sustained rally heading into the far turn and was kept to task by jockey Jose Ortiz while three-wide in the stretch of the 1 1/8-mile Curlin. He continued on stoutly to the finish and appeared to be well-suited to handling added distance in his future races. Ortiz will ride Tacitus in the Travers as he has for all of that colt’s starts, but Highest Honors picks up Luis Saez, who currently ranks fourth by wins at Saratoga’s elite meet and third by purse earnings. This son of top sire Tapit is obviously very talented but has only been competing since late April, finishing second by a neck in his career debut at Keeneland and then winning a 1 1/16-mile, one-turn maiden race at Belmont Park before his two-turn score in the Curlin. Highest Honors has an outsider’s chance to grab what his name proclaims. Look for Saez to position his mount in midpack on Saturday, perhaps a bit closer to the lead than in this colt’s stakes debut. Saez won his Travers debut on Will Take Charge in 2013 and finished third last year aboard Bravazo. Chad Brown’s best Travers finish to date from eight starters is fourth with Gift Box in 2016. Will Farish also campaigns Travers starter Code of Honor; he co-owned both 2007 Travers runner-up Grasshopper and 2008 runner-up (by a nose) Mambo in Seattle.


4. Laughing Fox 

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laughing fox

This horse was an under-the-radar contender on the Road to the Kentucky Derby based on back-to-back wins at Oaklawn Park in late winter, but disappointed in his two Derby points races at his home track and thus was relegated to starting in the inaugural Oaklawn Invitational Stakes on Kentucky Derby day. Laughing Fox won that 1 1/8-mile race with a visually impressive closing rally, and since then has finished fifth in the Preakness Stakes and fourth in the Jim Dandy Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets. In all of his nine career starts, he’s come running from off the pace, either from a stalking position or from farther back. As such, he’ll be dependent on a swift early pace in Saturday’s Travers, which he may well not get. Still, this colt has untapped potential and is a more appealing candidate to fill out exacta’s and trifectas than the other deep closers lined up in the Travers. Ricardo Santana Jr. has ridden Laughing Fox in all but two of his starts (one of those he missed was the Oaklawn Invitational) and will need to keep his mount out of traffic trouble through the first mile or so in order to get Laughing Fox cranked up for a stretch run. Santana, the first-call jockey for Steve Asmussen, has been riding well during the current Saratoga meet and will be making his second consecutive start in the Travers. Asmussen has finished third twice from five Travers starters.


5. 
Everfast 

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Everfast

In 2015, Dale Romans trained one of the biggest upset winners in the storied history of the Mid-summer Derby, when Keen Ice rallied past Triple Crown winner and eventual Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and Horse of the Year American Pharoah in the final strides. A win by Everfast in Saturday’s Travers would go down in the books as arguably an even greater upset, although there is no horse in the 2019 Travers field that comes anywhere close to American Pharoah in terms of accomplishments. But then, Everfast is no Keen Ice, either. This horse has competed in many of the top-level races among his age group ever since last fall and has been a factor exactly twice, posting two runner-up efforts at gargantuan odds in the Fasig-Tipton Holy Bull Stakes back in February and then in the May 18 Preakness Stakes behind War of Will. One could argue that his Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets seventh-place effort wasn’t bad, either, as he was defeated by only three lengths. But in each of his seven other graded stakes appearances to date, he’s finished 6 ¼ lengths back or more – often much more. Everfast will probably vie with Chess Chief for the longest odds at post time, and he should be positioned near the back of the field with that fellow grinder until the early stretch when he’ll try to pick off some straggling horses and secure a spot in the superfecta. Young jockey Martin Chuan will make his Travers debut after recently moving from his native Peru, where he was a leading rider, to Ellis Park for its current summer meet. In addition to his win with Keen Ice, Louisville-based Romans finished third with First Dude in his 2010 Travers debut. Calumet Farm has three Travers wins, but all during its 20th-century era of dominance when owned by the Wright family. Calumet under Brad Kelley’s ownership finished third last year in the Travers with Bravazo.

 

6. Tacitus

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tacitus

Still regarded as one of the best horses in his age group, Tacitus enters Saturday’s 150th Travers Stakes in search of a career-defining, elite-level win after a good, but not good enough, efforts in his most recent trio of starts. He was rolling late in the Kentucky Derby but had too much ground to make up on Maximum Security and finished fourth (elevated to third after Maximum Security was disqualified). He paid the price late for a wide trip travelling a mile and a half in the Belmont Stakes gaining on winner Sir Winston in the final strides but still losing a length. In his most recent start in the Jim Dandy Stakes, Tacitus nearly fell at the start, but he amazingly recovered and then valiantly closed the gap on Tax through the stretch, only to come up three-quarters of a length short. He arguably should have won both the Belmont Stakes and Jim Dandy, and therefore will probably be the post-time favourite in the Travers, but a change in riding tactics may be in order on Saturday to give this physically imposing, superbly-bred son of Tapit the best chance of winning. Tacitus has a sustained, powerful running style similar to recent Travers winners Will Take Charge and Keen Ice, but like those horses, he also doesn’t possess an electric turn of foot. Thus, it will be incumbent upon jockey Jose Ortiz, who’s been aboard Tacitus for all of his starts, to judge the early pace by the time the Travers field settles in the backstretch and, if necessary, call for Tacitus to move into contention earlier than usual if the fractions are slow. The addition of blinkers could help in this regard. Ortiz, currently the leading rider at Saratoga’s meet by a wide margin in wins and earnings, will be making his sixth Travers start; he finished second in his 2012 debut aboard Moreno. Hall of Famer Bill Mott has trained two Travers runners-up among eight starters. Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms owned 2016 Travers winner and track-record setter Arrogate.


7. 
Mucho Gusto 

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This West Coast shipper adds even more class to what was already a high-quality Travers field. Bob Baffert decided earlier this week to start Mucho Gusto in the Mid-summer Derby after the colt posted three impressive workouts at Del Mar following his good runner-up finish behind Maximum Security in the Haskell Invitational. He enters the Travers with one of the best race records in the field, having won four Grade 3 races to date and with two runner-up finishes at the elite Grade 1 level. He has never finished worse than third through eight career starts, although it’s notable that two of his defeats came in starts at 1 1/8 miles. Mucho Gusto does not need to control the pace to win, but he has had success doing so, and it would not be a surprise to see jockey Joe Talamo be aggressive in getting his mount secured in a prominent early position as the field moves into the first turn. This talented, consistent colt is stuck at the Grade 3 level and certainly has a chance to attain Grade 1 status in the prestigious Travers, but Mucho Gusto more realistically profiles as a horse to use in all exacta and trifecta bets rather than as a leading win candidate. Talamo has been aboard Mucho Gusto throughout the colt’s career and will be making his Travers debut. Hall of Famer Baffert, on the other hand, has won the Travers three times from eight starters: Point Given (2001), Arrogate (2016), and West Coast (2017). And he also finished second in the 2015 renewal with a colt that was arguably better than his Travers winners, each of the champions: Horse of the Year and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.


8. 
Chess Chief 

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chess chief

Rarely can it be said that Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith goes to the post on the longest shot in a marquee stakes race, but that could be the case on Saturday in the 150th Travers? Chess Chief has only one win in 10 career starts, a maiden score back in March at Fair Grounds. He has put forth better efforts in his most recent two starts – both stakes tries, in which he was fourth in the Indiana Derby and second, defeated by six lengths, in the West Virginia Derby (both won easily by Mr Money). He’s also been training well at Churchill Downs for Dallas Stewart, who has a well-deserved reputation for getting huge runs out of longshots in prestigious races, and as mentioned above, he gets arguably the best big-race rider the sport to take the reins. But this horse is a one-dimensional closer who will need most, if not all, of the rest of the Travers field to fall apart in the stretch allowing him to meander to the lead. He may pass a few tired horses late, but hitting the board in any slot would be a major surprise. Smith has four Travers wins Holy Bull (1994), Coronado’s Quest (1998), Arrogate (2016) and West Coast (2017). Chess Chief is Dallas Stewart’s first Travers starter.


9. 
Looking At Bikinis

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This intriguing contender joins Highest Honors to represent leading Saratoga trainer Chad Brown in the Travers. After winning his first start impressively in a 6 ½-furlong race last fall at Belmont Park, Looking At Bikinis was sidelined for more than nine months before returning in a one-mile allowance at the same track. He out finished stakes winner Not That Brady in an impressive off-the-bench effort, and that set him up for his two-turn debut in the July 26 Curlin Stakes at Saratoga, where he was sent off as the post-time favourite. He set a contested pace in the Curlin and appeared to be out of energy at the top of the stretch, but showed determination in the final furlong to hold third behind stablemate Highest Honors and Endorsed another Travers starter. This son of champion Lookin At Lucky has a solid, though not spectacular, pedigree in terms of stamina, and he’ll need to move forward in a major way off of his Curlin performance to have a shot at winning on Saturday. In a Travers with no pure front-running horse entered, expect jockey Javier Castellano to put Looking At Bikinis into the race early from his outside post position, perhaps even at the head of the field by the time they hit the backstretch, and then try to set a modest pace through the middle stages of the race before asking his mount for full effort at the top of the homestretch. An off-track in the Travers may help this colt’s chances, as he romped in his career debut on a sloppy track and then ran decent in the Curlin Stakes on the main track rated as muddy. Hall of Famer Castellano is the all-time winningest jockey in Travers history; his six winners are Bernardini (2006), Afleet Express (2010), Stay Thirsty (2011), V.E. Day (2014), Keen Ice (2015), and Catholic Boy (2018). He also finished second in 2005 aboard Bellamy Road. Chad Brown’s best Travers finish to date from eight starters is fourth with Gift Box in 2016.


10. 
Scars Are Cool 

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A major class test awaits this inexperienced but promising colt in the Travers, but he’s shown improvement in each of his three starts since debuting in May and is a worthy longshot contender to consider using in exotic tickets. The son of Malibu Moon finished fourth in his debut at Churchill Downs going 6 ½ furlongs and then third as the favourite in a one-turn mile at the same track in June. After a five-week break, he surfaced at Saratoga and was stretched out to two turns in a 1 1/8-mile maiden on July 21. Scars Are Cool stalked a moderate pace and swept seven wide in the stretch for an impressive closing rally made even more so by the fact that jockey Tyler Gaffalione lost his riding crop just as his horse straightened out. The colt earned a 99 Equibase Speed Figure in that victory and will need to boost that significantly on Saturday to have a shot at hitting the board. He has shown a patient, stalking style in his young career and has responded well to Gaffalione in the saddle for all of his starts. Gaffalione will be making his second Travers start on Saturday. Stanley Hough, who returned to the sport after an absence of several years in 2018 as Sagamore Farm’s personal trainer, will make his Travers debut.

11. Endorsed 

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Endorsed exits the local Travers prep at Saratoga, the 1 1/8-mile Curlin Stakes July 26, when he ran a solid second to Highest Honors in his first try around two turns. Prior to that, he’d won his career debut during Saratoga’s 2018 meet, ran sixth in October’s Grade 1 Champagne Stakes, and then returned this June after a break of more than eight months to score in a six-furlong Belmont Park allowance race. This son of 2002 Travers winner Medaglia d’Oro has a nice pedigree but concedes a big experience edge to several foes in Saturday’s race. He’ll have to extend his stamina another eighth of a mile to get the Travers’ classic mile-and-a-quarter distance, but he has the right rider to help him kick home in Joel Rosario, one of the sport’s best closers. This will be Rosario’s fourth Travers start; he finished third in his 2014 debut aboard Tonalist. New York-based Kiaran McLaughlin won the 2012 Travers in a dead heat with Godolphin-owned Alpha, and he also finished second in 2011. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum’s Godolphin also owned 2001 Travers runner-up E Dubai.

12. Tax

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This gelding could be in the early stages of putting together a lengthy and accomplished career in the mould of throwback types from the previous decade such as Perfect Drift and Lava Man. His backstory is already one of the most appealing among current horses in training, as he was astutely claimed by Danny Gargan for his current owners last fall at Keeneland, and then made his mark on the Kentucky Derby trail over the winter with a win in the Withers Stakes and a second to Tacitus in the Wood Memorial Stakes. After a disappointing 14th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby and a solid fourth in the Belmont Stakes, Tax put it all together with a breakthrough score over tough-luck Tacitus in the Jim Dandy Stakes at this track, back on July 27. He displayed his usual forwardly-placed, stalking running style in the Jim Dandy, took the lead under Irad Ortiz Jr. coming out of the far turn, and had enough stamina in reserve to hold off Tacitus’ late challenge although you must take into account just how much extra gas Tacitus was forced to spend in the run after bombing out of the gates. Aside from his Kentucky Derby aberration, Tax has given a good account of himself in all of his races, and there’s no reason to expect any different on Saturday, although Irad Ortiz will have to make the right decisions early on about when to angle Tax inward from his far outside post in order to save ground and secure a good stalking spot. His one-timed workout at Saratoga since the Jim Dandy was excellent, and he’s bred to handle the 1 ¼-mile distance. All in all, there’s little to question here – Tax is a serious threat to win the Travers and is the most logical horse to use as a key in exotic wagers, especially if his attractive 6-1 odds on the morning line hold steady. Ortiz’s best Travers finish among seven prior starters was fourth in 2014. This will be Danny Gargan’s first Travers appearance.

 

 

2019 TRAVERS STAKES SELECTIONS

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1ST PICK. (2) CODE OF HONOR

2ND PICK. (6) TACITUS

3RD PICK. (7) MUCHO GUSTO

4TH PICK. (3) HIGHEST HONORS

5TH PICK. (1) OWENDALE

 

 

2019 TRAVERS STAKES WAGERS / BETS

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$100 BETTING BUDGET

 

BET #1: $2 TRIFECTA PART WHEEL

24 Combinations
Cost = $48.00

1ST: 2, 6

2ND: 2, 3, 6, 7

3RD: 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 11

 

BET #2: $52 – 2 HORSE DUTCH WIN ONLY BETS

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WIN BET 1: 2.CODE OF HONOUR @ 4/1 ($5.00)

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WIN BET 2: 6.TACITUS @ 5/2 ($3.50)

 

Dutch Betting Strategy

Selections & Profits Values
CODE OF HONOUR wager $30.59
TACITUS wager $21.41
Profit if CODE OF HONOUR wins $55.06
Profit if TACITUS wins $55.05
Loss if neither selection wins $-52.00

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