Travers Stakes Odds & Picks: Saturday’s Best Bets at Saratoga Race Course is an independent sports news and information service. has partnerships with some of the top legal and licensed sportsbook companies in the US. When you claim a bonus offer or promotion through a link on this site, Gaming Today may receive referral compensation from the sportsbook company. Although the relationships we have with sportsbook companies may influence the order in which we place companies on the site, all reviews, recommendations, and opinions are wholly our own. They are the recommendations from our authors and contributors who are avid sports fans themselves.

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A betting frenzy awaits nationwide gamblers with Saturday’s loaded thoroughbred horse-racing card at Saratoga Race Course.

Saratoga unveils a 13-race program to nationwide betters starting at 11:40 a.m. ET and commands center stage in the industry with purses of $4,482,500. No other track in the country has purses exceeding $1 million.

Here are our Travers Stakes odds and picks for the two biggest races: the $1.25 million Travers at 1 1-4 miles and the $750,000 Sword Dancer at 1 1-2 miles on turf.

They unfold back-to-back. The Sword Dancer has a 5:31 p.m. post and the Travers is 6:11 p.m.

Nationwide bettors can access the action via the top horse racing apps, including FanDuel Racing.

Read: Travers Stakes horses 2023 — post position draw, field overview, and analysis

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Odds, Picks & Betting Overview for Saturday’s Travers Stakes

Here is the field for the Travers Stakes, including post positions, morning-line odds, jockeys, and trainers.

🐎 Post PositionTrainerJockeyMorning Line Odds
PP. 1 ForteTodd PletcherIrad Ortiz, Jr. 7-5
PP. 2 Arcangelo Jena AntonucciJavier Castellano5-2
PP. 3 Tapit TriceTodd PletcherJose Ortiz
PP. 4 MageGustavo DelgadoFlavien Prat4-1
PP. 5 National Treasure Bob BaffertJohn Velazquez8-1
PP. 6 DisarmSteve Asmussen Joel Rosario
PP. 7 Scotland Bill Mott Junior Alvarado12-1

Travers Stakes Major Contenders

There are only seven horses and a good argument can be made for at least five of them at the Travers Stakes, including Forte.
There are only seven horses and a good argument can be made for at least five of them at the Travers Stakes, including Forte. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Practically the whole field. There are only seven horses and a good argument can be made for at least five of them.

Travers Stakes Betting Overview

All picks mentioned here are subject to looks-angle confirmation in the post parade 10 minutes before post time. The Travers field is so talented and competitive that any horse who is slightly off will not likely win.

There should be value in the win bets because parity keeps most betting odds afloat. The winners of all three Triple Crown races are in this field for the first time since 2017.

Mage (Kentucky Derby victor),  National Treasure (Preakness), and Arcangelo (Belmont Stakes) will all get play.

Don’t spread too much in the exotics unless you figure on one or two longshots hitting the board. This is a small field of seven, you have major class and pace angles to consider and it’s hard to find just one scenario that looks logical.

Travers Stakes Picks

Here are some bets to consider for Saturday’s Travers.

Win Wager

Mage (4).

Rationale: The only horse in this field to win at 1 1-4 miles, this exact distance.

Will need help from a speed duel between Scotland and National Treasure, as Saratoga has been speed-favoring in many big races this summer.

Mage just missed in the Haskell, run at 1 1-8  miles. Would have benefitted from the extra eighth of a mile he gets here. Could be an excellent price because of betting respect that will be given to favored Forte and Arcangelo.

I will be wary Saratoga’s speed-favoring tendency, however, and bet this one light.

Exacta Wager

Box: 4-1. (Mage, Forte).

Rationale: They finished first and second in the Florida Derby, this is their highly-awaited rematch. Forte runs well every time. Both of these horses figure.

Cost: $4 for every $2 box.

Trifecta Wager

$1 Box: 1-2-4. (Mage, Forte, Arcangelo).

Cost: $6 for every $1 box.

Arcangelo merits enormous respect off the Belmont victory. Has to be in tickets as he improves every outing. Has been off a little more than two months, that could be the difference between him winning and merely hitting the board.

50-cent box: 1-2-4-5. (Mage, Forte, Arcangelo, National Treasure).

Cost: $12

Rationale: Adds National Treasure to this mix, respecting the speed angle.

Good luck hitting this. There should be some good prices, especially underneath, as bettors wonder who will be Queen for a Day.

Alternate Consideration

Take your favorite stalker or closer with National Treasure (5) and Scotland (7) in a $1 trifecta box in case the speed holds.

Sword Dancing Betting Overview

Intriguing mix of four graduates from the $250,000 Bowling Green, one from allowance company and two droppers who were way over their heads in their last race.

Oddsmakers flocked to the class-dropping Stone Age, making him the 6-5 early betting favorite off of a six-month layoff. He may not be ready to run his best and I don’t like the price.

Sword Dancing Major Contenders

Channel Maker (1)

It’s all about pace.

Able to steal the Bowling Green Stakes at 1 3-8 miles by getting away to a six-furlong fraction of 1:16.15. Prevailed at 15-1, holding off the hard-charging Vestappen, who finished second.

The moderate pace made all the difference. Especially considering that 1:16.15 came in a shorter race than the 1 1–2-mile Sword Dancer, when he was tucked in behind a pace of 1:113.99 for six furlongs.

The faster pace and longer race meant disaster in that one. He faded badly and finished 10th.

Look for him near the lead throughout most of the race. The question is whether the pace will be contentious. Bolshoi Ballet may have a lot to say about that.

Verstappen (2)

Needs something to run at. Could not get up in time after Channel Maker got off to dawdling fractions in the Bowling Green. Finished well ahead of Channel Maker in the Elkorn.

Will be right there if the pace is hot, will have difficulty if it is not.

Has no Grade I victories, which may matter.

A look at Stone Age (7), the early Sword Dancer favorite.

Second in the Breeders’ Cup turf last November. Subsequently threw in a fifth and a 12th, followed by layoff. Being prepped for bigger races, this one gets him back in the flow.

Has not won in his last eight races.

Is he the same horse he was last year?

Longshots who might hit the board in the Sword Dancer.

Bolshoi Ballet (3)

Distant sixth after being subdued in a speed duel in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. That race was for more than $1.3 million, while the Bowling Green containing several of his opponents in this race has a purse of $250,000.

This is a major class drop. Anything less than a speed duel would keep him alive into the homestretch. If he’s in a duel, he could be compromised along with Channel Maker.

Pioneering Spirit (5)

Has won four straight in cheaper company. Loves the Saratoga turf and could be primed for a step up.

Daunt (4)

Was fourth in the Bowling Green and could be right there with a small improvement.

Soldier Rising (1)

Has been able to hit the board with these on occasion. Was seventh in the Bowling Green, however.

Sword Dancing Picks

I will make a stand that Stone Age needs one.

I will use Channel Maker (6) and Verstappen (2) prominently in tickets. If they are short-priced, it’s a light bet because they have vulnerabilities.

Win Wager

2 horse (Verstappen).

Rationale: Banking on Bolshoi Ballet softening up Channel Maker. One of two horses to have a victory at 1 1-2 miles. Channel Maker is the other.

Smaller Win Wager

6 horse (Channel Maker). In case his Bowling Green victory signals momentum.

Exacta Wager

Box: 6-2 (Verstappen, Channel Maker).

Rationale: They have taken turns beating each other. They could run together.

Trifecta Wager

50-cent Box: 2-6-3-5  (Verstappen, Channel Maker, Bolshoi Ballet, Pioneering Spirit).

Cost: $12.

Rationale: Three fit horses and one who used to be exceptional.

$1 Box: 2-6-7 (Verstappen, Channel Maker, Stone Age).

Cost: $6 for every $1 trifecta box.

Rationale: In case Stone Age exceeds my expectations.

The angle of fading the favorite may or may not be for you. I will do it because there is little to lose. If I get the speed duel and Stone Age isn’t ready, I get a price. If that doesn’t happen and my horses don’t hit the board, what did I lose if the short-priced horse wins?

Good luck!

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About the Author
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is an award-winning writer and broadcaster, who has covered the sports industry since the 1970s. He won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1997, and is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Bontempo has broadcast major fights all over the world. The advent of legalized sports wagering shifted his focus to this exciting new industry in 2018.

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