Travers Stakes Horses 2023: Post Position Draw, Field Overview & Analysis

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Over the course of its storied history, the $1.25 million Travers Stakes (G1) has been widely regarded as the most prestigious test for 3-year-olds in Thoroughbred racing outside of the Triple Crown series. Known as the “Mid-Summer Derby”, the 1 1/4-miles Travers has produced 23 horses that have been named champion 3-year-old colt or gelding since the advent of naming divisional championships in 1936.

The 154th running of the Travers takes place Aug. 26 at Saratoga Race Course and is set to feature all three separate winners of the Triple Crown races for the first time since 2017. A field of 7 was entered during the post-position draw on Aug. 22 headlined by reigning juvenile male champion Forte, Kentucky Derby winner Mage, Preakness Stakes hero National Treasure, and Belmont Stakes victor Arcangelo.

The 2023 Travers Stakes is the star event of a blockbuster program at Saratoga on Saturday that will include five Grade 1 stakes. In this Travers Stakes betting guide, we offer an overview of the field and examine which horses have the best chance at conquering the 10-furlong test. 

2023 Travers Stakes Field: Post Positions, Odds, Trainers, Jockeys

Here is the list of the Travers Stakes contenders set to start, including their post positions, trainers, jockeys, and morning-line odds.

🐎 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
12-1
PP. 4 MageGustavo DelgadoFlavien Prat4-1
PP. 5 National Treasure Bob BaffertJohn Velazquez8-1
PP. 6 DisarmSteve Asmussen Joel Rosario
8-1
PP. 7 Scotland Bill Mott Junior Alvarado12-1

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Forte Installed as Travers Stakes Favorite

FILE - Irad Ortiz Jr. rides Forte to victory past Juan Hernandez on Cave Rock during the Breeders' Cup Juvenile raceat the Keenelend Race Course, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, in Lexington, Ky. Cave Rock, runner-up in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile and trained by Bob Baffert, has died from complications of laminitis that developed after surgery in July. The 3-year-old colt who died Friday, Aug. 18, 2023, had not raced since last year's Breeders' Cup at Keeneland. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)
Irad Ortiz Jr. rides Forte to victory at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race and is now the favorite at the Travers Stakes. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

Champion and multiple Grade 1 winner Forte was installed as the 7-to-5 favorite on the morning line for the 2023 Travers Stakes. The son of Violence — who was scratched from the Kentucky Derby as the morning-line choice due to a foot bruise — comes into the Travers off a narrow victory in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga on July 29.

Forte boasts two wins from three starts over the Saratoga main track having captured the 2022 Hopeful Stakes (G1) there last September en route to earning divisional honors. 

Get to Know the Field for the 2023 Travers Stakes

There is no shortage of star power in the 2023 Travers field with five Grade 1 winners in the seven-horse lineup.

Despite having to miss the first leg of the Triple Crown, Forte has continued to make a strong case as the leader of the sophomore ranks with a runner-up finish in the Belmont Stakes and victory last time out in the Jim Dandy where he wore blinkers for the first time. 

Kentucky Derby winner Mage most recently ran second in the July 22 Haskell Stakes (G1) and has trained very forwardly since that effort. National Treasure wired the field when taking the Preakness Stakes but faded to sixth after setting the pace in the Belmont Stakes, a race that was captured by upstart Arcangelo, who made history as his trainer Jena Antonucci became the first female conditioner to win a Triple Crown race.

Below, we analyze why each Travers Stakes entrant can win and why each has questions that need to be answered if they hope to take command of a contentious 3-year-old male division.

PP: 1 Forte (Dark bay colt)

  • Sire: Violence
  • Dam: Queen Caroline, by Blame
  • Trainer: Todd Pletcher
  • Owner: Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable
  • Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr.
  • Record and earnings: 9-7-1-0, $2,954,830
  • Morning Line Odds: 7-to-5
  • Last Race: Won Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) on July 29.
  • Why You Should Bet Him: The finish of the Jim Dandy was tinged with controversy due to jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. using some aggressive tactics to make room for his mount in the lane. That drama notwithstanding, Forte was more in the bridle that day as he ran with blinkers for the first time and his grit was once again amplified when he edged Saudi Crown at the wire. The Travers will be his third start since having to scratch out of the Kentucky Derby due to a foot bruise so his fitness may be peaking as well.
  • Why You Should Save Your Money: While he has only lost twice in his career, Forte’s closing kick is one that sometimes takes time to build and it cost him in the Belmont when Arcangelo got the jump on him position wise.
  • What They’re Saying: “He looked super (in his last workout), was moving really well and got into a nice rhythm. He’s such a talented horse: everything comes so easy to him that he sometimes gets a little bit distracted. We trained him a little in the blinkers before the Jim Dandy and we felt like we got the desired effect of giving him a little more focus without making him too headstrong. That’s why we decided to put them on for the Jim Dandy. After being able to win that, we’re going to leave them on for the time being.” – Trainer Todd Pletcher.

PP: 2 Arcangelo (Gray ridgling)

  • Sire: Arrogate
  • Dam: Modeling, by Tapit
  • Trainer: Jena Antonucci
  • Owner: Blue Rose Farm
  • Jockey: Javier Castellano
  • Record and earnings: 5-3–1-0, $1,067,400
  • Morning Line Odds: 5-to-2
  • Last Race: Won Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 10.
  • Why You Should Bet Him: Arcangelo’s Belmont Stakes triumph marked his third straight win, his first triumph around two turns, and appeared to be a prime example of a colt on a massive upswing form wise. He is handy enough to put himself in solid position early on and his workouts in recent weeks suggest he is sitting on go.
  • Why You Should Save Your Money: He hasn’t started since that Belmont victory whereas Forte and Mage and Tapit Trice have all had a prep race heading into the Travers and could have a slight fitness edge.
  • What They’re Saying: “It’s not often you can say you’re on the cutback at a mile and a quarter. He’s flourished here this summer and continues to mature. We’re so blessed with him, he doesn’t seem to care what’s underneath him. He handles it beautifully. He definitely hasn’t regressed at all. He’s definitely come forward.” – Trainer Jena Antonucci.

PP: 3 Tapit Trice (Gray colt)

  • Sire: Tapit
  • Dam: Danzatrice, by Dunkirk
  • Trainer: Todd Pletcher
  • Owners: Whisper Hill Farm and Gainesway Stable
  • Jockey: Jose Ortiz
  • Record and earnings: 8-4-0-2, $1,063,650
  • Morning Line Odds: 12-to-1
  • Last Race: Fifth in the Haskell Stakes (G1) on July 22.
  • Why You Should Bet Him: In an attempt to help Tapit Trice help himself by getting more involved early on, trainer Todd Pletcher worked the colt in blinkers on Aug. 19 and will run him in the equipment in the Travers. The gray colt seemed to respond well to the blinkers during his move, covering a half-mile solo in :49.22 under the guidance of jockey Jose Ortiz, who picks up the mount from Luis Saez.
  • Why You Should Save Your Money: The talent is there for the son of Tapit, as evidenced by his victory in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes in April, but he has lost three straight since that effort and continues to put himself at a disadvantage by his lack of urgency when it comes to getting out of the gate. 
  • What They’re Saying: “His weakness so far has been getting out of the gate and getting into a good position. He’s historically been a horse that reacts okay to the doors opening but just doesn’t have a lot of gate speed.  So, he’s kind of found himself in a compromised position, several times. We’re hoping that the blinkers can just sharpen him up enough to maybe have him laying a bit closer while certainly we wouldn’t expect him to be a horse that would be on or near the lead.” – Trainer Todd Pletcher.

PP: 4 Mage (Chestnut colt)

  • Sire: Good Magic
  • Dam: Puca, by Big Brown
  • Trainer: Gustavo Delgado
  • Owners: OGMA Investments, Ramiro Restrepo, et al.
  • Jockey: Flavien Prat
  • Record and earnings: 6-2-2-1, $2,488,700
  • Morning Line Odds: 4-to-1
  • Last Race: Second in Haskell Stakes (G1) on July 22. 
  • Why You Should Bet Him: Mage’s connections made it clear the colt was not fully cranked for the Haskell but he still put in a very solid effort to get second in his first start since the Preakness Stakes (G1). That run figures to move him forward fitness wise and the 10-furlong distance of the Travers is obviously something he has proven to relish. Flavien Prat picks up the mount on Mage for the first time after jockey Luis Saez, who was slated to ride the classic winner, was injured in an incident at Saratoga on Aug. 23.
  • Why You Should Save Your Money: Mage is 0-for-2 in his previous meetings against reigning juvenile champion Forte so he still needs to show he can topple that nemesis. He also needs for National Treasure to not get loose on the lead the way he did when that one wired the field in the Preakness. 
  • What They’re Saying: “He has showing us good signs. After that race (Haskell), he woke up and started to get more aggressive. In a good way. We have seen him getting back into form. I am pretty certain he is going to show in the Travers because he is feeling good. I am really looking forward to it.” – Assistant trainer Gustavo Delgado Jr. 

PP: 5 National Treasure (Bay colt)

  • Sire: Quality Road
  • Dam: Treasure, by Medaglia d’Oro
  • Trainer: Bob Baffert
  • Owners: SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, et al. 
  • Jockey: John Velazquez 
  • Record and earnings: 7-2–1-2, $1,365,000
  • Morning Line Odds: 8-to-1
  • Last Race: Sixth in the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 10.
  • Why You Should Bet Him: When National Treasure won the Preakness Stakes (G1), he was able to take advantage of a dream pace scenario that allowed him to race uncontested on the lead through tepid fractions. If stakes winner Scotland doesn’t go with him in the Travers, National Treasure could have another ideal setup on his hands – and few are better at making that happen than Hall of Famer John Velazquez. Trainer Bob Baffert also will drop the blinkers for National Treasure for the Travers. 
  • Why You Should Save Your Money: National Treasure weakened to sixth in the Belmont Stakes and he hasn’t had a prep race since that run.
  • What They’re Saying: “I was happy with him (after his last workout) and everything went as planned. He’s doing well and we’re looking forward to it.” – Trainer Bob Baffert.

PP: 6 Disarm (Chestnut colt)

  • Sire: Gun Runner
  • Dam: Easy Tap, by Tapit
  • Trainer: Steve Asmussen
  • Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds
  • Jockey: Joel Rosario
  • Record and earnings: 8-2–2-2, $750,200
  • ML Odds: 8-to-1
  • Last Race: Fourth in the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) on July 29.
  • Why You Should Bet Him: The son of Gun Runner has shown flashes of promise, finishing fourth in the Kentucky Derby and taking the Matt Winn Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs on June 11 over Verifying, who came back to win the Indiana Derby (G3). Disarm will run in blinkers for the first time in the Travers.
  • Why You Should Save Your Money: The decision to add blinkers was prompted by a lackluster Jim Dandy effort where Disarm never got himself involved and just ran around the oval one-paced.
  • What They’re Saying: “He’s a very impressive physical horse. But it’s time for him to step up. I think there is a better race in him. Hopefully with the addition of blinkers, we’ll get a little more out of him. He’s competed well, he just needs to finish it off.” – Trainer Steve Asmussen.

PP: 7 Scotland (Chestnut gelding)

  • Sire: Good Magic
  • Dam: Gemswick Park, by Speightstown
  • Trainer: Bill Mott
  • Owner: LNJ Foxwoods
  • Jockey: Junior Alvarado
  • Record and earnings: 4-3-1-0, $211,210
  • ML Odds: 12-to-1
  • Last Race: Won Curlin Stakes on July 21.
  • Why You Should Bet Him: Scotland heads into the Travers off a successful two-turn debut in the nine-furlong Curlin on July 21 at Saratoga where he cruised to a 3 1/4-length winner in frontrunning fashion. The son of Good Magic previously won going seven-furlongs on debut in March at Gulfstream Park and prevailed in a one-turn mile allowance in June at Churchill Downs. 
  • Why You Should Save Your Money: The Travers will mark the first graded stakes test for Scotland and he is facing a massive jump up in company. 
  • What They’re Saying: “The last race was the first time he was in front, but he proved he can do it that way. I think he’s versatile enough to do whatever he needs to do when the gate opens. He’s been exciting all the way along. He’s trained well and has progressed in every race. He proved he liked the Saratoga track and got the two turns last time. He is doing well and he’s a fresh horse.” – Trainer Bill Mott.

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Travers Stakes History

Travers Winners By Post Position Since 1901:

(1)16 (2)22 (3)20 (4)21 (5)14 (6)12 (7)9 (8)2 (9)2 (10)2 (11)1 (12)0 (13)0 (14)0

Top Winning Travers Jockey:

Javier Castellano (Six Wins) – Bernardini (2006), Afleet Express (2010), Stay Thirsty (2011), V. E. Day (2014), Keen Ice (2015), Catholic Boy (2018)

Performance of Travers Favorites since 1901:

Although Saratoga is known as the “Graveyard of Favorites,” 52 favorites in the last 118 runnings have won the Travers, making a winning percentage of 44.07%. Favorites have also taken the last three editions of the Travers with Epicenter (1.00-1) in 2022, Essential Quality (.45.1) in 2021, and Tiz the Law (.50-1) in 2020.

*Source: New York Racing Association

About the Author
Alicia Hughes

Alicia Hughes

Senior Writer
Alicia Hughes is a senior writer and award-winning horse racing journalist at Gaming Today. She previously served as a digital content editor for TVG and racing editor for The Blood-Horse following 12 years at the Lexington Herald-Leader. A graduate of Pace University in New York and a diehard New Jersey Devils fan, Hughes is a past president of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association.

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