News and STORIES

A Look at the Field for the Travers at Saratoga

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Friday August 07, 2020
Saratoga’s historic $1 million Travers (G1) is set to run on Aug. 8 as part of the extended 2019-20 Road to the Kentucky Derby.

The 1 1/4-mile “Midsummer Derby,” draws some of the best runners each year, and it is no different for the 2020 edition. Some of the top contenders include Tiz the Law and Uncle Chuck. 

Here is a look at each horse set to run in the Travers, starting with the likely favorites.

Tiz the Law and Uncle Chuck 

Breaking from post 6, Tiz the Law leads the field of eight. The three-time Grade 1 winner took a decisive 3 3/4-length victory in the Belmont Stakes (G1). With two 100 Beyers Speed Figures, he is the fastest horse among the field, and he has been training very well in preparation for the 1 1/4-mile speed and stamina test.

Tiz the Law’s connections have been looking toward the Travers for a while, and the son of Constitution will run exactly one year to the day that he crushed the field on debut at Saratoga.

Uncle Chuck will break from post three and is another one of the top runners leading the field. He has constantly been training since his runaway victory in the 1 1/8-mile Los Alamitos Derby (G3), posting a half-mile in 47 3/5, six furlongs in 1:13 2/5, six furlongs in 1:12 1/5, and five furlongs in 1:00 1/5. 

In the Los Alamitos Derby, he beat next-out Shared Belief (G3) winner Thousand Words by four lengths. A lightly-raced son of Uncle Mo, he will run for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who won the 2016 and 2017 editions of the race with Arrogate and West Coast. 

Others in the Field

Another entrant in the field is Max Player, breaking from post 4. The son of champion Honor Code is a late runner and has been effective at the 1 1/8-miles distance. He scored the Withers (G3) before returning from a 4 1/2-month layoff to take third behind Tiz the Law in the Belmont Stakes (G1).

The speedy sprinter Shivaree will break from post 5. He stretched out his speed well to finish second behind Tiz the Law in the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby (G1). However, his two starts since then were disappointing, with a third-place effort in a 1-mile allowance race at Gulfstream and 11th in the Blue Grass (G2).

Shivaree will be a pace player in the Travers, but he has yet to win at greater than 7 furlongs. 

Country Grammer, who is the improving son of Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Tonalist, will break from post 2. He scored the 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan (G3) on opening day at Saratoga, eventually rallying up the rail to win by a neck and receive a career-best 96 Beyer. 

He will be joined by Saratoga’s leading jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., and he should do well stretching out over 1 1/4 miles. However, everyone will watch to see if he can stand up against the competition in the field. 

Breaking from the outside post 8 is 2019 Street Sense Stakes winner South Bend. He registered a career-best 94 Beyer when finishing second in the Ohio Derby (G3), which was his return to dirt after five runs against stakes company on turf. 

South Bend did well with a quick pace in the Ohio Derby, but he is up against the stronger competition in the Travers. He will make his start for trainer Bill Mott. 

The last two set to run are First Line, breaking from post 1, and Caracaro from post 7. 

First Line is the son of First Samurai, and he broke his maiden going 1 1/8 miles at Saratoga on July 29. He will take a big step up in class and will have a lot to prove.

Caracaro put forth a runner-up effort in the Peer Pan (G3), which was his first start following a six-month layoff. He was beaten by a neck by Country Grammer after being bumped off stride late in the race.