BONUS: This week on The Player's Edge, sports analyst and Forbes contributor Fairway Jay joins the show to talk about golf, thinking like the sportsbook to make better bets, the Travers and Ballerina Stakes, along with the best buffets in Vegas -Enjoy!
Opportunities to qualify for the 2020 Kentucky Derby are at a premium. Only three stops on the Detour to the 2020 Kentucky Derby remain:
The Travers Stakes (Saturday, August 8, Saratoga)
The Ellis Park Derby (Sunday, August 9, Ellis Park)
The Pegasus Stakes (Saturday, August 15, 2020)
And that's all folks as Porky Pig might say.
Today, we'll focus on the Travers and tomorrow on the Ellis Park Derby.
TIZ THE LAW (PP: 6) is the even-money favorite and our guess is that his odds will be lower by post-time. But buyers beware. The Travers hasn't been kind to the public's choice in the last 10-years.
Just one chalk secured the W alone, STAY THIRSTY in 2011. ALPHA left the stall as the top choice in 2012 but shared the stage with longshot GOLDEN TICKET as the duo finished in a dead-heat at the wire.
TIZ LAW has the tools to overcome the curse. The three-year-old son of CONSTITUTION has the best numbers, by a wide margin for this field of seven. He's posted three straight triple-digit speed figures, all the best for this field's last three starts. Only two others have hit 100 or more on the speed gun, once each for MAX PLAYER (PP: 4 ML 6-1) and SHIVAREE (PP: 5 ML 30-1).
For the curse of the Travers' favorite to live on, somebody will need a big effort. We see three possibilities.
COUNTRY GRAMMAR (PP: 2 ML 6-1) has top jockey and trainer combo of Irad Ortiz, Jr and Chad Brown. The duo teamed up twice in the horse's previous five races. Guess what, they resulted in the three-year-old's only Ws. The son of TONALIST is on the upswing and could be even better in his third start after a layoff.
UNCLE CHUCK (PP: 3 ML 5/2) has wheels. He ran right past the competition winning his debut by 7 lengths and followed it up with a 4 length win in the Los Alamitos Derby. The Los Al Derby score looks a ton better with second place finisher THOUSAND WORDS taking out HONOR A.P. in the last week's Shared Belief Stakes. Jockey Luis Saez will take CHUCK to the front and try to race right into the winners' circle. It's possible as we probably haven't seen his ceiling yet.
MAX PLAYER (PP: 4 ML 6-1) finished a well beaten third behind TIZ THE LAW in the Belmont Stakes. He did run his best speed figure and has been working like he plans on upping his game in the Travers. Jockey Joel Rosario can't afford to be 10 lengths behind the leaders out of the gates. He has some of the best late pace numbers in the field. If he can keep close coming out of the final turn, his legs have enough late zip to continue the Travers' curse.
Here's how we stack them up in our Travers Stakes Wagering Guide.
"The Play: OK, here is the deal, TIZ THE LAW is the best horse in this field, but favorites don't win the Travers. Only two have hit the finish line first in the last 10 years, none in the last seven, not even the great Triple Crown winner AMERICAN PHAROAH. COUNTRY GRAMMAR is getting better race by race and is the most likely in our view to continue the trend of upsets. UNCLE CHUCK has won his first two start and they've been laughers. He has improved in a big way from race one to race two. The same jump could put him in the winners' circle and make him one of the Kentucky Derby favorites. MAX PLAYER has gotten better in each of his four starts. He's been training well lately and has the best late kick in the field."