2015 Travers Stakes Preview: Should American Pharoah be on upset alert?

Today at 4:46 PM CST on NBC, American Pharoah gets a chance to extend his 8 race winning streak in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga. This 1 1/4 mile race has a $1.6 million dollar purse and will be a good gauge for the Breeders’ Cup Classic as it is run at the same 1 1/4 mile distance. Below are post positions, jockey/trainer and morning line odds:

1. Upstart – Ortiz Jr./Violette – 15-1
2. American Pharoah – Espinoza/Baffert – 1-5
3. Mid Ocean – Franco/Weaver – 50-1
4. Texas Red – Desormeaux/Desormeaux – 8-1
5. Frammento – Ortiz/Zito – 30-1
6. Frosted – Rosario/McLaughlin – 6-1
7. Keen Ice – Castellano/Romans – 12-1
8. Tale of Verve – Stevens/Stewart – 30-1
9. King of New York – Leparoux/McPeek – 50-1
10. Smart Transition – Velazquez/Shirreffs – 20-1

Saratoga has a history of producing upsets and many felt Bob Baffert should skip the Travers and run American Pharoah in the Woodward Stakes next weekend. As a result, a few members of the horse racing media (Kevin Cox, Mike Watchmaker and Michelle Yu) are calling for an upset today and predicting Texas Red as the race winner. My opinion? It is not going to happen. American Pharoah will prevail again.

Texas Red was my early Kentucky Derby favorite before his injury back in February. As a 2-year-old, he demonstrated in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race (shown below) the ability as a closer that would make him a serious threat in a 1 1/4 mile race like the Kentucky Derby and especially with fast opening fractions. But he has had to slowly work his way back from injury and I just don’t think his workout times and two previous post-injury races (Dwyer Stakes and Jim Dandy Stakes) have given me any cause for upset alarm today.

Texas Red beat Frosted in the Jim Dandy Stakes (video click HERE) but this was a 1 1/8 mile race and like Frosted’s long strides to edge out Texas Red in a 1 1/4 mile race.

My predicted finishing order (I think the Saratoga track handicapper has got this one right): 1) American Pharoah, 2) Frosted, 3) Texas Red, 4) Keen Ice, 5) Upstart, 6) Smart Transition, 7) Tale of Verve, 8) Frammento, 9) King of New York, 10) Mid Ocean