Travers Day 2023 undercard stakes previews

Goodnight Olive captures the 2022 Ballerina at Saratoga (NYRA Photo)

By Jarrod Horak

There are five Grade 1 races at Saratoga on Saturday, August 26. I posted my Travers analysis and video at the Digest earlier this week, along with my video analysis of the H. Allen Jerkens. I will provided likes to those races, and I will preview the other three stakes below. 

Click here for Saratoga Racing Picks, Tips, and Insider Analysis

Grade 1 Forego – August 26 – Race 7 – 7 furlongs dirt

This race features a rematch between Elite Power and Gunite. Those two squared off in the local slop in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt at six furlongs. Gunite got the jump on Elite Power and the latter ran him down and scored by a head. Gunite has the tactical advantage again but Elite Power has won eight consecutive races and could easily score again in this extended sprint. 

High Oak, Pipeline, and Synthesis round out the 5-horse field. This is not a great betting race but we might be in for another exciting stretch battle between the two favorites. I went with Gunite in the Vanderbilt and he is capable of turning the tables on Elite Power at a distance he enjoys. 

Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial – Race 9 – 7 furlongs dirt

Click here for my H. Allen Jerkens video at Today’s Racing Digest

Grade 1 Ballerina – Race 10 – 7 furlongs dirt

This event is similar to the Forego. This extended sprint will probably come down to Echo Zulu and Goodnight Olive. Those two met in the BC Filly & Mare Sprint last year and Goodnight Olive defeated her rival by 2 1/2 lengths, but that result might be reversed on Saturday. 

Echo Zulu was sensational in the local Honorable Miss on July 26, and she might have the pace advantage in this spot. Steve Asmussen’s talented filly is 3-for-3 at Saratoga and Florent Geroux is 2-for-2 with her. 

Goodnight Olive is a win machine for Chad Brown. She is 6-for-7 at seven panels and she captured both local starts last summer including the Ballerina. She began her 2023 campaign with a win in the Madison at Keeneland, and she got trapped and settled for the show while probably best in the Grade 1 Churchill Downs on May 6. She bounced back with a last-to-first victory in the Bed o’ Roses (G2) at Belmont on June 17. She broke from inner posts in her first three starts this year, and she gets a favorable outer draw this time. 

Sterling Silver, Mayareya, Maryquitecontrary, Dr B, Wicked Halo, and Caramel Swirl round out the 8-horse field. Echo Zulu will probably wire the field if she duplicates her Honorable Miss romp, but don’t count out Goodnight Olive. The latter has a nose for the wire and the classy mare could easily get there again under Irad Ortiz Jr. 

Grade 1 Sword Dancer – Race 11 – 1 1/2 miles inner turf

This is the most wide open stakes race on the card and the turf course will have some give in the ground. Last year’s BC Turf runner-up Stone Age returns to the states and Chad Brown is his new trainer. He has the class to win this event but his 6-5 price is unappealing. 

Channel Maker is the second choice on the line and the 9-year-old gelding exits a front running win at 15-1 in the local Grade 3 Bowling Green at 1 3/8 miles on the inner turf. That was a strange race. Heavy favorite Rebel’s Romance (IRE) clipped heels and fell, and multiple runners had trouble. Bill Mott’s veteran made all the running last time and should impact the pace again, but I do not trust him to run two alike. 

Soldier Rising ran into trouble in the Bowling Green. He rallied for the show in the 2022 Sword Dancer and landed the place earlier this year in the Man o’ war and Manhattan. Jose Ortiz sticks with Christophe Clement’s gelding and he can get involved late if the pace is honest. 

Bolshoi Ballet is an intriguing overseas invader for Aidan O’Brien. He had some success in this country in 2021. He only raced once in 2022 and hit the board in three of four starts this year. John Velazquez rides and he will probably stalk the pace. 

The field is competed by Bowling Green runner-up Verstappen, Daunt, and Linda Rice trainee Pioneering Spirit. Stone Age is logical but Bolshoi Ballet might be the value play in a competitive turf marathon.   

Grade 1 Travers – Race 12 – 1 1/4 miles dirt

Click here for my Travers analysis and video at Today’s Racing Digest.