Travers Stakes Betting Guide

The Travers Stakes is held annually at Saratoga Race Course in New York.

The Travers Stakes has historically been one of the most important races on the horse racing calendar. Nicknamed the “Midsummer Derby,” the Travers Stakes was first held in 1864. It was named after William Travers, the president of the Saratoga Racing Association.

The Travers Stakes attracts many of the best horses from the Triple Crown series. It features a prize fund of at least $1.25 million. The Travers Stakes race has seen some historic moments over the years, as well as a hint of scandal, too. Read on to find out more.

The 2024 Travers Stakes will take place at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, Aug. 26, and will award Derby points (100-40-20-10) to the top four finishers. Last year, Epicenter won the event.

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Other betting options for the Travers Stakes

While the mentioned online betting options are ideal for many, including FanDuel Racing, there is a variety of alternatives available for those wanting to place a wager.

You can find off-track betting (OTB) venues across the country; simply use a search engine to find your local site.

Many other tracks will offer simulcast racing, which is where you can watch and bet on the action. Check with your local track to see if this is available so you can enjoy the action with fellow racing fans.

The other option is to head to Saratoga. A packed crowd is always in place for the Travers Stakes, and if you are one of the lucky 50,000, head to any one of the betting booths and wager your hard-earned cash.

2024 Travers Stakes Betting Odds

We’ll list the betting odds for the Travers Stakes when the event gets closer to taking place.

Qualification and entry into the Travers Stakes

The Travers Stakes doesn’t have a formal qualifying process, although the aim of the race is to achieve the best possible field every year.

The race is open to 3-year-olds only. Colts will carry 126 pounds and geldings will carry 121 pounds. In the last 10 years, the number of runners has varied between nine and 13, ensuring a race that is high in quality.

According to international classifications, the Travers Stakes is ranked third behind the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes.

Types of bets you can place at the Travers Stakes

There are several types of wagers you can place on the Travers Stakes. Here’s a rundown of the exotic and standard bets:

Exotic wagers

The payouts for these exotic bets can be extremely large, especially when a long-priced outsider gets into the mix.

Standard wagers

Here is the payout chart for the 2018 running of the Travers Stakes:

1st. Catholic Boy$16.20$8.20$5.80
2nd. Mendelssohn $12.00$8.70
3rd. Bravazo  $6.60

As you can see above, with a long-priced winner in Catholic Boy and other outsiders in the 1-2-3, the returns for the exotic bets became huge.

About Saratoga Race Course

Saratoga Race Course is located on Union Avenue in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Having opened in 1863, many consider the track to be the oldest sporting venue in the country, although records show three racecourses operating before Saratoga.

Within the racecourse, there are three tracks:

As well as the standard racing, steeplechase races also take place at Saratoga on the inner turf course.

The track has several distinctive features.

Exactly 17 minutes before every race, a handbell is rung, which calls the jockeys to the paddock. The horses are led to the paddock through the picnic grounds, ensuring the patrons of the racecourse can enjoy a clear view of the horses.

A mineral spring features in the picnic grounds, named the “Big Red Spring,” allowing patrons to sample the water that gave Saratoga Springs its name.

The racecourse was also the setting for a scene in the James Bond movie Diamonds are Forever.

Other races at Saratoga and in New York

As well as the Travers Stakes, Saratoga plays host to the following series of Grade I races:

New York plays host to two other famed racecourses: Belmont Park and Aqueduct Racetrack.

Belmont Park is most known for the Belmont Stakes, which acts as the third and final leg of the Triple Crown.

Known as the “test of the champion” all eyes are on the race if one horse has won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. Many winners of the Belmont Stakes do go on to run in the Travers Stakes.

Aqueduct plays host to races such as the Wood Memorial, the Cigar Mile Handicap and the Carter Handicap. Between 1963 and 1967, Aqueduct was the host of the Belmont Stakes as redevelopment took place at Belmont Park.

Aqueduct and Belmont Park have played host to the Breeders’ Cup, too. Aqueduct held the event in 1985, while Belmont Park played host in 2005.

History of the Travers Stakes

The first edition of the Travers Stakes took place in 1864 and was won by Kentucky, which was aptly owned by William Travers himself.

For the first 25 years, this race was run over 1.75 miles. Between 1890 and 1903, the distance changed regularly. This race has been run over 1.25 miles every year since 1904.

In 1921, a major betting scandal rocked the Travers Stakes.

The race had a strong favorite in Prudery, with Arnold Rothstein entering Sporting Blood with the aim of finishing second (and collecting the prize money for doing so).

Another leading 3-year-old, Grey Lag, entered very late, pushing up the odds of Sporting Blood, leading Rothstein to place a wager of $15,000 on his horse. He had heard Prudery was off his food, so he knew he had a chance. Mysteriously, Grey Lag then withdrew from the Travers, leaving the way clear for Sporting Blood to win, ahead of the ailing Prudery.

There have been many notable moments in the history of the race.

In 1941, Whirlaway became the first horse to win the Triple Crown and the Travers Stakes. Then 1962 saw an epic race where Jaipur beat Ridan effectively deciding the “Colt of the Year.”

In 2012, the race had its first ever dead heat when Alpha and Golden Ticket couldn’t be separated. Famously in 2015, American Pharoah headed into the race as Triple Crown champion, but couldn’t overcome Keen Ice.

2018Catholic Boy7-1$16.2002:02.0Stalking
2017West Coast6-1$14.2002:01.2Front
2015Keen Ice16-1$34.0002:02.6Mid-pack, off pace
2014V.E. Day19-1$41.0002:03.0Closer, back
2013Will Take Charge9-1$21.0002:02.7Mid-pack, off pace
2012Alpha/Golden Ticket dead heat)2-1/33-1$4.10/$28.8002:02.7Stalking (both)
2011Stay Thirsty2-1$6.8002:03.0Pressing
2010Afleet Express7-1$16.0002:03.3Mid-pack, off pace

More racing events

Kentucky DerbyPreakness StakesBelmont Stakes
Triple CrownHaskell InvitationalArlington Millions
Travers StakesStars and Stripes StakesDubai World Cup
Saudi CupKentucky Oaks

Travers Stakes FAQ

What does the winner of the Travers Stakes receive?

The winning connections will receive the lion’s share of the $1,250,000 prize fund. There are several other awards given to the winner, too.

First up, the winning horse is draped with a garland of red and white carnations (red and white being the colors of the Saratoga Race Course). The winning trophy is known as the “Man o’ War Cup,” named after the famous winner of the 1920 race. The winner’s name is inscribed on the cup and the winning connections are presented with a replica trophy, too. The winning colors are added to a canoe in the middle of the pond in the infield.

What was the fastest-running time for Travers Stakes?

In the early days of the race, the distance would change regularly. However, since 1904, the race has been run over a distance of 1.25 miles. In all of that time, only one horse has ever broken the two-minute mark: Arrogate, ridden by Mike Smith in 2016. In 1979, General Assembly came the closest to breaking the barrier, with a time of exactly two minutes.

What was the longest winning distance of the Travers Stakes?

In 1967, Damascus won the Travers Stakes by an incredible 22 lengths. It was a stunning victory, especially when you consider the horse was several lengths behind the leading pair under half a mile out. However, an incredible turn of pace saw Damascus romp home.

Which jockey has won the Travers Stakes the most times?

The most successful jockey in the history of the race is Javier Castellano with six wins. The last of his wins came in last year’s race aboard the unfancied Catholic Boy, with previous victories coming in 2006, 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2015.

Which trainer has won the Travers Stakes the most times?

Bert Mulholland is the most successful trainer in the race with victories. Mulholland’s victories came in 1939, 1950, 1951, 1962 and 1963, a strange sequence which included two gaps of 11 years between wins.

Wrapping up: The Travers Stakes overview

Coming in the middle to the latter end of the season, the Travers Stakes is one of the key races of the year and can go a long way to deciding who will be crowned the champion 3-year-old of the year.

The race attracts some of the best 3-year-olds in the country. Many of the winners of the Triple Crown races head to Saratoga in August to try and add another big win to their resume. Whatever the lineup, expect excitement, drama and another little bit of history in the making on Aug. 24 in New York.