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Now to the updated post positions and odds:
1. Owendale 6-1
2. Code of Honor 4-1
3. Highest Honors 10-1
4. Laughing Fox 30-1
5. Everfast 30-1
6. Tacitus 5-2
7. Mucho Gusto 6-1
8. Chess Chief 30-1
9. Looking at Bikinis 10-1
10. Scars are cool 30-1
11. Endorsed 15-1
12. Tax 6-1
Travers Stakes best bets
By Robert Criscola
The Travers Stakes (5 p.m., FOX), otherwise known as the “Mid-Summer Derby,” is the feature race at Saratoga this Saturday.
The Grade I, $1.25 million Travers Stakes
1 1/4-miles on dirt
No. 2 CODE OF HONOR was last seen dominating his competition in the one-mile Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park on July 6. Prior to that Grade III score, CODE OF HONOR suffered a rough trip thanks to Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby, crossing the wire third. The Travers has been the goal for CODE OF HONOR since the Triple Crown ended and he’s been breezing steadily at Saratoga (where he broke his maiden as a juvenile last year) for trainer Shug McGaughey since winning the Dwyer. McGaughey is a three-time winner of the Travers, taking the “Mid-Summer Derby” in 1989 (Easy Goer), 1990 (Rhythm) and 1998 (Coronado’s Quest). CODE OF HONOR’s rider, John Velazquez, is having a quiet meet at “The Spa” but has won the Travers once before (2005, Flower Alley). CODE OF HONOR tired a bit in the Derby, his lone start at 10 furlongs, but that was on a muddy track. His sire, Noble Mission, is unproven but his sire was all-time great Galileo. CODE OF HONOR’s dam is by Dixie Union, a noted stamina influence.
No. 1 OWENDALE owns some of the best speed figures in the field but is still trying to prove his class. He won the Grade III Lexington Stakes at Keeneland back in April before rallying for third in the Preakness Stakes. OWENDALE bypassed the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes, possibly due to distance concerns, to run in the Grade III Ohio Derby at Thistledown going 1 1/8-miles. He inhaled his foes in that start, including runner-up Math Wizard, but it should be noted that that foe returned to finish a disappointing sixth in the West Virginia Derby next time out. OWENDALE’s sire, Into Mischief, has never been regarded as a stamina influence, so the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Travers could prove to be the undoing of this Brad Cox trainee. Florent Geroux, as usual, will be aboard.
No. 6 TACITUS is a consistent trier but has encountered some hard luck in his last couple of starts. The Tampa Bay Derby and Wood Memorial winner was second with a wide trip in the Belmont Stakes two starts ago before placing in the Jim Dandy Stakes behind #12 TAX following a very poor start. However, it’s not definite that TACITUS would have won either of those two starts, especially the latter as it seems that he did not appreciate the Saratoga course. The probable post-time favorite could prove to be an underlay. Believers in TACITUS will have Hall-of-Fame trainer Bill Mott (who has surprisingly never won the Travers) and meet-leading jockey Jose Ortiz in their corner.
No. 3 HIGHEST HONORS (10-1) moves up in the event of a scratch. He was last seen winning the Curlin Stakes with a four-wide bid over this course the day before the Jim Dandy. The late-blooming son of Tapit is poised to take another step forward in the Travers. Chad Brown names Luis Saez (who won the 2013 Travers atop Will Take Charge) to ride.
The play: $4 exacta 2/1,6, $2 exacta 2/3, $2 win 1 ($12)