With marquee races, such as the Travers Stakes, a common mistake is overstudy, and I’m as guilty as anyone as spending too much time pouring over the form. Yes, you certainly need to study the data to be effective. But when you overanalyze relevant information, you often start to draw too fine of distinctions and can put wrong emphasis on secondary – or even tertiary – information.
In this light, I wrote “10 words of less” – a favorite feature of mine – on each Travers horse contender. This is intended to be a gut reaction, which, in certain situations (especially when tied to activities helped by memory and pattern recognition), can be more effective than deep analysis, see e.g. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.) I’ll also throw in my best estimate of fair win odds*.
Here we go:
- Commanding Curve: Stewart’s horses don’t win Graded Stakes, but board possible. 20-1
- Bayern: Will be overbet. Could steal. Haskell/Travers double tough. 6-1
- Charge Now: Ambitious. Is he improved? Maybe just an allowance horse. 15-1
- V.E. Day: Improving horse earned entry to this race with recent performances. 6-1
- Viva Majorca: Hyped fan-favorite, likely always overbet. 20-1
- Tonalist: Legit. Should improve with 2nd start. Could be Belmont horse. 3-1
- Wicked Strong: Wished Jim Dandy was faster. Kinda Scary, but not very. 5-1
- Kid Cruz: Great claim. But the Travers? Too tough. 20-1
- Ulanbator: Super Derby is in two weeks. Would have been better. 50-1
- Mr. Speaker: Curious. And an experiment. Price accordingly. 12-1
What I expect to do:
It’s very odds-dependent, but V.E. Day and Tonalist stick out for me. Most likely, I’ll be playing V.E. Day at a price and in some exactas.
*I don’t try to construct odd lines in relation to each other. So, this might not add up to the whole. For me, I do it to get a sense of what’s fair. It works well for me, although your mileage may vary. I generally favor horses that I consider contenders (6-1 or lower in this race, although varies with class, field size) that are going off at a price. Before betting, I also generally like to have reasons to believe that the public has mispriced the favorite in the race.
Image courtesy of Boston Public Library. Copyright 2011.