Bayern 2-1 Travers favorite
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Haskell winner Bayern was installed the 2-1 morning-line favorite for Saturday's $1.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.
Not far behind the California-based horse were two New Yorkers, Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist (3-1) and Jim Dandy winner Wicked Strong (7-2).
A field of 10 is entered for the 145th running of the Travers, which got a purse hike of a quarter of a million dollars this year.
Trainer Todd Pletcher has dominated Saratoga in recent years, but does not have a horse in the Travers for just the third time since 2003.
Two trainers have a pair of horses entered, Jimmy Jerkens (Wicked Strong, V.E. Day), who won it with Afleet Express in 2010, and Ian Wilkes (Viva Majorca, Ulanbator).
Bayern is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who has won the Travers just once in four tries, with Point Given in 2001.
"He's won so many big races, and all his horses seem to rise to the occasion at the right time, so I don't blame anybody for making him the favorite," Jerkens said of Baffert. "The way he ran in the Haskell, nobody was even close, and there were some good horses in there."
The field, in post position order, with trainer, jockey and odds:
1. Commanding Curve (Dallas Stewart, Shaun Bridgmohan), 15-1
2. Bayern (Bob Baffert, Martin Garcia), 2-1
3. Charge Now (Bill Mott, Junior Alvarado), 15-1
4. V.E. Day (Jimmy Jerkens, Javier Castellano), 15-1
5. Viva Majorca (Ian Wilkes, Julien Leparoux), 20-1
6. Tonalist (Christophe Clement, Joel Rosario), 3-1
7. Wicked Strong (Jimmy Jerkens, Rajiv Maragh), 7-2
8. Kid Cruz (Linda Rice, Irad Ortiz Jr.), 8-1
9. Ulanbator (Ian Wilkes, Brian Hernandez), 30-1
10. Mr. Speaker (Shug McGaughey, Jose Lezcano), 20-1