Travers Stakes 2021 Odds: Should you oppose odds-on Essential Quality?

Will we see a surprise at Saratoga in the Grade I Travers on Saturday?
Will we see a surprise at Saratoga in the Grade I Travers on Saturday?

For many looking to bet on the Grade I Travers at Saratoga this Saturday, it will just be a case of seeing how low the price goes on Essential Quality and just dealing with it. Neil Monnery is wondering however whether there is value in opposing the odds-on favorite…?

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Travers Stakes 2021 Race Card

PP 2

Essential Quality

  • Age: 3 /
  • Jockey: Luis Saez /
  • Trainer: Brad Box /
Morning Line Odds

Odds-on favorite. Only defeat in the Kentucky Derby where he got a bad trip. Not as dominant as his record suggests. If he stays at 4-5 then tough to bet.

PP 1

Midnight Bourbon

  • Age: 3 /
  • Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr. /
  • Trainer: Steve Asmussen /
Morning Line Odds

Five race losing skid. Not won since G III Lecomte in January. Surprising second favorite.

PP 3


  • Age: 3 /
  • Jockey: Joel Rosario /
  • Trainer: Robertino Diodoro /
Morning Line Odds

Often there or thereabouts but doesn't win. 0 for 6 in 2021 but did run EQ close at the Jim Dandy a month ago.

PP 4

Dynamic One

  • Age: 3 /
  • Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. /
  • Trainer: Todd Pletcher /
Morning Line Odds

Second in the Wood Memorial which got him into the Derby whereupon he went on to finish 18th. Won last time out at the Curlin Stakes. Seems at best to look at a Place.

PP 6


  • Age: 3 /
  • Jockey: Miguel Mena /
  • Trainer: Al Stall Jr. /
Morning Line Odds

Won an Allowance Race on the Derby undercard by more than ten lengths. Won the Ohio Derby. Third in the Jim Dandy. Expect him to bring the early speed. Our editor has him as his longshot play of the day.

PP 5

Miles D

  • Age: 3 /
  • Jockey: Flavien Prat /
  • Trainer: Chad Brown /
Morning Line Odds

Longshot who broke his Maiden in June and was runner-up to Dynamic One last time out.

PP 7

King Fury

  • Age: 3 /
  • Jockey: Jose Ortiz /
  • Trainer: Kenny McPeek /
Morning Line Odds

There was a lot to like about King Fury a few months ago but a temperature ruled him out of the Derby and hasn't really hit his stride since. Should not be the rank outsider but tough to see him in the mix.

My colleague J.N. Campbell is down to handicap this race as part of his Saratoga analysis this Sunday and I haven’t read what he’s thinking just yet. I know he’s a huge EQ fan however but he hates taking short prices. His preview will be interesting to read but I’m thinking that if the Brad Cox trained three-year-old doesn’t drift to odds against then it might be worth opposing him.

The horse I might use on a single ticket is the Al Stall trained Masqueparade. This three-year-old has been getting better with age and whilst he never set foot on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, he did win an Allowance Race on the undercard. Not only did he win but he stormed it by over ten lengths and ran nine furlongs in 1:48.1 despite being hung out three-wide on both turns. This horse has some serious speed.

I tipped him to go to the Grade III Ohio Derby and win that race. At the time he was 8-1 on the Morning Line, which I thought was a bargain. Sadly by the time the pools were closed he went off as favorite but he held on in a close four-way finish to win.

Last time out he came third at the Grade II where he was closed out of it by EQ and Keepmeinmind down the stretch but despite that - he showed me more than enough to indicate that on the right day - this son of Upstart is good enough to mix it with the top three-year-olds around this year.

Look, I’m not saying in a straight up contest he would beat Essential Quality more than 50% of the time. I’m not even sure that he would beat him one time out of ten but if you asked me would I prefer to put $20 on EQ at 4-5 or $20 Masqueparade at 8-1 then I would roll the dice on the latter. Watch the pools closely as if this horse does drift for whatever reason then stick a few dollars on the big upset.

For me Masqueparade is the second best horse in the field. I know Keepmeinmind and Midnight Bourbon have both been in the mix of it in Triple Crown races but I just like the long of this late developer. He’ll probably go to the front and try to force the pace and see if anyone can hold on.

There is something of the Medina Spirit’s about him. He goes all in. Gets to the front, has heart and just sees where it’ll take him. That to me is worth taking the risk on the big price. Heart. You can't put a number on how important that is.

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